Member Spotlight on Marsha LeGrand
“I got to a place where I knew I had to change.”
For people dealing with weight issues, this phrase probably sounds familiar. A time finally comes where enough is enough and the negativity must end. Losing weight is a daunting challenge, with internal stress and external pressures that build upon each other. Marsha LeGrand has been where so many have found themselves. Stuck, exhausted, depressed, unable to recognize oneself in the mirror – physically emotionally and spiritually. But Marsha made it past that moment. Way past. And she wants you to know you don’t have to make that journey alone.
It’s almost been a decade since Marsha LeGrand found herself in that very moment, staring off the proverbial cliff, afraid but ready to jump. In the early 90’s she went through a divorce and “had a terrible time processing” what was happening in her life. “I was mortified about how it would impact our children,” she says as she reflects on the days after the split. “I ate my feelings. I ate them at KFC, I ate them at Whataburger. It took about 10 years to gain the weight. I didn’t eat 10 whoppers a day. It took time. It was gradual. One day, I just didn’t feel like myself and I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.”
That feeling of losing herself was something that Marsha knew she couldn’t live with. So, she went looking for help. She had gained over 100 pounds since the divorce. Knowing this task was going to be difficult to do on her own, she started going through her options. She met with a surgeon who performed Lap Band surgeries, a procedure in which a doctor places an inflatable silicon device around the top of the stomach in order to decrease food consumption. They discussed her motivations and had her go through a psychological evaluation in order to ensure she was a good fit for the procedure. In 2007, Marsha underwent the surgery. “It is but a tool to help you,” says LeGrand of her decision. “You have to completely change the way you eat, the way you exercise.”
After recovering from the surgery and revamping her diet and exercise plans, Marsha joined a gym and started working with a personal trainer. She lost the weight but still wasn’t satisfied. “I had pretty bad knee pain. They were stiff, achy and weak. At 65, I wasn’t ready to stop moving around. I was willing to try whatever.”
After a friend recommended BodyBusiness to Marsha, she signed up, joined the Best Start program and started working directly with her new personal trainer at BB – Danette Ormand. (The Best Start Program is a one-time offer for BodyBusiness members in which they receive three 1-hour personal training sessions at a discounted rate of $149) “Working with Danette made a big difference. Strength and anatomic wise, I am much more confident. She’s very collaborative and that’s huge. I couldn’t do this alone.”
The pain in her knees not only caused her discomfort, but they were holding her back in her relationship. Marsha’s partner, Terry, is a retired commercial pilot. He is seven years older than her but “he can walk circles around me,” says Marsha. “We can fly basically anywhere for free. We’ve gone to Europe a few times. But I was struggling to get in and out of places. Train stations. Staircases. I was afraid to go places because of the pain in my knees. Since I started working with Danette, I can now walk 15,000 steps a day.”
It’s not only staircases that Marsha is defeating nowadays. She’s taking on new obstacles in the gym that she never thought were possible. “We’ve started using the Assisted Pull-Up/Dip Machine lately. I never dreamt I could do a pull-up like that. I now require less assistance. [Danette] says that I’m much stronger. She has been so encouraging.”
Like so many gym-goers, Marsha had her moments of self-doubt and a steady heap of nerves. But a single revelation helped her push past it all. “I realized that all the other people at the gym weren’t always happy and fit. They had to get to that level of exercise – one session at a time, they worked hard. One day at a time. Just like I had to.”
She knows the changes she has made have been beneficial and the work in the gym has provided her hope moving forward, but understands that the allure of going back to her old habits doesn’t go away. And she still has her occasional slip-ups. “I am currently really struggling with sugar. My favorite hobby is baking. I love the science of baking. I love to see how they modify classic recipes.” (P.S. if you have a weakness for sweets, don’t let Marsha tell you about the chocolate chip cookie recipe she’s working on) Some of those weaknesses are just in her DNA. “I grew up in Mississippi,” she says of her childhood. “We ate southern comfort food. That’s how I was raised. That’s what I knew.” Luckily for Marsha, she also has a great support system in her family.
Terry has type 2 diabetes and in turn it causes him and Marsha to keep an eye on each other’s diets. “Since last August I’ve been doing Ideal Protein, which is mostly lean protein and vegetables. It’s medically supervised and I weigh in once a week. Since I started, I lost another 20 pounds.” Her three adult sons have supported her along the way as well. “My boys are so sweet,” she says of her kids. “They never said anything about me being heavy. When I started to lose weight, they told me I was looking well. All three are treasures. I didn’t do anything to deserve such amazing sons.” A grateful smile comes across her face as she talks about the family jointly avoiding sweets during the holidays, the entire family joining in to help each other stay fit and healthy.
To anyone looking to make the incredible, all-around transformations that Marsha has, she has a few simple and wise recommendations.
First, she knows our society isn’t always warm or understanding to those struggling with weight-gain issues. “Accepting those situations doesn’t make you a bad person,” says Marsha. “If you can find self-compassion about the pain or the challenge that has prompted you to eat more or not exercise, then you have responded to what happened at that time.”
Second, set some goals and find a support system that will help you achieve them. “Strive but stay realistic,” she says. “ I didn’t have to do an Iron Man next week when I started. I was told I was uncoordinated and unathletic when I was younger. I linked that to fitness. I learned to honor and respect my situation. I sat with that awareness. Even if you can’t work out with a trainer regularly – find someone you can work out with, make a routine. Confide in them and find encouragement and support. You can make a different choice if you want a different outcome.”
We all have a story. To simply see someone, no matter their weight, cannot fully convey who they are. To follow Marsha’s wisdom, when you see her walking around BodyBusiness (or knocking out spectacular pull-ups alongside Danette) just know: those knees weren’t always as steady, that smile wasn’t always as radiant, that confidence wasn’t always so beaming. She found herself in a moment, the crossroads where one decides who they want to be from that day on. Marsha LeGrand chose to make a change for the better. She made a plan and found a support system to help her along the way. Now, the crossroads she can find herself at are under the shimmering glow of the Gare Du Nord train station in Paris, France, hand-in-hand with Terry, deciding which staircase to take into the City of Lights.