My name is Angie Flynn. By profession I am co-owner of a peak performance business consulting firm, Cheslow Achievement Group, a best-selling author of 4 books, and a health and wellness coach. In real life, I am the mother of an extraordinary 13-year old boy, Josh, step-mother of two remarkable adult daughters, Erin (22) and Nicki (20), and partner of one of the most amazing people I have ever known, Deb Cheslow.
I am 50 years old and until 6 years ago, the most ambitious athletic accomplishment I could claim was surviving one of Kristy Gregg’s spin classes back at The Weight Club in Blacksburg. I never aspired to be an athlete. My ex-husband used to kid me often (and still does sometimes) that I was a “band geek.” And that’s pretty much the truth of it. I was not big on exercise and I loved to eat – which was fine when I was a teenager, but not so great as I hit my mid-20’s, got a desk job and found my lifestyle manifesting on my ever-expanding ass.
What followed were decades of roller-coaster dieting, the elusive search for the magic bullet, with the net result of gaining about 50 pounds and being in the worst physical condition of my life. At the end of 2009 I weighed 177 pounds. I don’t have any photographic evidence, because I destroyed it all in a drunken fit of rage and embarrassment one night.
So here’s a snapshot of me at the end of 2009… My marriage was not good. My finances were on the brink of going out of control in a way that would have us in bankruptcy court in very short order. I was binge eating at night and drinking a bottle of wine more nights than not. I was fat. I was stuck in a job that I had outgrown, but couldn’t leave because I needed the money and it was very flexible schedule-wise. I was a mess and I was miserable and I was desperate. The only thing that gave me true joy was my son and what kind of example was I setting for him? The thought sickened me. I guess, for me, that was as close to rock-bottom as I ever care to get.
Then I met someone who changed EVERYTHING!! Deb was an instructor at the karate school where my son trained. One day we struck up a conversation (which took guts because Deb was not the kind of person one just chatted up) and I asked her out for coffee. We each had our own agenda for that meeting – I wanted her help with my diet and exercise and she wanted a client. In 20 minutes she introduced me to an entirely new world – a world where I create my future instead of just letting life happen. I grabbed hold of the lifeline she was holding out for me and hired her on the spot as my coach – my “life coach.” I couldn’t afford her, but I knew down deep inside I couldn’t afford NOT to hire her. It is true – “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
The next week, on January 5, 2010, I took my first karate class. Couldn’t do even one full pushup (even from my knees) or a good situp. I couldn’t run even one full lap around the training room, but I fell in love with it that first night and have never looked back.
As my mindset shifted and I started putting the concepts Deb was teaching me into play in my life things started changing – for the better and for the worse. The better: I started dropping weight, my finances began to slowly turn around, I was much more optimistic, my nightly food binges stopped, and I moderated my drinking. But, with all the change, the friction in my marriage grew worse. We were arguing more and more. He said he didn’t know me anymore. He called me a bitch in front of our son. I snapped.
On March 18, 2010, I received a call at 2AM that my husband had been arrested for DUI. That was it. I packed a suitcase for myself and my son and I left. After 17 years of marriage I was done and I walked away from it all.
Nearly six years later I live in a beautiful house across the street from the ocean in Florida. I earned my black belt in karate in July, 2014. I have evolved into an endurance athlete. In November, 2012, Deb and I completed the Race Across America – Central FL 120 mile Gran Fondo cycling race, finishing #1 and #2 female.
In April, 2013, I got it in my head that I wanted to compete in a triathlon. Nothing over the top or anything, simply a sprint distance triathlon that was scheduled right up the road in July. This was the first event I was going to train for solo – Deb can’t run due to an injury. It was during the 10 weeks of training for that event that I found myself and my inner athlete. I discovered that I love running. I discovered that “Jaws” isn’t waiting for me on the other side of the break. I discovered that I am fast on the bike. And I discovered that I will train in the heat, the humidity, the dark, the rain, and everything in between – that nothing will stop me.
I also found out that I am ridiculously competitive with myself. I don’t so much care about what the other people are doing – there will always be those who are faster than me and those who are slower – that doesn’t matter, but I am CRAZY competitive with myself – always pushing for a faster time or a quicker transition than the last time. I guess that’s not such a bad thing.
The thing is that that first triathlon totally hooked me! I fell in love with multisport! Our company competed in the 2013 Beat the Heat Olympic Distance Triathlon (which turned into a duathlon when the ocean became uncooperative for the swimmers and I ran a mile, then the 10K). Since that time I’ve participated in a number of running races: 5Ks, 10K, many half-marathons, and even a full marathon in 2014. In 2015 I participated in two half-iron distance triathlons – Gulf Coast Triathlon in May and Beach 2 Battleship 70.3 in October. 2016 was my “iron year.” I raced IRONMAN FLORIDA on 11/5/16 and had the time of my life!! Next year, my “A” Race is the very hilly Great Floridian Triathlon (2/3 iron-distance) in Clermont, FL.
If someone had told me what my life would be today back in November, 2009, I would have laughed and asked them to pass me whatever they were smoking! I would not have believed it. I am 7 years older, but I am 30 lbs lighter, I am in the best physical condition of my life, I am doing things I never thought I was capable of. I am happier, healthier and more fulfilled than ever before. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?