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I've been focusing on becoming more fit and making wiser nutrition choices over the past couple of years. This journey has in no way been easy but each day I get a little bit closer to my goals and it feels wonderful!

I decided to take charge and change my life in November 2010. I had just ended a relationship that had been particularly bad for my self-esteem, and in an effort to start healing and feeling better about myself I knew I needed to face the reality of my steady weight gain and take control of my life. I have gone through cycles of gaining and losing weight ever since I was in high school, and I figured I had reached the 200 lb. range at this point - however, I was shocked when I stepped on that scale and saw it read 229 lbs. I had never gotten this high, and considering I am only 5'2 I was humiliated and ashamed at how badly I let myself go. At that moment I told myself I was going to get these extra pounds off and never allow myself to get over 200 lbs ever again.

Things were not easy at first. I remember buying Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred and not even being able to do a half-squat. I hated exercising, I had very little endurance and became tired so quickly. The nutrition part was easier, but I struggled to find things that left me feeling satiated. The first month was particularly difficult, but somehow (I'm still not sure how) I managed to find the strength to push through and lost about 12 lbs.

I wish I could say that from that point on my weight loss was in a steady decline, but I slipped up more than a few times. I would lose 30 lbs. and gain 15 back. Lose another 20, gain another 10. I would find motivation to work hard, do well for a while (sometimes months at a time), but would feel overwhelmed with my busy schedule and eventually revert back to my old, unhealthy habits. Other times I would get complacent due to all the compliments and kind words I heard from people who noticed my weight loss. I would lose track of the finish line, say to myself "I'm looking and feeling so much better - I can stop by Whataburger JUST this once," but once would turn into twice, which would turn in to multiple trips in a row, which would push me entirely off the wagon.

I'm not sure how this happened, or exactly when it happened, but it's like one day I had an epiphany. I realized I had allowed toxic people to stay in my life, either physically or I was allowing the memory of them to drag me down to the point where I didn't feel like eating right or being active. Junk food was a comfort to me, and I'd hide up in my room, watching re-runs of "How I Met Your Mother" eating my stash in solitude. I came to the realization that I am 25 years old, spending most of my nights alone in my room doing things that are limiting my happiness and harming my health. I'm sick of hiding from the world, I want to go out and enjoy my time with my friends while I'm young! I'm tired of being lonely and want to meet a great guy and settle down. These things will NOT happen if I continue to hurt myself by making poor food choices and skipping exercise. So - I threw away all the junk food and got back into the swing of things.

This "epiphany" happened at the beginning of September, 2012. I went on a weekend trip with some girlfriends the first weekend in September, cut loose and allowed myself to eat and drink what everyone else was having (while keeping portion sizes under control), and came back home after the weekend resolved to meet my goals. Since that weekend I have not gotten off track, I have exercised 5-6 days a week, I have stayed within my calorie range, and when I have indulged I have made wise choices. I have lost about 15 lbs. since then (I am writing this on October 27th, 2012) and I feel amazing. Absolutely amazing.

That feeling is what is keeping me going. I have co-workers, friends and family members constantly admire me for all the hard work I have put in. Those who have known me a long time have seen me go from a size 20 to a size 10 - a huge difference. Those who see me every day know how seriously I take my diet and exercise and ask me how I have found the motivation to do what I do. It is in no way easy, but on the other hand I think I'm at the point where it's not hard, either. The changes I have made have become part of my routine, and I genuinely think I would feel unhappy if I abandoned these changes. I am the most proud of my abilities when it comes to exercise. I used to barely be able to do a modified push-up, and now I can do push-up jacks, side planks, burpees, jump squats, and all sorts of difficult, high-impact moves that I once struggled to perform once or twice in a row. I love how I feel exhausted yet fully satisfied and happy with my efforts once I've finished a demanding workout. That feeling is one that I will continue to chase and hold onto for the rest of my days.

One of the best things I can recommend to ANYONE looking to lose weight and gain better health is to establish a routine for yourself. This has helped me immensely. I tend to cook all my food one day a week, save it in the fridge, and eat that food throughout the work week. I usually decide what I will eat long before meal time rolls around. This helps me take control of my diet and not make bad, last-minute choices that result out of lack of available options. I also have a very strict exercise routine and am currently working my way through the Body Revolution 90-day workout system. I like that these workouts are already ready and picked out for me, all I have to do is pop the DVD in the DVD player, pick up my weights and go! I set a plan for exercise and stick to it. I've seen people wandering around the gym, trying to decide what machine to use next, what their next move should be, and I feel this is a waste of time and energy. Make the most out of your time, it'll be so worth it in the end!

I don't intend on eating 1300 calories a day and exercising 6 days a week for the rest of my life. However, I also don't intend on letting myself go again and will not EVER lose sight of myself, who I am, or what I deserve. I have found that I deserve to be healthy and happy, I deserve to love and be loved - to love others you must first love yourself, which is what I am working on right now. So far so good, and I am so excited for the changes that have already happened in my body and the changes that will continue to come as I progress.

Member Since: 10/21/2012

My Goals:
- Reach my goal weight of 130 lbs.
- Finish Body Revolution 90-day workout system
- Train for and run a 5k
- Continue to cook healthy meals at least 5 days out of the week

My Program:
- Limit myself to 1200-1400 cals a day
- Eat a high protein diet; Usually ~18-20g protein with every meal, one snack with ~6-8g protein (or more! if possible)
- Exercise 5-6 days a week, combination of strength training, HIIT and cardio
- Drink looots of water! Limit alcohol and diet soda

Personal Information:
My name is Ellen and I'm a 25-year old single gal living in Texas. I work as a medical receptionist at a specialty facility for animals. I'm in grad school working on getting my master's in clinical practice management. I have a great group of friends, most of whom I have known for 10+ years. I love my family and am thankful for all the support they have shown me (and continue to show me) as I have grown. I have an adorable nephew who was born in October 2012 who I have yet to meet! :( Hopefully when I do see him I'll be closer to or at my goal weight. :)

Other Information:
I genuinely enjoy exercise now, my favorite form being strength training (love to feel and chase the burn!). I love spending time outdoors, whether it involves hiking, jogging, or walking the dog. I'm a fan of reading, especially if the lit is not related to my grad school work. I like music, movies, and road trips/travel.

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