By Tanya Burroughs

Every woman should have a little black dress that makes her feel fierce. In the world of business, you also need a go-to suit that makes you fearless. This is the story of my “Pursuit of the Suit.”

In 2010, I started a new job and I knew it meant lots of hard work and dedication to my career and family, with little time for me. After some time in the position, I decided to focus on my health and well-being. I started Pilates at Euro Pilates on Bryce B. Downs Blvd. in New Tampa because two of my girlfriends had started taking classes there and they both looked absolutely amazing. Plain and simple, my jealously kicked in!

My first class at Euro Pilates was March 28, and I quickly completed my private lessons and signed up for owner Maria Ivanova’s Pilates “Boot Camp,” which I started on April 4. I thought Maria Ivanova was literally going to kill me! Thankfully, I was in a class with amazing women, which made it easier to deal with the pain my neglected body was feeling. I was not alone!

During this same time, my company asked me to film a “how to” video on our sales model. I was flown to Kansas City to make the video that would be aired at our National Sales Meeting in May.

Feeling good about my work, my family and my workouts, I got ready that morning with enthusiasm. I felt like everything was aligning just right. I took my black suit from the closet, where I had carefully hung it the night before, and attempted to slip into the impeccablly pressed pants. They glided easily over my calf, slid past my knee, reached a little resistance at my thighs, and hit a slightly tougher obstacle at my backside and then it happened — a complete and undeniable barricade at the button. Staring in the mirror at my perfect suit straining at every seam, I lost my confidence and my excitement over making the video. It was heartbreaking for me to see the pockets bulging out, the zipper stretched beyond recognition, knowing that even with Spanx, I couldn’t get them closed.

How did this happen? I knew I had put on some weight since starting the job but not until putting on my suit did I realize how much. I fought back tears and called my husband and told him that things had to change immediately. I knew there was nothing I could do at that moment, so I regained my composure and put on the cotton skirt I had planned to wear on the plane ride home and set out to the studio to film.

I returned to my Pilates classes and told the ladies my story. Maria encouraged me to weigh in for the next Boot Camp. She saw the changes in my body in just the short time I had been working out, and the ladies all agreed. However, still smarting from Kansas City, I couldn’t face the number on the scale. Over the next week, Maria was relentless about weighing me in. On the final day of my first Boot Camp session, Maria said I could not come back if I did not weigh in. I am still not sure if she meant it but I didn’t want to take the chance…so I stepped on the scale. At that point, I was determined to reach two goals — weight loss and getting back into my favorite power suit.

I worked extra hard during the next Boot Camp session and was very mindful of what I was doing and eating during the day. I even worked out every day when I attended the national sales meeting where my video aired with great success. I started weighing myself on a regular basis to monitor my progress (or lack thereof). All of my hard work paid off when I won the weight loss class challenge for the May Boot Camp. Even with that success, however, I still couldn’t bring myself to try on that suit.

In June, I decided to add a new goal to my living healthier list, I wanted to look my best for our upcoming family vacation. This was going to be the first time my husband’s family and mine had been together since our wedding.

This is not as shallow as it sounds, as I had been carrying the emotional baggage of a comment my father had made to me years ago about my weight. I wanted to make sure there was no way he would be able to say anything about my weight other than “you’re so skinny.” Plus, I promised myself I would try my suit on before July, weight loss or not.

As July drew closer and closer, I would sit in my closet and stare at my suit. It took me a week before I got the courage to try it on. I pulled the pants on and they glided easily over my calf, slid past my knee, soared past my thighs, shot past my backside, and buttoned with great ease and relief! I immediately walked into the living room with a strut so fierce; I could have taken down the hottest models on a catwalk. By the end of June, I had met the two goals I had set for myself after the Kansas City trip in April. I fit confidently into my power suit and for the second month in a row, I won the Boot Camp weight loss challenge.

I was on a roll and was excited to be on track with my goals. So, I challenged myself further and set a new goal to win the weight loss challenge for the July Pilates boot camp, even though I was taking time out for our family vacation. This month was the toughest and I had some fierce competition from the other ladies in class. The Boot Camp ladies had put a target on my back and wanted to take me out. I can’t say I was confident, especially with my vacation coming up. I enjoy eating and had not starved myself in my prior two victories and was not about to start on my vacation — which ended on Wednesday with our final July weigh-in the following day. I was able to secure my third consecutive Boot Camp weight loss challenge by .03 percent and another showing of my suit.

July was my best month! I had won Boot Camp, faced my father’s words with confidence and can now totally ROCK my suit again! Euro Pilates has changed more than my body, it has provided me with new friendships, a support network and, with Maria’s guidance, it has taught me to face my fears (the scale) and work hard to overcome them. My confidence is back and I am exploring new forms of exercise with the ones I love, thanks to the new Salsa classes also now being offered at Euro Pilates.

My journey has taught me that “we are what we repeatedly do.” I often reflect and am motivated by this quote from Aristotle, “Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit’. I do not intend to break this habit of living healthy and exercising, but if I do veer off course, I know Maria and my boot camp ladies will quickly push me back on the right track.

Euro Pilates is located at 20421 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., on the second floor of the Mid Florida Credit Union building, in front of the Live Oak Preserve development.

For appointments and more information about the upcoming class schedule, including Boot Camps, Pilatesstick, salsa lessons and licensed massage therapy, call 756-4000 or visit

Tanya Burroughs is a wife, mother and a Sales Manager for PDI Healthcare. She lives in Plant City with her family.

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