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Tell us about yourself. Who is Erin Franco and how has the Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge impacted your life?

I am a 32 year old single mother of four children a woman entrepreneur who owns a life coaching business, and a doctoral student who recently returned back to school to achieve a second Master’s Degree in Business Administration. (Laughing) I love the fact that I led out with my many roles, as if they define who I am. Let me try this again, now that I have a bit more coffee in my system.

I am what some would label as, rebellious or stubborn. I do not believe in the words can’t or won’t. They both seem so permanent and I like to believe that there is always an exception to rules. I like to think that I am one of those exceptions.

I became a teenage mother at the age of 14. I remember while my friends were filling out college applications, the teen mother program was helping us fill out welfare packets. I posed the question to our director, “why aren’t we touring the colleges like the other seniors?” Her reply was, “because most of you will not go to college and some of you will not finish high school.” I recall feeling so hurt at this notion. From that day on, the stares became unbelievably noticeable in light of always being the youngest mother in the room or at my daughter’s school events. However, I have to thank God that He made me a “rebellious” child. He knew that I needed something inside of me that would not listen or accept the words can’t or won’t. I never did and I still don’t to this day.

It was quite a few years later that I found myself unhappily married with a beautiful “his and her” family. In thinking back, I can honestly say I got married for all of the wrong reasons. It definitely was a huge mistake that could have cost me a lot more than it did, but for the grace of God. I walked away from this marriage with the four children and a sense of failure that I was not accustomed to. I was depressed, overweight, and had an extremely low sense of who I was and what my life would end up being. I was completely lost. So I did the only thing that I knew how to do, and that was to seek God. Slowly but surely He began to build me up and redefine who Erin Franco is. Finally 3 years after my divorce when I had journeyed far enough with my self-worth, along came the Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge, to help me with my physical journey.

I looked as the challenge as a way to find Erin. Erin was so vibrant, full of life, and was currently suffering from an extreme identity crisis after a traumatic experience. The challenge offered me the chance to recreate myself to be the woman that I knew in my heart, that I was created to be. I saw this woman in my dreams and I liked this woman. She was fierce in so many ways yet gentle to the touch. The challenge offered me the opportunity to finally meet her face to face.

What made you walk away as one of the winners of the 2014 Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge last year?

(Laughing) The rebellious and stubborn part of me of course! But seriously, I voted for the other people (laughing again). I was not focused on winning and really wasn’t expecting it. I was grateful (truly grateful) to even have been a part of something that I needed so badly. I needed to be able to see Erin and to understand that she is worth living for and working hard for. I was able to acknowledge that I was slowly killing myself with the way that I was eating and the sedentary lifestyle that I was living. I am so thankful that God introduced this challenge before I ended up morbidly obese (I watch the 600lb life on TLC quite often) or with diabetes (which runs in my family).

So long story short, I was a winner in my own mind in so many ways. My life changed as a result of the challenge and I would never be the same again. Perhaps, this change was felt in the group (unbeknownst to me).

How was life for you after last year’s 2014 Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge?

Life since last year’s challenge has been rocky. But like I said, I have never been the same. Last year’s challenge motivated me to be healthier overall. For instance, I stopped smoking, as a result of the discipline that I learned during the last challenge. I have made so many changes to how I approach life. Am I where I want to be, most definitely not! But I am so close to meeting Erin, I can smell her.

What are your goals for this year’s 2015 Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge?

My goal is to lose 20 pounds, create lasting habits, and continue to discover the greatness that lies within. I desire to be a good steward of my health, my wealth, and my gifts. I have some crowns to start accumulating so that when I meet my king Jesus, I will have them to lay at His feet. I would like one to be made out of gold and have some emerald vegetables on it (to represent my health).

Tell us about your personal interests as a motivational speaker and Coach. How has the Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge added value to what you do?

As a motivational speaker and coach, I have more energy and more life to put into what I do. I am able to offer my clients a more vibrant and confident Erin, who has worked really hard to find herself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I continue to work on this daily and am able to let them know that I am working as hard on myself as they are on themselves. I am now convinced that the better we are for ourselves, the better we are for those around us. I am thankful for the discipline that I have learned and have applied it to every area of my life, including the way that I run my business.

What are you currently doing to promote health and fitness in your personal and professional life?

Personally, like the cigarettes, I have given up sugar. Surprisingly, not unlike the cigarettes, this has been tough and an up and down battle. But the results have been priceless. I think better, I feel better, and I look better. Along with this, I make sure to exercise daily and do the things that I see Erin doing, as a part of who she is and is becoming.

In my professional life, I have made sure that my coaching entails a plan of health that my clients develop for themselves. I am convinced that our bodies and our internal beings are a system and we must attend to both regularly. When we neglect either of them, the result is that we are out of balance and left feeling as though there is a void that needs to be filled.

What drives you?

I am driven by my relationship with God. As I am becoming closer and closer to Him, the more that I am realizing that everything that anyone ever told me was based upon their own perception of possibility. Well with God, He allows me to be “rebellious” and “stubborn”. You see, nothing is impossible with God. He does not limit me based upon what the situation looks like or feels like. Matter of fact, He encourages me and says, “I am able to do exceedingly and above, all that you could ever think or ask for!”. I absolutely love it!

In closing, what is your message for people reading this article who have their own health and fitness goals?

You are worth it! Believe me; from the bottom of my heart, my hope is that you will see yourself how God sees you. I pray that you see just how magnificent He created you to be and are able to catch a glimpse of the treasure that He has buried inside of you! Today was meant just for you to make the decision to be better than what anyone ever told you, that you would be! Be rebellious and be stubborn. Refuse to accept their story of your life. You are a child of God and it is His will that you walk as brilliantly as He created you to be. You are highly favored and you are greatly loved.