Stuck in an iffy career, a struggling marriage, and a body she didn't recognize, Andrea U-Shi Chang discovered strength she didn't know she had.
Eight years ago, it seemed like Andrea U-Shi Chang was doing well: a thriving real estate business, a long-wished-for child, a 15-year marriage, and a lakefront home in Seattle. "But I remember thinking, 'I'm going to be 40 soon, and I don't feel good,'" says Chang. She wasn't sleeping. Her body ached. Her marriage was troubled. And she'd gained 50 pounds since her days as a college soccer player. "I realized that if I didn't make a change then, I never would," Chang says. "Losing weight, getting back to myself—that certainly wasn't going to be any easier as I grew older."
When Chang turned to a childhood friend who happened to be a fitness enthusiast, he suggested she eat around 1,500 calories a day and give kettlebells—heavy cast-iron weights used in athletic training—a try. It turned out to be a life-changing tip.
Kettlebells combine cardio and strength training in a short, heart-pumping workout that can burn more calories per minute than nearly any other form of exercise. Within six months of picking up her first bell at a local gym, Chang had lost 45 pounds, reducing her body fat from 34 to 17 percent. Six months after that, she became a certified kettlebell instructor, teaching classes in her spare time. "Kettlebells saved my life," she says. "Moving my body gave me the resiliency, the strength, to endure anything."
Slowly, Chang began to find herself at the gym more often than at the office. Soon the marriage that had begun to unravel came apart completely, and she filed for divorce. Then, three years ago, "when the Seattle real estate market was pretty much dead," as she puts it, Chang switched direction and opened her own training studio: Kettlebility.
"If I hadn't had that awakening, I would still be plodding through life," says Chang. "A lot of amazing and sad things have happened. I mean, who wants to get divorced? No one. But my feeling is that the stronger you are physically and mentally, the easier life becomes."
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