By: Heather Boos
A number of years back I solicited Phil to set me up with a training system to help me loose the 60+ Lbs I gained over the course of two pregnancies and an overall sedentary lifestyle. I wasn’t happy in my own skin and wanted to become a healthy role model for my boys, and be the best Mom I could be! He wrote me out a couple routines and he choose the one that best fit the facility that was available to me, he even came to the gym with me to show me what to do and how to do it. I stuck to it for over 4 months and felt great, I was gaining muscle and slimming down. Unfortunately, I started taking on 16 credit hour semesters and spread myself rather thin and stopped going to the gym. Needless to say, I stayed very busy with my school and family for the next few years and then I graduated… One of the most life changing days of my life, or so I thought!
Fast forward to July 2011, I had kept in touch with Phil over his years out of state, he and my husband, Ray had grown up together and are practically brothers. He had moved back to Topeka with his wife and family and wanted Ray to start working out with him. I was thrilled that Ray, being a sedentary kind of guy as well, wanted to get healthy. This is especially important since Ray had been plagued (almost monthly) with severe flair-ups of Gout. Ray would be in such severe pain that walking was excruciating, and missed weeks of work at times due to the severity of the disease. Ray had to take medication daily to prevent flair-ups, and when he had a flair-up had to take another medication whose side effects were almost as bad as the flair-up. We changed our diet, but the one thing that was repeatedly suggested by his Doctor: Exercise, was difficult with the frequency of his Gout flare-ups! Finally Ray’s Dr. found a medication that actually worked for him!!! His Gout all but disappeared. The downside is that the medication cost us, even with insurance over 300$ for a 3 month supply. It was worth it to have him pain free, and able to start working out. Ray and Phil started to lift together, and I was waiting for the opportunity to meet the lady’s that stole our Phil’s heart. About the 2nd week of June, I met the woman who would FOREVER change my life!
The Stevens’ had invited our family over for dinner. We had a great time and over the course of the evening Sarah had mentioned that she wanted someone to work out with. Being a tubby Mama for all my years of laziness, I was in awe of her strength, knowledge, and passion for lifting and fitness overall and committed to being her lifting buddy. We started lifting in the afternoons and I began to see the strength I knew was hiding deep down inside of me my entire life, but always felt was not attainable. After the official Strength Guild opening I began to see myself growing more confident, proud, and capable of being an athlete.
Sure, I played soccer as a kid and a little basketball in high school but never really had the drive or desire to be, in my mind, what I saw as an athlete. An athlete who trained in the gym, worked hard on the field/court with their team mates to be the best at what they do. I enjoyed watching others following their passions and excelling at their chosen sports, all the while, I felt that that was unattainable for me, I did not excel at any sport, and I’ll admit it, I quit playing basketball because I didn’t feel like a part of the team…. Or whatever the excuse was, it just didn’t fit.
Sarah and Phil made me feel like I belonged in the gym and it quickly became my “Happy Place”, the one place I didn’t have to be a Teacher, Mommy, Wife, Daughter … A place where I was just me, working towards being the strongest me I could be, supporting my fellow Guildies! I found a place that I felt a truly belonged and had people around me who support, cheer on, or chew me out if I don’t make depth on my squats. I surprised the heck out of myself and began taking great pride in the little victories; 50 sit-ups in under 2 minutes, a killer 400 meter farmers carry in a hair over 4 minutes, hitting 200# on my back squat , and being known at work as “one of the fittest people in the building”. I even found myself competing in Strength Guilds Olympic and Power lifting meets though I never really saw myself as a competitor either. Unfortunately for me, life began to get in the way.
This year was my first year teaching an Early Childhood Special Education classroom. I found that the amount of time I had to get all of my work done was spilling into my time in the gym, and I started seeing my friends in the gym getting stronger as I was struggling to get into the gym more than once a week. Disappointed in myself, I began to lose the motivation that was once running ramped. Out of the gym for a month or more at a time, loosing strength that I once took great pride in only to become more and more frustrated. I started to feel distant from many of the people I came to see as family, my attempt to find motivation became a struggle until the end of the school year.
Phil mentioned that he was going to compete in the KC Highland Games, events that I had always had an interest in, and asked Ray if he would like to compete as well. Ray and I signed on to start training for the event. A week later I rolled my ankle which led to another month out of the gym but I was determined to give the Highland Games a try. It healed up (at least good enough for me to move without pain) and we trained hard for the few weeks leading up to the event. The day came and I was so excited, Phil, Sarah, friends and family came to watch and I gave it my best! After the day’s events I was awarded with a 2nd place trophy for my class and the best part of all, I am finally able to call myself an athlete!! I have my motivation, I have found my sport, and I owe it ALL to Phil and Sarah Stevens!
We owe you both so much for what you have given us. Thanks to you Ray no longer has to take medication for his Gout, I have gone from a size 18 to a 10, found my confidence, have the energy to keep up with 24 special needs children on a daily basis, am a positive role model for my boys, and have made so many friends that I know will always be there for me when I need advice, or a kick in the pants! We love you all so much, thank you for giving me my life back, and helping me find a part of me that has been hiding for so long! This has been an amazing year, to say the least, and I am so excited to be here with you all as you pursue your dreams and passion for training.