Gina, a busy single mother of two, was on a road to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Hear how she took control of her health and is setting the example for her daughters.
“If you don’t start now, in a year you’ll regret it.”
Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors
Gina is a single mother of two daughters with a full time job in the medical field. She was skinny as a child, though much of her family was overweight. She didn’t think about weight much then, but does recall that she was a picky eater.
Around 14 years of age, she noticed that her appetite increased and she began gaining weight. At 16, she joined Weight Watcher’s and lost 20 pounds. (9.1 kg)
“It kind of shocked me when my clothes started getting tighter… It made me feel pretty lousy.”
Gina has a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
How Being Overweight Impacted Gina’s Life
Gina recalls some harsh words from classmates about her weight, and shares how her self-esteem was impacted at the time. She also felt like “the odd man out” when outside of her home.
Gina describes her 20’s as a roller coaster of weight fluctuations. She gained about 100 pounds (45.5 kg) during her pregnancy, but didn’t lose much of it afterwards.
“Pregnancy was a license to eat.”
She had tried the low-fat approach, and never had difficulty losing weight. The challenge was always in keeping the weight off. Gina shares that her mother had experienced the same yo-yo dieting problem as well.
“I watched her gain and lose the same hundred pounds.”
In addition to the physical difficulty of pain when walking and being unable to tie her shoes, Gina had some self-esteem issues.
The Turning Point
Gina’s turning point was the combination of several events around the same time.
First: Gina had experienced a lot of difficulty walking. On one day in particular, co-workers had invited her to lunch about five blocks away. The experience was so painful that Gina felt like her “back was breaking.”
This was also around the time that Gina turned 30 years old, marking a significant milestone in her life that she recalls feeling very emotional about.
Lastly, a close friend of Gina’s had diabetes and was “destroyed” by the disease. Knowing her family’s health history, and watching what happened to her friend was the kickstart Gina needed.
Starting The Weight Loss Journey
At first, Gina intended to investigate and try a new weight loss drug that professional acquaintances were trying and recommending. However, at the first office visit, Gina stepped on to the scale – for the first time in years – and realized she was only 4 pounds away from weighing 300. (136.4 kg)
She had not been mentally prepared to see that number, and made a decision in that moment to lose the weight on her own. She ripped up the drug prescription and never needed it.
“When I saw that I was so close to 300 pounds, that was it. That was the final straw. I decided that no matter how this appointment goes, I’m losing this weight. I’m doing it, and I’m starting today.”
She immediately downloaded the MyFitnessPal app to start counting calories, and kept herself in a caloric deficit for the first month.
She lost 20 pounds in that first month – without exercising.
Next, she began to introduce activity. Gina shares that she started taking the stairs at work – four flights every day.
“In the beginning, it was painful. I was sweaty. It was horrible.”
The more she walked, the more weight started to drop, and the more she was able to be active. She then purchased Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred workout DVD, and was struck by something Jillian said during the workout:
“You are much more capable than you give yourself credit for.”
As Gina struggled with her own negative thoughts, that type of feedback was very helpful for her to hear.
Gina’s sister – a runner – invited her to run a charity 5K. She felt open to the idea and started the Couch-to-5K program.
“That was a big eye-opener to me, as to how unfit I really was.”
The first time she had to run for a full minute, it was so difficult she cried. Did she give up?
“The next time I had to do it, I put my sneakers on and cried through the second one. Eventually, it got easier.”
She successfully completed the 5K, and didn’t stop running for the entire race, and discovered something brand new about herself:
“If I hadn’t pushed through the first couple of weeks that I hated, I never would have realized that I actually really enjoy running… It’s my thing now.”
Since starting with activity, Gina’s blood pressure and other health markers have improved so significantly that her doctor called her a “fit person” in great health.
“I never thought that my body would be capable of doing a fraction of the things I’ve done.”
Even though negative thoughts occasionally crept in while she trained, and child-care issues made it difficult to keep a consistent workout schedule, Gina kept herself focused on her results.
She thought about the clothing she was able to wear now, about the pounds she had already dropped, about the fact she was now able to run when she never could before.
She intentionally worked to keep her mind full of positive affirmations, and shares that eventually the balance of positive-to-negative thoughts tipped in her favor and helped propel her forward.
What Gina Learned About Food, Exercise, and Herself
Gina loves and enjoys running so much now that it’s therapeutic for her. It’s her time to decompress, clear her mind, and find balance. Even as a busy mother, she makes time to run when her children are asleep.
Gina also rides her bicycle to and from work now.
She shares how her relationship with food has completely changed.
“It helped me to re-shift everything in my head… it’s not a diet. I have a completely different life than I did when I started.”
Gina eats a lot of vegetables and lean proteins, but shares that she does not deprive herself. She re-trained herself to not consider certain things to be “bad foods,” but rather, that they’re foods to only have in moderation.
She is able to enjoy ice cream every night, even with her new lifestyle. Her secret to counter binge-eating is to purchase it in individual portions, so she has pre-portion-controlled sizes ready.
“Now, I don’t feel like I’m on a diet. If I want a little treat, I’ll shift some things around in my day so that I can have it.”
Another helpful method for Gina has been pre-logging her food, so she doesn’t have to make decisions when snack and mealtimes come around.
“I know that I’m a healthy person. I’m fit. I’m strong… My children view me very differently now.”
Gina’s Advice For Your Journey
Gina encourages you to go out and discover what you enjoy doing, and get active doing it.
“Whatever gets you off the couch, that’s what you should be doing.”
Identify your trigger foods and intentionally remove or set them aside.
Take small steps. Build momentum by starting with a small goal you know you can achieve.
“The bigger things will come with time as you move on.”
Resources Discussed In This Podcast
- MyFitnessPal app
- Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred [Amazon]
- Couch to 5K app
- Huffington Post weight loss stories
- Polar heart rate monitors
On Gina’s Workout Playlist
Gina writes about her journey and motivation on her Facebook page. Stop by and say Hello!