If you want it, go get it— It’s never too late to start again

posted by Amber Brady on November 18, 2022 Side by side with head coach in 2010 and again in 2012

Story submitted by C. Linder (Bishop), Indiana Department of Correction

Most of my coworkers know me as Youth Development Specialist (YDS) Bishop, but I recently got married and changed my name to YDS C. Linder. Early on in my life, I fell in love with sports and always wanted to participate in t-ball, baseball, basketball and softball.

Now, I am 34 years old and over the past twelve years I’ve found a new passion for health and nutrition. I enjoy reading about other people’s health journey’s and I absolutely love to talk all things nutrition and exercise. As I was reading through other stories in The Torch, I saw an opportunity to share mine, so here it is.

As I grew up, my love for softball surpassed any other sport. Therefore, I decided to play the game for nearly sixteen years, including junior high, high school and most of my college years. It wasn’t until my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer that I decided to quit the sport I love to focus on my studies. Once I made that difficult decision, I kept hope alive in me to keep softball as a part of my life.

In 2010, I accepted a graduate assistant position as a softball coach in the state of Texas, where I also worked on obtaining my Master of Education degree. Accepting the position, I remembered what I thought about my own coaches, who ran us ragged while they stood on the sidelines critiquing us and making us run harder. Yet, they couldn’t live up to their own expectations, and I used to despise them for it. How could they make us do all these drills and run us all into the ground when they, themselves, couldn’t even do it?

C. Linder softball team annual banquet in 2011
C. Linder’s softball team at their annual banquet in 2011.

So, when I made my commitment to coach, I also made the commitment to a healthier lifestyle, a new journey and a love for strength and conditioning. I told myself I wouldn’t make the softball team do any of the drills, run any distance or sprint any bases that I couldn’t do myself. So, I began my training. I began to change my eating habits. I did what I needed to do for myself, and I got myself into the best shape of my life.

I entered Texas weighing a little over 200 pounds, and within the first year, I dropped 75 pounds. At my best, I would run, lift and enjoy the sauna six days per week, all the while running with the softball team. I made the practices fun. I set up competitions so they knew that the conditioning wasn’t going to be dreadful, and I also participated in those same competitions. I set paces for them when it came to long distance and encouraged them if they were lagging.

I also researched a lot of information about eating habits, healthy habits, foods that burn fat, foods that give energy and foods that pair well together in order to provide the most effective benefits for your body. I set up meal plans, weighed my food, measured my food and tracked macronutrients such as proteins, fats and carbs, more so than calories.

By 2012, I had completely omitted fried food and fast food; junk foods such as cakes, snacks, chips and cookies; and anything baked or sweet like candy or soda. I also limited my bread and alcohol intake. I studied a lot about foods and substitutions, healthier options (Eat This, Not That), and during that time from 2011-2014 I was in the best shape of my life.

Side by side with head coach in 2010 and again in 2012
Side by side with head coach in 2010 and again in 2012.

Then, moving back to Pennsylvania in 2013 and working in Corrections at a county jail, living a healthy lifestyle became more of a struggle. My mother was battling breast cancer at the time; life stressors came into play that would last for years ahead; work hours were long and grueling with mandatory overtime multiple times per week; and chronic back pain played a major role as well.

As a result, my eating habits changed, my exercise schedule was less than my body was used to, and I—as many women do—began to fluctuate in weight, gaining back nearly 50 pounds by 2019. During that time of weight gain, I’d continued to keep most of the foods I’d eliminated in the past eliminated. But I allowed of some of the sweets, pasta and breads back on the table, and I put a little more dressing on my salads.

How devastating it was to see that all my hard work was ruined. I was so disgusted and disappointed in myself that I needed to get back on track. I needed to change again, but with new limits on my exercise routine, I knew I had to work harder.

For a period of time after the disappointment of seeing the weight gain, and with chronic back pain limiting my ability to work out the way I used to, I struggled with mental health and intermittent bulimia. And because I was consistently weighing and measuring my food, my therapists diagnosed my patterns as disordered eating. However, those labels were one more motivation to overcome obstacles to a healthy lifestyle. The next part of my story was my commitment to overcoming it all, and it pushed me try the vegetarian lifestyle.

They say that a healthy weight is 80% Kitchen, 20% Gym, and I can firmly state that I am a living example of that. In March of 2020, I decided to become vegetarian. I did a lot of research on products, proteins, recipes, staples, ideas, how to meet my macronutrient goals, etc. In about a years’ time, I lost 50 pounds again, and I have been able to maintain a healthy weight ever since.

It takes a lot of determination, will power and knowledge to get back on track and/or start your journey for the first time. The most important thing to remember is that it’s a lifestyle change that produces results, not a short-term diet. And I feel that if more people think of it that way, more would be successful in the long run. It’s all about moderation. It’s all about knowing what’s good for your body and what’s not. Through my personal journey, I found a new passion for and enjoyment in discussing ways to help others be successful in creating a new journey.

My journey is a big part of my life and an accomplishment I continue to be so proud of. I hope my story will inspire you to start your own journey, or if you feel defeated, I hope my story can be a reminder that your hard work pays off.

Share your story!

Are you taking steps to improve your health? If so, the Indiana State Personnel Department (INSPD) is accepting story, photo, and video submissions from state employees! Whether it’s getting outside and being active in a local park or enjoying a wholesome meal, let us know how you and your family live a healthy lifestyle.