2007 - Me w/ Purdue Pete @ Football game - Front row tickets are great!
Shared Food & Fitness Trackers
&I started my weight loss journey in the fall 2006. I'd been heavy all of my life, but the last couple years of college/grad school brought more than a few too many tailgates & late night pizza binges that pushed me over the 225 mark for the first time. I think I topped out at around 228 & a size 18 jean. And that's when I could find a size 18 I could squeeze into. I never let my self buy a size 20, but I was close.
A few months after college I bought my first home, a townhouse condo & it might have been the best thing I ever did. Not so much buying the home (it certainly hasn't gone up in value!), but more so the location. As luck would have it, the largest gym in Wisconsin was located literally in by backyard - seriously, its just beyond a privacy fence. I was new to the area, so at the time of buying the place it was just one of those, "oh that's cool" things nearby - certainly wouldn't have thought of myself ever spending time there as I never had gone to a gym before.
Having moved to a new state & town really cut down on my social life, so the abrupt halt in trips to the bar with friends really cut down my liquid calories - i.e. beer and rum & cokes. That helped knock off a few pounds, as did the lack of late night munchies after coming home late. Not much though, might have gone down to just below 225, but at that time I wasn't really thinking of weight loss. Just something that kind of came with the new post-college life.
Soon after moving in to my condo, my then, long-distance boyfriend who was still finishing up his grad school came to visit for a weekend. He'd begun working out to fill the his spare time now that we were apart & suggested we go check out the gym. He bought us both a day pass & we worked out together on the ellipticals & shared his IPOD (awe!). Then he showed me how to use some of the circuit weights. He never pushed me to keep going, it was more of a let me show you what I've been doing in my spare time kind of thing & he never mentioned it again.
I thought about that day a lot & how the gym wasn't as overwhelming & intimidating as I would have guessed. Not everyone was a skinny minnie, & no one made us unwelcome or feel like we shouldn't be there. It was actually quite a welcoming environment. Not knowing many people or having much to do yet outside of work, I got information on rates. I also found out I got a discount through my health insurance for the monthly rate, & even got some of that back if I went 100 times in a year.
So in September 2006 I joined up on a 2 year membership (yikes!) & started going.
If nothing else, it killed the time & I was kind of lonely & they had cable (which I didn't) so I could watch TV while I worked out. Not so bad.
NOTE TO OTHERS - inviting that overweight friend with you to the gym just once might be the hurdle they need to get started themselves!
I tried to go a few times a week and just mostly kept doing ellipticals. Weights every now & again, but I seemed to keep away from them because you couldn't plug your headphones in & watch TV while lifting weights. :-)
A few pounds started coming off & I kept going a few times a week. Wisconsin winters are long & cold & I wasn't much of a snow person, so I kept going through the winter, though admittedly not as often when it was absolutely frigid out.
I think I slacked off some come spring. With the warm weather here you just can't wait to get out & be able to get out & do something. Not that I did any exercising outdoors. Somehow I'd find something else to so...
Come early summer 2007 I saw a poster up in the gym that they were doing a "Summer Burn" challenge. For $15 you could sign up & track your calories/workouts over about 80 days with the goal of burning a total of 50,000 calories - about 625 a day on average (if you would work out every day that is!). Meet milestones along the way & there were some prizes & a T-shirt for completing. I talked myself into signing up for it - doing so on the very last day, mind you - knowing it would be motivating & give me a reason to keep going to workout on those days I'd otherwise come up with an excuse. Knowing I had a couple trips away for work & vacations planned with in that time I now had certainly now signed myself up for a challenge! Boy did it keep me going.
Weekends were my big burn days. I'd look up the TNT or USA tv listings online, find a movie to watch, then go to the gym & do the elliptical for the duration of it - often 2ish hours. Going 4 out of 5 week days for an hour or so (one rest day) kept me on track, despite my travels away, and I made it to the goal - 50,000 calories. Just barely, but I did it. Lost several pounds in the process too - probably broke under the 190 and 180 marks sometime in the process. Don't remember for sure when that happened anymore.
Problem with all of that though, was that doing the same thing all the time gets BORING. Wasn't too long after the challenge I was only going 1 or 2, rarely 3 times a week. And then it was hard to get motivated to stay longer than 30 minutes. Needless to say my weight loss SLOWWWWWED!
Winter 2007. Not too much to do in the winter, once again. Dropped a few more pounds. Got down to about a little under 170.
