"The whole weight loss thing is something I’ve battled at different levels throughout most of my life. While in school I loved sports, both playing and attending any and all sporting events that my parents would allow me! Girls sports were in their early stages then, and I loved playing volleyball and basketball. I guess I’m showing my age now! However, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I experienced a broken jaw when having my wisdom teeth extracted. That’s a whole story within itself, so I won’t go into all the details here!
The fractured jaw during the summer I turned age 16 resulted in a huge weight loss as my teeth were wired together for several weeks. It was the slimmest I ever was, although I wouldn’t recommend that form of weight loss to anyone! The fractured jaw also meant no more sports for the remainder of my high school career per doctor’s orders. In the 80’s that’s how things rolled. This meant less activity, but I still graduated at a weight in the 140’s with healthy eating, or at least it was 80’s style healthy eating! For this big-boned country girl, that was a pretty trim weight! I, along with one of my best friends from childhood started running during our college years and early 20’s, which is how I kept my weight in check at that time. We would normally run on the curvy and hilly county highways and roads in rural Perry County where we grew up. It’s been interesting how both of us took up running again in our late 40’s once our kids were older. In fact, she traveled from her Haubstadt home, and we ran the Schweizer Fest Road Run together two years ago. Lifelong friends are the best!
I also attended aerobics classes in my 20’s with my college and post-college roomies, and that kept me in decent shape. But once Brian and I married in the late 80’s, I started to put on weight. After giving birth to our daughter in 1993, I joined Weight Watchers and was successful, but I wasn't exercising as I should. Dieting alone was not enough to keep the weight off. From then until our daughter graduated from high school in 2011, my weight was up more than down. During those years, my primary focus was our daughter and her crazy schedule of activities, my busy career in county government serving as an elected official, and involvement in several local organizations. I can remember watching our daughter and her teammates run cross country wondering how they could possibly run those long distances (which was a 2-mile race back then). When she went off to college, I made the decision to start focusing more on me and my personal health and fitness. It was about that time in the fall of 2012 that a co-worker, Kris Hammack, talked to me about joining Everbody’s and the second season of Biggest Loser. I’m still thankful to this day that she encouraged me to join as I’ve been hooked ever since!
Those first few seasons the weight fell off easily, and by the time I turned 50 in the summer of 2013, I had lost over 55 pounds. I made many new friends, tried classes that I’d never heard of nor ever thought of trying before, and started running again. On my 50th birthday, my daughter and I ran the SIRS 5K together, and we both won our age groups! It was a great birthday and a great way to start a new decade of life! I then decided that I would train for a half-marathon and run it at age 50. I accomplished that goal by running the Derby Half Marathon in April 2013. What an awesome experience that was with many other Everbody’s friends running the same race, including Missy Noble and Stephanie Lawalin Strahl that I ran most of the race with.
After five successful Biggest Loser seasons, I was very honored when Breanne Walsh asked if I would like to coach starting in Season 7. I said YES, and I’ve never looked back! Season 7’s Team Yellow, still affectionately referred to as Team Yellow Class of ’89 is in reference to the awesome dedicated group of people on that team, and we continue to be good friends today. Most of us didn’t know each other when the season began, but we grew to be a tight-knit group! Although we didn’t win the season, we had many other wins among our team members. Over 1/3 of that team went on to coach a team, and most are still coaching, including Mark and Debbie Goffinet, Valerie Cole, Karen Strahl, and Carol Vinson. In Season 9, my husband Brian caught the fever and decided to join the gym. Contrary to what some may think, he joined on his own, not because I twisted his arm. He’s in the best shape that I’ve ever seen him in, in the almost 30 years I’ve known him! And he joined me to co-coach starting in Season 10. To continue the family involvement, my mother-in-law Mary Kay joined the 55+ team in Season 11, and she has been successful and feels better than she has in years.
There is not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for my Everbody’s family. It truly is my “happy place” away from the stresses of everyday life. I’m grateful to be able to help others on their fitness journey as it truly is, and must be, a focus for the rest of our lives. It’s not easy to lose weight, keep it off, and find time to hit the gym and stay active, but the benefits of doing so are so rewarding. It’s personally the most challenging it’s ever been for me as I’ve gained some weight back, but that will not deter me from continuing to do what I’m doing. It really just makes me that much more focused, and our team members motivate me to give it my all. As one of my current Sunset Team members recently pointed out to me, it’s really in a weird way a good thing for newer members to see that coaches have their struggles too. We feed off one another’s motivation, high and lows, and determination to be the best we can be. I’m proud to be a member of Everbody’s, and if you’ve taken the time to read this lengthy testimonial, you must also be one of the many Everbody’s family members who feels exactly the same way! Thanks, Everbody’s family and in particular Breanne Walsh, for believing in me and in turn being given the opportunity to give back to many of you!" - Debbie Elder