Pamela Dotson did everything you’re supposed to do. She graduated from a good school, opened a successful business, and started a family. It was the American Dream until divorce, financial struggles, stress, high blood pressure, and depression led Pamela down a dark path she never saw coming.

“I just couldn’t believe all of that was happening to me,” she says. “It’s very hard to be at the top of the mountain and then go to the valley so quickly.”

Pamela, a 47-year-old mother of one, owned an assisted living home in Nashville and was making six figures. That all came to an abrupt end after a bad divorce whose bitter end forced her to move back in with her mom in Whitehaven.

She had gained nearly 100 pounds in four years and was in and out of hospitals for issues relating to high blood pressure. There were several moments where she didn’t think she was going to make it.

One morning, Pamela was dropping her daughter off at school when her chest started pounding. Her heart was racing. Fear and panic began to build as the pain intensified.

“I told my daughter, ‘I’m going to drop you off,’” Pamela recalls. “’I want you to know that I’m going to the hospital. Mommy doesn’t feel well.’”

When she reached the emergency room at Methodist, they immediately hooked her up to heart monitors and began running tests. Pamela was terrified and thought she was going to die.

“I knew then this was not the life I wanted to live,” she declared when she learned that her high blood pressure nearly caused her heart to fail. “A lot of the weight the gain contributed to the problem. It was at that moment I had to make a change. I chose life.”

Over the last three years, Pamela has lost 80 pounds and began reinventing herself. She started teaching, got her real estate license, started working out, eats healthier foods, and bought a home. Her depression and insecurities began to fade away.

“It’s all in your mindset. I had to change my thinking. I wanted to improve in every aspect of my life.”

The Workout

Losing 80 pounds didn’t just happen. Pamela connected with a local non-profit fitness group, Fit Nation, and began working out regularly. Fit Nation employs a variety high intensity plyometric and cardiovascular movements designed to build muscle and burn fat. Each morning, Pamela and her daughter wake up at 4:30 am to burn calories and break a sweat before school.

“Health and fitness is a lifestyle,” she says. “I have to do this every day.”

The Diet

In addition to working out, Pamela has changed the way she eats. She went from chips, cookies, and soda to fruits, vegetables, and water.

“One major change was water,” she says. “No matter where we go, no matter what we do, we don’t order sodas. We drink water.”


Transformations can be a slow process. In Pamela’s case, it took nearly three years. She proudly admits that she wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support system at Fit Nation and total dedication to the idea of being the “total package Pam.”

In pursuit of that, she started something she had never done. She began running. She started with a 5K, then another, and then another. Her proudest moment was finishing a half marathon on a cold 24-degree morning in Alabama last February.

“I never, ever ever ever ever thought in a kazillion years that I would do a half marathon,” she says. “That was the hardest, most challenging thing that I have ever done, but I completed it!”

To connect with Pamela or learn more about her fitness journey, find her at


By Curtis Speller

Photo by Tindall Stephens