Amber's Journey

Hi, my name is Amber Brisbone!



Hello! My name is Amber Brisbone and I am 30 years old. I am married to my wonderful husband and we have a beautiful step-daughter. My husband works as a manager of a local bank and I am a registered nurse at Inspira Medical Center Vineland. I have a dog named Rocky who is very ornery and likes to run away to visit his girlfriend down the street. I am the only child of a single mother who was very dedicated to me while growing up. She always instilled in me the importance of being a good person and getting an education.

I have lived in South Jersey my entire life and have worked for Inspira for nine years. I absolutely love my job and my patients. I take extreme pride in my work and I am proud to be part of such a great organization that encourages their employees to work to their fullest potential. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, going to church and shopping. I have recently started to learn how to cook and although I am not a master chef, I really enjoy trying new healthy recipes. 


Please join me and follow my wellness journey!


Week 1

I have been overweight my entire life. I never thought it would be possible to lose weight and keep it off...EVER. I have tried fad diets in the past with little to no success. At 29 years old I weighed 295 pounds, was diagnosed with hypertension and needed blood pressure medication. In September 2017, I got married. My husband and I decided this past January that we would like to work towards having a child. Being about 140 pounds overweight and now hypertensive, I decided that in order to have a healthy pregnancy and baby I must start changing my lifestyle habits. The support of my amazing family, friends and co-workers gave me the confidence to start dieting and exercising. I work out about three times a week with a personal trainer and started learning new and healthy ways to enjoy food. I was able to find substitutions for foods that I loved that were a healthy alternative. For example, instead of having mashed potatoes I would substitute them with mashed cauliflower. I was able to lower my blood pressure and no longer require any medication. As time went on, I realized that the reason I was never successful at maintaining weight loss in the past was because I was not changing my lifestyle and did not have an adequate support system in place. I would quickly revert back to the unhealthy foods that made me overweight in the first place. Now I have what I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

I have found a program at Inspira Fitness Connection that holds me accountable for my decisions, gives me tools to work on my health outside of the gym, and gives me motivation to stick with a healthy lifestyle. With 70 pounds lost to date, I remain motivated to keep going. A major factor in maintaining my drive is accountability. My husband, friends, co-workers and gym staff have all at one time or another held me accountable. Sometimes it’s for the food choices that I've made or how many times I worked out in a week. I do NOT want to disappoint them! I have more energy and am now happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I am definitely looking forward to seeing my continued progress throughout this new journey of living a healthier life. 


Amber & her husband at their wedding



Week 2

This week was extremely difficult to follow my diet and exercise plan because I was on vacation. I woke up every morning with all intentions of succeeding in making healthier choices. I walked several miles in the morning followed by some sort of strengthening exercise.  I spent hours swimming in the pool or ocean and even walking on the beach looking for shells. I worked really hard in an attempt to set a positive tone for my day. Then vacation mode would set in. We went out to eat every night. I had all intentions of ordering healthy options but quickly reverted to my past unhealthy choices. My family is extremely supportive of my new lifestyle so they did not hesitate to tell me I was making the wrong choices. I was making excuse after excuse to eat what I wanted. I felt that I deserved it for whatever reason. I was doing so well! How could I have reverted back so fast? I found myself feeling guilty over having ice cream and carbs of all sorts! I was beating myself up and my self-esteem was shot after one week out of town in a new environment. 

I then decided on my last day away to take a minute and do some self-reflection. I remembered what my trainer and health coach told me. It’s okay to have some special treats on vacation every now and then. It’s not the end of the world and it’s not worth beating myself up and crying over. The key is to come home and pick it back up. I am still exercising more than ever. The day after we got back from vacation I began meal prepping again and doing the things I need to do to succeed in my weight loss journey. I have all the tools for success right in front of me and I am more determined than ever to get back on track! No more excuses this time around. My health coach and trainer will know if I am not following their directions and will hold me accountable for my decisions. I know I am doing well because I am lifting heavier and working out harder than I have ever done before. I impress my trainers with every session I have. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to lift heavier and workout longer than I use to. I can’t wait to see my before and after results throughout this 90-day weight loss and lifestyle management program. 



