My name is Stefanie Valencia. I started Mama Bootcamp in March of 2009. At the time I was 25 years old and had 205 lbs on my 5'2" frame. I went back and forth between a size 16 and size 18 dress size. I had always been overweight. I remember as a child in the 3rd grade thinking, "I can never wear what those little girls are wearing. I'm too big." I eventually grew up into an overweight preteen, teenager and finally adult. I had never once looked at myself and thought, "I look beautiful." Instead, I avoided mirrors, cried when I went clothes shopping, and hated every single picture of myself. Year after year after I told myself, "This is the year, Stefanie. This is the year you get healthy." And, year after year the days came and went.
I was working at a preschool when I met Pantea Dunn. Her children were enrolled in our school. A co-teacher and I had been talking to her, and she had mentioned how she went to Mama Bootcamp. The two of us decided to go. I was not really sure of what I was getting involved in. I didn't exercise. "Run" was not a part of my vocabulary. "BFAS" was definitely not on that word list either. Water? I only showered with it. I drank a soda or two a day. Fast food was not a sometimes food but almost an everyday occurrence. So there I was, with all of these healthy women, at 7:30 in the morning, ON A SATURDAY!! I made it through the core warmup and then came time for cardio. I remember Lorri Ann asking, "Who's walking?." I sheepishly raised my hand. Obviously, I was going to walk. She said to follow a woman because she knew the route. I thought, "Great! She's pregnant. I can keep up with her." Little did I know, the pregnant woman would pass me up by a quarter of a mile. The whole time I'm sweating, I have shin splints and I'm struggling to keep up. This woman was pregnant! So pregnant I didn't see her again because she had her baby. Then as if it wasn't bad enough I hear feet quickly coming up from behind. An old man, who I believe to be bionic, begins to pass me up. He says, "You're not going to let an 82-year old man pass you up, are you?" It was at that moment that I decided enough was enough. I was 25-years old, and a pregnant woman and 82-year old man passed me up. P.S. He caught up and passed the pregnant woman. I signed up that day. I got my measurements done that Monday and by the next Saturday (after lots of epsom salt baths and unbelievable muscle soreness) I officially began my new journey.
The process was not magic, as Lorri Ann continually reminds us. After all, 25 years of lifelong bad habits are hard to kick. Its been a little over a year and a half, and I have to admit, I still fight those habits. I hated vegetables, and still am not a raw vegetable kind of girl. BUT! I found ways for me to like them. I made sure that I threw vegetables into almost everything that I ate. I gave up soda, and if I needed a fix, forced myself to drink diet instead. My 32oz water bottle was my every day, every where companion. It still is. I stopped the fast food and I did my homework. I began walking 30 minutes a day around Maidu. I then decided I wanted to run. I wanted to be one of those outer loop girls. So I started giving myself small goals. I would jog 10 feet then walk. Until I was jogging 20 feet, then 30 feet, until finally I made it around the whole loop. I'm sure I scared a lot of people because I was huffing and puffing so badly that I sounded like i was in Lamaze or having an attack. But I kept on going.