Summer 2008. Did the "Summer Burn" again. But a little ways into it I wasn't really losing the weight as the summer before & was getting kind of bummed about it. I was still not doing a lot other than the elliptical. Boyfriend told me I had to "change it up". I knew he was probably right, but I didn't think I was capable of much else. I wasn't that strong, didn't enjoy weights & hated running. I'd have to walk way too long to meet my calorie goals, so elliptical seemed king to me for that. July 4th weekend we were home visiting my parents & he convinced me that I could run (FYI - he LOVES running). We went about 1/4 mile & back. About 1/2 into the first 1/4 mile I was sucking wind, my side killed, I had a cramp in my abs & thought I was going to die. Never mind you we're only talking about 0.1 miles at this time at a pace of probably 4.0 mph! He told me to "Say Hi to God & keep going. (aka - quit complaining!) Tell your body who's boss & push though it. Your body is fighting against something its not used to doing, if you let it win you'll never be able to do it. Push through it & next time it will wait a little longer before it fights against you." Knowing he was right, I did, but didn't stop the complaining about it. :-) Kinda of left the running go at that point. I did a little running (well more like slow jogging!) every now & again, mostly so I could tell him I was still trying, but not very much. That was mostly because when I tried running on the treadmills at the gym I always would have terrible back pain the next day. No one could give me advice on what to do to avoid that.
One night the gym was packed every single elliptical & treadmill were in use & there were already people milling around waiting for one to open up. Needing something to do, I went to the indoor track & thought I'd jog a few laps until something opened up. Strangely, jogging on the track seemed to work for me. Though I got lapped A LOT, my back didn't hurt. Interesting. Gave it a go the next night. Still no problems. Jogging on the track seemed to work for me. Within a couple of 6-7 weeks I could do 24 laps (9.5 laps=1 mile). Not bad. Switched to the treadmill about then because running in same direction around a circle all the time was giving me one sore right ankle & knee. The treadmill seemed to work for me then because by then I'd found my pace - knew I could do a mile in 12-13 minutes. I believe my problem with the treadmill before then was that I was trying to push myself to go way too fast. Got down to 165. Worked out just as hard as last summer & learned to run! But, only lost 2-4 pounds (& those came only after the running started). So bummed.
Did better keeping up going to the gym after that summer's challenge, but still slacked off a bit. Long winter put me back in the gym, but still wasn't losing the weight. End of 2008 comes to an end & I'm pretty bummed. I just can't get below 165 for anything. Want so bad for the flab under my arms, around my thighs & belly to go away! I've worked so hard it seems & not getting anywhere. Holidays, of course don't help those matters!
Early Jan 2009. Saw another poster at my gym about then advertising a new spin-off business of the gym. A separate personal training facility called Revolution that was about a block away in the other direction from the gym. They were starting up a "Biggest Loser" program. Small groups of 'Losers' would meet 3 times a week for 3 months with a trainer working out in TV's biggest loser style. Winner gets 1x per week free personal training for a year. Nice. I found out the price, which was very expensive to me ($300/mo for 3 months), but much more reasonable compared to individual personal training (which I had looked into before, quickly realized it was WAY out of budget, & continued on w/o). By this time I'm certainly not even remotely as large as those on TV, but know I needed some kind of kick start. This I was able to get in the budget by stopping my automatic withdraws to a savings account, & even whittling that down a bit, stopping Friday going out lunches with co-workers, & using all of my beginning of the year pay increase funds. For 3 months (& only 3 months!), I could swing that.
Still quite self-conscious at this point, I hoped (if they let me sign up) that the other participants would be supportive & not wonder what in the hell I, this skinny minnie (& I was compared to them), was doing in a biggest loser program. The first night was a meeting & the trainer heading up the program, Jill, gave her spin on why she though this money well spent. "People spend money on themselves all the time trying to make themselves look good - make-up, nice clothes, manicures, hair stylists, etc. but all it does is cover up what they're not happy about. Why don't people spend that money on what would really make them feel good about themselves - looking good & feeling great? When you're not well & you can't get yourself better, you pay to see a doctor. When you've tinkered around on your car & can't figure out what's wrong, you see a mechanic. Why wouldn't you see someone who specializes in fitness & weightloss if that's what you needed?" I hadn't thought about it like that before.
I was put on the "Pink" team & trained with Holly on Tuesday & Thursday evenings, and a rotating "guest" trainer on Fridays. Over the next 3 weeks I did things I'd never dreamed of trying, and probably most importantly, I learned how to do them the correct way. Squats. Lunges. Burpees. Split thrusts. Frog jumps. Deadlifts. Rows. Chest Press. Clean & Presses. Flys. Curls. Dips. Wall sits. Band exercises. Balance ball exercises. Step exercises. Stair exercises. Med ball exercises. Exercises on playground equipment. I'm sure I've forgotten to list as many as I've listed. It was the change I needed. I was more sore than I'd ever been in my life. My workout group was awesome. Loved it.
