A Work in Progress

So I don't know exactly how to start this story of mine.This weight loss story.

This journey of a year now.
I went to dig up some old photos of me from a year ago.
And emotions came flooding back.
Its the weirdest thing.
I look at these pictures - and I don't even recognize that girl.

But on the flip side - (the weird part) she is still very much a part of me.

I have come to realize that this fat girl will ALWAYS be a part of me.

She will never really go away.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want her to be the "spokesperson" for me anymore. I don't want to wear her size jeans anymore, I took all her clothes to Goodwill when I got too small for them - and I don't plan on ever having her mindset again.

But she will always remain a part of me.

Listening to too much Dr. Phil - or Oprah's Bob Greene had me wondering what hole I was emotionally filling with food. I still haven't acknowledged that there is/was one.
I reflect on my childhood - and I realize that it was 6th grade that I started struggling with my weight. But it wasn't a huge deal, the guys that teased me and called me chubby in 6th grade ended up asking me out in 8th. I guess I grew up, trimmed up, learned how to straighten my hair and developed breasts.

I wasn't an overweight teenager - I mean I could have lost maybe 10 or 15 pounds...But I do remember always caring a little more than necessary about food. I remember how happy food made me, how all of my plans included going to lunch or dinner, I constantly thought about what my mom could cook. Its like food never let me down.

I could blame it on a variety of things. But I don't like doing that. No excuses. I am accountable for me - and I can defy any predetermined odds. I could say - my dad died at 15, I'm adopted, I'm from the south and my mom makes the best fried chicken you've ever put in your mouth...but I won't do it.

I was in the United States Air Force - and what a mind-trip that is on your weight. I mean to constantly have to work out and worry about it - and knowing that I had always struggled a bit with it didn't help the matter. So after five years in the Air Force, I separated and completely rebelled. I didn't work out, ate whatever the hell I wanted, you know how it goes - time passes a pound here, a pound there, five pounds here, five pounds there and not to mention I had two more babies. We are talking a good 70 pounds.

So - fast forward to a year ago. My family moves to Knoxville, TN. We had always been searching for a town that was perfect for us. A town to raise our children in, a town with an active community, good schools, museums, farmer's markets, concerts, and nice people. I finally made up my mind that the Ashley I always wanted to be would be the Ashley that lived in this town.

I decided:
No more putting myself last.
No more thinking I'm not worth it.
No more thinking that "this is just the way I am".
No more thinking well I let my humor hopefully suffice for my body image.
No more being a crummy example to my children. (especially my daughter)
No more doing the easy thing - it was time to start doing the right thing.

Thirty days after I moved to Tennessee, my amazing friend Courtney and I joined Weight Watchers. I had done Weight Watchers once before - and had taken a little bit of the baby weight from having Sandler off. I liked the concept - and I knew I could be successful. Not to mention when you drop 100$ for something you will definitely go. I loved that time - Court and I - every Tuesday morning - Weight Watcher meetings, giggling in the back row - and then off to Panera Bread for a coffee and a bagel. I needed that time. It eased me into the healthy process - and I made changes slowly but surely and it felt right.

At the end of the 90 days, I had lost 16 pounds - a month later (February) I joined the gym.

I remember Anthony Robbins saying that the people you are around are either going to inspire you and bring you up - and make you want more or they are going to make you return to the group that isn't going anywhere, so you feel comfortable and safe. What I'm trying to say is that being around people that are physically fit will either light a fire in you to leave sweat on the gym floor - or to never go again - and stay home and eat a gallon Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. - Aristotle

So - I started to finally get it - Losing weight is simple math. Put in less than what you put out. Its hard work. Its commitment. Its a vision. Its believing in what you cannot see. Those people in Hollywood that we are so envious of physically - they aren't freaking born that way. They work to get it. It doesn't come easy. If you want it - go out and get it.

I plateaued. In a big way. I stayed the SAME EXACT WEIGHT for four months. I was doing the same workout everyday, and not eating outrageous - but eating small portions of outrageous things. I got too comfortable - I guess you could say I got lazy. I got bored with the process. So - I started taking classes that really, and I mean really pushed me out of my comfort zone. Spin class, sculpting and boot camp. I discovered that I had to keep it new - keep it fresh. So with trying new classes and a rededicated sense of discipline, I finally broke that plateau and lost another 10 pounds.

So that brings me to now.

52 pounds lighter
Here I am.
This is me.
Its a brand new year - full of possibilities, its a blank page - and I can write whatever I want to write on it.

I wish I had taken a class like the one I put together - when I started it all. To have written when I was happy and sad. To have taken photos all along the way. But I'm not done yet - the story isn't over - and I can finish writing it.

