Journey to Fit: Liz H’s Story

Time for another Journey to Fit story!

Journey to Fit features an F&F reader with an inspirational weight loss story to share. The men and women featured in Journey to Fit each paved their own path to a healthy lifestyle, and I am thrilled they are willing to share their journeys on my blog. Everyone has a unique story and approach to healthy living, and each person had to start somewhere. I hope you find this series inspiring. Enjoy!

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Last month I featured Mary, and this month I am featuring Liz.

Journey To Fit: Liz H

Liz, tell my F&F readers a little about yourself.
My name is Liz. I am 30 years old, and I am a stay at home mom and full-time student. I have an almost two-year old daughter and have been married for 3 years. I am currently in school for nursing. I am very involved in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and participate every year through the actual walk and months of fundraising. I also coach basketball at a local middle school.

When did your fitness journey begin? Was there a specific moment or event that triggered it for you?
I was always active growing up. I played lots of sports in high school and tried to continue that into college and adult life. Unfortunately the college life and partying scene took over, and I gained some weight. I didn’t think much of it because I was a college kid, and “everyone gains in college.” A few years later, I met my husband and continued to gain slowly. Nothing was ever drastic, just a few pounds here and there. Then I got married and became comfortable. I got pregnant a year later and ate my way through my pregnancy. I was very sick and had lots of headaches while pregnant, so exercise was nonexistent except for the Avon walk at three months. After I had my daughter, I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. It was soon after that I decided I needed a change. I HATED who I saw in the mirror, but even more, I hated that I was so negative about myself. I NEVER wanted my daughter to hate her body the way I hated mine. I want her to grow up to love who she is and be healthy.

Journey To Fit: Liz H

What was your starting weight, and what do you weigh now?
When I started working out, I was 301. My “in progress” weight is 240. I don’t have a number in mind as a goal per se. I think I’ll know it when I get there. 🙂

Journey To Fit: Liz H

What lifestyle changes have you made since the beginning of your journey?
I plan ahead big time! I meal prep and make a basic schedule for dinner for the week. I find that this helps both me and my husband know what we’re eating, and it prevents us from making a quick decision on junk take out. I also schedule my workouts now. As busy as I am, I have to find time to work out. I also have worked on my mental health. I find this even harder than the physical, but I am learning to appreciate who I am and love myself at any weight.

Did you encounter any challenge along the way, and how did you overcome them?
Every single day is a struggle, but I take it one day, one workout, and one meal at a time. I have found that I recently plateaued and really need to change things up. I have incorporated a few new exercises into my routine. I find that when I am waning in my motivation, I just pull up a side by side of where I was and where I am. The biggest way to get over any obstacles is to go outside and play with my daughter. Running around with her is the BEST way to remember why I want to be around for a long, long time. I also find that setting small, obtainable goals is helpful and that enlisting the help of others for advice or motivation really helps.

Aside from the weight loss, what has been rewarding for you?
It has been rewarding to have others ask me how I did it. Last week alone, I had three women ask me how I got into running and how I lost weight. They stated that I was an inspiration to them and that they would appreciate any way that I could help them. It was amazing to me because I never thought anyone could look at me that way. I gladly gave them my tips and advice.

Journey To Fit: Liz H

What differences do you notice in how used to feel versus how you feel now?
I am not afraid to go out with friends or to a new place now. I still struggle with thinking people are judging me or saying things about “the big girl,” but that is part of the mental hurdles I am still working on. I also feel as though I am working to find balance in my life. I have always been an all or nothing person, and I know that health and fitness is not something that I either have to be “crazy” with or do nothing about. I can live healthily and still have a cupcake once in a while.

What are the next steps in your journey?
Right now I am signed up for six races over the next few months. Lots of 5ks, a 10k, a half marathon, and a few others I am waiting to hear about. I did my first half marathon last October, and it was one of my biggest motivators. I am hoping to run a full marathon next year and someday qualify for a “big race” such as Boston. I am working on incorporating more weight training and yoga into my routine as well. I still LOVE to run, but I need to add another element to continue to see results. Even more, I want to get to a place where I am less worried about the number on the scale and more focused on how I feel and how my clothes fit. That is something I work on all the time because THAT NUMBER CAN MAKE ME CRAZY! On my journey, I have found it helpful and motivating to also help others, so I hope to continue to inspire others to make changes when they are ready. I like being that cheerleader, coach, and friend to support and motivate. This alone helps me on my own journey as well.

Journey To Fit: Liz's Story

What tips would you offer others who are trying to lose weight or exercise more?

