A university professor and renowned researcher makes a shift towards healthy living reclaiming her energy and zest for life. Miriam is the first person to officially work with FitMetabolism under the new World Health Club partnership.
Before every workout session at World Health Club, Miriam walks around the track carrying in her hands the 35 pounds she has lost since July.
For Miriam, this serves as a reminder of how the story of her life has changed.
Two years ago it occurred to Miriam that her life was out of balance. A voice inside herself spoke. “Now is the time. Now is the time.”
Years ago, Miriam experienced a freak accident that would change the course of her life. As a young woman she worked her way to a career in teaching by completing a master’s degree, volunteering in Africa, and working six years in an Ontario high school.
While living the life she had created for herself, she would became the victim of a foolish childhood prank. While in a classroom at her high school, Miriam fell hard to the ground tripping over a guitar wire wound between two desks. The wire was deliberately placed by one of the students who intended it to be a trip wire. The wire was not meant for her. Unfortunately Miriam found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. She fell hard enough to put a hole through the knee cap, require three successive surgeries, incapacitate her ability to do the activities she enjoyed, including teach.
Miriam was told that she needed to leave behind the career she had dedicated eight years of her life to in order to reduce the stress of constant weight bearing on her knee.
If you ask Miriam about the incident she speaks with absolute grace. You can tell that although it could have been easy to be angry she carries no resentment and places no blame. She won’t deny that at first it seemed to have turned her life upside down but that eventually with the support of her family and friends she was able to move on and seek to redefine her life.
Miriam went back to school and earned her PhD in geography. With the completion of her doctorate degree, she took her research to Africa. A place she fondly remembered and has always loved.
Mentioning the word Africa sparks a glow into Miriam’s face and you can see that love running within her. Miriam believes that there are so many positive, brave, intelligent people who happen to be poor but who are incredibly rich as far as their family and community values go. Hearing Miriam speak of Africa I got the sense that the ‘rich’ culture of Africa has become in a way, part of her salvation and her life joy. It has woven itself into her soul repairing the wounds and drafting an architecture of which to give her life form.
As a social urban geographer with the University of Calgary, Miriam studies the links between HIV/AIDS and urban food security. She works with a team of researchers and support staff that are like family to her. She has a very close relationship with her assistant from Zimbabwe and his family. Over the many years, she has watched and grown into their family. He and his wife have three children, one named in her likeness, Heather Miriam.
Miriam will say she travels to Africa once a year if she’s lucky. Her work in the field has been a post of fulfillment and provided her with many opportunities. Nothing will take away from that. But after years of dedicated hard work to her career she felt the need to shift her life balance to include physical well being.
The gateway towards that goal was propped open and she decided to peer in.
A friend of hers was a regular exerciser and Miriam approached her. She recommended World Health Club and the idea fit well with Miriam’s interest to improve her fitness in an accessible and comfortable setting.
Miriam was concerned about her knees. The classroom injury had taken its toll, had stopped her from doing the activities she liked with such consistency and intensity as she had before. But with excellent medical care and attention she was able to return to the squash courts for many years albeit at a reduced pace.
In another turn of events Miriam suffered an injury to her intact right knee which also required a surgical repair and long rehabilitation. After enduring those numerous physical hardships in both knees she was cautious to get going again.
At World Health Club, Miriam was paired with a trainer to facilitate her exercise program.. Workouts at first were very challenging. She recalls her first attempts on the rowing machine only lasting a few minutes at most. She soon progressed to complete a 45 minute rowing session. Her efforts at the gym were paying off and her knee seemed to be keeping up nicely.
Miriam was pleased with her fitness gains and the support she had from Kim but she was not achieving the goals she had for changing her body weight. Miriam’s weight had not changed more than a couple of pounds after almost a year and a half of regular exercise.
In retrospect, Miriam tells me that at the time, her mind was set on the belief that she was doing everything she could to create healthful change. She was exercising way more than she had in the past twenty some years. What more could she possibly do?
She eventually approached her trainer requesting further support from a dietician. She was starting to suspect that appropriate nutrition was the missing piece. He advised Miriam that World Health Club had recently partnered with FitMetabolism to provide the very service that she was looking for.
