Welcome to the third and final post of my “Inspired By” series: stories from people that made the choice to change without hitting rock bottom first, and have maintained their success ever since. My book, Make This Your Moment: A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Life… for Good, has been inspired by what motivates people to suddenly change, to make the choice once and for all to stop living a life of slightly miserable. These stories are of people that decided to stop settling, and to start making the life they knew they deserved.
When people first come to me, many don’t believe their goals are truly achievable, and doubt the ability to maintain them once they get there.
I usually use Andrea’s story as backup when new clients voice their doubts.
Over the course of our work together, I have come to realize how dedicated and strong this woman truly is.
A single mom, lawyer and amazingly hard worker, I am ecstatic to introduce you to the woman that has done it all and continues to challenge herself and try new things.
I am constantly inspired by Andrea, and can’t wait to hear what you think about her story, too!
What major changes have you made in your life?
•I have lost 55 lbs and gone from a size 18 to a size 10.
•I have walked three 5ks and a 10k.
•I have a new healthy lifestyle now, focusing on regular exercise on a weekly basis (5 times per week) and altering my diet to achieve my weight loss and physical fitness goals (small and large goals that change with time and successes). I now focus on fueling my body and making sure to eat enough, rather than focusing on what I can’t eat or eating too much. Also, exercise is a no-brainer now: I know it will make me feel good and that motivation breeds more motivation.
•Cutting down on drinking alcohol – which has a positive effect all around – it’s more enjoyable now to sip “a” glass of wine.
•I finally feel comfortable in my own skin, which makes getting dressed every day easier because I don’t feel like I am not constantly camouflaging my “flaws.”
•I don’t use time or lack of energy as an excuse anymore. I realize now that that’s all it was: an excuse. I realize now that exercise gives me the energy and, thus produces more time in my schedule. It’s all about setting priorities.
Before you decided to change, how did you feel daily?
It was a daily struggle and frustration just to get dressed to “hide” my figure flaws.
It was frustrating to listen to comments from my family and friends about my weight.
I felt run down, tired and depressed on and off.
I knew I should exercise, but did not think I had the time to fit it into my life.
There was a lot of rationalization and complacency that I simply had to accept myself for the way I was and couldn’t change it.
Was there a moment in particular that you remember in which you decided to change your life?
I was standing in my Dad’s kitchen in February 2011 and had a conversation with him about being divorced, what would have been my wedding anniversary that month and feeling depressed about another Valentine’s Day alone. He asked (again) about getting on an exercise regime.
This time, though, he suggested it as a boost to my emotional state from the positive hormones generated by exercise rather than the usual “lose weight” mantra.
He mentioned my brother’s trainer and, without hesitating, I called my brother to ask for the trainer’s number. I did not want to have an excuse to talk myself out of it by waiting. I called Amy and the rest is workout history…
What led up to it? What motivated you to change?
I was not a stranger to an exercise regime. I remembered how good it made me feel when I did it many years before.
I felt frustrated about not knowing where or how to start. Working out with a friend was always more motivating than alone. Having a trainer who knows the right way to exercise and achieve goals would be that much better.
What was the last straw that pushed you to your decision?
Feeling down and deciding that it was finally time to take charge of how I wanted to feel instead of giving that power to outside forces.
Did you take single steps at a time, or did you go cold-turkey and do everything at once?
It was a little of both. I jumped in with both feet on the exercise regime, immediately starting with 5 workouts per week.
I told myself that it was just something I had to do like brushing my teeth or taking a shower – so that there wasn’t an option of not doing it.
The exercises themselves have changed from light to more difficult as I got stronger – that also made it more manageable.
My diet also changed a little more slowly, but I did make immediate changes with cutting out refined carbs like pizza, pasta and sugar.
I view the changes as lifelong habits rather than temporary ones.
What was the hardest part about making the decision to change?
But what made it easier was listening to someone, like Amy, who said that I could do it and has the professional background to know how to get there.
For those who can’t hire a trainer, I would recommend trying to find a friend who can work out with you. Keep food/exercise journals and come up with your goals together. Check each other’s progress. Online communities are great for this, too.
Keep accountability to someone other than yourself so you can’t talk your way out of it.
If you can’t afford a trainer, I highly suggest investing in one or two private sessions at a gym; ask a trainer to provide a program for you that can start you off on the right foot with the right form.