  1. Love who you are today. Getting skinny or losing weight isn’t going to fix all your problems. I won’t make people love you more, help you get a better job, or even make you happier if you aren’t happy with the good person you are today.
  2. Take it one day at a time. Just focus on one small goal for the week and do it, then add one small change. For example, “this week, I’m going to drink x ounces of water.” Then celebrate that. Next week, “I’m going to walk for 10 minutes, 4 days a week.” Then celebrate that. As you accomplish these small goals, you will gain confidence and can build from there.
  3. Get some good sneakers and cute workout clothes. I know that I can’t wait to go out for a run when I get a new pair of leggings or cute tank. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a couple of things that will fit well and make you feel good. They can also help to remind you of your journey when feeling discouraged. I have a 2XL tank that I wore when I first started that I can’t wear anymore. Good sneakers are worth the money and will save you aches, pains, and injuries down the road. Go to a store and get fitted. It was the best thing I ever did because I’ve had three knee surgeries, and for once, my knees aren’t killing me anymore when I run.
  4. Sign up for something that you want to participate in that you never would have before. I picked a half marathon because I’m a little crazy, but it doesn’t have to be that unless you want it. It’s about YOUR journey! Find a color run or a charity walk. Don’t make it about the weight loss. Make it about your health.
  5. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. There will be people who try to discourage you. There will be people who try to tell you that you should do this or do that. They will tell you that you should run, or swim, or bike, or take this diet pill, or not to eat carbs, or to avoid dairy, the list goes on. Do what works for you and no one else. I try to eat as many fresh, whole foods as possible, but Laughing Cow cheese goes on everything because that works for me! Find what works for you and go with it.
  6. Remember that CUPCAKES HAPPEN. Life happens! You can plan until you’re blue in the face and still, things will happen. There will be a day where you miss your workout because your child is sick. There will be birthday parties and Friday happy hours. Don’t beat yourself up over pizza. Recently my Humanities class started going to a great Italian restaurant on Tuesday nights. part of our class involves eating all this yummy food each week. I decided that this is life, and I just need to find a way to work with it. I ask for my dressing on the side. I only have a couple bites of dessert. I take more chicken and take the skin off. It’s not ideal, especially because I am a control freak, but it’s life. I refuse to miss out on life because I am on a “diet.” At the end of the day, it’s NOT a diet. It’s my life. It’s who I am.

It’s about making changes overall to be the best me, cupcake and all! 🙂

Journey To Fit: Liz H's Story[My favorite “after” picture]

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Liz, thank you so much for sharing your amazing story! I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think I even need to blog anymore. Liz is enough inspiration for all of us!

Readers, leave Liz some love!

If you or someone you know has a weight loss story to share, please email me at fitnessandfeta@gmail.com. I would love to feature you. This series will run as long as I receive enough content to keep it going.

Journey to Fit: Mary’s Story

Welcome to my new blog series, Journey to Fit!

Journey to Fit will feature an F&F reader with an inspirational weight loss story to share. The men and women featured in Journey to Fit each paved their own path to a healthy lifestyle, and I am thrilled they are willing to share their journeys on my blog. Everyone has a unique story and approach to healthy living, and each and every person had to start somewhere. I hope you find this series inspiring. Enjoy!

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First up is my friend and Oak Square Y groupie, Mary!
Marys Journey 1
Mary began exercising consistently in 2009, but it wasn’t until January 2013 that she had an a-ha moment and lost 25 pounds in six months. She has since been able to maintain her weight loss!
Mary, tell all my F&F readers a little about yourself.

I am in my late 20’s, live in the Boston area, and work full-time for a medical software company. I have always been an active person. I sailed competitively all 4 years of college in Newport, RI and was a competitive swimmer for 10 years. I love the ocean, beach, and skiing in the winter.

When did your fitness journey begin? Was there a specific moment or event that triggered it for you?

I have always enjoyed working out and have been a member of the Oak Square YMCA where Athena teaches for nearly 6 years. In November 2012, my work hours changed slightly which allowed me to find more time for the gym. But it was last January (2013) that was my trigger moment. I was at breakfast with my cousin Alice, a certified wellness coach, after my first yoga class. I told my cousin that I had started to find the time to work out 4-5 times a week but hadn’t noticed much of a difference in my weight. It was then that my cousin told me I needed to start focusing more on food and that diet is just as important (if not more) as working out. It was at that moment I realized even though I was working out 4-5 times a week, I needed to change what I was eating.

Marys Journey 5

What lifestyle changes have you made since the beginning of your journey?

To focus more on food, I began logging my meals and food in Lose It. This helped me realize first HOW much I was eating, and then I soon became more conscious of WHAT I was eating. I also make a meal and exercise plan every week, which is something I didn’t used to do. I am very consistent in working out 5 times a week and meal planning for Sunday-Friday. It doesn’t always happen that I have 5 nights free a week, so many times I work out in the morning before work. For meals, I figure out if there are any nights that either my boyfriend or I won’t be home, and then I fill in what we will have for dinner every night on the nights we will be. On Sundays I buy everything I need for the week. This helps both my wallet and my time because I am not running to the store multiple times a week.

Did you encounter any challenges along the way, and how did you overcome them?

