140 Pounds Lost: It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!
NAME : Sabrina
BEFORE WEIGHT : 286
AFTER WEIGHT : 145
POUNDS LOST : 140
WHEN DID YOU START DEVELOPING A WEIGHT PROBLEM?
I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. As a child I was active, competing in swim and track. However, as I got older, my activity level began to decline, while my eating habits remained the same. I continued to steadily gain weight over the next 10 years, moving into Plus sizes by my early twenties. I was wearing a size 26/28 pants by the time I hit 30. I remember thinking to myself: “This is it! I REFUSE to buy anything larger…”
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE?
Outwardly, I was very happy, outgoing and projected confidence. But, I was a fraud. Inwardly, I felt inadequate. I was sad and depressed. And, I used food as a coping mechanism. It was satisfying. It was comforting. And best of all, food didn’t judge me. I could eat as much as I wanted, for as long as I wanted, and it didn’t say one word.
Food became my drug. And like any addiction, it took more and more to satisfy me… now, I had to eat a half-gallon of ice cream before bed; or finish the pan of brownies, because throwing it away would just be wasteful. I ate until I was uncomfortably full. I ate until I felt sick and disgusted with myself. And, still I wanted more…
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?
My son turned 3 in September 2006 and I couldn’t wait to share my pictures with friends and co-workers. When I picked up my prints, I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t even recognize myself. Sure, I’d put on some weight over the years, but I wasn’t that big! I still considered myself to be in decent shape. Yet, I was now literally faced with reality. I vowed to get back in shape. Somehow. I had tried countless diets over the years, but nothing seemed to work. Feeling hopeless, I decided that surgery was the only option to help me lose weight.
Later that week, I attended a seminar on gastric bypass. The surgeon explained the procedure in detail. He then went on to explain that post-surgery, you must adhere to a strict diet and exercise plan in order to maintain your weight loss. Immediately, I thought: “If I still have to diet and exercise after surgery; why would I spend thousands of dollars to put my body through a painful procedure, with no guarantee of success.” Finally, it was clear to me: There is no diet, or surgery or magic pill to take it away. Permanent weight loss can only be sustained by making permanent lifestyle changes. I decided that surgery was not the answer for me. It would take patience, commitment and consistency to achieve my goal.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
The following day, I noticed a sign for a gym near my home. The gym was still under construction. However, I could work out at another location until the new gym was finished. I joined that day. Since my son was so young, I wanted to be home with him in the evenings. So, 5 days a week I got up at 4:00 AM, drove 15 miles to the gym to workout; then off to work.
Initially I could only walk on the treadmill. 15 minutes felt like a lifetime! Each week, I would increase my time; then eventually my speed and incline. Finally, I was able to walk a mile. Feeling motivated, I found the courage to try out a group fitness class called Bodypump. It was hard… But, the music was great, the instructor was fit and I LOVED it! It felt so empowering to lift weights. And, it was fun!
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS?
After a few months, I’d progressed to jogging 3 miles, in addition to taking Bodypump. I also added a cycling class to my weekly regimen. RPM took my fitness to the next level and I quickly saw the benefits of combining resistance training to build lean muscle, with high intensity cardio to burn fat.
I soon began to notice changes in my body. My legs were more toned and my arms didn’t jiggle as much. By the time the new gym opened in early 2007, I’d already lost 75 lbs. Plus, I was beginning to see muscle definition emerging!
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
Many of my friends, family and co-workers were supportive. But, they did not understand my new passion. Our social interaction revolved around food. Now, I was always at the gym and didn’t have time to hang out or go out to eat.
Still, my nutrition was my biggest challenge. I did not know what to eat and I had not concept of portion control. I bought books and magazines to help with nutrition and enhance my training. I knew I had to learn how to eat properly, if I intended to maintain my weight loss.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING?
There were many injuries and a lot of criticism, along the way. But I was not going to let minor injuries become setbacks. I found ways to modify my training. People criticized me and tried to discourage me. But, I did not let it deter me. Instead, I used it as motivation. I knew no one really expected me to stick with it and succeed. But, I was determined and I refused to give up or turn back.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
During the first year, my weight loss was slow and steady. I now worked out 6 days a week, taking classes and running 5 miles several times a week. However, after losing about 100 lbs., I hit a plateau. I added an extra class – Bodycombat: HIIT mixed martial arts cardio! This class improved my speed, coordination and the kicks and punches really toned my arms, legs and glutes. Still, after losing 20 lbs., I hit another plateau.
