Springs author loses 200 pounds on 'journey to wellness'

Before and after. (Courtesy of Chantel Hobbs)

Chantel Hobbs has published four fitness books — "Love Food & Live Well" went on sale in December — and is a personal trainer, mother and wife of four. This year, she celebrates her 10-year anniversary since embarking on what she calls her "journey to wellness." She has lost more than half her weight while improving her health.

Why do you keep fit?

Because it gives me more strength to pursue all of my passions. Obviously I want to be healthy for my children, and I want to leave a legacy. I believe in presenting a good example.

A decade ago, my gallbladder was taken out, probably due to my excess body fat, and my knees hurt quite a bit. So those have improved. My body fat is now within the athletic range.

Every woman wants to feel better, so obviously I feel tremendously better looking in the mirror than when I was 350 pounds.

When did you hit rock bottom with obesity?

I was 350-plus pounds at age 29. I pulled into my church one night and said, "God, I'm done, with life or being fat, but I'm done." Something shifted mentally for me. Being overweight wasn't cancer but something behavioral that could be fixed. My mother had had leukemia and I watched her come in and out of remission. Your whole life stops to diseases. But being overweight is not the same.

Our society is screwed up. Obesity is not a disease. You can change it. We've got this whole world that believes if you have lap-band surgery, it can be fixed, but unless we're doing lobotomies it can't be fixed.

I'll be celebrating a decade of wellness in April.

Do you ever take breaks from working out?

Working out is not an option. It's like taking a shower and brushing teeth. I just make it happen, based on what's happening each day.

What's your weekly exercise routine?

There is no typical week. I run. I walk. I spin. I teach a spin class at Fusion Fitness in Coral Springs. I strength-train four days a week, maybe three.

On days I run, I'll usually run for about an hour. I think 5 miles is the perfect run. Any time I amp up and run more than that, I usually end up with injuries. I like to do one long run every couple of weeks — 8 to 10 miles.

When I do walking, it's on a day I have more time to spend, like 90 minutes for the walk. Spinning is super-effective, super-fun, a super-endorphin high. You leave spinning feeling recharged.

Strength training is critical. Take a good look around a gym to people on cardio equipment and weight equipment. People who weight-train look better, they've built muscle. A lot of people get addicted to cardio but forget muscle, or get intimidated.

I use dumbbells and occasionally cables, with stability balls and medicine balls. I like functional training. The exercises I do in strength training mimic my real life, like picking up a child or groceries.

Why do you write fitness books?

My first one, "Never Say Diet," went into my personal struggle, and my next books were to motivate people wherever they are in their journey. My books have motivational, inspirational messages with practical things like recipes and exercises. I'm here to help.