For some people the “a-ha moment” that jump-starts their weight loss occurs in the doctor’s office, or when they see a certain number on the scale. For Danita Blowers, 22, the Grand Prize Winner of Spry’s Dream It Do It contest, it was during a visit with the horse she trains and rides competitively.
“I was thinking about how much time and effort I put into my horse’s fitness, diet and performance, and how I don’t focus nearly enough on my own,” she says. “Here I was demanding he be the best athlete he could be, and I wasn’t fit enough to be able to give him the ride he needed. That hardly seemed fair, and since horses are very special to me, it put things into perspective.”
The epiphany about her health also came at a time when Danita’s family was in crisis. Her mother had recently abandoned them, and Danita found herself not only working for the family business, a 1,600-acre field corn and soybean farm in Geneva, N.Y., but also helping her 55-year-old father raise her two teenage brothers.
“I had always helped a lot at home, but suddenly found myself not only a daughter, but a mother,” she says. “It was a lot of changes very quickly.”
Over the course of the next two years, Danita began changing her diet. She banished fast food from the house, swapping it for healthy home-cooked meals, sized up her breakfast and down her dinner, and cut back on carbs. And she also took up running, which proved to have as many emotional benefits as physical.
“There were so many days I felt overwhelmed by life in general, and running was my Zen time,” she says. “It also has taught me patience. You can’t rush a run — it’s one foot in front of the other, settling into a rhythm and a pace that you can keep. Life is the same way.”
That one-step-at-a-time mentality helped Danita shed 90 pounds and put her family back together again. Now they’re closer than ever, she says, and they love to play basketball or go ice skating together.
But Danita’s not finished with her get-healthy goals yet. She’d like to lose 10 more pounds to put her in a healthy BMI range, run her first 5K, and eventually compete in a half-marathon. She also hopes to continue to inspire her dad and brothers to get healthier, and possibly even reach out to others who are struggling with their weight.
“No matter where you are in your life, you can always start on your journey to being happy and healthy,” she says. “I like to think that where I am now is just one small step in the direction I need to go in life.”