That’s when I realized I also needed to refine my nutrition. I constantly read articles and bought books on nutrition. Surprisingly, I discovered that I was over-restricting and did not have enough energy to sustain my workouts. Ironically, once I increased my caloric intake, my strength and endurance improved and I was able to lose those last, stubborn 15-20 lbs.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT?
It took a total of 18 months to lose 141 lbs. Though I lost the first 100 lbs. within the first year, it took nearly 6 months to lose the last 40 lbs. During this time, I had to ramp up my intensity and tweak my nutrition extensively.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES?
The scale can be misleading and discouraging. I learned that body composition is what truly matters. Though I enjoyed buying smaller sizes every couple of months, my ultimate goal was to be fit and athletic, not skinny.
I celebrated my fitness and strength gains, watching my body change right before my eyes. In 2008, I ran my first 10K and became certified in Bodypump.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
In an effort to overcome my food addiction, I went to the opposite extreme. Instead of binging, I now obsessively weighed, measured and tracked every morsel. If I exceeded my caloric intake by just a few calories, I felt like a complete failure and that I had no self control. I either binged out for the rest of the day, or overcompensated by exercising more to offset the extra calories and restore order. I soon realized that I’d replaced one addiction with another.
I still occasionally keep a food log or weigh foods to monitor portion sizes. But, over time, I learned to eat clean and I no longer overly restrict calories or binge eat. Instead, I consistently pair high protein foods with moderate carbs and lots of fiber. I also enjoy time with family and friends; and my kids choose dinner every Friday. If I crave something, I have it – in moderation. I don’t beat myself up or punish myself for going “off the plan”.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
Fitness is my passion! I am certified in each of the classes I took throughout my fitness journey – Bodypump, RPM and Bodycombat, and teach 7 classes each week. Fitness has become a part of my identity. It’s who I am. It’s what I do! When I’m not working out, I feel like something is missing… from my life!
I am always looking for ways to improve my fitness and expand my knowledge. I regularly attend workshops and trainings for new certifications or continuing education.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- When it comes to fitness and nutrition, Be Consistent. And, keep in mind that consistency doesn’t mean ALL the time; just most of the time. You can still have and/or do the things you enjoy. But, practice moderation and self-control. And, if you have a bad day or get burned out; don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let slip-ups become setbacks. Each day is another opportunity to get it right. Pick yourself up and start again.
- Be Patient and Set Realistic Goals. The weight didn’t come on overnight, and it’s going to take just a long to lose it. Everyone wants a quick fix. But, the easy thing to do, is often not the right thing to do. Diets only work as long as you’re “dieting”. And most fad workouts are often not sustainable. Take it at your own pace and gradually adjust your fitness and nutrition goals. You have to find what works for you, your family and your schedule. It must be something you can live with. Because ultimately you’ll have to; if you intend to keep the weight off for good. Remember: What it took to obtain your weight loss, is also necessary to maintain your results.
- Make Fitness a Priority. You can always find a reason NOT to workout. You don’t have time… You can’t make it to the gym… Work, kids, life… However, you can and will make time for things that are important to you. Whether it’s 4:00 in the morning, or 11:00 at night, you will find the time, if fitness is truly a priority.Anything is better than nothing. Even if you don’t have an hour to spare, do what you can… it will add up.
- Don’t be Afraid to Use Weights! Many women still incorrectly believe that using weights will make you bulky. Using weights builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. The more fat you burn, the leaner you will become. Cardio is great. But, cardio will only make you a smaller version of you…Weights will tone and change the shape of your body.
- Stay Focused. There will be times when you want to quit. It won’t always be fun and it won’t always be easy. Don’t give up. Constantly remind yourself why you started this journey and what your goals are. Visualize the new you: Healthy, Fit; crossing the finish line, wearing that sexy dress or no longer needing medication to manage your health.Sometimes self-talk and self-motivation will be the only things you have left, to push you through that last rep. Don’t let negativity and self-doubt derail you. Stay positive and take time to celebrate the small victories. If your goal is to lose 100 lbs., applaud your efforts when you lose 10. Remember, every step along the way is progress. Each day you are one step closer to reaching your goal.