The Cleveland native was a cheerleader at Cleveland High school before she and husband Rusty had their daughter Tori Beth. The birth, however, left Cooke with about 40 extra pounds which left her cheerleader figure a thing of the past.
Cooke said her interest in fitness kept her looking to the future for a way to get in shape, and the incentive to change her present lifestyle.
“I began by just trying to lose the baby weight and my exercise of choice was running,” Cooke said. “I began running local 5k’s and advanced through the years to a half marathon and sprint triathlon.”
Cooke said she lost that weight pretty quickly, “But I was still larger than I wanted to be. So I ran all the time. But I really saw a difference when I started eating healthier and lifting weights. Since then I have lost about 20 more pounds to get to my goal weight.”
According to Cooke, staying fit has to be more than a whim and a wish — it has to be a lifestyle change.
“You have to make time to exercise and make good choices when eating,” she said. “After a while it becomes second nature. Sweets don’t even taste as good anymore and you just feel better after you exercise.”
The change in her eating and exercise brought a change in Cooke’s outlook and aspiration. Within the last year the wife and mother decided to take her interest in health and nutrition to a new level — weight lifting.
“I was flipping through ‘Oxygen’ magazine one day, just for inspiration and I saw a page where ladies were competing in a figure competition,” Cooke said. “I decided to try it out for myself. I honestly never thought I would ever hit the stage, but I figured it would give me a good goal for getting in great shape for this summer.”
Cooke met Dawniel King, a wife and mother of two boys, who was featured in the Sept. 5, 2010, Lifestyles section of the Banner for turning her physique into a prize-winning form.
“I sent her a message and asked if she would be willing to give me any advice about competing,” Cooke said. “The relationship grew from there. Dawniel and her husband, Nathan, gave me all the information I would need to get me onstage.”
Cooke chose to enter The Battle at the River Bodybuilding, Figure, Fitness and Bikini Championships held in Chattanooga at the Tivoli Theatre. Dawniel and Nathan, both bodybuilders, helped Cooke with her nutrition, posing, training and scheduling. She would be judged on muscle tone, definition, symmetry, overall appearance and presentation.
“Sounds simple enough, but it was so tough!,” Cooke admits. “Especially closer to the show. I can’t tell you how much I was shaking as I walked out on stage for the morning prejudging. We walked again for the night show and I ended up placing first in my class — figure novice short.
“I then went up against the winner of the tall division and won that also. I was awarded two large swords, which all the guys in my family went crazy over! It was a great experience and I am back in training again to attempt to qualify for a national show.”
Looking back on what she has accomplished in just a few years, Cooke admits, “I had a great time. I loved the training and it is hard to believe the girl in pictures is really me. I never thought I would get my body back in shape after pregnancy, but these women will give you so much inspiration. You can do it, but you have to want it.”
Now that she own a small business, a personal training studio for women called Push Fitness Studio Inc., Cooke is helping other females to forget the wait and lose the weight now instead of later.
The certified personal trainer says she has personal and professional reasons to promote a lifestyle of nutrition.
“Staying in shape is important for so many reasons,” Cooke said. “Most importantly, my family has a history of heart disease and I make sure to keep exercise and nutrition as top priorities so I will not have those same issues.
“I also try to set a good example for my little girl. I am hoping if she sees exercise and healthy eating as part of my normal lifestyle, she will think of it that way also and incorporate it into her own. Lastly, it just feels so good! I feel great when I can go out and run fast or lift a heavy weight. It is such an awesome stress reliever.”
Cooke said she has had all kinds of benefits from exercising and starting her own fitness studio.
“I guess you could say I have inspired others and I know they have inspired me!” Cooke said. “Working in fitness can be tough and it really helps when you know others are out there struggling to resist that second helping too. One huge benefit has been an increase in confidence.
“I always wanted to play sports in school, but I never had the courage and didn’t consider myself an athlete. As I got older, I decided it was time to stop standing on the sidelines. No one is going to give it to you, you have to work for it. Now I have the confidence to jump in and participate.”
Cooke said she is committed to helping other women achieve their weight loss goals. For anyone interested in following her example, the fitness expert suggest they set a goal and go after it 110 percent.
“That is really what helped me. I love running road races. That is how I got started. Sign up to run a 5k or set a goal to lose 5 pounds. Then make a plan to achieve that goal. Don’t let yourself miss a day, if possible,” she said.
“Find a friend to do it with you and that will make you even more accountable. At this competition, I went up against a lady who had five children. She looked absolutely stunning! If she can find the time and energy with five children, so can you if you want it bad enough.
“Also, clean up your eating. I can’t stress this enough. There are so many resources online about healthy eating — educate yourself and do it. You would be surprised at how much your cravings will reduce after just a few weeks of clean eating.”
Most experts agree that to maximize your weight loss potential you must focus on both diet and exercise. The very best methods to lose baby weight, according to losebabyweight.info, is to get on an excellent diet program which you can adhere to and learn from. Then get yourself around the treadmill four to five occasions a week and get into a power training program to lose baby weight.
For further information about Push Fitness Studio Inc., visit www.pushyourfitness.com or call 423-834-1855.