Frewsburg resident Vicki Rasmussen is definitely a busy woman who makes no excuses for not getting in her weekly workouts at the YMCA.
Besides being a full-time 4.0 student at JBC, a full-time personal care aide for Accredited Care and a mother to two daughters, Ms. Rasmussen puts in at least an hour of working out six days a week at the Lakewood YMCA.
Before she discovered her path to fitness, Rasmussen weighed 370 pounds and was very unhappy.
Vicki Rasmussen does body weight squats with personal trainer Joe Gustafson.
''I wasn't working at the time, ate everything in sight and was very inactive,'' said Rasmussen. ''All I did was wait for my kids to get home from school.''
It wasn't until her doctor told her she had to get the excessive weight off or she was going to die that she decided to make a change. After the doctor recommended gastric bypass surgery, Rasmussen had the procedure done in July 2003.
Even though she lost 120 pounds as a result of the surgery, she ended up gaining 50 pounds back within seven years.
''I never changed my eating habits or my sedentary lifestyle,'' said Rasmussen. ''It was horrible, and I felt like a failure at that time risking my life with surgery.''
In November 2010, she gained enough courage in herself to ask for help. This is where the YMCA and personal trainer Joe Gustafson helped her turn her life around.
''I was terrified to start working out,'' said Rasmussen. ''I was shy, embarrassed and definitely did not want to be looked at as the bigger person on the machines.''
One of her first memories of working out was using the arc trainer for seven minutes which seemed to last forever. Rasmussen wasn't sure if she could do it.
With Gustafson's guidance and support, she chose to listen and now weighs 200 pounds after working out with him three days a week.
''Joe has been a total blessing to me in this process,'' said Rasmussen. ''He always has faith in me and knows that I can do anything I set my mind to even though I might not think I can.''
Rasmussen knew she was heading in the right direction, especially after finishing her first community run.
''I finished the St. Patrick's Day Dash in March 2011 and it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,'' said Rasmussen. ''This is when I knew I had to stay committed in order to have a healthier life and be here for my kids.''
Another motivating instance for her was when her mother did not recognize her one day while they were shopping at Wal-Mart.
As far as nutrition was concerned, she has stayed away from fast food, processed food and eating large portions. Now, she focuses on eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy products.
According to Gustafson, she has reached her initial goal of losing 100 pounds and is currently trying to lose 50 more to maintain an ideal body weight for her height.
''She has improved speed, balance, strength and overall energy,'' said Gustafson. ''It has been a physical and mental struggle for Vicki, but she has fought through the hard times and has not once given up on a workout.''
Rasmussen appreciates all the positive comments she has been given by other YMCA members, her family and friends.
''I have grown and learned a lot about myself through this experience,'' she recalls. ''I joined the Y because I feel very welcome there and know that it is a place where I belong because of the friends, support, and comfortable environment that I need.''