For Lacey Stokes, fitness became a matter of life and death. Two years ago, the 38-year-old was given five years to live. At 387 pounds, Lacey was considered class-three obese. She suffered from high blood pressure, type-two diabetes, an enlarged heart, sleep apnea, fatty liver, pre-kidney failure, reflux, and chronic pain. “At that point I said, ‘enough is enough,’ and I decided to do something drastic,” Lacey said.
Lacey started by having a gastric sleeve surgery to “reset” her stomach, which, due to overeating, was three times the size it should have been. After recovering from surgery, Lacey joined her local YMCA and started working out almost every day. She ate only healthy, whole foods and restricted her caloric intake.
But, Lacey’s story is about more than life and death. It’s also about the love and faith that sustains her. Although Lacey was determined to undergo gastric sleeve surgery, her insurance would not cover the cost. Her husband, Kenny, told her to focus on preparing herself for surgery and let him handle the finances. “My husband’s favorite thing to do is go fishing,” Lacey recalled. “One day I saw him outside cleaning up his boat. Next thing I know he’s selling it to pay for my surgery. He took his one material possession and sold it to save my life.”
Their children, 15-year-old Karson, 17-year-old Kaleb, and 26-year-old Kristina, showed support for their mother by taking part in her new diet and exercise routine.
One year after surgery, Lacey was down to 249 pounds but her weight loss had stalled. She started to feel hopeless and afraid. She wound up at her local Max Muscle Nutrition store seeking help. The Stokes family live in Ethelsville, Alabama, so their closest Max Muscle location is right across the state line in Columbus, Mississippi.
There, Lacey met and worked with franchisee Kate Sims, who set her up with a meal plan and supplement stack. “I followed the meal plan Kate created and, after three weeks, I had lost six pounds, dropped my body fat by eight percent, and increased my muscle mass,” Lacey said. “I was sold.”
Fast forward to current day. Lacey now weighs 157 pounds with 16 percent body fat. She went from a size 20 to a size 6. Lacey’s family benefited as well. Kenny lost 85 pounds, Karson lost 15, Kaleb lost 17, and Kristina lost 80. Lacey and Kenny ran together in a 5K race, and the whole family did another one together. They work out as a family five days a week at the YMCA and ride bikes on Sundays after church.
Kate at Max Muscle affectionately refers to Lacey as ‘Fit Chick’ and sees Lacey’s upbeat, determined attitude as an inspiration to everyone she meets. “She makes all of us at Max Muscle strive to the best we can be each day,” she said. “She has surpassed any goal that has been given to her by making the right choice each day. We couldn’t be more proud of the person she has become through her new health and fitness lifestyle.”
Lacey credits her Christian faith, as well as the love of her family, with getting her through the ordeal and helping her defeat her food addiction. She also credits her Max Muscle family. “They’re not just a business,” she said. “Max Muscle helped me save my life. They taught me how to eat and about how important it is to do weight training. They’re always checking on me and if I ever have questions, they’re an email away.”
Recently, Lacey won a national Max Muscle Nutrition video challenge by making a video of her story and receiving the most likes for it on Facebook. She said she has heard from people across the United States and as far as Australia who are inspired by her success. “I’m just glad our story is reaching so many people and bringing them to healthy living,” Lacey said.
MORE ABOUT LACEY STOKES
Stats: Lost 230 pounds and 40 percent body fat.
Workouts: High-intensity interval training on treadmill or bike for 20 minutes, 20 to 30 minutes of weights alternating legs, abs, back, and arms.
Favorite Family Meal: Breadless breakfast casserole with eggs, meat, cheese, spinach, mushrooms, onion, and peppers.