We are so thrilled to share the journey of a special PFC camper, Donna. Coming from the fast-paced LA life as top executive by day and moonlighting as comedian by night, four years ago, Donna measured success by the amount of hours she could work in a day. In other words, she traded her health for wealth.
Fast forward to today and our favorite funny girl is healthy, happy, President of an ever-growing foundation that supports aspiring female comedians and headlining her own one-woman show, From Southern Belle To Mrs. Cartel on Off Broadway. But enough from us, we’ll let Donna tell you her inspiring story and life lessons from fitness camp in her own words.
In November 2011 I had been off of work for a few months and just accepted a new position. I thought Dear God I can’t go back to work looking worse than when I left. Donna, what in the world are you going to do about this??
Earlier in the year I had experienced the death of one of my closest friends and my company had been acquired. Work defined me and I was one of those executives that believed that the measure of your worth was how many hours you work. So taking a few months off was in order. I traveled, rested and started working out consistently but my body wasn’t reflecting the work I was putting in. Now it was time to reenter the world and I wanted to be my best self. And let’s be honest, I wanted to look great. I worried that starting back in a high powered stressful position I would go back to my old ways of poor eating, no exercise and no balance in my life. I needed help. So I started Googling “fat camp” and PFC came up and it looked amazing and scary. Decision made! I was off to fat camp.
I decided to video blog my “fat camp” experience for what I now lovingly refer to my 11 loyal viewers. Rewatching my first video tonight is tough because I look so different but mostly to me I look unhappy. That is not the case today. Not because my life is now miraculously wonderful and without challenge of course. Quite the opposite!
I’ve learned so much about myself and living my healthiest life that I wanted to share the top 7 things I’ve learned through my journey with PFC.
1. It’s not about a number
Throughout my 4 year relationship with PFC I have basically only lost a total of 12 pounds. I know this sounds crazy looking at the before and after photo but it’s true. What being a part of PFC has taught me is that it’s how my body changes that counts, not a number. I’ll be honest and say that I still want the number to be lower but results like these are hard to dispute!
2. You have to start somewhere so don’t judge
Want to find something I hate about myself…just look in the mirror. To this day even with all the success I’ve had I still won’t look at myself in the mirror when I work out. It drives the PFC trainers crazy. I’m a judger and I’m great at it!
We are our own worst enemy. One of my favorite things about being a part of the PFC family is the people, campers and staff alike. I find myself in awe of just about every camper I’ve ever met. They are brave, they have overcome so much, they are changing their lives, they are (fill in the blank because it’s endless). Never once have I thought “Ugh they look horrible or sheesh how did they let themselves get out of shape or insert judgemental snipe here.” Why? Because everyone one of these people is awesome for taking the steps to improve their lives. But I can assure you that everyone is judging themselves in some way. So stop! Don’t do it!
3. I am only in competition with myself
On my first stay at PFC I found myself in a self proclaimed competition with everyone there. Didn’t matter what age, weight or fitness level, I wanted to win. And I didn’t win against anyone really. It got to me every day and it didn’t stop until the end of the week during my first Double Peaks.
I can assure you that on this day I judged the way I looked. This kind of thinking is embedded in us. Stop! I wish I was as skinny as I was when I was younger but I’m certain I didn’t think I was skinny at the time.
Double Peaks is a timed giant hill that you hike up every Friday at PFC. Trust me, it’s horrific and fantastic. I was dead last and as I was beating myself up as I huffed and puffed up the hill I stopped and looked up. The view was incredible and I realized that while I was busy with my head down being angry about everyone beating me I was missing out on the experience. I thought how this lesson was transferable to anything in life really and I decided that from that day on that I would no longer compare myself to everyone else. I would only strive to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday
4. Go to sleep, NOW
I have struggled with my weight my whole life but specifically the past 10 years or so. I have also struggled with insomnia for years. It has become clear that as I start to stay up later and later, I begin to gain my weight back. This is a struggle that I haven’t been able to tackle yet so the way that I’ve addressed this is by making an annual trip to PFC. I go every Thanksgiving and opt to have a roommate for the week. I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing roommates and a not so great one but a roommate requires me to be courteous and go to bed early. It forces me to adopt an earlier bedtime and it sticks for months.
I haven’t cracked the code on this one yet because as I sit here today I am struggling with gaining weight back because I am not sleeping. I can only acknowledge it and continue to try to improve here but I find it difficult.
5. You have to have a sense of humor
Well this is just a good philosophy for life in general but it is a must for fat campers! You are hot, tired, cranky, hungry and the list goes on while you are there. One of my favorite memories is during my first trip to PFC and we had a ridiculously hard beach bootcamp and as you can see by the video I was horrible at it. It’s hard to watch but it’s funny. John, another camper, was encouraging me and he kept saying “your butt is in orbit” because I clearly could not do that bear crawl. After we were done my roommate Shira said “I don’t think your butt is big.” I’m like “huh?” She said “Well John kept saying your butt is enormous.” We laughed for days.
Or when we went kayaking another year and a lovely camper Denise asked if anyone had ever fallen out of the boat before. And nope not a one. What was cool about the kayaking was all the sea lions that were swimming with us. At one point I saw a light colored sea lion that was hanging onto the back of another campers boat and I was like “I want a sea lion to hang onto the back of my kayak!” And someone said “No you idiot, that’s Denise! She fell out of her kayak.” She was a trouper and she said later you don’t know what terror is until you have to be deadlifted out of the water by Ryan our trainer.
I could go on and on about the amazing folks I’ve had the opportunity to share so many laughs with during my stays at PFC. Fun and sharing incredible moments is part of the magic of PFC.
Also in life keeping a sense of humor about you when things aren’t going right or when you have to get yourself back on track is a good lesson that I have taken away from my experience at PFC.
6. My journey will never be over
This could be discouraging to some but it shouldn’t be. I have learned for me that as long as I can continue to return to PFC to reset and recharge then that’s what I’ll do. It works for me. And sure I have moments, heck days and weeks, where I am disappointed in myself when I start to slip back into my old ways and by default gain some weight back. I’m not that disciplined and I do my best most days. Weight for me will always be an issue I suspect.
I’ve learned I eat my emotions. I’ve had a bad day so I’m going through the drive thru at Chick-Fil-A. I’ve tried to stop myself and I literally appear not to be in control of my car. So when that happens see #2, #3 and #5 and move on. Get up tomorrow and try again. My last video blog at camp. The difference from the first one to this one is something that I’m proud of yet tomorrow I wake up to continue my journey.
Bottom line, being a part of the PFC family has changed my life. That alone is worth the price of admission. The fact that I have come out the other side looking better than I ever have is in many ways just a bonus. I know myself better than ever, I know my body and how to make this one body I have its very best if I choose to make the right choices. You come to PFC for one reason, to lose weight and you quickly realize you are there to heal your soul. And trust me, it’s a beautiful thing.
Continue to follow Donna’s journey on Instagram and Twitter | @bestofdonna
Visit our website to see more before and after weight loss success stories.