08/15/2016 01:15 EDT | Updated 08/15/2016 01:59 EDT

Becoming A 'Fitspiration'

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Group of female friends laughing together after completing run at sunset

I've never -- by any stretch of the imagination been a lazy person. I worked long hours as a chef running a cooking school, which sat above a huge grocery store where I could literally log thousands of steps or miles per day on my short, little legs. Besides running through the store several times a day, making sure to take the stairs and wear my Fitbit, I also was on my feet for hours at a time, prepping, cooking, instructing or assisting other chefs. I thought I was so tough and strong, had legs of steel, and could leap tall buildings in a single bound! Alas, that was NOT the case.

Working in the food industry and keeping long hours, led to skipping meals, eating on the run, and getting home so tired that I'd throw together the least nutritious and easiest meals I could. I found myself morbidly obese, exhausted and in constant joint pain.

Enough was enough. I started to change my life by using my food skills to completely change the way I ate and by simply walking every day. Arthritis had literally frozen my knees to the point where all I could muster was a small bend to take a step and walk. Soon walking became easier; I was able to go further afield without any stress. I knew the time had come to step up my physical activity.

I found the perfect person to be a part of my fitness team in the form of an amazing personal trainer named Esme. Esme was willing to work with my limitations to help me get the best results from my body. The real work began. I slowly learned how to reprogram my body and started stretching, squatting, bending, and lunging. All this led to weights and resistance training. Who knew all this would take so much darn work! But, push on and persevere I did.

I found that I was so motivated and had such a "high" from the progress I was making that I started to look for more. I started walking everywhere and became interested in many different athletic disciplines. My husband had been asking me to go to the gym with him for years. Finally, I was ready and suggested we go to CrossFit together.

On the milestone day of reaching a 60 lb weight loss, the admin at our CrossFit Gym, The Solid Ground Fitness Academy, asked if I'd like to have a picture of myself holding the equivalent of what I'd lost - i.e., holding 60 lbs of gym equipment on my shoulders! They were all so proud and supportive, and the look of pure joy and pride on my husband's face truly touched me. When some of the other, MUCH YOUNGER members asked "What's up with the weights?", I shared some of my story. That was when I was first called a fitspiration.

What is a fitspiration? One of the latest new monikers thrown around these days, according to Everyday Feminism; "A fitspiration is any message (usually in the form of an image with a quote included) that encourages one to 'persevere, push or even suffer' through exercise for the sake of achieving change in one's physical appearance" (Bersaglio).

I've always believed that everything in life happens for a reason. Funny how things fall in to place sometimes, the people we meet in unlikely places along this journey we call life. Twenty-five years ago, I read a book called Outlander written by Diana Gabaldon. Three years ago, I rediscovered the book and its seven follow-ups and read all of them in one summer. Low and behold, the books were made into a television series featuring one of my favorite countries in the world, Scotland.

The male lead of the television series - Scottish actor Sam Heughan - started a worldwide movement called My Peak Challenge. This initiative was a way for him to lend his voice to a worthwhile charity Bloodwise, U.K. an organization that focuses its research in finding new treatments and cures for leukaemia and lymphoma. I joined My Peak Challenge to become part of a "big picture" team of like-minded individuals who were all facing the challenges and journeys in different aspects of their lives.

Because of My Peak Challenge, I've met hundreds of other people from around the world. Whether it be through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram I've connected on a personal level with many. Through all of this, the common denominator has been Diana Gabaldon's books, the T.V. series, and Sam Heughan.

I wanted to find a "Peak Challenge" for myself this year that would embody my journey, accomplishments thus far and sponsor a worthwhile charity right here at home. The Rexall One Walk to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre was my choice. This fabulous worthwhile cause is a one day, 25km walk through the streets of Toronto.

I found myself at a table in a quaint pub in Downtown Toronto with six other women who were all My Peak Challenge members. I told them my challenge for this year had many parts:

1. Walk farther and faster than I ever have before, in one go

2. Raise double the required amount to walk (the minimum is $1,500, I want to raise $3,000)

3. Motivate other people to walk with me and raise funds and awareness as well!

The next thing I knew, word spread through the My Peak Challenge community and now we've got a TEAM! We're up to 11 people including myself. I'm proudly Team Captain of "The Toronto Peakers '16". We are a diverse group of energetic and enthusiastic women who want to make a difference. I honestly cannot believe that I, me, LORRAINE POWELL, have become someone that others find motivational!

Although I have personally learned to deal with illness in the form of auto-immune disease and it's resulting fall out of side-effects, I've never thought my life was any better or worse off than anyone else's. You just get up every day and "deal." Hearing from so many people from all walks of life who have followed my blog and bits of my journey has made me realize that although we all struggle with different challenges, I believe the quality of one's life is based on our attitude and how we choose to "deal".

I am so proud of how far I've come but more importantly that I've somehow, in any way, shape or form, been a fitspiration to others. I am even more proud to walk the 25km with these 10 other women on September 10th supporting Princess Margaret Cancer Center in the Rexall One Walk to Conquer Cancer.

The Princess Margaret is one of the top five cancer research centres in the world, working to conquer ALL cancers, therefore their findings are shared worldwide. So, perhaps you'll take a moment to donate. EVEN the cost of a cup of "designer" coffee can make a difference in someone's life. Once a donation is made to OneWalk, funds are immediately put to use at The Princess Margaret, improving the lives of patients and their families, while also helping researchers find better treatment and care options right away. Make yourself a fitspiration by helping others today.

Please visit my donation page for more of the story at: .

For more information on the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer, visit:

Source: Bersaglio, Lauren. "What Is Fitspiration, Anyways?" Everyday Feminism. N.p., 12 June 2013. Web.

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