Week 3

As the weeks continue to pass, I continue to learn more and more about healthy eating habits. I have found foods that I love that are within the 10-10-200 rule my health coach Maria has educated me on. I enjoy trying new healthy recipes with my husband.  Prior to the program, we went out to eat about 3-4 times a week.  I have learned that preparing homemade meals with fresh ingredients is best since you can control the ingredients and know exactly what is going your food. I have a wonderful support system at work. Before this program started at the fitness connection, I rarely cooked. Now I meet with a few of my coworkers every weekend and we meal prep together. I have learned how to shop and cook healthier and am prepared with healthy choices for lunch and dinner for the whole week all while hanging out with my girls on the weekend. We made meal prepping an enjoyable part of our weekend and I am grateful for this opportunity. When increasing my protein and lowering my sodium and sugar intake, I have found that I have much more energy on top of dropping pounds. The intense workouts with my trainers twice a week require high energy. (They definitely kick my butt) A big factor in changing my diet was a learning experience that occurred after I wrote a food journal. I did not realize how much food I was actually consuming in an entire day. It was very shocking and embarrassing but I was able to learn from the experience.

Although it is not required, I continue to journal my food as a way of keeping myself in check. When you have to write down what you are eating before you eat it, it makes you think "Do I really need this?" and "Is this the healthiest option for me?" I am so grateful that I have had this learning and growing opportunity and look forward to the continued education I will receive from the weight loss and lifestyle management program.



Week 4

This week has been hard getting my workouts in at the gym. My husband and I have been doing a lot of work in our yard. We have been ripping up bushes and cutting down trees, leaving little time for anything else. This has also affected my diet. I have not had any time to meal prep. We have just been running out and grabbing quick and easy options. This used to be a very difficult feat for me. I would have easily gone through a fast food drive thru and ordered the most fattening burger on the menu. Although it’s not as healthy as preparing foods myself, I have found foods that are better options than what I use to choose. For example, Wawa offers hoagie bowl options. You can customize them to leave out unhealthy ingredients and it also leaves out the carb and sodium filled roll. With this food option, I am customizing it to be healthier yet still getting my fix of a hoagie. I was feeling down on myself for not getting to the Fitness Connection and not sticking completely to my new meal planning habit until my husband pointed out an interesting fact. I have been working my butt off! I have been pulling and lifting and squatting this whole week! My muscles were screaming every day! Prior to the program, I would have never had the energy or strength to help in the home improvements we’ve been doing this week. I never even realized how much “exercise” I was doing since it wasn’t in the traditional setting I have become accustomed too. It was nice having my family notice the improvements I’ve made and being able to participate instead of sit on the sidelines for a change. This was a huge source of motivation for me to keep going knowing how far I have come since last summer. I love being able to participate in physically straining activities without giving it a second thought. I am impressed with myself and can’t wait to see what else is in store for me.



Week 5

This week I celebrated my 30th birthday and had an amazing birthday celebration with my friends and family. I had a much better week this week and I am so happy! I have more control of my diet and I am making healthy choices again. With a little self-reflection, I have regained my self-control in saying no to unhealthy cheat meals. I had a heart to heart with some of my support people including my health coach Maria. I was able to emotionally open up to them about some of the things I’ve been struggling with and about some of my anxiety issues. Naturally, they were very understanding and encouraging of getting myself back on track. I asked them to help hold me accountable for the food choices I make. Basically, I told my coworkers that if they see me with contraband to slap it out of my hand! I feel so much better talking about my struggles and not holding all these crazy emotions inside. My biggest stressor was finally resolved this week and I am so relieved because all the grey areas that gave me so much anxiety are now clear. I am not happy about the circumstances, but I am happy that it happened because I learned that I am stronger than I thought. This week has brought to light that I can overcome anything if I allow myself to be open to help and support from the people that love and care about me. Life will not be problem and stress free. I am happy I get to participate in this weight loss and lifestyle management program because I learned many tools that can aide me in successfully overcoming obstacles concerning my anxiety. I now know how to navigate my stress and can handle it better in the future. I discussed my anxiety and stress triggers with my health coach and she asked if I ever used aromatherapy as a calming technique. She gave me a sample of her essential oils she uses and we discussed their benefits of stress relief. I decided to dive in and do some research since I know nothing about them or their calming effects. I was able to find some scents that I really like and read about how they have great stress relieving and calming effects. I ordered them in a rollerball concoction so that I can easily take it wherever I go. I can’t wait for their arrival! Now I just have to get back on track with kicking butt in the gym and I will be sure to reach each goal I have set for myself. Zone 24 has been my go to class when I don’t meet with my trainer. It’s a HIIT circuit ran by a personal trainer that incorporates full body workouts in 24 minutes. It is definitely a good calorie burner and my favorite class to try.



