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ESKASONI, NS — Mya Sack found more than a fitter, leaner body when she started her fitness journey four years ago.
The Eskasoni woman, who is in the running for the title Ms. Health and Fitness 2023, also found recovery from postpartum depression.
Over the last four years, Sack has twice lost 100 pounds (weight gain after pregnancy) and said she no longer needs the antidepressants she was taking.
A member of Eskasoni Fitness Centre, Sack credits her workout regimen and gym ‘family’ to help her get healthy.
“It’s been four years and I could have never been happier. (The gym is) my safe place. It’s my therapy,” said Sack. “And it’s a place where I can go and socialize and interact with other moms or … acquaintances. “
Because of her personal experience, Sack wants to share her story to bring awareness to the many benefits of community gyms and fitness. The mother of two children and a stepson believes gyms can be a way to help youth stay mentally healthy and law-abiding.
Knowing winning the Ms. The Health and Fitness contest would create more opportunities to share her story and show others what might have been a driving factor in Sack’s decision to enter.
And even though the Mi’kmaq woman didn’t think she’d get far in the online voting competition, she was excited to be wrong. By publication time, Sack was in the number two spot in her group of 10; with the top five moving on to the next round of voting starting Friday.
“At first I didn’t take it seriously. When I realized I was still in the second place with so many votes and so many other people had voted off, I realized I could win. It’s a crazy feeling,” she said.
The now 24-year-old had her first child in 2018. In the months that followed, Sack suffered from postpartum depression.
“I was severely depressed,” she said. “I didn’t like me for my body and I was uncomfortable. I was 226 pounds. I am only 5 ‘1 (five foot one) and to even get out of bed and walk up and down the stairs to do laundry was a missions.”
In 2019, Sack decided she didn’t want to continue the way she was.
“I didn’t want to be this way for the rest of my life, struggling to play with toys with my son or struggling to do laundry because my back hurts or my legs are sore from being too overweight. Or just not feeling 100 per cent like myself,” she said.
A friend suggested they should go to the gym together. When Sack pointed out they didn’t know how to use the equipment, her friend said they would learn as they go.
The two friends joined Eskasoni Fitness Center and started off with machines and exercises they basically knew — like a treadmill or squat press. From there they moved on to more advanced exercises and weightlifting.
“It was from there on out I was obsessed with the gym. I was able to get off the antidepressants I was on for over a year. I didn’t develop any habits while I was in the gym which is awesome because I’m so grateful for the gym community being there,” Sack said.
“In my community, substance abuse is very common for a lot of people around here. And a lot of people were telling me, ‘Oh, you’re going to end up doing these kinds of drugs if you get off your medication and so on and so forth.’ And I was like, no. I’m doing this the healthiest way I can think of for me and my children.”
Sack became dedicated to her workouts but hit a plateau after about nine months. No matter what she did or what meal plan she followed, she wouldn’t lose weight. That’s when she was introduced to weightlifting by her now husband Reggie Sack, who has competed in powerlifting events.
“He started showing me workouts as a friend…He was the one that really showed me the ropes and showed me how to target all of my different muscles on certain days and that I shouldn’t be doing full body workouts if I wanted to increase the way that my muscles look, to slim out more and lose the body fat,” he said.
“It was an amazing experience, to experience that kind of trust that somebody has (for you). They believed in me more than I believed in myself and he’s my number one supporter, even to this day. I honestly think that I wouldn’t t have been able to do it without him…he is my rock.”
When Sack had her second child in 2020, she had “a little bit of baby blues” and the same weight gain. But she found it easier to regain her health, which included losing 100 pounds for a second time as her fitness journey had not stopped.
- From: Eskasoni
- Ms. Health and Fitness Top 10 in Group
- Age: 24
- Job: At-home parent
- Children: Three
- Working out since: 2019
- Favorite exercise: Arnold shoulder press
- Exercises: Daily
- Workouts: 45-60 minutes
- Gets motivation from: Husband, gym ‘family’
- Would use prize money for: health and fitness community programs
- Vote Mya
For the community
Sack learned about the Ms. Health and Fitness magazine cover contest through a Facebook post. Her mom encouraged her to enter the online voting competition which awards a grand prize of $20,000 USD and a cover shoot in HERS Muscle and Fitness magazine, which is read by 500,000 people worldwide monthly.
At first, Sack was 20 in her group of around 50 people. Then she moved up to fifth place and into first for a few days before falling to second. If Sack is in second place when voting for the top five ends at 11 pm AST today, she’ll move on to the next round of voting.
Sack has many ideas for the $20,000 USD prize if she wins which includes a healthy foods to home program and a program which gives free gym membership to youth.
“You’re not going out looking for trouble when they are feeling anxious or feeling like there is in their life,” said Sack.
“I feel like if they were willing to give the gym a try and push their body to limits, they can’t even imagine what their bodies can do…they can realize there is so much more worth living for than going out partying and starting trouble.”
the Ms. Health and Fitness contest allows one free daily vote. People can also purchase votes for $1 each and this money is donated to the non-profit Homes for Wounded Warriors, an organization helping veterans.
To vote for Mya Sacks, go to mshealthandfitness.com/2023/mya-sack.
Nicole Sullivan is a diversity and health reporter, who sometimes covers the education beat, with the Cape Breton Post.