My name is Yasmin, and I've struggled with my weight my entire life. It started when I was a kid. My family owned a BBQ joint just outside Nashville. So I always had access to delicious freshly cooked food. Unfortunately, like lots of items on a standard Southern BBQ menu, not much of that food was healthy. But that's what my dietary foundation was based on.
I wasn't alone. Being big-boned ran in my family. None of us knew what it was like to wear a size small anything or experienced being comfortable in a bus or airplane seat. To us, it was normal.
My mom used to tell me that it was important for our family to be on the heavier side. She always used to ask who would want to eat at a restaurant where the owners and cooks weren't even willing to eat their food.
There was a lot of pressure on me when I attended the University of Tennessee. I was the first person in my family to make it to college. The expectations they and I put on me were immense. They hoped that I'd graduate with a degree in business then use that to help out the family shop.
It wasn't just the pressure from my family that sent me into a spiral of binge eating. Socially I was an outcast. Tired of all the looks of disgust from fellow classmates when I ate in the cafeteria or tried to sneak a candy bar in class, I almost dropped out. None of the young men there were interested in me. Living away from home, ashamed of how I looked and lived, I became hopelessly depressed.
With depression came more unhealthy eating. It was all I knew, the only panacea for those dark, depressing thoughts and feelings. Everything seemed doomed until I came home for Winter break.
This one afternoon, I volunteered to go out to the corner to the mailbox at the end of my parents' driveway to grab the mail. At the time, it wasn't a big deal until I got about halfway down the driveway, and I could hardly breathe. I had to bend over, put my hands on my knees and catch my breath.
That incident was alarming. I don't know why that was the thing that really opened my eyes to the path I was going down. But it scared me. If I can't even get to the mailbox without feeling like I ran a marathon, what will happen a year, two years, ten years from then? How out of shape would I get?
One night, I agreed to go hang out with one of my oldest friends, Natasha. She'd been at college too, in Florida, and I hadn't seen her since the last day of high school. I was shocked when I saw her. If it wasn't for her unforgettable sun-bright smile, I wouldn't have believed it was her.
I had to ask Natasha what her secret was - she looked so healthy and radiant. There was nothing in all existence I wanted more than to be like her. No, I wanted to be her.
She told me she got a personal trainer. At first, that sounded like a non-starter for me. As a college student from a blue-collar working family, I didn't have the money to hire a trainer. And between class and work, there was no way I had the time or drive to meet them at the on-campus gym every day.
Natasha told me that her sessions with her trainer were digital. I didn't understand how that worked. So she told me that her trainer created workout plans catered to her, her schedule, and what little equipment she had. Intrigued and still simmering on the memory of not even being able to make it down my parents' driveway, I took her advice and recommendation.
Now, I never worked out in my life. Not really. So I was nervous. After picking my trainer, Cody, I eagerly and nervously awaited my first workout plan. To my surprise, it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it'd be.
Cody slowly but surely eased me into more and more intense workouts. All the while, he kept in constant communication and made me feel like more than just another client. It felt like he genuinely cared about my health which did wonders for my sense of motivation. Not only did I want to be healthier, but I also didn't want to disappoint him or my family.
Words can't describe how happy I was when my clothes stopped fitting and I watched my body transform. That was until I realized I had to buy an all-new wardrobe. The good news is, I could afford to because my program with Cody was extremely reasonable. Even as a college student, I could afford it.
As my workouts with Cody progressed, I could feel myself growing more and more confident. Confidence was always something in short supply. Since I was a kid, I had to endure teasing. There was never any chance for me to build any positive self-esteem. For the first time, I had a positive view of myself.
The next time I was out of breath from doing anything was when I was training for the Nashville Marathon. I had gone from not being able to get to the mailbox at the end of my parents' driveway to running forty-plus hours a week.
Cody helped me more than he will ever know. It wasn't just that he helped me whip myself into shape. My experience at CoPilot changed my life. I saw myself in a new light. Everything I took on, I did so brimming with confidence. And what he taught me translated into my family business.
After graduating, it was my turn to take the reigns at my family's BBQ joint. I brought my business knowledge, but I also brought a new health-conscious view to the menu. Two of my family members chose to take the same path I did after seeing how healthy I was. Who else could I refer them to but Cody?
I would advise anyone reading this who may be out of shape or uncomfortable with their bodies to keep fighting. Never give up the fight to stay physically fit. Trust me when I say that I know how hard it is. But in every single way, taking care of yourself, mind, body, and soul are worth it. You are worth the effort!
The story of CoPilot member Yasmin