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My sister always had it together. In my eyes, Autumn had all the answers and — at 11 years my senior — she was the one I always ran to when I broke up with a boyfriend, started my period or didn’t know what to do about a situation in school.
Autumn taught me to always put lotion on after the shower and how to wear mascara, and she was there to walk me through memorizing my first Bible verse at 12. I still recite it daily: “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” If that’s not the perfect quote for what we constantly face in life and in training, I don’t know what is!
As Autumn and I got older, I grew out of that little girl who used to eat cookies on her couch crying about boys and became a woman focused on relentless training to be the best in sports. I was athletic, muscular and driven. She was curvy, easygoing and focused on becoming a mom to a big family. In passing, she used to say things like, “Whatever, you got all the good genes, all I got is boobs and a sense of humor.” It was hard knowing that my big sister might resent me for our body-type differences. I’m sure it was hard for her to see her kid sister grow up, too.
Frustration From Afar
When I moved away to Los Angeles to escape the small town we were raised in, I started noticing that the weight she had gained from creating a beautiful family of five kids wasn’t going away. In pictures, she started carrying a look of defeat, and it weighed on me knowing the implications of obesity on her health — but even more, this was the happiest woman on earth looking sad. I remember running on the treadmill each morning thinking of her, praying actually: “God, please let Autumn find help. I know it probably won’t be me who helps her, but if you could just bring change somehow, I want to see her healthy.” I kept up this routine for about a year.
An Answer to Her Prayers
One sunny Los Angeles day, while on my treadmill, a text came in from my sister: “Help me, I’m fat.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was my chance to finally repay all the help she had given me and to make a real difference in her life. But her request came with a few stipulations:
- I can’t afford to go to a gym.
- I have five savages (what we have lovingly named her kids), so workouts need to be short.
- I only have a couple of pairs of dumbbells.
- You have to tell me exactly what to do because I’m clueless.
Lending a Helping Hand
So I created a program specifically for Autumn. It was an at-home training program that I later named the “4-Week Foundation.” She didn’t have equipment, so I had her climb the stairs in her home, lift her youngest son and complete bodyweight exercises to build strength. The goal was to burn fat and get her life back under control.
She needed to lose 100 pounds — and I needed this plan to work. Autumn called me shortly after starting the routine and told me about her training session that day. She had done sprint intervals outside, in upstate New York, with several feet of snow on the ground. “I just collapsed and bawled because it was so hard and I’m so big. How did I let this happen?” she wondered.
That was her breaking point and the last time she would ever feel that way again. A year later, not only did she lose the weight, but she also came to LA and we ran my favorite canyon together. It’s a run I’ll never forget, because where there was once resentment for being the “skinny sister,” there had been such an immense healing, her confidence soared and all that was left between us was an unbreakable bond as sisters.
A Career Was Born
I knew I was onto something, so I took that training program and turned it into a business. The thought of other women being out there like Autumn with no gym, no hope and no guidance was just too much for me not to do something. I knew nothing about being an entrepreneur, but I knew a lot about how to love, support and encourage people to become better.
Today, I own and run a business called Built for Her, an online women’s athletic training club that connects women from all over the world through at-home athletic training downloads. I provide a range of programs for women of all fitness levels focused on bringing them closer to a life they love through gaining control over their health. I feel so full of purpose knowing that other women are finding freedom through my creations and that even without sending me a “help” text message, I’m their sister, too — picking them up out of the snow when they’ve fallen and letting them know they have what it takes.
The chance now to be a coach is such a huge gift. No magazine cover or personal accomplishment could ever compare to the feeling of helping someone else achieve their “impossible.” So thanks to my entire team for their trust and to my sister for being the start of it all.
Now in its fifth year, The Oxygen Challenge has helped thousands of participants all over the world transform their bodies and their lives. This summer, we are bringing you two of the most badass coaches of all time: lifetime athlete and CrossFit Games champion Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and All-American track competitor and body-positive trainer Amber Dodzweit Riposta.
So what are you waiting for? Start transforming your life and body now with this 90-day training and nutrition program designed exclusively for Oxygen — it’s guaranteed to awaken your inner athlete, buoy your spirit and empower your life! Join the Challenge today.