And I'm gonna finish what I started for once - I still have big plans for myself. I still want to reach my goal weight in March of this year - buy a particular dress that Rhianna wore - and get two of my very best friends to take amazing photos of me. (Amby and Court) Vain? Maybe. But I will have earned it.
So no-I'm not a finalized success story. I'm still one in the making - a work in progress.

So that, in a very big nutshell is why I'm teaching this class. Why I feel that I have the heart and passion to do it. Whether or not you decide to join me - just know that I wish you all the success in the world in whatever goals you have. If you can see it, you can achieve it. And you freaking deserve it.
xo, aw

48 people took the time to say:

jenjock1 said...

I needed this post. It's one of those things I try not to think about, you know? That if I would just get off my ass and DO IT I would feel so much better. And you just helped me to remember that. And I think the posting before and after pics is such a good thing, while maybe hard, but it lets you see exactly how far you have come. And you have come a long way, baby. :) You should be incredibly proud of yourself.

Sasha said...


I am in your class, and it because I know you are really wanting to INSPIRE US not because you are ASH BEAR .. girl you look amazing now and you do not look miserable or unhappy, but there so much more out there and you realized that in this post. Kudos girl .. Kudos .. at the end of my journey my before and afters will definately be up .. thanks


weebbt said...

Thanks for baring your soul like that, I feel a bit more hopeful about my own personal journey today than I did yesterday.

Starlight said...

That's it!
You are the biggest inspiration to me.


staceyfike said...

love you!
and you're my hero!

Michelle LaPoint Rydell said...

Wow! What a wonderful, inspirational post! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You are beautiful.

leateach said...

Thank you does not seem enough to say. Ashley I would one day love to sit and tell you my story! Maybe through this class I can. Thank you for being so honest, Thank you for sharing your story,Thank you for being such a beautiful ladie,Thank you for you! :) It is amazing how far you have some. I admire your determination. Keep going girl! If anyone can reach the finishline its you! :) Lots of love!

Pegasus said...

Wow! What a story. And your story has a happy ending. That is what I am hoping for and working for as well. Unfortunately I wasn't able to join your class but I am a Weight Watcher and just joined a local gym and am working with a trainer. I have my goals too. Thanks for your inspiration and your courage to post your story!

tara pollard pakosta said...

thank you for sharing ashleY! You are beautiful inside and OUT, but man, girlie you look AMAZING!!!!!! I am so happy for yoU! and I am so excited to take this journey with you and get rid of these 30lbs i have been hiding behind for the last 9 years!

Angie said...

what else can i say except... i love you. even more than ever. and thank you.

Jody said...

I loved you when I first met you 50 pounds ago. I love how you have wanted more for yourself, for your family and out of life. Then, rather than just dream of it or wish for it, you made it happen. I am SO proud of you. Can't wait to see the new you- soon.

kristy.lynn said...

ash- you are a total inspiration. you always have been. and i have always admired your go out there & get it attitude. it's one of the things that has always drawn me to you. you are how i would like to be... i'm only sad i don't have the extra cash to lay out for your class... i'm sure it's worth way more! good luck to you and everyone participating! :)

Becca said...

You rock.
You are amazing.
And I'm blessed to have you in my life.
You are courageous and beautiful and intelligent and you are doing so much good for you & for your babies and for so many other people.
Again I say, you rock.

Love you.

Anonymous said...

You AW, are amazing. I am so proud of you!

Vanessa said...

i love you.
i just love you.

you are a total inspiration, and so funny and honest and real.

and im totally jealous and excited for your future bff photoshoots, cos they will be amazing.

MWAH darling! heres to a new year : ) i know its gonna be a good one!

Rhi said...

i can't wait to see the results of that shoot awren.
you are marvellous :)

Lisa said...

You're an awesome lady AW and I can't wait to join you on this journey! xx

tallynt said...

an amazing post, so wonderful to read and to reflect on my own issues with food. I am very excited to be taking the class with you and know it is just the kick start I need to start on my own journey. And wow 50 lbs I am in awe!!! Way to go!!!

Mandi said...

I think so many people can relate to this. And it's just what we all need to hear and keep saying to each other. I wish I could take your class. But even though I can't, know that my heart is in it with you! :)

Susan said...

gosh, you have me in tears!!!!

i am soo looking forward to your class. i think it will be the motivation that i need to push through and finishing losing the weight that i wanted to...well, needed to...in 2008 i lost 25 pounds, but i also feel like i got "stuck" and comfortable...your post is soo inspiring and i wish i lived near ya. i would love to help do your makeup for the BIG photoshoot!!!

tina said...

