The Big Reveal part of challenge to help women get fit, change their lives
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
12/13/12 at 5:25 AM
Months of hard work for more than 30 Tulsa-area women will culminate Saturday with a showcase of what that work looks like and how beautiful it can be.
"The focus is on really tapping into your signature style and awakening that beauty," said Tanjie Brewer, a personal trainer and organizer of the event called The Big Reveal - part of a larger program Brewer started to challenge women who are ready to transform their lives.
The challenge involves some soul-searching, is fueled by the bonds the women form with one another, consists of some changes in eating habits and, to say the least, is not without a lot of sweat.
This weekend, however, is about the much-anticipated moments that come after all the hard work, when participants, after being kept from their families for a night, are revealed to their loved ones all made over.
"These women weren't on 'The Biggest Loser,' " Brewer said. "It's not like they're working out seven hours a day or have personal chefs and all that. They fit transformation into their normal lives."
The changes Brewer witnessed in the women she's been working with are "incredible," inspiration enough to keep her bringing back the Lifestyle of Vitality (L.O.V.) Challenge, soon to finish its fourth run.
But what really started it all was the loss of Brewer's mother to high blood pressure and heart problems.
"Seeing how, if she would have done things differently, I would have her here," Brewer said.
And then, in seeing her mother in the eyes of her young son, did Brewer realize it was time to act - leaving her job at a prominent Fortune 500 company to pursue what she said is her purpose in health and wellness.
'Something's gotta change'
Margie Garrison was motivated to act when another birthday had come and she was still struggling with her weight.
"Last year when I turned 40, I was very miserable at Thanksgiving, and I just felt like this is it, something's gotta change," said Garrison, now 41, and a patient advocate.
A friend had initially told her about the challenge that first launched in 2011. This weekend's Big Reveal marks the second time Garrison will have participated. And she said her life is better for it.
"Before it was pretty much work, and after work, pick up something to eat, go home, watch TV for many hours, and life was just mundane," Garrison said.
She said the program, which consists of classes led by various health, wellness and lifestyle professionals, dug deeper than the external things such as food and habits and dealt with self-worth, self-esteem and devoting time to personal well-being.
Garrison feels the changes and sees them in her day-to-day experiences.
"It's just I have so much energy, so much vitality, now it's different," Garrison said.
Now after work, she heads straight to the gym before going home to make dinner - healthy meals she's preplanned and portioned in advance. Before the challenge, Garrison and her husband were content with "just going out to eat or whatever."
But for some time now, she's been taking steps with the knowledge that she was worth it.
And, come this Thanksgiving, her family could see it.
"They'd ask, 'Where's the other half of you?' Because they hadn't seen me in a long time," Garrison said. Her husband, whom she calls her biggest cheerleader, is thrilled, and Garrison, herself, is pleased with the changes she's been making and what they've meant for every aspect of her life.
Brewer said women have joined the challenge for a variety of reasons: wanting to break generational cycles of preventable health conditions, recovering from messy divorces and putting effort into strained relationships, wanting to be around to see grandchildren, and simply wanting a better life.
During the challenge, participants' schedules consist of classes on everything from finances to food as well as regular personal-training consultations and a weekly gym routine that Brewer and a colleague plan.
Brewer sees the results in the woman who texted her about the "pretty girl" she'd found in her closet recently - one who likes to wear hoop earrings and not dress in black all the time. In the pictures Brewer receives of jeans that once couldn't be worn but now fit again. Brewer hears the results from participants' family members commenting on how life at home has changed.
People ask Garrison how she lost weight. Going shopping these days often means doing double-takes of clothing tags. Garrison said she's fitting into sizes she hasn't worn since adolescence.
"It's good old-fashioned hard work with exercising, eating healthy, but most of all," Garrison said, "you've got to get to the place where you realize that you're worth it."
Garrison has gotten to that place and said she won't stop, that she is going to continue working out, eating healthy and encouraging women to value themselves. This challenge to her isn't for the $500 prize that will be awarded Saturday. She's not doing it for the short term but as something she'll implement for the rest of her life.
"It is hard work, but it's worth it. I'm worth it," Garrison said. "I am proud of myself. I am a strong person, and I guess it's OK to say that."
Lifestyle of Vitality
Stylish & Fit culminates its fourth Lifestyle of Vitality (L.O.V.) Challenge with The Big Reveal Fashion Show in which L.O.V. Challenge participants get to show off their new looks from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday at the SpiritBank Event Center.
The person who has lost the most weight during the challenge will win $500 as well as free hair services for a year from the Paul Mitchell School in Tulsa.
Other sponsors of the L.O.V. Challenge, which is operated largely on donations, includes Whole Foods and Macy's as well as Belk, Ethan Monroe Salons, The Grand Health & Raquet Club and others.
For more information, go to tulsaworld.com/stylishandfit
Original Print Headline: The Big Reveal
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Certified personal trainer and The Big Reveal challenge organizer Tanjie Brewer (right) leads an exercise class as part of the program at The Grand Health & Racquet Club. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
Margie Garrison goes through exercise routines during a class as part of The Big Reveal challenge at The Grand Health & Racquet Club in Tulsa. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World