An unlikely workout works out
Background: Elementary school teacher Tracy Zak dreamed of being thin her entire life. As a child, she was physically active and competitive, but lacked discipline to make healthy food choices. At 5 feet 6 inches tall she tipped the scales at 230 pounds. For those of you counting, that’s 47 percent body fat and a size 22. Though she had a strong passion for boxing and climbing, her weight kept her from fulfilling her interests.
The Challenge: After many attempts at dieting, at the age of 37 she made one final attempt to change her life. At first it was a struggle, but gradually she turned old bad habits into healthy good ones. Rather than going to fast food restaurants, she cooked for herself, learned portion control and set realistic goals. Because of bad knees, exercise became a challenge, but with determination nothing stopped her. “It hurts to workout, being obese,” she said. Yet she refused to give up. She pushed herself to the limit, exercised for 20 minutes and then soaked in an ice bath.
The Turning Point: Zak knew if she didn’t turn her life around, she would end up like her mother, who has type 2 diabetes. “I knew I was headed in that direction,” she explained. Two months into her journey, Zak participated in her first fitness challenge. Although she didn’t win, she entered a second challenge, became a champion, won $1,000 and went to NYC. Dropping 80 pounds in eight months, Zak now has a body fat percentage of 22 and is wearing a size 8.
Staying Motivated: Zak says that her students keep her motivated. “They are my biggest supporters,” she reports. “The boys think it’s cool that their teacher is into sports and likes boxing, and the girls have a good role model.” Zak also sports several tattoos to mark her accomplishments. “I did it for myself. You haven’t seen anything yet,” she says.
Goals: Her number-one goal for the future is to fight her first boxing match by the time she turns 41, and then open a fitness center and become a P.E. teacher. The sky is the limit for this champ.