Amy Summers – Mama Shark and CEO
The Skinny (Read more from Mama Shark here!)
As a badass Spartan racing mom at the ripe old age of 47, I am constantly being told things like,”I don’t know how you do it. I could never do that.” This lends itself to a much longer discussion. The discussion that starts with the simple phrase,”I was not always like this. I was obese my whole life.” The reality was I think I started Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 12. At that time, we had the dreaded fish and liver meals and learned to make our own ketchup. It was never palatable and the sustainability would just not be there as a young teen. From there, I did every diet known to God and man. There was the rice diet, the Mayo Clinic diet, which included some amount of hot dog eating which lead me to believe that the Xeroxed piece of paper that it was printed on that my mom had brought home from the office may not have been authentic Mayo Clinic. There was Jenny Craig where my counselor tearfully explained her triumph over the 15 pounds she needed to lose. Way to go lady, why don’t you try 100 extra pounds on for size?
In the 90’s there was fen Phen which left me with a leaky mitral valve. I optifasted with Oprah, and had the surgery with Carnie. Yes, I was a professional dieter. Atkins, South Beach, the new Weight Watchers….I could talk for days. At the end of the day, I was still heavy it was just a matter of degree. My success with all of these varied, but nothing brought me to goal. Well, I take that back. The surgery brought me close. However, as the dreaded carbs crept in a decade later I would put some of that back on.
So, the question I get now is in the face of 4 decades of failure after failure, how is it I am here? Well, it comes from something totally different than an organized diet plan. Through a painful discussion with a well intentioned family member it was explained to me that I simply would never stack up to my siblings. They would be smarter and have better personality, and although I had some of that I would never be what they are. This got me right between the eyes. The person who said it was not meaning to hurt my feelings it was simply a statement of fact as if he was describing our eye colors. This led to me really looking at who I was. The reality was, I had spent my life jockeying for position. I tried so hard to prove myself in a battle I had no hope of winning. I also learned through this time that my obesity served a purpose amongst some friends and family. I was less of a person so they could feel they were more. I filled that role well. I was a failure rock star. I began to ask myself what would happen if I wasn’t. What was the very worst thing that would happen? Some friends and family might walk away from me. Well, were they worth keeping if my failure was what they wanted? Probably not. It was scary nonetheless.
So, I set off on a journey to find a way to be the best version of myself. I began training at Orangetheory. I had trainers who told me every single day, “you can. You just don’t know you can.” In the beginning I was so good at the phrase,”I can’t”. I said it multiple times a session. I was pushed to simply try. Usually, they knew before I did what my capabilities were. As to diet? I finally had to accept I had metabolic syndrome. I have high insulin resistance any carbs are bad carbs. I cut them out until I lost the weight and needed to add some back just due to my training.
This brings me to Spartan Racing. Why do I now do this? Well, early on a friend encouraged me to read the book,”Spartan Up”. He assured me I could do this. I was 60 pounds heavier at this point. I thought he was insane. Then I read the book. The philosophy of these races parallels life. It’s about doing your best and even if you fail an obstacle and have to do burpees, you keep going. Just like life. You fail? Take your lumps but do not quit. That resonated with me and I set out on a quest to race. In November of 2016 I ran my first race. I knew at the finish line I had broken through some very difficult barriers I had set for myself many years ago. Since then I have done two more and have one more to go this year to complete the coveted Trifecta.
My life is so different now. I have many people reaching out for help and now I have dedicated myself to help others find exactly what I have. I want people to know there is greatness inside and freedom from a life of obesity. I have established an LLC to motivate my little baby sharkies to learn to be the Great White that lives inside. As to my own journey? I learn new things every single day and really believe the best is yet to come.