Inspiring Others In A Fitness Journey

Inspiring Others In A Fitness Journey

Inspiring Others In A Fitness Journey

by Steve Gamel


Vicki Carter must have played her daughter, Kelsey’s, innocent words over and over in her head a trillion times. Kelsey, just 6 at the time, was getting ready for her Pre-K graduation walk and wanted nothing more than to have mommy walk her across the stage. But Vicki, who because of a car accident that nearly took her life, was wheelchair-bound. Still too young to comprehend her mom’s limitations, Kelsey asked her mom to make a promise. “She said, ‘Will you promise me that when I graduate from high school, you will walk with me?’” Vicki said. “I promised her that mommy would try, and she never forgot. To this day, I still tear up about it.”

For Vicki, now 47, the tears streaming down her cheeks are happy tears. Through the power of a strict lifestyle change, several dicey surgeries that were never promised to work, a local fitness guru and his staff who became like family, and good old-fashioned blood, sweat, and tears, Vicki walked with Kelsey when she graduated from Guyer in 2015. Her journey from being bedridden and tipping the scales at 455 pounds to becoming one of Denton County’s most talked about personal trainers is inspiring everyone to hold out hope on their own road to recovery. “I get emails, Facebook and Instagram messages from people all over the world, and it feels so great to be helping people,” Vicki said. “They tell me, ‘How can I tell you no? If you can do it, I can do it.’”

Vicki’s story is not something you hear often. On June 29, 1999, she was on her way to work when a drunk driver hit her. Through the grace of God, Vicki survived, though her legs were disfigured and she was confined to a wheelchair. Over the next 12 years, her weight gain ballooned out of control. In 2011, while waiting for Kelsey to finish a workout at Jesse James Fit, owner, Jesse Leyva, playfully joked with Vicki. “He kept asking me when I was going to workout, too. I kept saying, ‘Are you kidding? I can’t get out of this wheelchair,’” Vicki said. “But he was insistent. He said I could do it.”

What happened next was extraordinary. Not only did Vicki take Jesse up on his offer, but combined with a lifestyle change that included regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and a gastric bypass surgery in 2012, Vicki ultimately lost 310 pounds over the next two years. Her dedication was so inspirational that Leyva and others helped raise funds so Vicki could have an additional surgery in 2014 to remove excess skin that was causing complications. “I couldn’t afford the surgery and was blown away by their generosity,” Vicki said. “I kept asking why, and they kept saying that from the time I walked through the door, I was always smiling no matter how much pain I was in. I never cheated, and I made the best out of even my worst possible day.”


The tipping point came when knee replacement surgeries in 2015 gave her the chance to walk – mere months before Kelsey was set to graduate from high school. That also kickstarted a new career as a personal trainer as Leyva hired Vicki shortly after she completed her certifications. Vicki said her journey is far from over, but she hopes everything she’s done so far can inspire others. “When you start a weight loss journey, you don’t realize all the emotions you go through – especially when you lose the amount of weight I did,” Vicki said. “I was a single mother in a wheelchair; it wasn’t easy. But it was always a dream of mine to walk again, and no one was going to tell me I couldn’t. I kept playing my daughter’s words over and over in my head, and even if I couldn’t walk, I was going to do the best I could for her.”


photos courtesy of Vicki Carter

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