We also had to turn in a weekly food journal. (It was through this that Holly introduced us to Spark People.) More so than all the new exercises, I learned though closely tracking both (I bought a heart rate monitor and a digital food scale during the contest too), that food for me was probably more of the missing key than the exercise. As long as I religiously weighed & measured & tracked everything I ate & met Spark People's recommended ranges for Calories/Carbs/Protein/Fat for the amount I was working out every day the pounds melted away. Spark people helped me to get my food balances right. I was also quite surprised to find it suggested I eat more (1450-1600 calories) than I had been eating (1200). I hadn't been losing weight because for the amount I'd been working out I'd been eating too little for too long & my body had been protesting! (In addition to the 3x workouts with the trainer, I also worked out myself 3-4x/week.) By the end of the contest I'd gotten down to 148! They awarded me first place for my group, but unfortunately not overall (there were 4 groups).
I couldn't afford to do another round, nor do I think they would have let me (they required you had to need to lose at least 15 pounds), so I found a "bootcamp" style group workout program at my regular gym they call EXCEL that incorporated much of the same sorts of things I had been doing at Revolution. $80 per 7 week sessions seemed like the bargain of the century after $300/month! I'd seen this program in process at the gym before, but before doing the biggest loser program would have never dreamed that I could do all of that crazy stuff they were doing on the indoor soccer field! Now I'd been doing it for 3 months. I traded my T/Th/F 7:30 night workouts for 5:30 am workouts T/Th mornings. As an added bonus, my trainer Holly teaches the Thursday session (Nikki does Tuesdays) so I get to keep in touch with her & that helped keep me accountable in regards to workouts.
I gained back some weight after the BL program, got back to about 162. Mostly because I thought after all of that work I could take it easier for a little while & let my body rest, which was probably true. But I started doing a little more less & less workouts on my own outside of my EXCEL classes. I also stopped measuring my food. I had it down pat by now right? Wrong.
One year later in 2010. Still doing EXCEL. Its so addicting and I love it because the trainers are great at keeping things changed up for us. New year's resolution in progress. Signed up for a program online where they donate 10 pounds of food to a local food bank for each pound you lose from now until May. (Can you tell challenges motivate me?) Goal is to get down to 147 - that's 15 pounds in 5 months & also one pound below where I was after the biggest loser. But I'm going to do it a bit slower this time, so hopefully I can keep it off & even keep working down further.
I'm back to weighing/measuring food, & wearing my heart rate monitor during workouts & closely watching calories in/out & following the Spark People Carb/Fat/Protein recommendations too.
Its like magic & working again! As of 2/16 I'm back down to 155, 7 pounds so far this year. Feels so much easier now that I know what I'm dong.
Another update - 3/13 down to 150.5, & now fit back into my size 4 jeans! Woohooo!
Anyone know of a challenge that starts in June? My sister's getting married in July & I don't want to slack off after my current challenge is done!
Goal 1: Get to 147# by the end of May & 145# by my sister's July wedding - 3 pounds lighter than I've ever been before!
Goal 2: keep it off - will likely be moving in the fall so that could be challenging in itself!
Goal 3: Will define further once #1 is done, but to be able to comfortably wear a bikini in 2011 (weight 135-138#?). I'm hopeful this will be possible - I've been told by many it might not ever be likely w/o a tummy tuck after all I've lost, but here's hoping!
I'm burning about 3500-4000 calories/week through exercise & eat 1590-1650 calories per day, plus one day a week around 1800. For exercise Sundays I run & do some strength training on my own (~700 cal). Mondays I do some running to warm up & then go to a step aerobics class for an hr (shoot for ~1000 cal), T/Th mornings at my gym I do a class called "Excel" that combines strength & cardio in a group of about 10-15 with a trainer (650-800 cal each), (wed off), Friday is optional depending on what I need for calorie burn that week yet & saturday I usually do another Excel class (~650-800 cal) or similar stuff on my own + running.
I wear a heart rate monitor for all exercise & pretty much weigh & measure absolutely every thing I eat to ensure I meet my numbers on both ends of the spectrum!
I grew up in rural Indiana. A a proud Purdue Grad living in Wisconsin for now. I plan to move to Washington DC within the year for work.
I like to dapple in photography in my now non-existent spare time. Some of my favorites are here: http://s189.photobucket.com/albums/z163/au
| current weight: 200.0
What a great story. How true it is that people do spend money all the time on clothes, makeup, jewelery, etc to cover up what they don't like about themselves instead of changing what really makes them unhappy. You look amazing and have come a long way!
2259 days ago
Wow, I like your story & how far you've come on your journey! I had to check out your pic's. WOW!! They are beautiful! I wish you all the best; this should make you money, you are great!
Good luck in all you do.
2316 days ago
Hi I just wanted to stop by and say Hi. I saw your post on: Name a get up and go song! and had to stop and tell you that you have great taste in music. LOL But anyway good luck with all your goals and everything. Bye
2322 days ago