She lost 90kg – and in­spired a move­ment

Liz Davis walked her way from a size 28 to a healthy size 12.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Trends - By CHRIS­TINE CLARRIDGE

LIT­TLE did Liz Davis know when she first started her own some­times painful, some­times slow and of­ten frus­trat­ing ef­fort to change her body, mind and spirit that she would end up lead­ing a small move­ment.

Davis lost 90kg – shrink­ing from 180kg and a size 28 to a healthy size 12 – more than 10 years ago us­ing the low­est tech, least ex­pen­sive and most ac­ces­si­ble tool she could find: her feet.

As she walked rou­tinely through Seat­tle’s Cen­tral District neigh­bour­hood where she was born and raised, she be­came a well­known fig­ure and an in­spi­ra­tion to peo­ple who watched as she slowly slimmed down.

As her body changed, her con­scious­ness did, too, and she re­alised she wanted to help other peo­ple un­der­stand that sim­ple, com­mon sense and in­ex­pen­sive changes could lay the ground­work for per­ma­nent health im­prove­ments.

As she in­vited oth­ers to join her walks, they be­came im­promptu com­mu­nity coach­ing ses­sions.

“I wanted to give some­thing to peo­ple who couldn’t nec­es­sar­ily af­ford to go to the gym, or who didn’t want to go be­cause they were too self-con­scious about their bod­ies. I wanted them to know they could lit­er­ally save their own lives,” Davis said.

Her friend, Jo-Nathan Thomas, a so­cial-ser­vice spe­cial­ist who had just lost 27kg him­self when he and Davis met at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton, said, “She is do­ing in­cred­i­ble work in the com­mu­nity.

“She’s help­ing bring af­ford­able health aware­ness and ex­er­cise to the masses. Once she found the courage to act, she saw that she be­gan to over­come her strug­gles, in­side and out. At the same time, she be­came aware of the epi­demic of health is­sues in the com­mu­nity, and she de­vel­oped a pas­sion for ed­u­cat­ing and en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple.”

Her pas­sion for help­ing oth­ers was nour­ished by her sis­ter, Michelle Hawkins, who worked at the Garfield Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, and Hawkins’ trainer, Wil­lie Austin, a former Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton foot­ball player and pow­er­lift­ing cham­pion who started the non-profit Austin Foun­da­tion.

Hawkins and Austin used to go to health fairs and fes­ti­vals where Austin would lay out fit­ness equip­ment, demon­strate how to use it and in­vite oth­ers to try.

They both told Davis, who at that point had just lost her first 27kg, she needed to tell her story.

“Wil­lie asked me to tell folks at the health fair how I lost the weight,” she said. “He said it would en­cour­age peo­ple who were obese to know that I had done it.”

“They gave me the bug for help­ing peo­ple,” said Davis about her sis­ter and Austin, who have both since passed on.

So she has cre­ated a num­ber of plat­forms, in­clud­ing a one-woman show that tells of her trans­for­ma­tion from “fat Liz to healthy Liz.”

She runs sev­eral web­sites and Face­book pages – Walk­a­ble CD, DeFlora Walks – and has cre­ated a get-started work­shop and printed pam­phlets of tips and tools.

The walk, typ­i­cally held dur­ing the more tem­per­ate months, usu­ally starts at a lo­cal park where old and new par­tic­i­pants gather around Davis. Depend­ing on how many peo­ple show up, their in­ter­ests and abil­i­ties, she might lead them on a few laps around the park’s track or set off on an hour-long hike that starts with a neigh­bour­hood hill. She might teach folks cal­is­then­ics or how to do a proper squat. And all the time, she’s quizzing peo­ple on their mo­ti­va­tions and us­ing that in­for­ma­tion to spur folks on.

“Do it so you can be a healthy grandma,” she might say to a woman strug­gling to fin­ish a few push-ups.

Be­cause Davis, 48, had knee-re­place­ment surgery and de­vel­oped a her­ni­ated disc in her lower back at the end of last year, her win­ter was filled with phys­i­cal-ther­apy ap­point­ments, pain and set­backs.

She could have got­ten bummed out and given up, she said, had she not redi­rected her think­ing with the help of nu­mer­ous men­tors and prayer.

“Once I stopped feel­ing sorry for my­self and started re­al­is­ing that this is a new chap­ter and a new chal­lenge that I get the priv­i­lege of work­ing through, things be­gan to get eas­ier,” she said. “Now I want peo­ple to see that I strug­gle, slip and fall, but I get up, work through the chal­lenges and keep go­ing.” – The Seat­tle Times/Tribune News Ser­vice


‘I wanted to give some­thing to peo­ple who couldn’t nec­es­sar­ily af­ford to go to the gym,’ says Davis.

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