You look amazing! Your post is worded so beautifully and honestly. I'm signed up for your class. I need to figure out what method to try this time, I've taken the weight off a bunch of times, it just always come back because I eat like crap and don't love to exercise. You are truly inspirational.


metrochic said...

there are not even words for how i feel after reading that. i know i've said this to you before, but i really do wish we lived closer to each other. i think you are just the kind of kick in the ass i could use now and then. you know? sigh. i'm happy to have met you, ashley wren. and i'm proud to call you my friend and can't wait to grow that friendship this year.

Melissa said...

I am SOOO glad I am taking your class. That was probably the most inspiring piece of writing I have read in a really long time. I can relate to so much of it. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy life to share this experience with all of us!

Tracy: said...

OH sooo inspiring and exactly what I needed to hear to start my year off right....I am hitting 40 and need to make some changes! You are awesome and look great too : )

Pound said...

you are awesome. you can keep it up!!! and you better post pics of your rhianna dress. snap.

Natasja said...

wow...thanks for being th honest..thanks for opening my eyes...thanks for being such an inspiration..
Singed up for you class, can't wait to start...to strat loving me in 2009.

Anonymous said...


I can't even tell you how inspiring you are and how honoured I am to be doing your class...

I cannot wait!


Lori said...

You are amazing girl!!!! Thanks for sharing with us and inspiring and motivating the way you do!!! I'm so looking forward to your class!!


Debbie (kitleen) said...

You rock!!! For having the courage to post this. But even more for having the courage to get past the food and weight and do something you wanted to do for yourself! You look great! But, even more importantly, you are a great person.

kim brimhall said...

big sigh little tear.

what an amazing story...can't wait to see the ending!

love you.

Andrea Ancich said...

you are amazing...
i'm so freaking excited that I signed up for your class.
I know that the results of what happens from this class will far out way the price it was to take. Results in finding the me who i want to be. making conscience decisions about what i'm putting into my mouth, forcing myself to workout(hopefully after a while it will be a want and not a need to!), and hopefully be able to inspire someone in my life to make some better decisions!

You rock lady!

elizabeth said...


what an uhh*mazing and inspiring story. seriously needed to read this!

totally glad i signed up for the class!!!

shaina said...

i just wanted you to know that it was because of this post i scrounged and scrimped so that i could take your class.

i'm so ready for this.

you're an inspiration!

mandi said...

yay! yay! yay! Could you inspire me like that everyday?

erin said...

you go girl!
thank you for sharing your story. we all can relate when it comes to how critical woman are of themselves.
i too am on a healthier lifestyle journey.
working out helps me alot.
blogs like yours do too.
love your work.
just saying so esp now.
fellow sister,

mandi said...

I think I'm missing something... I can't seem to find the message board and place/how to share for the class.

Anonymous said...

Oh man you did sooooo good. Fantastic job. I lost 130 lbs. Great job on your journey. Oh yeah, even though I lost all that weight, I still have the "fat mind" in my head sometimes.

Great job

Melonie said...

You are awesome.
Just plain awesome and inspiring.
Thanks for sharing this.

ARob said...

WOW! You have really come so far already! CONGRATS!

tanya_williams said...

There's not a woman in the world that I admire or respect more than you. I met you when you were a teen...I've seen you become a mom X3...and now I'm seeing you evolve into a reflection of what's within. I love you for being you.

Kirsten said...

Wow. Thank you for such an inspiring story. I wish I could take this class. I feel empowered to try something I've been wanting to do - like I just had a lightbulb moment. Thank you.

Karen said...

you look awesome....i am on the same quest now. i just started this week and have lost 5 lbs. i am doing atkins to get a jump start and see how far i can go. i am also walking at work and have joined the y. this is my year!

Jennifer said...

thanks for posting your story! You are a huge inspiration for me! I'm really enjoying the class!! Thanks!

Cami said...

Very cool indeed. Inspiring. From the heart. No fluff. You're my kind of girl. So damn cool---you just have no idea how cool!

LisaW said...

Thanks for posting...I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I'm at the place you were at a year ago and I often think "why bother". Congratulations on doing so well! You've inspired me to get off my butt and get moving!

Sarah said...

WOW. I'm just in awe of your dedication and spirit..and follow through ( I suppose that qualifies as the dedication). I don't "know" you but I'm so proud of you and what you've accomplished--because it's dang HARD!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your journey!

I am on a similar journey...I am a lifetime member of WW and after the birth of my gigantic baby, the weight stayed on, and crept up and I am back at WW again, almost 4 years later with a goal in mind...so far I have lost 5 lbs and I am totally committed to getting back to where I feel comfortable having my picture taken with my family...:)
Thanks so much for sharing.

-Becky RT

NewYorkerAtHeart said...

wow! thanks for sharing! u r brave girl!