Gold’s Gym honoree loses 130 lbs., but gains so much

Lindsey Cotter, left, of Clifton works out on a Jacobs Ladder machine with her trainer Deb Leany at Gold’s Gym.

Lindsey Cotter, left, of Clifton credits Deb Leany, right, her trainer of 1 1/2 years at Gold’s Gym, with helping her win the “Most Inspirational Member” award for Gold’s Gyms worldwide after she lost 130 pounds since 0ct., 2010. The mother of an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, Cotter weighed 300 pounds when she started working out at Gold’s Gym that month. Her membership was a gift from her stepfather after she became despondant following the deaths a number of months apart of both her brother and father in separate car wrecks.

Clifton’s Lindsey Cotter found something at the end of the emotional journey that left her 130 pounds lighter.

Her self-worth.

She also picked up something a bit more tangible. Cotter recently received the “Most Inspirational” award among all the Gold’s Gyms worldwide, a recognition she was awarded in Las Vegas in July with her personal trainer, Deb Leany, close at hand.

“There’s no price tag that you can put on healthiness and happiness,” Cotter said recently from the sprawling Gold’s Gym in Grand Junction, 700 Maldonado St. — her home away from home five to six times a week now.

It’s hard to imagine the person she and Leany describe from October 2010. They use words like “timid,” “depressed,” “scared.” They both say she was “defeated.” Cotter says at her heaviest, she was 300 pounds.

Today she is smiling, fit, ebullient. She talks about her past as if it’s truly history. More than once she says she’s “fallen in love” with fitness and her new healthy lifestyle.

“Truly, I don’t remember Lindsey at that stage. She’s just a different person — inside and out,” said Leany, the trainer who’s been on the journey with Cotter every step of the way.

Cotter’s story isn’t simply remarkable because of sheer numbers. It’s inspirational because of the depths of despair she experienced, and how those lows spurred her to do great things with her life.

The sad side of her story begins in February 2009, when Cotter’s brother, John Fullmer IV, was killed in a drunk-driving crash. Just 19 months later, Cotter’s father, John Fullmer III, a well-known local football coach, died when his truck rolled after leaving the roadway. He was overweight, and Cotter believes the reason his truck swerved is because he suffered an attack of angina.

A month later, facing a real life spiral, Cotter was visiting her mother in South Carolina when her stepfather heard her say that she thought she could really change her body — and her life — if she only had someone who could show her what to do in a gym. He surprised her by setting up some personal training sessions at the Grand Junction Gold’s Gym.

Cotter took the opportunity, and ran with it big time.

She met Leany in October 2010, and the two immediately developed a bond. They started by talking about food, and how Cotter could tweak her diet to better play the caloric numbers game that is at the heart of losing weight. Leany introduced her to other people in the gym who have had success. They started with walking, and gradually expanded their workouts to all corners of the gym.

“It’s making this a habit, and overcoming your fears,” Leany said. “And once they start seeing a little bit of success, it gets the ball rolling.”

With Cotter, Leany wanted to moderate her progress, change her lifestyle for the long run. Since 2010, Cotter has lost an average of eight pounds a month — and it’s clear the gradual change is for good.

“It’s completely different now. I feel like myself again. I’m not sitting on the couch all day, barely paying attention to my own children. I’m so much more confident in how I present myself,” Cotter said.

It’s important to note these amazing weight-loss journeys are never simple stories of predictably flat, positive progress. They’re more like a roller-coaster, with amazing peaks and devastating valleys. Cotter’s story is no different.

“I’ve definitely had some low moments. I’ve sat, and knelt right here in this gym, and just cried. I’ve come in on days and just absolutely lost it,” she recalled.

Leany added: “It’s really more mental than physical.”

Cotter said her family kept her going during difficult times.

“I was scared to let them down,” she said.

But today, Cotter is intent on being inspirational to others — people who are overweight, intimidated by the gym, ignorant of how to change their lives, personally defeated.

People with no self-worth.

“All it takes is that first step, to get up and be active — take the initiative,” she said.

“Most importantly, they need to know that they are worth it. I didn’t feel that way until I had someone backing me up, and my parents decided to help. That’s what it took for me to believe in myself.”

“Just take the first step.”


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