Finding Strength in Big and Small Successes

Just a few weeks ago, one of our very own APU Challengers -Deborah Downing (@debdowning)- posted a workout titled “Ten Pounds Down..”. She finished her thought with a comment on her workout: “..visions of twenty can be found with each step taken on the ground. I’M GOING FOR IT!!!”



I contacted her as soon as I caught wind of the post, and personally was amazed to find that it really was true; Deb was not only 10 pounds down, but also excited to lose even more.

When I asked her if she would mind being the star of a success story article, she was modest with herself about her achievements. She humbly admitted to me that she didn’t feel worthy. She had doubts in her mind: “ Why would anyone want to hear from a fat lady how she lost ten pounds, when she has so many more pounds yet to lose?” She felt stupid and insignificant.

Thinking through the past few weeks, Deb’s story began to take shape before her eyes. She finally came to terms with her success: “I’ve earned my ten pound weight loss, plain and simple.” Deb’s positive attitude towards her health and her journey has only appeared to have blossomed as she has opened up to me.

Not only is Deb’s attitude towards her health and her success empowering and an inspiration to all, her interview was equally if not even more inspiring. Please take a moment to read about this graceful and incredibly strong woman’s journey over the past six weeks.


Sydney: What inspired you to join the PK Fitness Summer Challenge?

Deb: My life had become so sedentary. I got back into the workforce as my children reached college age and I needed to help support them financially through college. They are both now college graduates--thanks APU! My work drive time is 45 minutes to an hour each way plus sitting at a desk for 8 hours has been physically overwhelming. I had begun to feel burdened about taking better care of myself but didn't know exactly how to get the ball rolling. So when APU sent the email out about the PK Fitness Summer Challenge I jumped at the chance to work in the change that my mind and body had been craving.


Sydney: Is there a greater reason why you workout? What are your goals?

Deb: I'm 56 years old and overweight. My family has a history of diabetes and heart disease and I really don't want to carry that history forward for myself. My goal is simply to get in better shape so that I can enjoy a healthier life and feel better about myself. Also my husband's health changed dramatically a few years ago and I want to be a healthier me to continue to be able to support him in his "new normal" life.

Deb and Family 

Deb and Family 


Sydney: What does your current workout routine look like?

Deb: Walking is the most natural exercise for me at this point in my life--it puts the least amount of stress on my joints and doesn't require any special training or equipment. I went into my video library (aka laundry room!) and found a DVD I'd purchased years ago titled, "A.M. and P.M. Walking with Debbie Rocker", took off the cellophane wrapper and I now use it to do a 20 minute warm up. When the DVD gets to the cool-down section I hit pause, put my visor and sunglasses on and step out the front door and walk a mile or so. Then I come back in the house and finish the cool-down portion of the DVD. On the weekend when I do my last workout of the week, I usually walk between 3 to 6 miles. When I have access to a pool I really enjoy doing aqua aerobics.

Sydney: Have you made any other lifestyle changes aside from workouts?

Deb: Yes. I've been trying to eat less and be more thoughtful about what I'm eating. I also drink the juice of one whole lemon with a splash of apple cider vinegar in a quart of water every day.


5. What excites you about moving forward with your active lifestyle?

I'm excited about looking and feeling better. It's pretty simple.


6. Were you active prior to the challenge or is working out something that is new to you?

I've always been active in that I love walking on the beach, hiking a forest trail, and being out and about in a rain storm. But as I said earlier, I've been sitting on my behind way too much over the past few years and needed motivation to get moving again.


Deb and Family 

Deb and Family 

7. Would you like to do the program again in the future?

Yes! Please! And thank you! I need the 3 workout a week goal coupled with community to keep me challenged and accountable.


8. Is there anything that you didn't realize you could do prior to this challenge that you now can?

Since the beginning of this challenge, I have shown myself that when things get tough, I am tougher. When the socks I was wearing on one of my walks slipped and a huge blister was worn into my heel, I went home and put my flip-flops on and finished my 6K walk. After the 4th of July, I had food poisoning (barf!) yet still wanted to complete the challenge so I put my flip-flops on (yes, my heel had not healed completely yet) and made myself get out and do it, not realizing that my heart rate was lower because I wasn't feeling well and that I had to work so much harder to get it up above the 50% to get my 25 minutes + in for the challenge. Next week, I'm having gallbladder surgery (yikes!) and I'm GOING TO GET MY WORKOUTS DONE.


9. Do you have any advice for the PK Fitness community hoping to make changes like you have made?

Remember life isn't perfect--I'm not perfect nor will I ever be--you aren't perfect either. So there is never going to be the perfect time to start making healthy changes. Most of us are blessed with our legs...use them! Get out and walk. If you have a pool get in it and do jumping jacks, run, kick, splash. Drink more water. Cut out a piece of bread or starch from a meal here and there. Eat good fats and more green things. Be kind to yourself and those around you. Practice grace.


10. Has there been anything in this process that has surprised you?

Technology! I'm not a techno chick--I'm a sort-of-old lady who grew up with a rotary dial phone sporting a cord the length of a garden hose! When I first signed up for the PK Fitness Challenge, I had an iPhone 4 but it wouldn't work with the app. I tried to borrow an iTouch to use and couldn't figure that out either. I finally broke down, went to the mall and bought a new iPhone 6--I've have had to ask for lots of help in getting my Mio Fuse and PK Fitness app synced and going. But ask I did. And here I am. Very satisfied, ten pounds thinner, and walking into a healthier future!


So, there you have it! Deb has proved that you really can do what you set your mind to- it’s just a matter of doing it! An incredible message and inspiration to all- no matter where you’re at, do what you can! Understand the strength of your own will against what lies ahead of you.

And last but not least, thank you Deb for your incredible story that will inspire and continue to inspire so many- don’t let that beautiful, positive attitude of yours fade!