Meet Felicia! She contacted me after reading my transformation story on another website. She reached out to me and was seeking accountability for making positive changes to herself. Over the course of the last year, she was in a small online community using a Facebook group I created and her initiative started the awesome snowball effect of change. Yes, she lost weight, but I don’t believe in weight loss. I believe in a changed mindset, change of habits and then weight loss and a changed physique as the results. She started this process by setting goals, working a plan and putting new and improved habits in motion. This story can be anyone’s story. Insert you next!
When did you start your journey?
When my son was born in September of 2012 I knew that it was going to be A LOT of work to get in shape and lose weight. I had gained an enormous amount of weight with my daughter (who turns three in December 2013) and never lost all of it when I became pregnant with my son. With my daughter I had gone up to 230 pounds, and I was only down to 178 pounds by the time I was pregnant again. I then went back up to 225 pounds (give or take) by the time I gave birth to my son. Before getting pregnant with my daughter I was 135 pounds at just over 5’3” tall. At the end of September 2012 I felt like it was time to make this mommy healthy!
What was it that brought on the desire for change?
I don’t like being overweight, and I really didn’t like being told by doctors that I was obese. Lots of health issues tend to go along with that, and I did not want any part of it. Like a lot of people, I really didn’t like the way I looked or felt. I didn’t like shopping and not being able to pick up a size and bring it back to try on and have it fit. I missed the athletic and healthy person that I was.
” I felt like it was time to make this mommy healthy!”
“I don’t like being overweight, and I really didn’t like being told by doctors that I was obese.”
What did your lifestyle used to look like?
When I decided to stay home with my kids, I entered an entire new world I was not prepared for in any way. All of a sudden a kitchen was in plain sight and only a few steps away from me at all times. I became a grazer – a boredom eater, and my arch nemesis – a stress eater. Never in my life did I think those things would ever take over my life. Many times I thought, “It would be great if I could just be a stress runner instead of an eater!” I also didn’t take stock of my foods and the nutritional value they had or lacked. I just ate it without a lot of thought. Any exercise never lasted long. I would try for a few weeks then it would taper off because of many excuses.
“I became a grazer – a boredom eater, and my arch nemesis – a stress eater.
Never in my life did I think those things would ever take over my life.”
What actions did you first take towards your new plan?
I researched everything I could. I then decided that was too hard and tried every “get skinny quick” thing you can imagine. In December I came to terms with the fact that this is going to be a long journey. I started counting Points through Weight Watchers and was not seeing a lot of progress. My OB mentioned to me that just like in pregnancy, some people do not do well with sugars and carbohydrates. I thought to myself, “Thanks a lot, what do you suppose I eat then?” (Seriously, a girl needs a chocolate brownie!!). I joined a boot camp and started to go at 4:30 in the morning 5 days a week. The boot camp people suggested “Paleo” which I had tried before and didn’t love it, but that’s probably because I lacked the knowledge for long-term commitment. So at this point I started to eliminate sugar/carbohydrates (slowly, not all at once).
I felt I needed support from more than just my amazing husband. I looked on some popular fitness websites because I always like before and after photos, (A girl can dream, right?) and I wanted to find mothers that had 80-120lbs to lose. Just like that I came across Mindy’s transformation story and it listed her fitgalclub.com website. That day I went to her website and just looked and found out she was doing a test group at the time for support and guidance. I sucked it up, decided they didn’t know me, and asked if she had room for one more. She picked me and these three women have blessed me more than I can explain. Their common struggles, sense of humor, and realness is what I love. All of us had different plans going at the time but we all had the same healthy- fit goal. This online group got off the ground just before Christmas.
Describe the journey. What have some of the highlights and lowlights been?
First off I had to learn it was a journey not a race. I have learned to get over being the chubby chick at the gym. (Once chubby not always chubby as long as you keep going back and exercising.) I learned it’s hard to do this with kids and play dates and things to do. I learned that I have to make it a priority in my life to exercise and eat well and make good choices. I am a list person so on my list daily is exercise. Believe me when I say everyone will be happier once we go to gym, just enough of an endorphin boost to get me going – like a double shot of espresso.
From December through May I really focused on eating. I exercised, but I was not very disciplined or committed. I kept a food journal and realized foods I ate that would make me bloat, gassy, get very sick, or keep me from losing weight and then I started to eliminate those foods. Currently I eat a low carbohydrate diet and probably always will. 99% of my carbohydrates come from vegetables. I eat a low-fat diet as well because heart disease runs in my family. I eat vegetables, meat, and fruit. I have never felt better and had more energy in my life. I also adapted Mindy’s “secret sauce”… LOTS of water daily. I thought I was really getting a handle on all this, and then we moved. Not just any move, but an across-the-country move with 2 kids and a dog in a minivan to a city we had never been to and a house we had only seen on the internet.
STRESS… yes, I was stressed… and my biggest issue surfaced – stress eating. I’m glad that it did, because after 3 weeks of it and feeling sick, sick, sick and not happy, I dealt with it. I came up with other outlets and I acknowledged that it existed. I joined the most amazing gym (kids play area is the best thing I’ve ever seen), and I started eating clean again. My favorite accountability partner is a 2 ½ year old that asks me daily “Go to the gym mommy?” “Let’s exercise!” So we are at the gym a minimum of 5 days a week. We do HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes 2 times a week and lift weights 3 times a week. I plan cheat meals, although I don’t enjoy them much because I tend to get stomach issues after I eat sugary and fatty foods. I am learning that just a taste will go a long way!
