Most people assume all aspiring actresses are waitressing or busting suds as they await their big break. Not all of us. My name is Michelle Walker — a future superstar, I must add — and when I’m not trying to wow producers I’m hustling to keep a smile on another set of faces: the members of my spinning class. I’m a spinning class instructor on the side. It’s perfect for my lifestyle. My bosses know that my acting career comes first, so I’m allowed to swap out the days I have auditions. I adore teaching. Leading the class gives me an opportunity to engage and entertain daily, which I love. Most importantly, I get paid to do something that I have to do anyway. Like most people, I didn’t always love exercising — in fact, I kind of got tricked into it. I knew I wanted to be an actress since high school and I attended Temple University to study theater arts. I assumed I was a natural talent… until I started taking courses. I had to work hard. It took two years of studying before I landed roles in the school’s big performances. Unfortunately, as my character development and improvisation skills grew, so did my backside. The thing is, I never noticed. I was so vain that I actually thought clothes were being cut smaller. It didn’t help that I grew proportionally. With no gut or back fat, I assumed I was still just solid. Despite my delusional optimism, my mother saw my hips spreading and set an effective containment plan so quickly that the executives at BP may want to consider hiring her as a consultant. During my Christmas break she convinced me to join her at a Weight Watchers meeting for support. There she coaxed me into getting on a scale. It read 190 pounds — my typical weight was 150 pounds. I demanded to be re-weighed with a new device as I knew that one could not be reliable. It read the same. I cried — you know, the snotty, chest-heaving kind that is seemingly never-ending and only appears when your world has been shattered — for the rest of the meeting. That day my life changed. I was overweight and I did something about it. I exercised daily. I changed my diet and I lost the weight. By the next holiday season my parents offered me a fitness instruction certification class as my gift; it killed two birds with one stone. I could earn cash to stay in shape and help others. I love teaching spinning for the same reason I love theater: it’s the right fit. In class I don’t have to put a bottle cap on my personality, I get to release it. In addition, I help others feel the same sense of empowerment I received when I reclaimed my health. Plus, I get to relive it by being with them on their journey. Someone once told me that there’s no traffic on the extra mile. That means when you do your best, the competition fades into the background. Finding the balance between maintaining my health and chasing my dream has helped me attain my personal best. As a professional actress, I do think about my weight — but I also know that no one will turn away greatness. With that in mind, my goal isn’t to be a size 0. Instead, I maintain a solid 6/8 and I work hard at being the best at both of the things I love so much. I have a great career, I’ve learned how to make fitness a part of my daily existence, and I have a wonderful boyfriend who supports and believes in me. I have one word to describe my life right now: awesome.
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