No Easy Way Out

Hitting the gym was the uncomfortable lifestyle change Lou Ann Fowler needed to feel comfortable in her own body again.

Volleyball, badminton, softball, scuba diving — it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Lou Ann Fowler was an extremely athletic child. She loved being active and participated in as many sports as she could throughout her school years. But as an adult, Lou Ann’s active lifestyle took a back seat when she had two children.


Understandably, amid the hustle and bustle of mom life, Lou Ann couldn’t carve out any leisure time to play the sports she loved – and worse still, she couldn’t even find time to prepare healthy meals due to her crazy schedule. She fell victim to the habit of eating infrequently, but whenever she did eat, her portions were large and usually of the fast-food variety. It also didn’t help that too often she would spread an ill-advised amount of condiments on even her healthiest meal attempts.

Before she knew it, 10 years had gone by and Lou Ann weighed an uncomfortable 189 pounds. A car accident left her with an agonizing injury that caused severe muscle spasms in her back and neck; any physical activity was painful and difficult. But with a family history that included diabetes and heart disease, Lou Ann knew she couldn’t afford to stay at that weight. After struggling for weeks with the idea of fitness, Lou Ann took the first step of her thousand-mile journey and walked into a gym.


The first thing Lou Ann saw when she entered the gym was a sign with the words “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” For the next two years, these words would become her mantra, her source of strength and motivation.

Friendly gym staff encouraged Lou Ann to join a 21-day program that balanced strength training with cardio workouts. Her first goal was to lose 20 pounds. With the support of family members, Lou Ann found time in her busy shift-work schedule to go to the gym. She became more mindful of her diet, too, by learning how to interpret food labels and eating healthier options at more frequent intervals.

Lou Ann’s Faves


No-bake chocolate chip peanut butter balls


Hi-5 Amino Acids, ISO-SMOOTH protein




Lou Ann returned to the gym every day, following her mantra by facing her challenges head-on and getting uncomfortable. When the 21-day plan ended, she joined other programs the gym offered. Little by little, Lou Ann got stronger. Her new lifestyle led to an unforeseen benefit — though Lou Ann takes no medication for her back injury, she hasn’t had a flare-up in more than a year. Her doctors credit this progress to her strength training, to which Lou Ann now devotes four days a week.

Since Lou Ann walked into that gym more than two years ago, she has dropped nearly 55 pounds and now maintains a healthy and comfortable 135. She does cardio three or four times a week, either pushing sleds for 20 minutes or getting on the treadmill for an hour. Her inspiring journey has also motivated her sister to lose an astounding 135 pounds, and her children have caught the fitness bug as well.

In 2016, at the age of 46, Lou Ann entered her first UFE competition and took home first place in the Masters 45 category. “Never in a million years would I have thought I would be training for the UFE,” she said. “[I’ve] never worn heels or a bikini … I am once again getting comfortable being uncomfortable!” No doubt life will keep trying to make all of us uncomfortable, but as Lou Ann sees it, whenever life pushes you, you just have to push back even harder.

The first thing Lou Ann saw when she entered the gym was a sign with the words “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.


PHOTOS BY CHRIS V. LINTON  Follow @chrisvlinton

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