For Amanda Zumbrun, the message isn't just encouragement – it's a way of life.
The 37-year-old Huntington woman began a lifestyle change by stepping out the door and walking a mile.
“When I first started walking, I had to wear an ankle brace from a foot injury and could only go 1 mile,” says the mom of 11 children, ages 5 to 17. “It was literally three days before I could walk again after that, and I had to hop around because it hurt so badly. But I kept at it and walked through the pain every day.”
Soon she was up to 2 miles and then 3 miles. Now, she walks 5 miles every day if she can.
In the process, Zumbrun has lost more than 100 pounds, which helped her to earn the title of Indiana TOPS queen. She lost 98.5 of those pounds while attending the meetings of the weight-loss support group, otherwise known as Taking Off Pounds Sensibly.
The process wasn't always easy, and it was key for her to make walking a priority.
“I have to make it my top priority or otherwise it won't happen because there is always something else I need to do,” she says. “I had to just reset it in my head, ‘I'm going to do this first, for me. It's mine. I'm doing it.' ”
Routine: Zumbrun tries to walk 4 to 5 miles most days.
“I try to get it done, 90 percent of the time, before my husband gets home,” she says. “ … I know myself well enough that if I don't get it over with, then it won't happen. You have to learn how you are and learn yourself well enough to know what works for you.”
Cross training: In addition to walking, Zumbrun tries to incorporate resistance training about three times a week, following a Jillian Michaels DVD.
Favorite trail: Zumbrun and her youngest daughter like to walk the trail at the Forks of the Wabash Historic Park in Huntington. The park has more than 1 1/2 miles of trail, which the pair will loop a couple of times.
Workout buddies: It was at a friend's encouragement that Zumbrun began walking, and later joined TOPS, and they still walk together. She is also accompanied by one – or more – of her children if they are home.
“They'll take turns going with me,” she says. “I know which ones can go farther. Almost all of 'em can walk 5 miles with me.”
Silence is golden: When Zumbrun has the chance to go walking by herself, she leaves the noise at home – including music.
“I have 11 kids, so when you can go somewhere and think without being interrupted, it's kind of nice,” she says. “I just enjoy being outside and looking at nature most of the time.”
Motivation: “I just don't want to go back to where I was and it's scary to me to think that it could happen,” she says. “I want to be happy and feel better about myself, so I know that it has to be a priority and I make it one.”
Goal: Zumbrun is still an active TOPS member, attending meetings in Bluffton. She is hoping, though, to start a group in Huntington.