Miriam started with FitMetabolism on July 16th, 2010, her first meeting with practitioner Craig Rieger. Looking back she reveals her skepticism towards Craig’s assurance of her success but acknowledges that it was his enthusiasm that supported her full investment. Miriam smiles and says, “Craig was Craig.”
As she sits here now Miriam bathes in the ‘new life’ she has found and worked for. It is like seeing Africa in her eyes. She is radiant. To her, its ‘absolutely fabulous’.
Miriam tells me she has lost 35.4 pounds as of last week. She has gone down 3 sizes and has to do a double take when she goes shopping. The changes happened quickly and Miriam feels a difficulty in bringing her mind up to speed. Friends are calling her ‘skinny‘ and she says, who are they talking to?
Carrying the weight around the track gives Miriam time for personal reflection where she considers the meaningful outcomes of achieving a healthy weight. She tells me, “its like the extra weight is holding you hostage and you don’t even realize it. You don’t realize how much harder everything is.”
By lowering her weight at FitMetabolism Miriam’s exercise capacity skyrocketed. She was able to accomplish more distance and speed in her workouts and her knee was stilling holding up. Miriam can now complete a 10km rowing session in the time it used to take to do much less. She also lifts weights and works on core exercises with greater efficiency. Miriam proudly claims that her life is dramatically different.
Miriam was trying to determine the last time she felt this good. She tells me that it was 26 years ago and with an expression of disbelief she says she had just returned from her two year volunteer teaching position in Africa, was running an hour at a time, and then after a small pause she looks at me and says before I had any knee injuries.
Miriam is two years shy of her 60th birthday and she doesn’t feel it. She has gone from being obese to overweight to average weight in 6 months. Her ultimate goal is to reach a body composition placing her in the 90th percentile for women her age! There was definitely a time when that did not feel realistic to Miriam but now she believes confidently that that is a far from a lofty goal.
I asked Miriam why FitMetabolism worked for her and these were her exact words, “Its science, its a formula, okay…this is the food you need for your metabolism, food that was from my current diet. The exercise was not onerous and I started to see results right away. Everything was accounted for and explained and it was about more than the scale. I had the support I needed, meeting with Craig, who would be bouncy and positive at 7:20 in the morning. It was never a guessing game and it wasn’t a one formula fits all.”
Miriam continues to bridge her nutritional support strategy with her exercise regime at World Health Club. She emails her weekly results to her World Health training team. Her trainers are positive, engaged, and fully supportive of everything she is doing with FitMetabolism.
Miriam tells me that this has been a gift. She does say that it took hard work, commitment and dedication but that she received the support that she needed.
She feels like she has a ‘SUPER team’ both at FitMetabolism and World Health Club.
With what she has discovered she tells me that she often has to stop herself from going up to people to say, have you heard about this? She believes other lives could benefit too if they had the knowledge and support that she had. But, as is the case, most people don’t know this option exists.
It is Miriam’s hope that in sharing her story others will recognize that no matter what the barriers are, achieving better health is possible.
She tells me that the biggest barrier for her in sharing her story was getting over the embarrassment of how unhealthy she was. Miriam shakes her head, and asks, how did I let it get to that?
I ask how she overcame that barrier and she tells me that Craig made her feel comfortable and reassured her that no matter where she was starting from she could get where she needed with positive support. I also asked her what conclusions she has come to in this journey this was Miriam’s response:
“You HAVE to be totally in tune with your body. You cannotabuse and ignore it and then complain when you have health issues. Oursociety in general is geared towards unhealthy food, unhealthy portionsand a sedentary life. IF you have the right support and encouragement andyou can stick to your commitment to yourself, you can be incredibly ﬁtand healthy- regardless of your age.”
As we wrap up our conversation, Miriam shows me old photographs of herself even pulling out her drivers license. The difference is remarkable. We laugh and we sit back to recognize the amazement of what she has done. I thank her for her openness and her courage. Yes, Miriam’s story can teach us all.
Note: The interview with Miriam took place January 12th, 2011. Miriamʼs total weight loss as of March 16th totals 40.02 pounds. Her body fat percentage is now within a desired range.