One of my major challenges was how busy of a year 2013 was for me. I had two best friends get married, 6 weddings to attend in total, and lots of social activities! It gets hard on weekends away to find time to work out and eat healthy. But I told myself as long as I didn’t gain any weight while I was away, it was okay. I told myself not to dwell on that extra glass of wine or serving of cake, and that I was good with giving myself a pass every once in a while.

My biggest challenge, however, was when I stated to plateau. That was really hard for me because I was still doing everything right but the scale stopped moving. It just so happened that it was at that time everyone else started noticing my weight loss… right when it stopped happening. I struggled with that, but I started switching up my workouts by introducing hot yoga. I also began taking protein powder, which I attribute to beating the plateau.

Marys Journey 2

Aside from the weight loss, what has been rewarding for you? What differences do you notice in how you felt then versus how you feel now?

It feels great to see the hard work pay off. I feel stronger and have a higher endurance at the gym, which feels great. I also did the Oak Square 5K this year, and while I didn’t reach my goal to finish under thirty minutes, I finished in just over 30:30, so I consider that a great accomplishment!  Finally, this fall I participated in a 5 mile paddleboard race, and even though I hadn’t done any paddleboarding all summer, my abs and lower and upper body strength lead me to finish in two hours flat.

Marys Journey 3

What are the next steps in your journey?

I do want to lose that last 5 pounds. My original goal was to lose thirty pounds, so I’d love to push through and lose that last five. Now that life has started to slow down a bit, and there are no big life events on the close horizon, I think this is a great time for it.

What tips would you offer others who are trying to lose weight or exercise more?

It really is about what you eat. I struggled with this a lot at first, but its true that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I love working out, so that part wasn’t as hard for me. But not having bread or pasta daily did not come as easily. I’ve learned to love a lot of “new to me” foods like spaghetti squash and cauliflower. It took time, but it’s all worth it in the end!

Marys Journey 4

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

One last thing that has been rewarding for me is having really great support from my boyfriend, family, friends, and gym friends (who are now real friends!). Having a group of friends at the gym that always say “see you tomorrow” is awesome for support. My gym friends are what keep me going back five times a week, week after week!

Halloween: Gym

Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story. I love seeing the progress you’ve made and how far you’ve come. You rock class week after week, and your hard work has certainly paid off.

Readers, leave Mary some love! If you or someone you know has a weight loss story to share, please email me at fitnessandfeta@gmail.com. I would love to feature you. This series will run as long as I receive enough content to keep it going.

Guest Post: Why I Wanted To Become A Runner

Hi guys! Today you have a fun guest post to read from Lindsay! Lindsay blogs over at Lindsay Weighs In to help herself stay motivated and to get support from others on her journey to lose 70 pounds. Enjoy!

Why I Wanted To Become A Runner

Growing up, I was always active. I started playing soccer when I was four, and I played on both club teams and school teams until I was 17.

Lindsay Weighs In: Guest PostMy first ever soccer photo! Age 4. Wasn’t I a cutie?

I quit playing soccer after my junior year of high school, because I was afraid I wouldn’t make the varsity team. Isn’t that silly? I didn’t even try. I wrote it off that I wasn’t going to be good enough, and I didn’t even attempt it.

Lindsay Weighs In: Guest Blog 2Pretty much a collage of my awkward years, haha!

I’ve never been skinny by any means, but when I was playing soccer I at least had my weight somewhat under control. However, when I stopped playing, my weight started to creep up.

Lindsay Weighs In: Guest Post 3Everything in moderation, right?

When I got to college, it got even worse! There was a dining hall where I could eat wherever I want, and trust me, I was not working out. I’ve never been comfortable with my weight, but in college I became the most uncomfortable. A lot of my friends were in great shape, and I always felt a bit like the “fat friend.”

Shortly after I graduated, I decided to get my weight under control. I lost 40 pounds, and I was beginning to become more comfortable with my weight.

Lindsay Weighs In: Guest Post 4Running my first 5K, at my skinniest, with my friend Keri

However, I was going through a hard time, and again turned to food for comfort. Since then, I gained the 40 pounds back… and then some.

But, I refuse to give up. I haven’t failed until I stop trying, right?

Right now, I’m sitting at 230 pounds, the most I’ve ever weighed.

I still want to become a runner. I want to prove that if you run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter what size you are, or how fast your mile time is. It matters that you’re out there, trying.

I signed up for my first half marathon, and I’ll be running through the streets of DC this spring.  I’m going to kick 2014’s boo-tay!

Lindsay Weighs In Blog Post 5

Am I terrified? Of course, but that’s not stopping me.

I’d love to run a full marathon someday, and maybe even a triathlon as well. I obviously have big dreams. 🙂

I may never run a full marathon, do a triathlon, a half Ironman, or a full Ironman. But as long as I’m out there, even running a mile, I’m a runner. And that’s good enough for me.

Chat with Lindsay! Would you classify yourself as a runner? What’s one of your fitness goals?

Thanks for your guest post, Lindsay! You are very inspiring, and I wish you the best of luck with all your running goals.