This spotlight is a WOW! This amazing lady at Get a Grip Total Fitness, Darcelle Welker, shares all with you and is a true inspiration to overcoming life’s big obstacles. Darcelle, who turns 50 in 2 weeks is one of those people you meet and never forget. A big heart and kind soul. We met one night and talked for hours, one of my first friends when I moved to Tampa. I wouldn’t change that for the world. You will not believe what she has overcome through the years.
What she shares with you below is a great example of life’s “ah-ha moments” and how you can persevere through anything. She had great reasons to change, she has amazing strength & will, and she surrounded herself with people who supported her every step of the way.
I don’t want to giveaway anymore of her story, here it is for you…
Carrie says its time for my story… I never really thought about putting it on paper but Carrie said it might help someone else so here it goes.
I was always naturally a runner growing up. I started in AAU at the age of 5 and ran through my sophomore year of college. At age 5, I was the 3rd fastest in the nation in the 50 yard dash! In 8th grade I was undefeated the entire track season. I ran the 100, 200, 400, 400 m relay, 100 m hurdles, and 400 m hurdles. I never had to work at it..it just came naturally. I made it to State all 4 years in high school.
During college and nursing school, it was the 1980s! So step aerobics and a little bit of jogging was about it. I used to run with a Sony CD player around my waist. I rocked the big hair, tights with the thong on the outside…yep, don’t judge! I never participated in races or even thought about it. I never swam or really rode a bike.
During college I picked up a bad habit called smoking. I smoked for 10 years up to two packs a day. At age 31, I met my now husband…who hated smoking. I thought he was cute, so I quit, but it wasn’t easy.
I was always thin and never worried about my weight. However, after I quit smoking, I gained about 15lbs., but thought my lungs were better off, so I didn’t care.
I also had another monkey on my back that jumped on when I was only 13. It was alcohol. I will never forget the first time I drank. I loved it. I would take beers to track meets and drink them on the bus on the way home. (If you wrapped the can in foil..no one knew what it was).
High school, college and way beyond were all about parties. I was the party girl and could drink most people under the table. I got married and continued to party even after having my daughter. The fun slowly began to fade from drinking. I was gaining weight, out of shape and becoming miserable with myself. When Jocelyn was 7 she asked “Mommy, why do you drink wine every single day?” That was a wake up call for me.
Somewhere during this latter time period I met Carrie. I don’t recall the exact year. It was totally random at a party. I had chosen not to drink at this party for some reason and we struck up a conversation. She said she wanted to start up her boot camps after moving here…so I said..OK, count me in..I want to get into shape. So it began! Kettlebells and boot camps, 21 day belly blasts. I started to feel better, tone up and lose inches. I kept on drinking though…
Then my dad died in 2010. I really started to dive into a depression then. I began drinking even more. I was drinking almost every day and basically passing out every night.
I had to get that monkey off my back. So I took my last drink on Halloween of 2011.
I had to make a lot of changes then. Friends had to change. Socializing had to change; even my family had to make changes. I remember having a long conversation with Carrie about it on the phone. It was a huge lifestyle change I had to make. Luckily, I already had Carrie and Get a Grip to lean on. I went to Carrie’s classes on goal setting, listened to her advice on journaling, and using mantras. I began being grateful and mindful. It took at least a year of learning who I was and what I truly believe in. I focused on myself and on my family. I began hanging out with people I wanted to be like (Lots of Grippers). I renewed my faith in Christ and committed myself to living a better life. I learned to love myself most of all.
All the while, I kept going to Get a Grip. I joined the Tri Team and signed up for some races. Carrie met me at the rec center and helped me improve my swim. I showed up in a bikini and she asked me, “Don’t you have a swimming suit?” We still laugh about that. She ran with me in my neighborhood and I was pathetic. I could hardly breathe! I had done some sprint tris BC (before Carrie), but never with any structured training. I signed up for St. Anthony’s Tri and never thought I could do such a distance…but I did it in 2013!
I love giving back to Moffitt Cancer Center where I work, so I started running Miles for Moffitt Race and have done Swim Across America three times. I have swum the .5, 1 mile and 2.4 mile distance
I just kept plugging along…one day at a time. Then Jen Biles, Janet Blanco, Christina Sweet, Anne Azzoli, and Kim Weinstock twisted my arm to sign up for Chattanooga 70.3. I hadn’t done a tri in about a year, due to taking care of my mom after surgery. I knew some other Grippers had done Augusta 70.3 and they had survived! It’s typical of me to give into peer pressure, so I signed up. I wanted to throw up after I registered…and I didn’t tell my family for months.
I followed a training plan for 16 weeks and stuck to it, along with work and a busy family. I completed that race on May 22, 2016. I will never forget the feeling I felt when I crossed that finish line! I felt alive, accomplished and very proud. I was thankful that I had a healthy body that could complete such a feat. Carrie never stopped believing in me. She and all the Grippers are amazing. I have lost over 10lbs. and over 8 inches since I met Carrie. I have drastically changed my eating habits and now I mindfully think about what I put into my body.
This year I turn 50. This year on November 1, I celebrate 5 years sober. This is a good year. I will always thank Carrie and Get a Grip for believing in me!
My advice: Don’t ever under estimate any obstacles that you have in your life. If you have a monkey on your back…shake it off and tell it to F*** OFF. Pick a goal outside of your comfort zone, use a training plan, coerce some other Grippers to join you, and have fun!
Turning 50 and in the best shape of her adult life and completes a 70.3 Ironman!
I call that amazing, inspirational, resilient, pure heart, and priceless! So proud of her.