Friday, October 4, 2013

And the Success Story Contest Winner is.....

I realize this post is rather overdue, considering the event happened over 2 weeks ago, but today seems like a fitting day to write and share this with you. I've told the story to you, my readers, of how losing my father 6 years ago sparked in me the desire to get healthy. This coming weekend will be his birthday, a time of quiet reflection, a time of mixed emotion, and a time I'll no doubt be thinking, "I wish you were here to see me now". While all I want to do is hug him tight just one more time, I can't help but think he'd be incredibly proud of me too.

On Sept 17th, my 33rd birthday, I had the most incredible day! This was the day of the Steve Nash Fitness Clubs marketing campaign launch, where the winner of the 2013 Success Story contest would be unveiled. It was an awesome day, and a huge inspiration to keep fit for life. I got to meet all finalists, who each shared their story. Everyone who was selected as a finalist has had a remarkable journey and we got to hear about them more in depth at this event. And all the stories are so unique - each person with their own personal obstacles, conquering them, and triumphing with a new positive, healthy, and fit outlook. Congratulations to everyone for all you've achieved! I'm honoured to be in such company. The other finalists include my dear friend, Kristy who I am so proud of. Her journey too has been amazing and it was tough to be in a contest with her. But it was wonderful to experience everything alongside her. Love you, Kristy! xo

Please take a moment to read all the stories here.

I'm still absolutely astonished, amazed, and while still somewhat in denial (don't pinch me to wake me from this incredible dream), I'm humbled to have been selected this year's winner of the contest. As if having the day off work to spend with Cam, Kristy and Marty, then having everyone at the event sing me Happy Birthday wasn't enough to make the day special! The announcement of me as the winner was something that'll be tough to beat on future birthdays, I'll tell you that! Really any of the finalists could have been chosen, and it floors me to have been selected. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be an ambassador to the Steve Nash Fitness Clubs and be a large part of their marketing campaign. Working out at this gym, the community I'm part of at the North Shore club, and my incredible personal trainer, Lindsay, have made a world of difference to my fitness goals.

Please read the blog article on Nash Center Court which details my story and includes a link to the video they put together where you can hear from me and the other finalists about their journey.

All of us finalists were given a lot of wonderful prizes generously, backpacks stuffed to the brim with swag and money to spend at the New Balance concept store. As the winner, I got a little something extra. Membership for the coming year, and a trip for two to Mexico. Here I am with Cam moments after the announcement:

And since this magical day, I continue to be astonished by seeing the posters in the community. It's a reminder every time of how far I've come. It's a surreal experience and I admit, I'm loving every moment. The outpouring of kindness, congratulating remarks, and encouragement from family and friends has been overwhelming. This moment here this week, seeing my ad on a transit bus really was the icing on the cake. I screamed when I saw this, like a school girl, and did what I needed to do (safely) to get behind the bus for a photo. Yes, this was taken behind the wheel from a handheld device, but my foot was on the brake pedal (no, I don't do this often...).

This is so much more than it being about a contest that I won. In fact, to me it really isn't about ME. This whole experience has been a celebration of fitness, achievement, and triumph over challenge. Winning is the icing on the cake, a culminating experience to mark hard work and achievement. I have openly shared this experience with my whole network of friends and family. And many people I haven't shared with, have contacted to me saying they've heard me on the radio or seen me in the newspaper ads. While I got some negativity (from one person), everyone else seems to be on the same page as me, and see that this is not an attention-seeking plot, but as something wonderful and beautiful. I wanted to be part of this experience for the same reason I started this blog - to share a happy story worthy of sharing and to be an example of what is possible. Even our wildest, most unrealistic dreams are possible. All we have to do is believe and lose our fear of what it'll take to achieve it. There's enough negativity in the world to tell us what we can't do. Let's remember what each of us CAN do.

When I was down and out, overweight, discouraged, and at severe health risk, I did not believe it was possible to change my life. The thought of a marathon was something I would laugh at and say, "hahah, never!" And here I am, the running-obsessed marathoner, coaching others to run for themselves. Sure I'm not fast, yet, but I do it, I love it, and see myself as an athlete. I sincerely hope that this outcome here I'm sharing openly and publicly, is one that continues to spark some inspiration to others who are in a similar place to where I was 6 years ago -  to change their life, to be the next success story themselves.

There have been many wonderful results of this contest experience, admittedly. The best so far have been the private messages, emails, phone calls, from friends and acquaintances who've told me I've in some way inspired them to get (more) active or take on a new fitness challenge. I have people requesting running advice, nutrition advice, motivation advice....I even had one girl I've never met approach me at the gym and tell me she is inspired to be the next success story herself. I see her regularly, working hard, and we exchange smiles and kindness. I'm blown away.

Thank YOU, faithful blog readers for following my journey. You're a big reason why I keep going!

<3 Zahida

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