When Valerie Heath weighed in at 237 pounds, she knew it was time for a change.

The Council Bluffs woman was too embarrassed to join a gym at the time. So she gathered up her kids and started working out using the family’s Wii. When she started shedding pounds, she upped her routine to include regular walks around the Thomas Jefferson High School track.

About 15 months later, Heath hit a comfortable weight of 150 pounds. With some nudging from her mother-in-law, the 35-year-old joined Fit Farm. Now, she’s hooked on working out six days a week. Since joining about two years ago, Heath says she has put on 20 pounds of muscle.

Q: When did you start working out and why?

A: I started working out about 7½ years ago, after I had my third child. I started off with walking and eating healthy. My mother-in-law goes to Fit Farm and kept on me to try it. I did in June 2016, and I’ve just been addicted ever since.

Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?

A: It’s something different every day, and that’s what keeps people coming back. We start with lifting and then do cardio. My favorite is lifting, especially deadlifts and bench press. You see how much you have gained, and that’s really encouraging. When I first started, I could deadlift 95 pounds. Now, I can do 200 pounds. I work out six days a week.

Q: What is your current fitness goal?

A: I want to be able to do pullups and handstand pushups comfortably in workouts. When you’re trying to lift 175 pounds up and over that bar, it’s not easy.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

A: Running. I couldn’t run a mile in under 10 minutes when I started. Now I’m teetering around 9 minutes.

Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?

A: When you don’t get a max lift after you’ve been working so hard to lift a heavier weight. I walk away, and I know I have to keep working harder.

Q: What helps you stay on track?

A: My kids. I want to be a role model for a healthier lifestyle. They deserve the best possible version of their mom.

Q: What is your gym pet peeve?

A: When people wear their outdoor shoes in the gym.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t in the gym?

A: I spend time with my kids. They come to CrossFit, and they take swimming lessons. We like going to the park and the zoo, and have days when we hang out and watch movies.

Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc. that you can’t live without?

A: My high-waisted compression pants.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?

A: You won’t regret it. Just stick with it. Results will pay off and you will be much happier.

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