Live What You Love
By: Peggy Willms
(3 min read)
Live what you love. A simple statement, right?! Over the years, I have seen many memes, pictures, and coaching content surrounding these four words. For me, though, their meaning is a bit more special.
Eight years ago, I met a fantastic woman named Laurie when she participated in a weight loss program called Destination Boot Camp. I was the project manager overseeing many teams, including marketing, logistics, coaches, program content, nutrition, and physical fitness. It was one of the most rewarding years of my health and fitness career. I met hundreds of people, many of whom I am still in contact with today.
The program was created by the University of Colorado and ABC TV. The intent was to mimic the top-rated TV show, Extreme Weight Loss, hosted by trainers, Chris and Heidi Powell. Each season of the TV show aired the weight-loss journeys of 17 hand-picked cast members. The spin-off program I coached was designed for “real” people meaning they were not interviewed or casted. Each camp had 32-34 participants from around the world, and the spots were filled on a first-come, first-served basis as long as they received medical clearance from their physician and had eight grand. The members came to the university for a week of intense medical testing, fitness workouts, cooking, and mindset classes. After seven days, they returned to their real world, raising kids, working, and living with the temptations of everyday life. Our coaches conducted virtual group meetings each week, and because we got to know them over an entire year, many of us created tight bonds with specific participants.
Laurie immediately stood out from the rest. We connected early on. Her energy was palpable. She was a single woman in her late 50s and had one son. She had also been a paralegal for decades. She loved life, her elderly mother, and horses. Over the years, I continued to work with her, mainly focusing on mindset and self-care. She loved her profession, which was one of the ways we connected; both of us being workaholics. Her busiest time of year was tax season. Year after year, I would jokingly tell her that her career had no surprises. “You know you’re going to be slammed between October and March, so how can we design your life to be the healthiest during those time frames?” She embedded several healthy habits over the years. And she even came to Florida to attend a couple of my women’s wellness retreats. The bottom line, I think you can figure out that we bonded.
Laurie gave me a bracelet in 2017 that I have worn daily since I put it on. I bet you can guess what it says by the title of this blog…Live What You Love. We continued to stay in touch over the years. She began taking time off and traveling. Her last trip was to Europe. Seeing her spread her wings and dedicate time to herself was exciting.
A few weeks back, I was contacted by her niece. I hadn’t talked to Laurie for quite a while. She informed me that, unfortunately, Laurie had passed away. I was shocked. She was in her 60s and certainly too young to leave us. The information spun me. As with any of us who lose family members or friends, we regret those calls or visits we put off for yet another day. We often say tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow—and as with Laurie and me, tomorrow never came.
She is always with me—literally on my right wrist. And as I touched her bracelet today, I gave her a shout-out for living exactly how she wanted to, whether she worked a gazillion hours, toured the streets of Italy, or pet the mane of her favorite horses, she Lived What She Loved.