Weight Lost: 110 pounds
Hometown: Lacey, WA
What was life like before your weight loss?
I got married, got a life, got stressed, got bored and got lazy. Our marriage was centered on good food and TV and not being incredibly active after our sedentary workday. I didn't feel good about myself. I hated shopping for clothes, and I couldn't believe I'd gotten so big. I didn't think I could get the scale to do what I wanted it to do, so I felt very hopeless and complacent about my weight.
What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?
When I decided to leave my husband I was getting sick -- very sick. I took my two of my cats and a few of my belongings and went to my parents’ home about 30 miles away. I took off my ring, handed it to my dad and went to lie down -- for what ended up being five weeks. I was admitted to the hospital with plans for exploratory surgery to discover why I'd lost 38 pounds in five weeks and could no longer even get my body to hold water. I then spent 21 days in the hospital and walked out those doors vowing that I would forever respect my body as I never had before. I was alive, and thankful to be so, and the fact that I had to wear a colostomy for the next six months seemed a small price to pay. That 38-pound loss in the hospital was a spark for me to keep going.
Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey:
I started with the Weight Watchers program and used the points system. Once I really started tracking everything I was eating I could see just how expensive those carb-rich foods were in my daily calorie budget and started to rethink proportions of nutrients and food groups. It didn’t take me long to decide that the points program associated with Weight Watchers wasn’t my ticket to independence and that all I needed was to track my caloric intake and get my body moving. Once that trial period was over, I joined SparkPeople and never looked back!
My early changes in diet were all about replacing unhealthy choices with one step up on the healthy scale. For instance, I have a huge sweet tooth and used to eat cookies and cakes and bakery treats. I found the low-calorie versions of those items using artificial sugars and such to begin to change my lifestyle. From there, I decided I didn’t need those sweeteners in my system and opted to have fruits and high-quality dark chocolate instead as a treat, just in moderation and in balance with the rest of my choices. Everything was baby steps for me along the way, from a processed foods diet to a whole foods diet without preservatives or chemicals. For me, it’s not about depriving yourself of things but rather of loving yourself enough to make a better choice for health. Something clicks along the way and you simply become a person that loves healthy, clean food that isn’t buried in fat, sugar and salt.
I chose a local gym and continued my love affair with fitness. I needed an outlet to move my body because my area doesn’t allow for year-round cycling. At first I stuck to cardio on my own, but it didn’t take me long to find my way in to spin class. I was blessed with a very high-energy instructor that enjoyed getting the best out of us and made class something I honestly looked forward to all day. I lost about 75 pounds on my own before I hired a personal trainer at that same gym that would again propel me to the next level. I didn’t know all of what was to come, but he built my balance, agility, strength and endurance and showed me session after session that I was fierce, and a force to be reckoned with. I was carving out my goal body in front of my eyes!
Did you encounter and obstacles during your journey and, if so, how did you deal with them?
My obstacles were always about how I was going to make something work for me and accepting that I’m not every person out there and that I had to find my solutions and what worked for me and gave me the power over the scale and my health. At first I lost weight just by moving and getting going, but there were days it seemed like it wasn’t working and I had to do something different. One of those days was the day I wandered into my first Spinning class. I ended up finding a new way to exercise that I love and would also be highly effective and take my fitness up to the next level.
I’m also a huge proponent of whatever it takes to get yourself to the gym. I had an almost 45-minute commute after work every day and that’s ample time to talk yourself right out of going to the gym and right into doing errands or any of the thousand things we can come up with instead of taking care of ourselves. But, I’d learned that taking care of my body was incredibly symbolic of taking care of me and my own needs rather than everyone else’s first. For example, the Spinning class I took was very popular and I had to sign up in advance to get a seat. Once I committed to signing up for a seat that was my motivation to get there and make it happen. The other two days a week, I had a trainer waiting for me that I had paid already and I wasn’t going to waste that money or time either. It’s easy to get to the gym when you set yourself up for success with little steps and little motivations. Those little wins feel great and they help steer your course right to your goal body and weight.
What is your typical exercise routine like?
My typical routine these days is varied. My trainer moved away to another state and made me begin to use what he’d taught me to do it for myself. I’d had the luxury of someone else designing my workout routines, but after nearly a year with him it was time to apply all I’d learned. I did just that and began to start to understand the body even more than before. One day a week I might do Spinning, another I’ll work upper body with weights, then swimming laps another day, lower body functional training, and almost always core work. I just mix it up and do my best to not over train any areas so that it can recover and repair itself.
The other aspect of my fitness is that while I’m working out, I’m doing my best to remember to be in awe of my body and love it through the process. If I’m doing squats, I’m looking in the mirror for form self-correction but I’m also looking at the fit girl in the mirror (for a while she was in my mind) and am cheering her on! I’ve gotten to watch my body do things I would have told you I was incapable of and yet I’m doing them. I’m in the best shape of my life at 43!
What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight loss program?
My best advice is to set yourself up for small wins and use that momentum to keep going. I know it’s a long road, but it’s so worth it. YOU are worth it, I promise. The other thing I think is crucial is to keep yourself motivated. I used Pinterest and set up a board for inspiration. I’d pin healthy fit female bodies on it and use it as a visual for what my goal body looked like. I’d pin workout ideas, healthy foods, quotes for fitness, humor… anything that would help me motivate myself. I remember days in that gym parking lot that I’d scroll through my images for just 60 seconds and it made all the difference in the effort I put forth in the gym that day. I truly believe our minds are incredibly powerful and a pivotal part of any transformation.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
I feel amazing! I am so fit and active. I am most proud of my body not for how it looks, beyond that it's healthy, but for how I feel and how strong it is. I even walk straighter because my muscles simply hold up my body differently. I have a strong core set of muscles. I've never had a strong core before. Heck, now the name even makes sense! Mostly though, I feel and look like a million bucks and I'm so very proud of myself. I've fallen in love with my body and am in awe of how it totally took care of me and kept me from dying after being sick. I feel strong – emotionally and physically. The transformation has been incredible and it has touched nearly every aspect of my life. This isn’t about eating an extra slice of cake or having seconds at dinner. The demons that put the pounds on in the first place had to be faced. I found quotes along the way that helped me immensely and one of them simply said: “I never said it was going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it”. I can attest that it is worth every step to have arrived here, and yet be humble enough to know I have so much more to accomplish.
My sincerest desire is to pay all of this forward and teach people how to love themselves through fitness and real, honest food. I’m currently taking a certification exam prep course through ACE, the American Council on Exercise, to become a personal trainer and health coach. I am grateful every single day for my journey and wouldn't change a moment. I can say with certainty that I am truly blessed.
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