February 2nd, 2010
12:26 PM ET

What did I get myself into?

By Linda Fisher-Lewis
CNN Fit Nation Challenge Participant

My name is Linda Fisher-Lewis and I am very excited about the Fit Nation Challenge. I want to tell everyone how I got to the challenge but my real goal is to inspire others to change their lives. The end of the story is a phone call from CNN telling me congratulations and I was ecstatic. This was quickly followed with an “Oh crap! What did I get myself into?” Here is my story…

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/02/linda.lewis.sm.jpg caption="Linda Fisher-Lewis is a participant in the CNN Fit Nation Challenge."]In 2006 I medically retired from law enforcement as a lieutenant after nearly 20 years. Law enforcement had been a lifelong dream that I knew would be my career since the age of 12.

After a motor vehicle accident forced my medical retirement from law enforcement, I had no idea what struggles were to follow. My retirement was very emotional; I packed my stuff in the middle of the night and never returned to the police department. I couldn’t face the people I worked with and I could not face the reality that my career had ended, a career that was really my life.

Shortly after my retirement my brother, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force was killed tragically in an accident leaving the Air Force base. My father later had a massive heart attack on the anniversary of my brother’s death, passing a few days later. Over the five years preceding my accident my husband and I lost six immediate family members. The impact on my life and the lives of my family members was unimaginable. I felt like I had lost my health and my family in a very short period of time.

I felt like I was in a hole with no way out, no career, lost family members and I myself was lost. I gained weight from not being able to exercise, and lost confidence and self-esteem not to mention the daily physical pain I had to endure. About six months ago I came to the conclusion that I was the only one who could change my life and overcome the obstacles that had been thrown my way. I needed to take control of my life and instead of being handed my path, return to the person that always developed her own path.

To make a long story short, after six months and 35 pounds lost and a lot of sit-ups, my doctor said he would release me to go back to work. He felt my recovery was nothing short of amazing. I saw Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s challenge and thought this is something I need to do. I needed to do the triathlon to prove to myself I was ready to pursue the next chapters of my life. I needed to take the challenge to show others that anyone can change her life and accomplish her goals.

Going to New York was an intimidating proposition. I come from a small town of about 3,500 people that is very rural. Neighbors are miles not blocks away. Meeting five strangers was also a bit intimidating, never mind the whole live TV thing. Pleasantly, I met five amazing people in New York that are inspiring and sincere about changing their lives and changing a nation. I left New York with five lifetime friends that I know have the ability to accomplish anything and everything as well as encourage a nation to get fit. So that is how I got here and I am excited and appreciative of the opportunity. See you at the finish line!

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.