My son’s birthday was mid September, so it’s been a year, and I weighed in at 149 pounds that day. I am thrilled!! But, I am not finished. I still have fat to burn off my body and muscle to build, but I am a lot closer to my goal today than I would be if I was still dreaming about change!
“My favorite accountability partner is a 2 ½ year old that asks me daily “Go to the gym mommy?’ ‘Let’s exercise!'”
Have you encountered any resistance from others in your life?
I have amazing friends and an incredible husband. I couldn’t ask for more supportive and encouraging people in my life. I am truly blessed! But, I am my own resistance and temptation. I can go places and someone will ask if I am going to “cheat.” I know I can. I know it won’t derail me, but I also know it will wreck my stomach to shreds. I used to give in and say, “Ok” and pay the price. Now I don’t care if it seems rude, I tend to bring my own food or eat before I come.
What are some of your current systems that you would want to share with others?
My biggest thing is to wake up and think of what will make me a better mom and wife today. That’s spending time in prayer, eating on plan, and exercising.
I really think it’s great to try to challenge yourself for a month to eliminate sugar. At least look at the labels of food and see that it is in everything. Take it out of your diet and see how you feel. Measure your foods. Portion size is a big deal, so pay attention to it. As far as exercise goes, don’t listen to everyone at the same time – it is way too much information. Find something you like and stick to it. Then add something new and if you enjoy that, do it again. Change it up every so often just to show your body something different.
“As far as exercise goes, don’t listen to everyone at the same time – it is way too much information.
Find something you like and stick to it.”
What works for you and is a new habit(s) for you that was not there before?
My biggest change is consistency in everything I do, both in exercise and food choices. I am committed and consistent and it really pays off. I also lift more (I want to do more of it in 2014!) but muscles have shaped my body to look smaller than what it would look without them… LOVE THAT!
Describe a typical day as it relates to your diet, sleep and exercise. How do you fit this in being a busy wife and Mom of 2?
My diet is simple.
Breakfast: Fruit (berries) and egg whites. (I throw whatever veggies I have around in the skillet or left over chicken).
Lunch: Chicken or eggs and veggies. (I love steamed broccoli and sugar snap peas.)
Dinner: More of the lunch or a lettuce wrap, burger, or steak and veggies
Minimum of 120 oz water a day
Snack: My treats – not every day but 1-3 a week. These are also cheats for me because they are NOT clean: hummus, diet coke, coffee (splenda or stevia) and a little (measured) sugar free creamer.
Sleep: 8 hours a night and I love it! I also sleep great when I eat well and exercise.
Exercise: 5 days a week we are at the gym by 8:15. Usually we leave around 9:45. During nap time I just started to add in an at-home abs video. My tummy needs some work.)
As far as fitting it all in – it’s routine, routine, routine. My kids thrive on routine and so do I. A lot of afternoons our rewards are walking to the park after nap. As a treat my daughter gets to wait 30 minutes before her nap (while her brother naps,) and she does the abs video with me (exclaims “exercising with mommy”). I include them in everything, and I know one day that exercising will be a part of their lives.
What advice would you give to those at the beginning or middle stages of their journey?
Whatever your plan is I just encourage you to ride it out or tweak it to you and your lifestyle and then plug along. Forgive yourself and most of all enjoy the process. Find joy and beauty at every pound and don’t let a scale or number bring the opinion of yourself down. This has been the first time I tried to lose weight and could step on the scale and see it did not move (or it moved the wrong direction), and I did not let that dictate my mood or food choices for the rest of the day. It is freeing to know that this is a journey and it takes time. It has become a reality that my food choices will NEVER be the same again. This is my new norm, and it’s ok.
I also think you should take pictures. We tend to always criticize ourselves and not see the progress. You can go back to a photo of you in a bikini (don’t show people) on day one and then a photo eight months later. It’s amazing….you see change and you can be very happy with yourself and feel accomplished and empowered to keep going.
What’s next? What big goal are you going after now?
For the rest of this year I want to focus on losing a bit more body fat and getting to a healthy weight. I have been good at losing and toning, but it’s difficult to build the muscle I want and lose the fat that needs to be gone.
So my bigger goal will probably start in 2014 and that’s to get stronger. I would like to take a year to build 10 pounds of muscle (not fat) on to my frame. Lifting while losing weight has really shaped my body into looking better in clothes than it would without the lifting!
“Forgive yourself and most of all enjoy the process. Find joy and beauty at every pound and don’t let a scale or number bring the opinion of yourself down.”
What would the new you say to the old you if you had the chance?!
What were you waiting for? You deserve better and so does your family! Now go enjoy life, be healthy, explore healthy foods, cooking and new types of fitness. Don’t be timid and just go for it.
Thank you Felicia for allowing me to share your story! It’s been awesome to watch the new you emerge and I’m so proud of the initiative you took to get uncomfortable and go for change. Sharing your story may be just the words that someone else needed to hear to start or continue on in their journey as well. Keep focused on your goals and make consistency and patience your best friends. You’re a ROCK STAR!
Questions or comments? Email Mindy at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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