Burning with Grace

Grace Chambers hard at work.
Grace Chambers hard at work.

by Latoya Burnham

It takes a certain amount of determination to keep going when the muscles are burning, your body is screaming and your mind is saying, “Just quit already, please”.

But Grace Chambers and her band of early morning buddies in exercise know how to keep each other motivated.

In the dead of the morning, when there was not a lick of light in the sky, the group of five or sometimes six women were sweating the pounds and calories away, while getting fit with trainer Lana Lashley.

Grace, current Marketing Manager with DaCosta Mannings Inc., was just coming off a fast and admits that all her strength is not totally there yet. But the three rounds of exercise rotations, with multiple reps keep her on her toes, sometimes literally.

Ask her how it all began and she immediately recites, “July 25, 2011”, and almost like she realises how significant it is that she still remembers the date, Grace laughs.

Yes, she remembers the date because it was a turning point in her life. She was 175 pounds, wearing size 12 clothes and depressed because she did not like the way she looked or felt.

“Pretty much I became lazy. I used to exercise before and spent four years being just sedentary so the weight kept going on and on and I had to buy more and more clothes.

“So I was like, okay Grace. I went shopping that same year and I was like Oh my God, I’m a size 12, and I’m fitting clothes and the clothes can’t fit. Then I got depressed,” she explained.

lovingmegracechamberstretchSo when she returned to Barbados after her trip, she attended a church group where Lana was also there and she approached her about getting fit again. Thus began her foray back into the world of exercise – a 5:30 a.m. arrangement, three times per week, with another routine of running/jogging twice a week, coupled with a completely new eating regime.

“I think for me it was more of being depressed and buying clothes and knowing that each time you have to buy a bigger size, and a bigger size after coming from a size eight before. So yeah, that was the depression stage.”

Her goal was to lose 30 pounds: “I knew it wasn’t going to be 30 pounds in a month and it was going to be lots of hard work, but I was determined bit by bit to take that weight off”.

Once she began she did not stop, not even when she realised she had hit that plateau that every exercise routine does, when your body seems like it is refusing to lose any more weight. She said it was a process she believed everyone goes through and the key is to keep at it and surround yourself with encouragement like she did, in the form of her group of female exercise buddies – Natalie Hunte, Fulvia Stevens and now Dione Collymore.

So when times get hard the group is there to call her to get up and get at it and even keep her on track with her meals. Together they swap recipes like where each member makes a no-meat soup and fills a container for each member. Then they get together and swap food, so for the entire week, they have a meal at the ready that is not going to pile on the pounds.

They do breakfast together sometimes as well and honestly admit when they fall off the wagon and indulge themselves a bit because it means getting back on track soon.

In the group, laughter and conversation flow smoothly, as does advice, tidbits about food and even the catch-up on what each other is up to. It’s become essentially a close-knit group of friends.

“We were really into training and it all comes to controlling the amounts that you eat and trying to eat more healthy choices and alternatives in terms of your greens and your proteins and fruits and vegetables.”

This does not mean it has been easy – far from.

“It was hard, especially the first three months because I could not use flour. Can you imagine not eating macaroni pie, rice, bread, crackers? I had to shock the body into new routine, but I ate a lot of ground provisions. So I supplemented the processed foods for ground provisions.”

Grace remembered that by July last year she was down from a size 12 to a size 8, and by December those new size eight outfits she had recently bought could no longer fit because she was embracing new size six curves.

And how does it all feel?

“It is a great motivator to know that I even at a size 12 I had clothes that could not fit. To look at those pieces now and say I used to be that.” latoyaburnham@barbadostoday.bb

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