Adrian Butler occasionally pulls out her old size 22 pants when she needs a reminder of how far she’s come. Over the last five years, the Delaware native has lost 105 pounds and gained the upper hand over anxiety that held her hostage for years.
“It got to the point where I hadn’t left the house,” says the mom of four, who weighed 120 pounds when she graduated from high school, but started putting on weight shortly after.
“I got married right out of school, settled down, started having kids, and this is what happened. I didn’t realize I had gotten as big as I did. Everybody has a point, and unless you get to that point, you can try every diet you want and it’s not going to change a thing, until it just clicks and you say ‘I’m done—I don’t want to be like this.’”
In 2013, she joined a gym, paying just $10 a month to start a new way of life.
Butler teaches seven classes a week at a Dover gym.//photo by Leslie Barbaro photography
“That first time I went I almost died; everybody said it wouldn’t last,” says Butler. “But after that first day, I went more and more and fell in love with it. For me, it was a release—to get out of my own brain, to get out of my own head and to get out of the house and go someplace else.” She also radically changed her diet, eating fish and other lean protein while preparing separate meals for her family.
As the weight came off and her confidence grew, Butler eyed becoming a fitness instructor, something she says she would never have entertained years ago.
She earned her group instructor certification first, then her ZUMBA certification, before rounding it out with a certification to teach kickboxing. She now teaches seven classes a week at a Dover gym.
“I love the way I feel; I love that I can put on a size 8,” she says, who adds that she still occasionally indulges in cookies or bread but physical cues tell her when she’s overdone it. “I have no plans of stopping.”