Shari, introduce yourself to the readers of the ILKB blog!
My name is Shari Baldwin, and I live in Uniondale, NY. I’m an executive administrative assistant for a high-profile entrepreneur – I can’t disclose who, sorry! I first joined ILKB way back in 2009. When I first started, I admit I was pretty on-and-off with classes. But now, I’m incredibly motivated – I kickbox 6 days a week, and sometimes even double up with twice-a-day workouts. It’s helped me go from 350 pounds to 193, and I’m closing in on my goal weight of 170.
It’s pretty obvious from the before-and-after photo that your transformation has been dramatic. How long did it take to achieve this level of fitness, and what did you do to achieve it?
I’ve been going strong with ILKB for about 16 months now, but it took me 10 years to actually get to the point where I said “enough is enough.” I was tired of looking at myself in the mirror the way that I was. Now, I’ve made kickboxing a part of my life. I’ve even gotten my kids into it! My 14-year-old daughter actually does classes with me. We only recently found out she’s epileptic, and she finds kickboxing incredibly therapeutic. And my younger one, who’s 10, is legally blind and taking self-defense classes.
Can you tell me a little bit about the moment you decided to begin a healthier, more active lifestyle? What was your state of mind like?
It was the summer of 2014. I’d taken my kids on our yearly vacation, to the Bahamas. There was a water park there. They had a slide that was 30 feet high, so we were waiting in line. Then, to see if I was able to go on the ride, they weighed me in front of everyone there. How embarrassing that was. I was mortified, just sick to my stomach. They weren’t even nice about it. They said I weighed 350 pounds. I was embarrassed, sure, but my kids were embarrassed for me. My kids love me no matter what size I am, but something in me clicked then. I said, “I gotta get off my behind and lose this weight.”
How did I Love Kickboxing help you shed the weight and stay on track?
Believe it or not, ILKB has helped me in so many ways. Actually, it saved my life. I was so depressed. I honestly think I would have died from all the health issues I had – high cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetic. I don’t have any of those issues anymore. So, yeah, it basically saved my life. I have a partner in class and she challenges me, and I challenge her, and we share bags. My classmates are some of my closest friends, you’d think I’d known them for 20 years.
Do you have a favorite class or trainer? What makes it your favorite?
I have two! Lizzie and Andrew. They just keep the classes fun and full of energy. Their personalities alone make you crack up, and keep you coming back. Plus, they check on you one-on-one. Now, I can actually take criticism – I used to not be able to. But with someone pushing you and telling you that you can do it, it’s motivating. Honestly, all the trainers are great, but I find that my personality click the most with Lizzie and Andrew.
What’s your favorite part of class?
I can tell you what I hate! Burpees! (Laughs) My favorite part, believe it or not, is the warmup, because that’s where you get a lot of your core workout. A lot of people would disagree, because it’s the roughest part of the class. But that’s where I work out my frustrations. If my husband didn’t take out the trash or if the kids got on my nerves, I take it out in the warmup.
What role did diet play in the process?
I was eating like total crap before. Fast food, margarine, and lots of crab – seafood is my weakness. Now, I’m on a strict high-protein diet. I don’t do any sugar or carbs. I made small changes, like changing all my cheeses to low-fat and reduced-sodium. Swapping high-fat oil for olive oil or cooking sprays. Reading labels to see what’s actually in the food I’m eating. And since I aim for 80 grams of protein a day, I still can eat the seafood I love. Now, I just do it in moderation.
Thousands of people have the desire to get fit, but not the follow through. What made the difference for you?
My daughter is a huge reason for me to stay on track. She just turned 14, and we found out she has epilepsy. Not only do I have to fight for her, I have to fight for my 10-year-old daughter who’s legally blind. They tried to put her in special-ed classes – she doesn’t need special ed, she just can’t see! I fought to keep her in regular classes. And I had to fight for myself, too. I had to force myself into a different mindset. I had to stop making excuses. And that’s what people do – they think, “Oh, I can’t do that” or “I’m too heavy.” I had to stop dreaming and start doing.
Many people start strong, but gradually start giving in to old habits. What would you advise others do in order to keep on track?
- Don’t give up.
- As my grandma would tell me, “Fight the temptation!” You’ll find that healthy eating can be just as fun.
- Write your goals down. Soon, you’ll see yourself kicking those goals in the face.
- Make friends in class. They’ll push you when you think you can’t go any farther.
How has your life changed since you transformed? Have you noticed changes in your confidence? How does this affect your life in positive ways?
My self-esteem is at an all-time high! I pretended to have confidence when I was a big girl, but deep down, I didn’t. I just didn’t want my family to see my depressed. Now, I get to change other people’s lives when I give my testimony, when they hear my story. I have energy to run around with my daughter. I don’t get tired going up steps. I don’t sleep in the middle of the day. I still look at myself in the mirror and think “Is this really me? Am I dreaming?” You see, I was 110 pounds in high school. But when I started having kids, I would eat and sleep just like the baby would: wake up, eat, sleep. After a while, I’d pay for gym memberships but never go. Then I started piling on weight, and I just gave up. Now I have tons of energy, I feel good, I’m lighter… I would have never thought I’d be such a “fitness person” the way I am now.
So where are you going from here? What’s the next step?
Well, right now I’m in ILKB’s 45-day challenge. Summer was rough, because my friends wanted to go out and drink. Now that it’s Fall, I can go into drinking hibernation! My next steps are to cross the finish line of my goal weight, and start really motivating others to dedicate a small part of their life to ILKB.
I’m currently writing a book about how kickboxing changed my life. I’m drafting a copy now – I’m on chapter 8 out of 12. The book will tell my story from when I was 400 pounds 10 years ago, to where I am now. I have a little notebook I carry around that I write everything down in.
This Sunday is my birthday, and I’m actually having my birthday dinner in the parking lot of ILKB. I’m not kidding when I say kickboxing has really, truly become part of who I am, and that the friends who I’ve met through ILKB will be my friends for the rest of my life.