Mel during her GORUCK 9/11 Light Challenge

Jill Bates

Broken Arrow, OKC

Event: 2017 Arkansas Open Raw State Championships

Date: February 18, 2017

"When I was close to 280 pounds, I was invisible. People looked past you and wrote you off as lazy or unable to do much of anything. I don’t want anyone to feel that unimportant. I am proof that change is possible."

Jill's "Why"

I describe myself as a health nut and adventure junkie that is always on the hunt for something new to try. Often when you meet athletic people, their story is that they have been active their whole life. This is not the case for me. I started my journey in 2010 to get healthy. I changed my life and worked hard and eventually lost 100 pounds. My journey started with just trying to run down my street. I have done well over 100 races to date of various distances. My running evolved to doing Crossfit. This is where I touched a barbell for the first time. I am now focused on weightlifting as my primary exercise and do WODs for my cardio. My journey continually evolves; maybe I have ADD but I like exploring all that this world has and push myself beyond what I think I can. The list of things I have done and enjoyed includes: running trail and street races, obstacle courses, yoga, acro yoga, aerial silks, boxing, TRX, step aerobics, strength training, pole fitness, archery, dancing, trampoline aerobics, standup paddleboard, Crossfit, weightlifting, hiking and GoRuck events. The list continues to grow.

It was really hard at first but I kept working at it and eventually I realized that I had fallen in love with fitness. I want to share my love with others who have the aspiration to become a better stronger version of their selves. I enjoy pushing others to be their best by setting an example in my own personal fitness. I practice what I preach. Although balancing family and a career may be tough sometimes, I believe that finding time for yourself and your health is very important, and a great example for my family.

It Takes a Village

I’m trying to improve my strength. I had a coach tell me once that because of my genetics, I couldn’t be strong. I’m tall and a slow gainer so to him, I just couldn’t be a beast. It was a ridiculous statement; I think his bad programming wasn’t ever going to make me stronger, but his conclusion cast doubts within myself. I had to convince myself that I could and so I stopped working with that coach at that gym. I started with a strength focused coach that believes in me at the end of April, the week following the OKC HTL.

All of my lifts have improved. My eyes teared up when I pulled my 300# deadlift. It was a goal of mine for a long time and I finally was strong enough. My coach said that I’m at a point that going to a comp could and should happen.

I train hard every day but I know a goal like competing in a competition would push me to work that much harder. I’ll turn 35 this December, I want to show others that you can achieve anything and starting at any age is better than never trying. I really am just an average person who was once a couch sitter that lived on fast food. When I was close to 280 pounds, I was invisible. People looked past you and wrote you off as lazy or unable to do much of anything. I don’t want anyone to feel that unimportant. I am proof that change is possible. Despite the negativity in my past, I was able to keep moving forward. Working towards a goal can be slow and some days it flat out sucks but we are each worth it. I hope my journey shows someone that the change they want can happen.

#liveforaliving in motion

If money wasn't an object, what would I change?

I would be a life coach. Helping others figure out a path, getting motivated to start and then to stick with it. It would include guidance in fitness, diet, relationships, etc. I enjoy writing and putting down thoughts and emotions for others to relate to. Not everyone can verbalize their story until they read it in someone else’s words and they then say, “Yes exactly!” I see life coaching like that. Helping to realize what you can’t quite put your finger on.

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