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Marcia McDowell’s Story

Healthier You Transformation with Anytime Fitness

[Updated on June 6, 2017. Video added below.]


My younger son and his then-girlfriend became engaged to be married in December 2014. Of course, I was excited but the next thought that went through my mind was, “What will I be able to wear to their wedding?” At over 410 pounds, you just don’t “find” a dress and buy it, but as their wedding date was getting close, I finally settled on a dress.

Their wedding day was beautiful and a few weeks later, we saw the beautiful photos from the photographer. All was fine until I was faced with a picture of my son and I dancing the mother/son dance together. I was in total disgust as I looked at myself in the pictures. Who was this person? Had I really gotten that big? I cried! I knew I was big but didn’t have a clue that I was that big! I didn’t know this because I never looked at myself in a full-length mirror. I didn’t own one and refused to look in one when I would be in stores.


I immediately began looking for the “right” gym. I had belonged to gyms in the past but would only go for a short time because I felt judged when I would visit the gym. I tried to do things on my own, but I really didn’t know what was right and wrong. I would normally only eat one meal a day and that would be late in the evening — fast food on my way home from work. In reality, I was causing my body to go into starvation mode by conserving food, not knowing when it would get its next meal.

I was driving to work one day and saw a sign that said Anytime Fitness was moving into D’Iberville. I was excited because I knew the location was between my home and office and there would be no excuses in going. The gym opened in October of 2015 and my friend and I were great at going to the gym at least three times per week … until Thanksgiving rolled around! I went out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

When I returned, I was all caught up in preparations for Christmas. By January, I was hardly going to the gym. What a disappointment.

Fast forward to March 23, 2016. I got this phone call from the new trainer at the gym. He said, “My name is Brendan Jones and I am the new trainer at Anytime Fitness. I would like to meet with you to discuss some things.”

I asked when he wanted to meet and he said, “Right now!” I explained that I was an hour away from home. He told me that was no problem, he would wait for me at the gym. I reluctantly agreed to stop by the gym to meet with him.

It wasn’t a comfortable visit. He seemed extremely knowledgeable. Not only was he a trainer but he was also a nutritionist. Great! Not only is he going to make me workout but he is going to make me eat properly, too!!!! As I stood up to leave his office I asked when he wanted to start. He said he would have started me that night but I hadn’t brought workout clothes so we would start tomorrow.


“My younger son and his wife were expecting their first baby. I wanted to be able to get up and down from the floor so I could play with my new grandbaby.”


I returned to the gym the next day to begin the journey of my lifetime. When I walked into the gym, Brendan asked me if I trusted him. I thought about that question for a minute. My answer was, “Yes, with my life!” What did I have to lose? He weighed me in at 391 pounds. Previously being 410-plus pounds was not a place I wanted to stay. Brendan asked me if I had a weight goal in mind. I didn’t have a number in my head. I did, however, have some goals. My younger son and his wife were expecting their first baby. I wanted to be able to get up and down from the floor so I could play with my new grandbaby. This was something I had not been able to do in years. This is something I missed with my first granddaughter. I also wanted be able to stand for periods of time. I work in business and many times have to stand for extended periods of time when speaking to groups of people. I wanted to stand instead of having to sit.


Brendan did not have an easy job. Even though I went into this weight-loss journey with an open mind, I did fight him on lots of things. I automatically told him there were things I couldn’t do. He made me prove it to him. He would then show me how I could do things and he would work patiently with me until I was able to do what he was asking of me. In my mind, I thought of circuit training on the machines and treadmills as working out. The first time Brendan took me to the weight floor I stopped at the rubber mat and told him, “I’m not allowed over here. This is where the big boys work out.” He told me that I would feel comfortable in all areas of the gym. He told me that I would know how to work on all the machines. By May, there was not a machine in the gym that I didn’t feel comfortable working with.

In working with Brendan, we found we had more women coming into the gym that were of the same mindset I was. In April/May we created our “Honey Bees” group. We meet twice a week and work out with Brendan as our trainer for an hour. We support each other and provide words of support and encouragement.


Working with Brendan has taught me the value of not only having a good workout regime but also eating properly.

You can’t lose weight if you don’t work out and eat the correct foods. We do not diet. We have a nutrition plan. I now eat five well-balanced meals per day.

I also work out at least six days per week. I do small-group classes (POUND, Zumba and Honey Bees), work out on my own at the gym and home, and, my favorite — I do weightlifting with my trainer three to four days per week. I love lifting weights. It is something I never envisioned myself doing. When I lift with Brendan, I normally do the same routine that he does by just lowering the weight.


If I could give everyone one piece of advice it would be START. Ask for help. You aren’t alone in this struggle. You may have health issues. Health issues are something a good trainer knows how to work around. Find a gym and trainer that “fits” your personality. Stick with it and have someone who will hold you accountable for your actions.

So far I have lost a total of 109.8 pounds, going from 391.2 pounds on March 24 to 281.4 pounds on December 1.



UPDATE: Marica McDowell has officially lost 200 lbs. in one year.


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