This Sergeant Created A Fitness Program That Helps Postpartum Army Moms Regain Their Confidence

When in 1998, Ruby Murray, a retired staff sergeant from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, realized she was in danger of losing her job if she didn’t lose nearly 100 pounds of postpartum weight before the deadline of her training, she knew she had to do something drastic.

A 26-year-old army veteran, the then 25-year-old new mother had been physically fit for most of her life, so this revelation left her in shock.

“I was so scared I’d lose my job if I couldn’t lose weight in time,” she shared with Essence, referring to the 6-month deadline the military gave her to lose 90 pounds. “I didn’t feel like myself at all – I couldn’t wear any of my clothes or do the exercises that were part of my daily life.”

Along with her basic training, she enlisted the help of a personal trainer to help her with a fitness regimen that began at 4 a.m. every day. Combined with cardio and weight training, Murray said it completely changed his outlook on life. “I really felt lost when I gained weight,” she shared. “Besides being a new young mother facing the pressures of the military, AND a black woman, I didn’t think I could handle all the stress.”

But she said that with the help of her personal trainer and her little girl, she pulled it off.

“A few weeks later my coach saw me struggling and asked me what inspired me – without thinking I said ‘my daughter is doing it,'” she shared. “My coach m said to stick a picture of my daughter on every piece of gear I needed to use and use that as motivation so that every time I wanted to give up I would see my baby.”

His dedication paid off.

Not only did she lose all her weight, but she did it before the deadline and kept her job. After seeing the impact her trip had on other postpartum soldiers, her superiors asked her to lead a fitness program to help mothers lose weight.

She says it was truly a full circle experience. “The program was so much more than just weight loss,” she said. “I was helping these women find each other.”

His changes to the long-standing program are still being implemented more than 20 years later. “Before, the program was mostly run by men and even while I was running it, I was still assisted by them,” she said. “I changed some elements of the fitness regimen to complement the bodies of new mothers in a way that a man would never know. I remember I had to tell a male instructor not to tell one of the mothers to do sit-ups, because her navel was not completely healed from the removal of the umbilical cord.

Now retired, the lifelong teacher and leader is writing a book to help women fit in no matter what. “So often we are taught to put everyone else before ourselves, especially black mothers,” she said. “I want us to realize that you have to put yourself first before you show up for someone else.”

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