Denese Lundry notes if she’s able to make a shift in her lifestyle and lose significant weight, anyone can.
Lundry recounts she was not athletically inclined in high school. She didn’t participate in a lot of sports teams, as she doesn’t have a competitive drive.
She was heavier set and would struggle with a 30-minute mile when walking.
Walking was her preferred form of exercise, because that was always easy to do, until an ankle injury made that harder to complete.
“I tore a tendon in my right ankle, and a misdiagnosis left me walking on the damaged tendon for a year,” Lundry said. “I favored my other ankle and that right ankle joint would routinely swell.”
The injury was bad enough that when she would see medical professionals, they would note the discrepancy in the size of her legs. It was one of the first things her trainer noticed, too.
When her father passed away at 90, it made her look at her own health and make a decision. Did she want to live in the shape she was in for the next 30 years?
That answer was no.
She struggled walking up a flight of stairs without being winded and had to use handrails to do so. If she ended up on the floor to play with her grandkids, she couldn’t get up without lifting herself on adjacent furniture.
“I remember a trip to Disney World with my grandchildren and we ended up at a Doc McStuffins show, where everyone had to be seated on the ground,” Lundry said. “I don’t remember much of the content of the show, because my worry the entire time was how was I going to get up off the floor.”
Lundry also deals with anxiety, which made just going to the Lester Buresh Family Community Wellness Center to seek help a journey itself.
“It took me months to finally work up the courage to go to the wellness center and start this journey,” Lundry said.
GoalsShe first met with her personal trainer Colt Spencer Oct. 4, 2021. She weighed in at roughly 231 pounds at the time.
Her goals were simple – she wanted to lose 20 pounds. She wanted to dance at all of her 13 grandkid’s weddings, and she wanted to be able to drive a sports car as long as she has a license.
Spencer pushed her to up her weight loss goal to 70 pounds.
As someone who had only lost four to five pounds each time she had previously attempted, she was worried that goal might be too high.
In a year’s time, however, she exceeded that goal, losing 72 pounds.
“I now have more weight I want to lose, with a goal of another 23 pounds,” Lundry said.
Her favorite exercises One of her new favorite exercises has been weight training.
“As someone with anxiety, weight training is something if you’re doing it right, your mind is focused on the weight training itself,” Lundry said. “It’s slow, requires a lot of concentration on your form. I put in my headphones and slow my pace to however many repetitions I’m going for, and it’s a good way to slow myself down and focus just on the exercise at hand.”
She remembers the first time she stepped into the rowing machine, Spencer had to help her hook her feet up to the machine and hand her the handlebars. She barely completed five minutes of the exercise, exhausted from exertion.
“I can now do 20 minutes, barely breaking a sweat,” Lundry said. “It’s slowly become one of my favorite machines at the center.”
That leads to her piece of advice to everyone – give any piece of equipment or exercise your trainer gives you an honest try. It may be something you find you do not like or enjoy at first, but if you learn how to do it correctly and know which muscle groups it is working, it only benefits you and your journey.
trainers have helpedMore than a year after starting with a trainer at the LBC, Lundry is now able to put in a 2.8 mile walk on a treadmill with a 2.8 percent incline in 40 minutes. She’s not able to run for long periods, due to that tendon injury, but she and her trainer are working on exercises which will help her gain more strength in that ankle joint and other areas, like her hips.
“For me, a personal trainer gives you the workout that’s right for you,” Lundry said. “You can do exercises to things on tape, but those are going to work the same muscles again and again, and it’s not going to be under the eye of someone who is seeing the struggle you have with an ankle, knee or elbow from a previous injury. They will be able to give modifications or work with you to address your particular health needs.”
She still maintains sessions with Spencer, even though he has moved to a different gym or center, because he was her trainer originally, and that friendship works for her.
“He’ll watch my form whenever I’m trying a new exercise and help me correct anything I’m doing wrong,” Lundry said.
lifestyle changeOne of the biggest struggles for Lundry on her journey was relearning what to eat.
“I was just eating just to eat, not on what my body particularly needed,” Lundry said. “I had to relearn the amount of protein and vegetables that made up servings to feed for the exercise and workouts I’m doing.”
She notes she journals everything that crosses her lips in this lifestyle change and their calories.
She’s had some minor injuries as well – a recent shoulder strain from overdoing a workout, a tumble down a flight of stairs.
The hardest has been wrestling with the negative mindset following a divorce and relocating to Mount Vernon in 2019. She knew almost no one when she came to town, choosing the community due to the proximity of all of her children and grandchildren (roughly an hour away from the majority of them, the closest in neighboring Martelle).
Landing in Mount Vernon, however, has also become a huge positive for her.
“I feel truly lucky to have found the right place and right people to encourage me on this journey,” Lundry said. “I fell into the right people.”
The staff at the LBC have been her cheerleaders on her weight-loss journey.
“It’s one of the biggest things that I encourage people to think about – surround yourself with a network of positive people,” Lundry said. “Every one of my doctors, my massage therapist, my chiropractor, my therapist, my trainer – they’ve all checked in with me as I’ve been doing this journey, making sure I’m not too focused on this and doing it correctly and healthy.
“The wellness center staff have all been positive, checking in with me on my weigh-in days, celebrating accomplishments I make with fist bumps and encouragement for new goals reached,” Lundry said.
Her children and grandchildren have also seen the positives these lifestyle changes have had on their mom and grandma and cater to her diet plans wen she visits and understand if she brings her own food.
Keeping positive and focus on your winsLundry also surrounds herself with positive affirmations: t-shirts with a quote that makes her think positive, a bible verse on the wall of her workout room, a reminder from a sister who passed away from brain cancer to “be good to yourself.”
“Staying positive and keeping the focus on the exercise is important,” Lundry said.
She remembers how her health has improved along the way.
“I remember the first time I was able to lift one of my young grandkids up on my own, I cried,” Lundry said. “That hadn’t been possible a few months previous.”
Lundry said that anyone switching up their exercises are going to experience sore muscles and pains from time to time, but you have to keep your focus on your goals.
“I’ve now done so many things I never thought I’d be possible for me to do,” Lundry said.
She went on a mission trip with her church this past summer.
She’s able to get up and down from the floor to play with her grandkids, and is no longer winded by a single flight of stairs.
On a recent trip to Hawaii, she took part in a four-mile hike over tougher terrain, something she would never have done a year before.
“If you don’t take care of yourself first, there isn’t going to be energy to take care of your family, your church or your community,” Lundry said. “You need to keep in mind what you’re doing to make this journey work for you, and focus on that to help guide you.”
Her other final statement – she regrets not taking steps to start this journey sooner.
“That’s the number one thing any trainer will tell you – they’ve never heard anyone say they wish they had started these changes later in life,” Lundry said. “I’m a firm believer that if I can make changes like this, anyone can make similar changes, too.”