In March of 2012, Cindy MacNeill was rear-ended in a car accident that ultimately changed her life. Although she was fortunate enough to walk away with only a whiplash injury, the psychological impact was far greater.
“It was a wake up call to how unhealthy my body was,” she said. “I felt gross, and it scared me.”
Years of unsuccessful weight loss programs had left MacNeill feeling discouraged. As her busy life took charge, she felt like she couldn’t keep up. Weighing in at almost 300 pounds, she realized it was time for a different approach.
To overcome her whiplash injury, and to get her health back on track, MacNeill worked with her insurance company to set up 12 personal training sessions at the Canada Games Centre (cgc) in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“I remember walking into the building and thinking to myself, ‘just go with it’,” she said. “I was a bit intimidated and had no idea what to expect, which I think many people fear. But when I met Pete, the intimidation factor just wasn’t there.”
Pete Smith, MacNeill’s trainer, has been working for the cgc since it opened in 2011. Having trained people from all walks of life over nine years, he understood MacNeill’s apprehension. “Everyone has some uneasiness their first time in the gym,” he said. “My biggest thing is to help someone feel comfortable and confident. They do all the hard work.”
The biggest push for MacNeill was that she felt accountable to someone. “I knew I had an appointment and I didn’t want to let him down,” she said. “I needed someone to tell me, ‘nope, you can do more, we’re turning it up’.”
Becoming physically active wasn’t the only change that MacNeill made. After reading an OptiMYz article on food intolerances and their symptoms, she was tested by a Naturopath and discovered that she has gluten and dairy intolerances. She has since completely changed her diet. The result? A better mood, increased energy, less stomach pain and fewer headaches.
MacNeill has lost over 90 pounds, and has no intention of stopping. “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” she said. “I want to keep my endurance up, keep getting stronger, and start toning my body.”
Her biggest piece of advice for others is to work on the mental aspect of losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. She gets by with an amazing support system of friends, family and co-workers, and by reminding herself to not get side-tracked by the bad days.
“It didn’t happen for me overnight,” she said. “I started with baby steps. There is no clear cut answer for everyone. If there was, someone would have given it to me. You have to be ready. You have to decide that you’re done with living unhealthy and make a change.”