From Couch Potato to Hiking the Grand Canyon*


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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Stacey Clampitt (GIRL*IN*MOTION)
Weight Lost: 77 pounds
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Occupation: Accountant

What was life like before your weight loss?
My struggle with weight started in high school and continued well throughout my 20s. I worked in restaurants while struggling with emotional eating, and it was a bad combination.  Unhealthy food was always accessible. After high school, when I was no longer in organized sports, all fitness stopped and the young lifestyle of always going out with your friends started. The pounds piled on, and I didn't really even notice. I met my husband in 2004. From there I got really happy and comfortable, gaining 40 more pounds. I was topping the scale at 220 pounds and a size 18. For my 5'5" frame, it was painful for me to look in the mirror. I hid behind layers of clothing, ashamed of just how badly I'd let myself go. I was an emotional eater and drowned my misery in more food, only making the problem worse and worse. I hid behind baggy layers of clothing, avoided cameras and refused to wear anything without an elastic waist. I was the epitome of a junk-food junkie and couch potato. I was unhappy, depressed, and longing for changes that I could never quite make happen. I rarely had the energy to enjoy time with my family. Time at the park consisted of me sitting and watching the kids play because I didn’t have the energy or stamina to keep up with them.

Looking back at my overweight life now, I recognize that I had a lot more problems and issues than I realized at the time. I was constantly out of breath and suffered from insomnia and acid reflux. I was winded after a flight of stairs, avoided mirrors and social settings. I was certainly not a very happy person. I had very low self-esteem and felt very lost.
What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?
My real "aha" moment was a random morning getting ready for work. I realized not a single piece of clothing I owned fit and the thought of having to go shopping for yet another larger wardrobe halted me in my tracks. That was the day I found SparkPeople and began my journey to health and wellness.       
Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey:
I will be honest: My journey was the most difficult yet rewarding thing I have ever done to date! The day I firmly decided I was determined to lose this weight I wrote down the reasons I was gaining weight, and every reason that led me to fail to lose weight in the past. I decided that, at least to start, food was obviously my biggest problem. I needed to count calories and measure food. I discovered SparkPeople through an internet search and quickly realized the piece that I was missing was accountability--and the food tracker provided that for me.

When I first started my journey, I began just logging my calories and watching what I ate. I realized I had failed at previous attempts to lose weight because I deprived and restricted myself too much. I made a decision not to deprive myself but to focus more on portion control and moderation instead. If I was craving chocolate, I ate a mini chocolate candy. It was just enough to satisfy me and help me move forward. Also, I was used to eating out about five times a week, sometimes multiple times a day; I decided to allow myself to eat out once per week but always choosing healthier options. My one rule from the very beginning of this weight-loss journey was not to make any changes that I could not keep up for the rest of my life. I knew I would not stick with never eating chocolate or going out to eat, so I just made them part of my plan.

As for exercise, I had to start out very slow due to a knee problem. I initially started taking walks either outside or on my treadmill and riding my recumbent bike indoors. Soon I decided to purchase a bike for outdoors, which I fell in love with and rode it daily. I also did exercise DVDs. As I developed more stamina and momentum over time (and dropped some weight), I was able to steadily increase the frequency and intensity of my workouts. I had no strict exercise plan. I just did what I wanted each day, promising to give it my all. After a while, I branched out and conquered another fear: group fitness classes. I fell in love with turbo kickboxing, Spinning, and Zumba.

SparkPeople was hugely instrumental in my weight loss. I did the hard work but SparkPeople's features really helped facilitate the changes I made and made them that much easier. Being able to log my food and calories burned, document my journey and meet people who struggled with the same things I struggled with provided me with so much motivation. It was amazing! I know I couldn't have done it without those tools! I promised myself that even if I had a bad day or messed up that I would just keep going strong because tomorrow is always a new day to start fresh. I always looked for new challenges and lived by this quote: "If it is not challenging you, then it is not changing you!"

What obstacles did you encounter during your weight-loss journey and how did you deal with them?
The biggest obstacle I faced in my journey was overcoming my own mental barriers. I spent half of my lifetime convincing myself I was never going to be good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, or tough enough to become the person I really wanted to be. For me, once I got going with eating better and exercising the weight was taking care of itself. But my brain took a long while to catch up with my body and recognize, accept, and enjoy the achievement. When I set out on my journey, it was October 2008. By December 2009, I reached my goal weight of 130 pounds. Reaching that goal was the best feeling in the world, but actually being at my ideal weight was not something I had truly ever experienced. I struggled with that reality for a while, and had some setbacks as I settled back into some bad habits. I quickly regained my footing though and back to a realistic routine for maintenance mode.
What is your current typical exercise routine like? 
I love the outdoors, so incorporating it into my fitness routine is essential. I love hiking, and bike riding, and taking walks with my family and two dogs. I love camping and backpacking, which fulfills my fitness needs and provides quality time with my family. Working full time while being a student and a mom makes it hard to fit in fitness; so incorporating it into our family time helps me to stay active. I also found early on in my journey I really love group fitness. I regularly attend turbo kick boxing classes at my local gym, and also incorporate weight lifting into my routine as well.
How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss?
I used to be the epitome of a junk-food junkie. I never cooked. I ate fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at least five days a week. I never paid attention to what I put in my body, or even how much of it. I loved food, and not just food, but all the really bad comfort foods that have no nutritional value. There were times I would eat an entire pizza by myself, then an hour or two later go out for ice cream. The thought of doing that now makes my stomach curl. Once I acknowledged the root of my unhappiness was my attachment to terrible foods, I promised myself to make a better effort. I learned to cook. I went online and consulted with family and friends to find healthy recipes. I found better substitutes to making the foods I loved in healthier ways. I didn’t want to give up pizza so instead of ordering delivery we made home-made pita pizzas, topped with veggies and other more nutritious toppings. The dinner that once would have been 2,000 calories turned into 350 calories. Now, we plan our weekly meals ahead of time and do our grocery shopping together. I still indulge in eating out now and again, but I steer clear of the drive-thrus and brown bags.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
I'm certainly a more confident person and a happier person. I take more pride in my appearance and feel good about who I am. Being overweight really took its toll on my self-esteem and I lost myself for a while. With hard work and dedication, I was able to find the person who was asleep within me. She was much more powerful and strong than I ever imagined. I'm also now much more aware of what it means to be healthy. I no longer feel the constant fatigue, headaches, insomnia, acid reflux, and shortness of breath I frequently felt when I was at my heavier weights. I've been able to educate myself and continue to learn new things daily. There is such a wealth of information out there, and I am a firm believer in the saying "knowledge is power." With such a wonderful network of like-minded people on SparkPeople, there's always something to gain from others as well.

Losing the weight and getting healthy has truly changed my life. My family and I do more outdoor activities that don't involve televisions or video games. I've hiked the Grand Canyon and run races; I've created goals and wish lists of things I never thought I'd ever attempt to achieve.

Awesome job, Stacey! Read more about Stacey's story in our new book, in The Spark Solution.

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

Have you lost weight and kept it off using We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com

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