My journey started 3 years ago, at age of 39, I found myself overweight and tired most of the time. That was when I embarked on a personal challenge for my 40th birthday and decided to dedicate the next entire year to give myself the gift of health.

I started small, maybe even tiny, with outdoor walks. My body responded almost instantly, which I anticipated in part, but the wonders it did for my soul were immeasurable. Again, I started small, with short walks. As I would take them, I found myself successfully relaxing for the first time in a long time. Gradually my walks increased in time, and I would walk for an hour at a time enjoying the outdoors, absorbing the sounds, and the scents. It became my own special time for relaxation, for myself. I should clarify that I did not have an athletic history to tap into, this was for me a new found joy.

My joy turned into motivation, and I began to learn about healthier foods and prepare them. I then joined a kickboxing class. The class was full of ladies in little tiny tops and shorts and me, with my oversized men's t-shirt and leggings, trying to hold on to that motivation. I nearly vomited after the first five minutes of the warm up, and quite literally had a difficult time breathing. I can't actually recall a single other instance in my life in which I wanted to quit quite as badly. But, conviction will carry you a long way, and I made a promise to myself: to take it slow but not to give up. Three days later when I showed up to the class again, the instructor stared at me astounded and admitted that he never would have guessed that I would return.

It wasn't a glamorous improvement montage I embarked on, but it was improvement. I struggled many days and on the days I didn't want to go I forced myself and worked the hardest.

My first attempt at running was in combination with walking. I would alternate walking and running from one lamp-post to another. When that became slightly manageable, I would push myself and say "on this walk I'll try running two lamp posts." As it turns out, last year I was able to run 13 miles straight.

I've always said that baby steps will take us anywhere, and allow us to achieve anything. I feel my journey was a baby steps success story, and believing in myself was the true reason. In order to achieve, we have to believe we can. While I may have given myself a whole year, in reality it took me seven months the meet my challenge.

Now, I walk and walk and walk outdoors, all the time. It is so incredibly beneficial for the body. My 8 year-old son walks with me and I constantly tell

him that it's good for our hearts to walk. Our 'inside' joke has become "yes, it's good for the heart but it's especially good for the butt!!!"

Now, as my journey continues, my goal is to inspire others to be fit and healthy; to inspire them to believe in themselves. I do not promise you any easy, glamorous path to health, but I offer the tools to work your way to it. I love the outdoors and I love to exercise. FreedomFIT is my new mission. I hope to see FreedomFIT exercise equipment everywhere and to know that anyone can have the opportunity to give themselves the gift of health and fitness whether or not they are able to join a gym or fitness center.

With love to all. we can do it!

Dina L.