There are happy people and then there is Tisha Birch of Presque Isle, who sets a new standard. Tisha's smile lights up a room. She never complains, first thinking to herself, "If today were the end of the world, would this really matter? If not, I'll let it go."
She is a very active mother of four, a nose-to-the-grind employee and a loyal friend and wife. Quite simply, she gets things done with boundless energy. She cheers on her kids in soccer, dance, track and more all while working several jobs. In her life, she appreciates hard work, family, friends, fitness and faith.
If you met Tisha today, you would assume she has always been spunky and full of joy. Not true. Tisha's health and energy plummeted when she gained 60 pounds during her first pregnancy. She did not take the weight off before her next baby. That cycle kept repeating. After the birth of her fourth child, at the age of 25, she was at her heaviest, weighing 235 pounds. Her blood pressure was so high that she was at risk of having a stroke. During her fifth pregnancy, she lost the baby late in the second trimester. Doctors could not diagnose what caused the painful loss, but Tisha blamed her own poor health.?She knew she needed to take control.
When a friend asked her join a local Corporate Fit Challenge through Bay Athletic Club she jumped at it. This six-week program was such a small slice of time in her life, but it was just the jumpstart she needed to set her life on fire. For the first time, she invested time in herself. With three jobs, four kids, a husband and a household, she made it a priority to exercise and choose better foods.
She no longer ate what was convenient; she ate what fueled her body. Her efforts paid off. She lost her first eight pounds and more importantly proved to herself that success was possible. She realized that weight loss and good health doesn't happen over night, but over many nights. It takes consistent effort and determination. She harnessed willpower and surrounded herself with people who believed in her, and believed in healthy living.
After the Corporate Fit Challenge, Tisha continued with power walks, smaller portions and eliminated soda and fast food. She now enjoys group exercise classes several times per week and daily Shakoleogy meal replacements for lunch in her busy, on-the-go life.
When Tisha was asked to share her story to inspire others in our community to take the first step, she hand wrote page after page in her journal, writing, rewriting, crossing out and starting over. She said it was hard to put the full transformation into words.
But the numbers speak for themselves. Today she is 85 pounds lighter, six pant sizes smaller and her blood pressure is in a normal range. ?
That's not all. Success in one area of her health led to success in another. After losing weight and embracing fitness and nutritious eating, she successfully quit smoking after 22 years. The strength came from a deeper place. She struggled, fought the temptation and replaced her after dinner smoke with a walk. She is not going back, only forward. She even has a motivational quote and picture as the screen saver on her phone to remind herself that she deserves to create a healthy future and not be defined or confined by her past.
Tisha feels strong and beautiful on the inside and out and is proud to be a healthy, confident role model for her four children. She reclaimed her health and accepts each day as a gift and an opportunity to give, to live to love and to matter.
Trina Gray is the owner of Bay Athletic Club, a mother of two, a national presenter on fitness and wellness and a change agent in the community. Her wellness column appears monthly.