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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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Beverly Brewer

    Your email inspired me to be an overcomer myself, this bring about success and change you cannot imagine. My brother and I have been diagnose with having high blood pressure and diabetes. My brother Josh just took the diseases by horn and change everyone's outlook on being healthy.

    We challenge everyone in the family by being healthy and eating in a manner to save your life and limbs. the challenge for me is to lose 101 pounds for a goal weight of 149 or 150 by the summer I want to look and feel good for my beautiful grannies GOD have given me.

    So to say I proud of you and your effort sound very small because you did a big thing to change your circumstance good luck in your effort thoughout the year!

    Beverly Brewer
    Oklahoma City, OK

    February 2, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Benita Ficarra

    You go girl! Show New York what you got!!

    February 2, 2010 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Paul

    Linda I am so proud of you. So proud to know you and so proud to see your accomplishment. You are an inspiration

    February 2, 2010 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tera West

    I am proud that you are getting out there to reach some of your GOALS. Keep up the GOOD work. You are looking GREAT..

    February 2, 2010 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Larry Valecia, Calif.

    Good luck doing it!!! I've been trying to lose70ty lbs... I keep going up & down... But lucky I never gain more than 10 pound... I still have 35 lbs to go!!! I know how hard it is...

    February 2, 2010 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dr Julie M. Ballaro

    Hi Linda

    You have accomplished so much in a short time – I am honored to know you – I wish you continued success in all you do – Enjoy the thrill of crossing the finish line .........

    February 3, 2010 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. rickeywilliams

    Great post Linda! I'm so glad to have met you through this experience. We're gonna make this happen together!

    February 4, 2010 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Laura Hurzeler

    Such a strong accomplished women.....you go get-um!

    February 5, 2010 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Chia

    Linda, WOW, this is so exciting. I know what a strong person you are, mentally and physically. I look forward to seeing the "new" physical you. You will only have success because you always strive for perfection! Congrats lady, thanks for sharing your story.

    February 6, 2010 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Justin

    Go for it Linda!! : )

    February 9, 2010 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Karly and Ramona DeJong

    WOW Linda ! You have totally inspired Karly and Myself with your life goals. We wish you the best and wanted to say how proud we are to know you ! We will be watching your future success and encourage you to GO FOR IT !

    February 19, 2010 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. John Ellison

    Woohoooo Linda!!

    Congratulations..doesn't surprise me though your one of the toughest people that I know!!

    February 26, 2010 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jana Lewis

    You are a winner in our books. We are so proud of you for taking this giant step to enrich your life and the people around you. Inspiration comes from people who take the chance to go beyond their comfort zones and stretch their boundaries. We wish you good health and happiness on the adventure of a lifetime.

    February 27, 2010 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Kristin Molina

    You are truly an inspiration! I give you so much credit for taking on this challenge and I know you will divide and conquer! I have enjoyed being a student of yours and getting to know you!!! Go get 'em!!

    March 11, 2010 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Monica Danesi

    I wish you nothing but the best!! Good Luck!

    April 6, 2010 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jennifer Harter

    I wish you the best of luck, Linda! Though I'm sure that you'll have to rely more on hard work than luck, it's time for all that work to pay off! I (and the rest of your Keller class) am rooting for you!

    May 7, 2010 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Nisha Sexton

    Linda You are an inspiration.Ishan and Jessica wanted me to wish you tons of luck and told me that they are so proud of you.Ditto from me as well!

    July 14, 2010 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply

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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.