At age 50, Keri Byers is on track. And she plans to stay there.
The kindergarten teacher at Covenant Christian Academy has steadily lost 50 pounds in the last few years. But the weight loss is just part of her success story, she says.
“I’ve found myself again,” explains the former Texan in a charming southern accent that reveals her Texas roots, even after living in the Northwest for 25 years. “Being health conscious is really who I am.”
Growing up and into her early 20s, Byers was an athlete. She ran track and triathlons, played basketball, spent untold hours in gyms.
“After having children, I kind of put my fitness on hold,” says the mother of four, ages 11, 16, 21 and 25. “Gradually, the weight caught up with me.”
Byers made the decision to shift gears—to get back into shape—several years ago as she faced a difficult divorce process. She wanted to be strong for herself and her children.
With her well-being at stake, she knew that getting physically fit would also give her the positive state of mind she needed to get through a challenging time “without collapsing,” she says.
“I knew I had a lot of healing to do and I didn’t want to go on anti-depressants,” Byers explains.
Her biggest challenge was overcoming the fear of moving on, but she refused to let fear hold her back. Instead, she joined support groups, adopted a healthy lifestyle and began exercising regularly— a positive formula that moved her toward wellness and a “healed-up” lifestyle, she says.
When the Health and Wellness Center at Water’s Edge opened in June 2010, Byers joined and
“hit it hard,” she says. She started by lifting weights, swimming and cycling. She also improved her diet, adding more fruits and vegetables and supplementing with vitamins and nutrient-rich shakes to fill any nutritional gaps. And she drank lots of water.
She then added group fitness classes to her routine, including Body Pump, a high-energy barbell class that helped tone and strengthen her body. Now, she’s a class instructor, something she says she never expected. She teaches two Body Pump classes per week and loves it.
“When the opportunity was presented, I thought: Can I do this at my age? It’s really an intense program,” says Byers. “Teaching is a way to give back. It’s also helped my confidence.”
She also recently completed a triathlon, the first she’s run in nearly 30 years.
“I’d never worn a wet suit,” she says. “I was out there in the Columbia River sayin’ to myself, What have I gotten myself into?” And in the next breath: “You keep goin’, girl.”
Whether in her role as teacher, friend or mom, Byers encourages others to harness their own strengths to overcome obstacles. She believes people allow the fear of failure to hold them back or keep them from trying. In fact, her greatest reward comes from encouraging another person.
“We all have the power to make positive changes in our lives,” she says. “I tell people: You can do it. You can keep going. You will make it.”
Byers has created a tool to help her stay on track, the “Wheel of Balance of Life.”
“My goal is to stay balanced,” she says. “It’s important to rest, too, so I can take care of others.”
She regularly checks in with herself to ensure each piece of the wheel is getting the attention it deserves. Recently, she added graduate school to the balancing act, taking online courses through Concordia University toward a master’s degree in education.
It’s sometimes a challenge to balance it all, she says.
“I still want a clean house,” she says, laughing. “I made apple bread on Sunday. I still find time to cook.”
Beautiful both inside and out, Byers adds, “I’m getting older, but I feel better than I’ve felt in 20 years.”
For information about membership in The Health & Wellness Center at Water’s Edge, please call 541.506.5779.