Week 6

This week was challenging once again. I had some health problems that prevented me from being able to go into the gym. I got an extremely awful case of poison ivy or oak or sumac or something totally annoying. I was told by my primary it would be best to take time away. I was however able to attend a yoga class outside of the gym with some coworkers. This was something I never thought I would ever do in a million years. That’s the thing about this program...you learn to challenge yourself and go outside of your comfort zone. Just because I wasn’t allowed to stick to my regular workout schedule does not mean I couldn’t find something else to challenge myself with. My awesome trainers push me past what I would ever push myself and get me out of my comfort zone with their guidance and passion. Their push encouraged me to try something brand new and I am so happy I did because I actually really enjoyed the class. Working on my anxiety and stress has been a goal for me since the start of this journey. I really felt I got an amazing workout (I was sweating my butt off) and was able to learn some meditation techniques. The instructor said I did well for my first time but need to work on balance and learning to shut off my surroundings. Of course these are things I already knew and I think I will continue to take some more yoga classes which will really help. I have been using my new essential oils for aromatherapy to help settle my mind and control my stress and I really love them.  I did well with sticking to my diet this week. I did allow a cheat meal twice but went right back on track. That’s a major improvement for me because I usually struggle going back to what I know I should be doing. I really feel encouraged and empowered this week and have a lot of hope that I will be able to reach my goals and finish this program strong. This program has taught me to find out what my triggers are and figure out my barriers and handle them appropriately. I have been given tools by my health coach to handle my stress and emotions on a stronger level.



Week 7

This week was challenging once again. I had some health problems that prevented me from being able to go into the gym. I got an extremely awful case of poison ivy or oak or sumac or something totally annoying. I was told by my primary it would be best to take time away. I was however able to attend a yoga class outside of the gym with some coworkers. This was something I never thought I would ever do in a million years. That’s the thing about this program...you learn to challenge yourself and go outside of your comfort zone. Just because I wasn’t allowed to stick to my regular workout schedule does not mean I couldn’t find something else to challenge myself with. My awesome trainers push me past what I would ever push myself and get me out of my comfort zone with their guidance and passion. Their push encouraged me to try something brand new and I am so happy I did because I actually really enjoyed the class. Working on my anxiety and stress has been a goal for me since the start of this journey. I really felt I got an amazing workout (I was sweating my butt off) and was able to learn some meditation techniques. The instructor said I did well for my first time but need to work on balance and learning to shut off my surroundings. Of course these are things I already knew and I think I will continue to take some more yoga classes which will really help. I have been using my new essential oils for aromatherapy to help settle my mind and control my stress and I really love them.  I did well with sticking to my diet this week. I did allow a cheat meal twice but went right back on track. That’s a major improvement for me because I usually struggle going back to what I know I should be doing. I really feel encouraged and empowered this week and have a lot of hope that I will be able to reach my goals and finish this program strong. This program has taught me to find out what my triggers are and figure out my barriers and handle them appropriately. I have been given tools by my health coach to handle my stress and emotions on a stronger level. 



Week 8

I am over two months into this new healthy living journey. I still have the same food temptations this week that I had in my first week. I guess I will always want ice cream! What matters most is how I handle these temptations. The difference now is my mindset. My health coach gave me some great advice. Ask yourself, in a month from now, will this matter? I’ve decided that this ice cream will not matter! The fact that I’m losing weight and making solid, healthy decisions will. I try to think about that question when I’m being lazy or too tired or one of the other hundred million excuses I have for not wanting to workout. In a month, it will matter! I can’t fall back into my old habits, gain weight again, lose my muscle I’ve gained, or revert back to my old mindset. I will not let this happen.  We as humans want instant gratification. In the moment, a snack or being lazy and laying around watching TV while being stuck in a sedentary lifestyle may make me happy. In the big picture of life, those temporary things are just that-temporary. Seeing my progress and my results make it all worthwhile in the end, especially seeing when I see my health improve. My blood pressure is decreasing, my anxiety is controlled, and my lab work is improving. I’m making my family proud but most if all I’m making myself proud.



Week 9

It's hard to believe this is my final week in the program. I have learned many different things about exercise and nutrition that I will be able to carry with me the rest of my life. The tools my personal trainers and health coach, Maria have given me are irreplaceable. They believe in me and encourage me daily...even when I did not believe in myself. I have met so many personal goals and made so many strides in my health that I am happy to share with others. I hope I can be a source of motivation for my family and friends to get excited about working out and getting healthy. I feel that the foundation the program has laid for me has set the tone for my future goals. I have gained self-confidence because I have done workouts and exercises that I never knew were possible for me. I look forward to building on the knowledge base I currently have. Although I am far from perfect (I still like my ice cream!) I work hard to make the conscious decision to choose appropriate food choices and maintain losing weight while reaching my ultimate goal. I have loved working out with the various trainers. Each trainer has their own flavor and I have taken many things from each of them that I know will help me continue on this journey. I thank everyone at the fitness connection for the opportunity to participate in such an amazing opportunity and hope by sharing my experiences that I am able to inspire others to reach their fitness and health goals.


Thanks for reading Amber's story! Begin your own story today!
 
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