Senior Maddi Grant works towards happiness and health through fitness

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Senior Maddi Grant works towards happiness and health through fitness

As part of her workout routine, senior Maddi Grant lifts 15-pound dumbbells. Grant started weightlifting to build more muscle and challenge herself. “I learned from a personal trainer that you should not focus on just one muscle group a day, otherwise other parts of your body get weaker. I do ab exercises, arms and legs on a day to day basis just to change it up,” Grant said.

As part of her workout routine, senior Maddi Grant lifts 15-pound dumbbells. Grant started weightlifting to build more muscle and challenge herself. “I learned from a personal trainer that you should not focus on just one muscle group a day, otherwise other parts of your body get weaker. I do ab exercises, arms and legs on a day to day basis just to change it up,” Grant said.

Nayeon Ryu

As part of her workout routine, senior Maddi Grant lifts 15-pound dumbbells. Grant started weightlifting to build more muscle and challenge herself. “I learned from a personal trainer that you should not focus on just one muscle group a day, otherwise other parts of your body get weaker. I do ab exercises, arms and legs on a day to day basis just to change it up,” Grant said.

Nayeon Ryu

Nayeon Ryu

As part of her workout routine, senior Maddi Grant lifts 15-pound dumbbells. Grant started weightlifting to build more muscle and challenge herself. “I learned from a personal trainer that you should not focus on just one muscle group a day, otherwise other parts of your body get weaker. I do ab exercises, arms and legs on a day to day basis just to change it up,” Grant said.

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High schoolers often find themselves vulnerable to the judgement of society, nitpicking parts of who they are that are deemed unsuitable to today’s standards. However, instead of cowering behind those eyes, senior Maddi Grant stands strong through her fitness journey.

Grant shares her progress on a public Instagram account by posting pictures of her food, tracking her progress and sharing transformation photos. She posted her first photo in October 2017 with the intention to track her progress and help others who aspire to become more fit.

“I’m actually about to start training one of my friends I went to elementary school with. My aunt also asks about what I eat and what I do at the gym. A few people have said I’ve motivated them to start [becoming healthier] as well,” Grant said. “I love helping others, and I didn’t know I would be getting this much feedback from it.”

Grant’s journey started long before October. Since she was 12 years old, she had always struggled with body image.

“I was always made fun of for being ‘overweight’ or being too ‘chubby’ as a kid by classmates. Even as a little kid I felt I wasn’t like my other classmates, so there must be something wrong with me,” Grant’s Instagram read.

Nayeon Ryu
Senior Maddi Grant performs side pulls as part of her strength training routine.

 Dealing with changes in her life, at age 13 Grant perceived the number on her scale as unhealthy. She drastically minimized her diet in order to conform to what she felt was the social norm. Throughout middle school and into her freshman year, she struggled with an eating disorder.

“I went from a size 6 to a size 0, and I lost a bunch of my hair and would get dizzy and fall asleep in class. I constantly worried about my weight,” Grant said.

In her sophomore and junior year, she gained back the weight she forced herself to lose. While the number on the scale may have looked better than ever before, she felt as if she wasn’t healthy. This is why she initiated a healthy weight loss in the spring of her junior year.

“My junior year, I struggled with severe anxiety and depression. I lost my boyfriend and my friends all at once. I made risky decisions, I rebelled against my parents and most days I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was so down on myself, and Taco Bell made the pain go away. It was a hard time for me, which caused the weight gain,” Grant said. “After my car accident in March, I decided to make a change for the better in my life.”

Walking out of the accident with a car bent in half, a concussion and a few scars, Grant stayed positive during her recovery in the hospital, and used it as motivation to change her old habits. After her accident in April, Grant would take either a barre3 class or Pilates once a week. She then started going to her local gym to work out three times per week with a close friend.

“My parents went through my phone in the ER that night and found out that I had been lying to them [about my actions] for months. It was one of the first times I saw both my parents cry. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I thought they wouldn’t have to worry if I wasn’t here, and I tried to take my own life by overdosing,” Grant said. “I spent the next week in inpatient. I realized in those long hours in the hospital bed that I needed to make a change in my life. My mom helped me to the gym and that gave me a purpose again.”

Over the course of nine months, Grant lost 53 pounds and is working towards losing more. Despite this goal, her fitness journey is not all about the numbers on the scale or on the tags of the jeans in the mall: it is about her health, both physical and mental. In order to focus on her recovery and reduce her anxiety, Grant chose to resign from the varsity cheer team halfway through her junior year.

I realized in those long hours in the hospital bed that I needed to make a change in my life. My mom helped me to the gym and that gave me a purpose again.”

— Maddi Grant

“One of the reasons I had to resign from cheer was because I constantly worried about how much I ate and how I was heavier than the other flyers,” Grant said.

Now, much more confident and happy, Grant established a stable workout routine with stairs, cardio and her new addition of weight lifting. She changed her eating habits, cutting soda and fast food from her diet. Rather than eating less, Grant has learned to eat more, only taking in healthy foods, such as fruit and yogurt. With this new change in her lifestyle, Grant has already seen progress, but is in the works to fully become the person she desires to be in both her physical and mental health.

“I smile more, I laugh more and I have motivation to do things. Last year, I didn’t even think about college, nor did I care. This year, I’ve been trying to focus on myself and my grades. It’s truly amazing what working out does to you. I just feel like a new person,” Grant said.

Nayeon Ryu
Senior Maddi Grant climbs the stair-stepper for a cardio workout.

Fern Ridge senior Daedra Shaeffer, who was friends with Grant through her struggles during junior year, noticed these changes as well.

“She’s gotten more confidence, and she seems happier and has a better mindset and outlook on life,” Shaeffer said.

While Grant has been thriving with her new lifestyle, in the beginning, not everyone responded to her journey positively.

“A lot of people when I first started didn’t believe I could do it,” Grant said. “Even now I have people who tell me, ‘you can’t expect to look the way you want to.’”

Society’s standards for the way people “should” look in order to be considered beautiful were the sparks that led to her eating disorder.

“It’s what caused my eating disorder. I thought, ‘I’m not skinny enough. I don’t look like what I’m supposed to.’ I would look up celebrities’ weights who were about the same height as me to see what I’m ‘supposed to be,’” Grant said.

Finding her own way back to health and happiness, sophomore Susie Seidel, a viewer of Grant’s Instagram account, was amazed by the changes the senior established for herself.

“In society, happy people, whether it be in movies, T.V. shows or social media, seem to always be skinny. These can lead young girls who are already extremely vulnerable to believe that in order to be happy, well-liked and successful, they have to be skinny,” Seidel said. “Maddi clearly worked hard to become confident and comfortable in her body and is beautiful no matter what, but it’s clear she is a lot happier!”

Despite her progress, Grant is often forced to confront people who question her intentions with her weight loss journey.

“There’s some people who think I do it out of spite to my ex-boyfriend. I’m sure there’s some who think I’m doing it for attention, which I’m not. I do it to better myself and not anyone else,” Grant said.

She is currently considering the possibility of getting certified to work as a personal trainer to further her journey and help other people in similar situations to her own.

“My stepdad the other day made a comment to me and said, ‘I follow your workout page, and I just wanted to let you know I’m so glad to have you back. I haven’t seen the real you in years.’ That helps a lot to hear those comments,” Grant said. “I have a newfound confidence that I’ve never had, which has led me to make a lot better decisions in my life.”

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