I started living again!
Like so many of us, Michelle struggled with confidence and self-esteem and turned to food as a coping mechanism. Since she started her journey to a healthier life, Michelle has lost an astounding 109 pounds! Read the interview to hear how she has been so successful!
What led you to being overweight?
I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t overweight. I was always the “fat kid” in school. When I got into high school I did manage to lose some, but it didn’t last long once I hit college. My confidence and self-esteem has always been a problem for me, which likely led me to “eat to cope.”
What prompted you to make a change? Why did you start?
My sister in law asked me to join Weight Watchers with her, as she wanted to lose weight for a cruise she was planning. I thought, eh, why not.
At that point, I was in my last year of grad school. Going back for my Master’s had given me a humungous confidence boost. I think it was that confidence boost that really paved the way for me to be so successful with the weight loss. I’m not sure I would have been so successful without it.
What program did you follow to lose weight?
I belong to Weight Watchers. I think the meetings are a real key to my success. Getting support and advice from others and being able to relate to others going through the same struggles is so helpful. The WW eTools are really helpful as well. It’s so easy to keep track of things right at my fingertips!
How did you stay committed and focused after the initial honeymoon stage?
I think as I really got into the program and saw how well it worked, that hooked me. Also, the idea of someone else weighing me in each week was motivation in itself. I was horrified about being weighted by someone else to begin with…I didn’t want to make a fool of myself every week! I began to see results and see that I could control my eating and be healthier.
Weight Watchers gave me the structure I really needed, and yet was flexible enough that I realized I didn’t have to deprive myself of my favorite foods in order to lose the weight. It was all about the balance. I also have this totally irrational fear that I’m going to wake up one day and all the weight will be back, so that sort of keeps me in line too. 🙂
How do you avoid emotional eating and/or binges?
I don’t always. In fact, a few weeks ago I had a binge of sorts. I was very tired and stressed and ate everything I could get my hands on for 2 evenings in a row. Evening is definitely my weak time. I was able to bounce back after those 2 days and get back on track. I tracked everything I had eaten during the “binge”, and just sort of hit the reset button in my head. I was determined not to let those 2 days define my week. It worked, I lost 1.2lbs that week!
What were the key lifestyle changes that you HAD to make in order to be successful?
Packing my lunch and eating breakfast were probably the first 2 big changes I made. I also started measuring things and learning what a serving size really was. I still struggle with the measuring sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy and just don’t feel like doing it. I also try not to have foods in the house that I will be tempted to over-do it on. This is still a struggle too, as I cave from time to time!
Another thing I still struggle with is eating when I’m NOT REALLY HUNGRY! I’ve been trying to stop and identify what’s happening when I get the urge to eat something, and analyze whether or not I’m truly hungry or if something else is going on. It’s not easy!
What do you do for exercise?
I was definitely a couch potato before I started WW, and I was never an athlete growing up. A couple of months into my journey, I decided to start doing Zumba on the Xbox. I was also playing the dance games. After a few weeks I began to see muscle definition in my legs that I had never seen before!
At work it seemed like I was surrounded by people who were running. It honestly got on my nerves, hearing them talk about it all the time. Then one weekend my friend and I thought “maybe we should try this running thing…” We downloaded a Couch to 5k app for our phones and did the first workout on June 11, 2012!!
Our goal was to be able to run a mile, and now I’m running half marathons! I just ran my 3rd 1/2 marathon on April 12th. I have run 18 races, and have signed up for several through this year. We’re hoping to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando next February (here’s hoping I can get in!)
A little over a year ago, I also started taking a functional strength training class twice a week (sort of similar to Cross Fit). I decided I wanted to be a bit more well-rounded in my fitness (and I wanted to stop getting injured from running). These classes have definitely helped give me more muscle definition. Though I don’t really see it so much in myself, others have noticed. I also do yoga once a week and swim about once a week too.
How do you handle friends or family that sabotage your efforts?
My family is all very supportive of my efforts and my success! Though they mean well, they also can be food pushers at times. I have found it easier over time to say no and not feel bad about it. My family has also learned about the kinds of things I will and won’t eat, and are mostly pretty respectful of it. I also have a wonderful husband and wonderful friends around (as well as my sister in law and now my brother in law) who have been on parts of the journey with me and cheer me on!
What is the biggest difference in your life since the weight loss?
The single biggest difference is my confidence and just a general feeling of being happy. In the last 3 years, I have pulled my head out of the mud and started living again!
What would you say to someone who thinks they cannot be successful with their own weight loss?
You just need to find what works for you, both with the eating plan and with exercise. What works for one person may not work for the next. What one person enjoys may not be the next person’s cup of tea. The key is to find what works for you! The enjoyment will help with the motivation. Once you get going and get some momentum, it’s easier to keep going.
What do you rely on when things are difficult?
I have all my 5 pound star stickers hanging on a card on my fridge, which helps remind me how far I’ve come. I also love to laugh, so I try to have fun every day and not take life too seriously. My latest favorite quote, which is currently hanging over my desk at work, is “Dear stomach, you’re bored not hungry. So shut up.”
I hope you are inspired by Michelle’s amazing transformation. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her the past couple months, and I’m so glad our paths have crossed. She is truly an amazing person who inspires me to keep going. Please comment and let her know how it helped you to hear her successes and struggles.
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