Gray: Why not you? Why not now?

You are going to be busy tomorrow. And the next day. You are going to have laundry to fold, bills to pay, errands to run, family to care for and work to do. You will wake up tomorrow with the same aches and pains or the same stress or the same bad feelings about your scale or your medicine cabinet. There is nothing easier about tomorrow.

Here is a solution. Stop waiting. The reward of good health is far greater than the obstacles you’ll fight through to get there. The proof is abundant in our own community.

Meet two recent success stories of Alpena residents who overcame struggles such as smoking, chronic disease, fear, obesity and sadness. They found a better life and are not looking back. They did not do it on their own. They used the support of friends and family, the guidance of fitness trainers and the power of a group to achieve success. If they can make these difficult steps, why not you? Yes, you.

After 22 years of smoking, Stephanie Stachlewitz built up the strength to quit. Getting in shape and eating healthy fueled her drive to success.? Not too long ago, Stephanie laughed at people who exercised and never thought twice about eating fast food. To lose weight, she looked for the quick fix and asked her doctor to prescribe weight loss pills. That did not make her happy, strong or healthy.

Her mindset changed when her husband invited her to join Corporate Fit Challenge through the Alpena Fire Department. In just one meeting with their fitness coach, she opened her mind to a new way of living. Over the next six weeks she found workouts that she loved, started cooking at home and created healthy habits that stuck.

When the Corporate Fit Challenge ended, Stephanie was just beginning. She searched for more challenges like the Hero Rush 7K obstacle course.??Stephanie was walking the walk of a healthy lifestyle in so many ways but still smoking. She realized she was out of excuses. Kicking the habit was her next challenge.?? Many people who meet her today are surprised to know that she is tackling life with multiple sclerosis.?She feels anything but limited. Her body is strong and her mind is tough. She is fit, happy, smoke free and keeping her MS in control. Stephanie went from ridiculing healthy people to advocating this lifestyle to others.

Bradley Przeslawski spent most of his life feeling unnoticed and unimportant. For a long time, he actually preferred living in the shadows. He was overweight and lacked confidence.??He wanted his life to change, so he started by changing his health. His desk job and poor eating habits were a big culprit. He needed a place to start. With a friend, he joined a 10-day nutritional challenge featuring Shakeology meal replacement. He was very excited to lose seven pounds. It was a start.??

From there Bradley signed up for a community Thinner Winner contest. He became a regular at group fitness classes and incorporated healthy, home-cooked meals. Six weeks later, at the final party, he was on the verge of tears when it was announced that he lost 14 inches and 19 pounds. He was shocked by his success and decided that he was capable of a lot more.?

Bradley completed his first 5K run and felt amazing at the end. He enjoyed the challenge so much that he is now training for a half marathon. Bradley is always setting new goals and trying new fitness programs. He recently completed a boot camp program and lost eight more pounds, bringing his weight loss total to 50 pounds.?Today, Bradley is getting noticed. He has confidence and a determination to never live in the shadows again.

If you asked Stephanie and Bradley if there lives are better today, they would probably want to climb a mountain top to shout a resounding YES! Undoubtedly, their new healthy habits have unleashed a passion for life. They have shed insecurities, bad habits, unhealthy pounds and pills to discover their best selves. They would love nothing more than for you to decide today, that you are deserving, too. Because, quite simply, you are.

Trina Gray is the owner of Bay Athletic Club, a mother of two, a national presenter on fitness and wellness and a change agent in the community. Her wellness column appears monthly.