Britni Gates lost over 70 pounds in 2013

The journey of losing weight can be the most trying journey a person can make. It takes commitment, strength, faith, time, and so much courage and patience.
One Evansville woman decided to take the first step of that journey at the beginning of 2013, and with the support of her husband, children, and friends, made a huge difference in her life and has become an inspiration to many, including me.
Britni Gates works two jobs, including being an instructor at the YMCA. Some days, she will teach Zumba as many as three times. On top of working two jobs and her dedication to her weight loss, she also has a family of five at home that are right there alongside her. Her contagious smile shows everyone around her that she has it going on.

I first encountered Britni when she subbed for my usual Saturday morning Zumba class. Everyone was immediately impressed and loved her style. Now, every time I walk into her class on Tuesday mornings, I walk into an inviting, exciting environment. When I walk out, I hear everyone say how much they loved it.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am a 29-year-old wife and mother. I have been married six years and have three children ages 11, 7, and 5. I have worked full time in group homes for adults with developmental disabilities for nine years. I became a licensed Zumba Instructor in March 2014 and work for the YMCA. More than anything, I like to spend time with my family. I love outdoor adventures and creative projects. I like running, dancing, cooking, and being lazy watching movies with my family

Britni gives credit to her wonderful husband and children for their support on this journey.

What made you decide you were ready to lose the weight?
At the beginning of 2013, I decided that I was finally going to lose the weight. I was unhappy with my body and very uncomfortable. I was having back pain and daily heartburn for which I was taking double the maximum dose of medication. I was low on energy and easily winded. I was done having babies and wanted to be a better mom to my kids and set a better example for them. I was sick of being unhealthy and set my mind on making a change.

Britni teaches a Zumba class every Tuesday morning at the Dunigan YMCA.

What helped the most in your process?
What helped the most was support from my family and friends. I have been very open and honest along my journey. I have shared scale pictures of my actual weight and very personal pictures and stories on social media and have received an amazing amount of support and encouragement. Another thing that helped was getting involved in group exercise classes. Whenever I was on my own it was easier to put off workouts. Having a set time to be there and friends who expected me helped keep me on track.

Who did you lose the weight for?
First, I lost the weight for myself. If you aren't doing it for yourself you probably won't be successful. I needed to feel good again before I could do good for anyone else. I had to learn to love myself, find my own self-confidence and self-worth. Also, I did it for my family. They have always loved me any way that I was. But, I wanted to be better for them. I wanted to be able to keep up with my kids and not just be sitting on the sidelines.

How much did you lose?
At the beginning of 2013, I weighed 270lbs. I started walking and worked up to running. I started going to classes at the Y, like kickboxing and Zumba. I also decided to train for my first half marathon. I was determined and kept a schedule. By half marathon time I was down 72 lbs. I ran it at 198 lbs. and didn't walk a single step of that 13.1 miles. That has been my lowest weight so far. Since then, and after starting some strength training and also struggling with binge eating I have gained some weight. But, I have still seen changes in my body and have done well maintaining my weight loss.

How has your family helped you on this journey?
My family has been a huge help on this journey. Most of all, my husband. He encourages me, loves me through my ups and downs, runs with me and comes to my Zumba classes. I also have my parents and sisters who have helped encourage and inspire me.

How do you make it work with working and having a family?
Keeping a schedule isn't always easy with kids and jobs! I have gotten better about planning ahead and learning to juggle things around. My husband and I work opposite shifts. He works second shift and I work 32 hours over three nights a week on third shift. So, someone is with the kids while the other is working or sleeping. I spend time at the gym while kids are at school or still sleeping with daddy! If I go at night I take the kids with me. My kids can also go with me while I lead Zumba classes.

Do you feel like you are at your goal, or are you going to keep going?
I do have a healthy weight goal of 160 lbs. I plan to continue strength training, healthy eating and exercising. However, I am so proud of how hard I have worked and how far I have come. I have my struggles, but it has been a lifestyle change for me. It's not just a diet or about weight loss. It is about being healthy, loving myself and enjoying life!

Being a working mom, myself, I find myself completely inspired by Britni’s journey.