My name is Ally Kenison, and I am currently a personal trainer and a dance instructor. I started working with Tracie one-on-one on September 11, 2012. I will start out by saying that working with her is hands down the best thing I have ever done for myself, and I truly don’t know where I would be right now if I hadn’t worked with her. However, I will not sugarcoat this testimonial. This was very hard work, and sometimes frustrating. I would consistently read Tracie’s blog posts and other testimonials, getting so irritated with people that only wrote positive things through their whole journey. Seriously!? Let’s get real—getting healthy is not easy, but Tracie definitely helped me break it all down and take it one step at a time.
Let me start with why I wanted to meet with her in the first place. Being a dancer since the age of five, I have always struggled with eating disorders and a desperate need to fit the image of a ballerina. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with a high metabolism and long skinny legs (thanks Mom and Dad). I was also brought up with quite possibly the worst eating habits you can imagine. My sister and I would bring a whole loaf of bread, a stick of margarine, and the TOASTER into the living room, easily eating the entire loaf while watching cartoons. Long nights of dance class meant Taco Bell drive-thru and lots of candy. I was never home for dinner so my family never cooked and we lived on fast food. Every day.
This lifestyle remained the same through college, but I finally felt like I got control of my health when I lived on my own. I learned a lot about nutrition when I started personal training, and I realized the importance of looking my best in my career. I ate the highest quality shakes and bars to increase my protein intake and help me burn fat, I ate low-sugar everything, and whole-wheat pasta. I also worked out until I almost passed out and couldn’t move the next day…how healthy! Even though my personal trainer friends told me I was doing everything correctly, it seemed that I lost and gained the same 10 pounds over and over again. I would put myself on a strict diet, then break it and binge on cookies and doughnuts until I couldn’t move.
This cycle continued over and over in my life, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t break it. It wasn’t until I tried out for a professional dance team that I realized my health was really an issue. When I found out I made the team, I was absolutely ecstatic. Dancing for a professional sports team and performing in front of 40,000 people was such a great thing to put on my resume. However, after the “boot camp” month, when I was told I had to lose 4.5% body fat and 13 pounds (in a MONTH!), I realized the harsh reality of what this team was really about. After cutting out almost all carbohydrates, working out 2-3 times a day, and dropping hundreds of dollars on my own personal trainer, I felt miserable. I ended up losing the body fat I needed to, but gained it all back throughout the rest of the season. I ended up quitting early, and kept gaining more and more weight as I started eating “normally” again. I was the heaviest I had been in my life, and I felt absolutely disgusting. I was also getting sick every day with stomach cramps and bloating.
When one of my fellow trainers told me to meet with Tracie, I was pretty hesitant and pessimistic about it. I thought to myself: What had I not tried before? How could I give up any more food? I’m going to get the same results I always have. I just wasn’t blessed with great genes and I will never be a dancer. Those were all excuses—the real truth was, I could look great, and FEEL even better. However, this journey was NOT all fun and games; I struggled a lot, especially at first. Instead of sugarcoating everything for you, I wanted to highlight how I was feeling at each stage of my journey. So here goes…
Stage 1 – Cleaning up what I was putting into my body.
I was terrified that Tracie was going to make me give up everything and I would be eating grass or something. However, Tracie really broke it all down for me one step at a time. She gave me a detailed shopping list and very small weekly goals. It took me hours to make my first shopping list and try to find everything at the co-op. And holy moly was I alarmed when I spent more than double on my groceries than what I would normally spend. This had better be worth it. After the first trip, I knew what I was looking for and my shopping trips were a breeze because everything was laid out for me. One huge thing that I started doing was…COOKING! I had never cooked anything more than macaroni and cheese before I started Tracie’s sessions, so it felt great to be able to make something and have it taste really great.
My parents were very surprised when I invited them over and cooked for them…I even hosted Thanksgiving! I was also surprised that I actually enjoyed the food I was eating. It didn’t seem like the “diet food” I was used to, so I worried that this would really work. Another thing I started noticing was that I didn’t crave food like I used to, and I stopped binge eating…it was like a miracle! I had gone through years of counseling for disordered eating that didn’t help, and here I was, learning to regulate my blood sugar to fix all of it! While all of these small miracles were happening, I still got discouraged. After a couple weigh-ins and not losing weight overnight like I used to, I was extremely frustrated. I couldn’t even stand to look at pictures of myself…I felt like a hippo. My bloating had gone down, I wasn’t feeling sick every day, I didn’t feel hungry all the time, and I was learning to cook, but that’s not the point! I wanted to get skinny!
Stage 2 – Realizing the importance of the stressors outside of my body.
In this stage, I learned how detrimental stress could be on my life and my progress toward a healthier me. I learned new ways to relax (without drinking wine!), like breathing exercises and taking a walk. But just as I started to feel better and I was finally starting to lose some weight, my whole world crumbled around me. My dad had a heart attack and a couple of strokes, my grandma went into the hospital, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer all within a couple of months. Through all of these horrible things happening, I managed to stay in control of my healthy habits that Tracie taught me. (Wow!) Now, more than ever, I realized why I spent so much money on these one-on-one sessions. I started thinking thoughts like: I don’t want to be sick. I don’t want to have heart disease like my dad or get cancer like my mom. I want to be healthy enough in my body and mind so that I can handle what life throws at me. Maybe it’s not all about being skinny…
Stage 3 – Feeling Beautiful from the Inside Out.
It wasn’t until I learned to manage my stress levels and focused on having a more positive outlook that I started to lose weight! It took a long time to notice the changes on the outside, but it’s amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come on this inside. If I can see a silver lining in all of my family’s health problems, I can see the silver lining in anything, and I can stay happy and healthy. I finally feel like my physical body reflects my spiritual body—strong, resilient, energetic, and healthy. Also…it’s nice to hear compliments on my decreasing waistline.
All in all, I want you to know that working with Tracie was the best thing I have ever done. It was expensive, it was challenging, and Tracie’s ideas went against a lot of things I had learned in the past. However, I kept an open mind, and Tracie helped me be patient and stick with it. When I started, I couldn’t wait to be a success story, and look at me now! I have lost about 12 pounds, but what I have gained in my life is much more important. I am sure I will still go through many more stages in my life, but I know I will never go back to where I started—depressed, bloated, and unhealthy. What Tracie says is completely true…Change Your Plate, Change Your LIFE!