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Loses 64 pounds, gains a ton of self-confidence
Fitness instructor Channa Bland holds up photos of what she looked like four years ago and 64 pounds heavier. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Channa Bland could tire out the Energizer Bunny.

Her cardio blast classes at California Total Fitness are a non-stop flurry of motion that is matched by the high energy levels she has in her day-to-day life.

The 37-year-old mother of two wasn’t always in such good shape.

It wasn’t too many years ago she was listless, had 64 more pounds on her 5-foor-7 frame, and was struggling with depression.

A 1993 Manteca High graduate, Bland had competed for the Buffs in volleyball, basketball, and softball. She obtained a degree in criminal justice at Sacramento State and ended up working for years in regional loss prevention for Walmart and Sam’s Club.

She had gained 80 pounds prior to giving birth to her second daughter.

But what really hit her hard was her marriage that went south. Everything started piling up - emotional issues and weight - while her self-confidence plummeted.

A divorce started to change her life but that wasn’t the real game changer.

Bland took stock of herself and didn’t like where she was at on a personal level.

“I realized I needed to get better for my kids,” Bland said. “I was the only one they had.”

She hit the gym in 2008 and while she felt a bit better and was getting stronger, Bland still wasn’t losing the weight. So she decided she had to do something about her eating.

She tried several diets in a bid to get started but none of them worked. That’s when she turned to Weight Watchers.

Bland quickly discovered Weight Watchers was different.

“It (Weight Watchers) isn’t a diet,” Bland said. “It’s a lifestyle.”

The trademark Weight Watchers point system zeroes in on choosing the right foods, how to regulate calorie intake and making sure you consume nutritional necessities. There are two key elements that Weight Watchers offers that other diet programs don’t provide in a combo - support and getting to the root of what prompts you to eat.

“The program helps you understand why you eat and once you understand that you can control it,” Bland.

Bland pointed out you can still enjoy the food you like.

“You can eat pizza but you don’t have to eat four pieces of pizza,” Bland said.

Looking at your life is the key.

“It really opens up your eyes as to why you are eating,” Bland said. “It is a simple question: Do you eat because you are hungry, stressed, happy, or just because you like food.”

In Bland’s case it was stresses that came from a relationship that was less than stellar that had crumbled the self-confidence that once allowed her to be a competitive high school athlete.

Her energy levels have gone through the roof

While Bland lost 64 pounds in 10 months she gained her old self-esteem back and then some.

And combined with exercising, she saw her energy level go through the roof.

Today, the mother of Saffron, 6 ½, and Jazmine, 4½, is a Weight Watchers leader for Manteca and Turlock as well as being a work leader at Costco. She also works as a fitness instructor at California Total Fitness on North Main Street in Manteca.

Bland says she is fortunate to have “incredible support” from her mother Lynann Bland and stepfather Michael Landmann allowing her to juggle raising two kids and her jobs. She is currently on a leave of absence from California State University Stanislaus where she has almost completed her secondary education teaching credential for physical education.

It isn’t unusual in her 10 a.m. cardio blast class at the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to hear Weight Watchers members who take Bland’s fitness classes to congratulate others for maintaining their desired weight for dozens of months and even years. She also teaches Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m.

Like Weight Watchers, her fitness classes are designed to be supportive.

That means there are plenty of options offered and that no one is pressured to keep up with the instructor or anyone else in class. Instead, they are encouraged to focus on their own progress.

“(New students) have to know it is a process,” Bland said of exercising to regain and improve fitness. “It is not an overnight thing.”

And - like many who get into exercising as part of their routine- Bland said “fitness is my way to relax.” Bland added that it is effective at getting rid of stress and stopping it from happening.

The changes the one-two punch that Weight Watchers and exercising have brought her are noticed by her friends.

“She’s way more vibrant and happy than she was before,” noted Trisha Robinson.

It was an observation echoed by Sarah Oblin who added that Bland’s self-confidence had gone off the charts after losing the weight and getting into a regular fitness routine.

Bland said it she had a chance to get everyone’s undivided attention for a few seconds, she’d ask them “Are you the person you want to be? If not, you can change it.”

As for herself there is no doubt in Bland’s mind how effective Weight Watchers and exercise has been.

“I got myself back,” Bland said. “I found myself again.”