What was the easiest?
Trusting and listening to Amy and following her advice.
What did you struggle with most along the way?
Fear that I couldn’t do the moves and exercises or that I would hurt myself.
Fear of getting on the scale and not seeing the numbers go down.
Fear of failure.
Fear that I would not be able to keep up the workout schedule.
How do you overcome or deal with that fear?
You can’t think too much about it: if you think too much about it, your negative mind will give you reasons not to do it and bring up more fear.
You have to tell yourself that you can do it, or rather just do it without thinking about it. You can’t allow the seeds of doubt to crawl into the mind.
That’s a big part of the process: trying to quiet or stop listening to the doubt in your mind.
What did you think would be hard, but actually wasn’t?
Fitting in 5 workouts per week.
I just had to tailor my regime to my life.
I can’t go to a gym after work because I’m a single mom. But I could have a trainer come to my house, use the elliptical I had in the garage or just walk around the neighborhood.
Did you fail along the way?
Yes, but I don’t really consider them “failures” – more like hiccups.
I may have had too many goodies one week or too much wine with friends on the weekend.
If I considered it a “failure,” then it would be easier to tell myself that the negative voice is right, I can’t do it, and slip back into old habits and thoughts that got me to the place where I started.
I couldn’t consider it a “reward” either (like for some small success, which was tempting) because then everything could be called a reward and, again, I would lose momentum.
I just wrote it all down in my food journal and got back with the program.
Not writing it down would just be lying to myself and giving that negative voice more power to rationalize lying about more and more things like what I was eating or whether I exercised on my own.
I owned my choices and tailored things the next week to make up for it.
Do you ever regret changing? Are there things you miss about your old life?
I miss some of my favorite foods, like pizza, but there’s always room for goodies in moderation.
It’s a matter of weighing the good with the bad – deciding whether I’d rather eat the pizza or have a glass of wine.
Reaching for a goal, however big or small (losing 50 lbs. to getting into a pair of shorts or being able to get off the ground with ease), helped in making the right choices because I didn’t want to derail my progress.
Do you find that people judge you for the changes you’ve made?
I get a lot of compliments, which is terrific. Some people offer me sweets and stuff they know I’m not eating, then question why I’m not eating them. (Like, “Oh come on, you can have just one…”)
What surprised me a little is that some people don’t want to comment on my weight loss, like it’s a taboo topic, I have an illness or that complimenting me now meant I didn’t look good before.
Did you have supporters throughout your journey? Are they still supporting you now?
All of my family and friends have supported me throughout the journey. They are still supportive. However, it seems to make my family in particular feel like they can freely give me advice about what to do even though I’m already on a successful program.
Also, my family sometimes concerns themselves too much with my diet and exercise – like when I’m on vacation and I’m supposed to be relaxing (per Amy’s orders).
Did you find that you don’t relate well to those that you used to be friends with, or that you don’t spend time with the same people anymore?
There are certainly friends who don’t hide what appears to be envy for changes I’ve made that they wish they could make. But it hasn’t substantively affected our friendship.
What are you aiming to change in your life now?
Figuring out how to maintain now that I reached my main large weight goal.
Coming up with additional goals to keep me motivated, like fitness, toning and endurance.
Pushing myself to accomplish harder exercise moves, etc.
Do you think you’ll ever want to stop changing?
I think it’s more a matter of tweaking now, but I guess those are small changes.
The big change has already happened.
I don’t ever want to become stagnant or go back to bad habits based on the idea that my body will stay the same if I do.
I did that before and gained all of the weight back, and then some.
It’s better for me to think about my program as a lifelong marathon rather than a finite task like climbing a mountain – because where do things go once you reach the top?
And so concludes the “Inspired By” series on Strong Inside Out. Thank you for fueling the inspiration with us!
Last chance to use your discount code!
The two-week sale is still happening for my brand spankin’ new book, Make This Your Moment: A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Life… for Good!
The subscriber-only discount codes will be good until June 17th (Sunday), so don’t miss out! Go get it now by clicking on this link!
If you’re not a subscriber, make sure to sign up for the Strong Inside Out email list below to get the $10 discount code!
I’ve got some great things in store for you guys next week, so make sure to tune in! (hint: video time!)