Raechel Gray is one busy woman.
The 38-year-old Langford woman is mother to 13-year-old Jasmyn and four-year-old Darius.
She also works as an accountant and is taking courses — and doing the necessary homework — to add to her skills.
Even with her tight schedule, Gray was eager to take part in the Times Colonist Health Challenge, a 12-week fitness program that includes workouts with professional trainers, advice from nutritionists and mental coaches.
In order to make time to exercise, Gray is setting her alarm for 5:30 a.m. so she can get to the gym at 6:15 for her hour-long workouts.
“It’s good to get it over with early so I don’t have to think about it again that day,” said Gray of her exercise regime.
Gray has been active all her life, but admits her eating habits were not exactly nutritionally sound.
For one thing, she “hates” fruits and vegetables.
“Mom tried all the tricks, putting a little bit of vegetables on the plate, mixing them with rice, giving me vegetables first,” Gray said.
“Dad was in the navy and was away a lot, and eventually Mom threw in the towel.”
Concern for her children was a prime motivation for Gray to accept the challenge and listen to advice from nutritionists.
“I’m getting a little better with vegetables,” she said.
“Like is a strong word — I tolerate them. My husband does a lot of the cooking and he tries to get as many veggies into meals.”
Exercise isn’t so much of a problem for the soccer enthusiast.
Gray has played the game since she was four or five, and even, as a young mother, played while her daughter was in a stroller on the sidelines.
“She was our team mascot,” Gray said with a laugh.
Her soccer playing came to a halt last fall when she had knee surgery.
In January, she got the go-ahead from doctors to begin exercising again.
As with many people, Gray’s weight crept up over time between having babies and various sports injuries that forced her to the sidelines.
Now, as she approaches 40, she wants to get her fitness routine back on track.
“If I make a big push here, [keeping fit] will be automatic for the rest of my life,” she said.
“It was a golden opportunity to have professionals to tell me to exercise this way and eat that stuff.
“I’m relieved it came up when it did.”
It’s not about losing weight but feeling healthier, she said.
“I definitely have more energy and I’m feeling more positive.”
She needs all the energy she can get, with a full day of work, exercise, homework for school and spending time with her family.
She also coaches her daughter’s soccer team and has to show up for her own team’s soccer practice.
Family and friends have expressed support for Gray’s efforts to eat better and get fit.
“I knew my co-workers and friends and family were supportive, but right now they’re super-supportive,” Gray said.
“It’s kind of neat, having them encourage me along the way.”
Her mother is attending Weight Watchers and venturing out to a gym, and now Gray’s daughter wants to join her at workouts.
“Everybody is kind of excited,” she said.
“I’m going to go along with it and see where I end up.”
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