(Guest post by Jennifer Marciante.)
When you see these two pictures side by side you’re probably thinking, “here’s one of these silly weight loss ads again, that’s probably not even the same person.”
Well, guess what? That’s me in Spring 2008 and also me in November 2011. If you’re overweight and have been thinking of getting in shape, or have trouble eating the right foods, or just have no motivation, I hope after reading this you’ll see you really can do it if you put your mind to it.
I have 2 sons. Brandon is 7 and Dylan just turned 3. Both were C-sections, so yes I do know what C-section belly looks like.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been a size 12. Before kids, after kids, it never changed. I dieted and exercised countless times, but gave up because the effort was too much and I didn’t see results.
Let me bring you back to the day that changed my life. It was February 2010; I passed a mirror while doing laundry and saw a fat woman holding the basket. I did a double take; oh yes, that was me alright. I stared for a minute and asked myself, “How did you let it get this far? When did this happen?"
That’s when the decision was made to make a change. I knew this was going to take time and change would be slow, but what’s the rush? I knew this time would be different.
I unfroze my gym membership and did cardio 3-4 times per week. I worked my way up from 30 to 60 minutes. After 6 weeks I lost 2.5lbs. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was and almost quit, but I kept going. I figured, what’s the worst that can happen if I keep going? I’ll get healthier? I’ll get more “me” time? My fear was no change on the scale + boredom would = quitting. I was bored and needed to spice things up.
May 5th, 2010... I hired a personal trainer Mon/Friday, the other 3 days was still cardio. This was the 1st time I lifted weights. My trainer had me write down everything I ate and turn it in to be graded. Well, what I thought was healthy eating wasn’t. He made changes each week, and after 4 weeks I went from a size 12 to a 10. Victory at last! So, what did I do? Bought new clothes.. huge mistake because 4 weeks later they didn’t fit. People were asking me, “What’s your goal? What do you want to weigh? What size do you want to be?”
My goal was to get in the best shape of my life.
I had no deadline, I had forever.
I didn’t go on a diet, I changed my lifestyle. It’s like brushing your teeth; the decision to do it has been made so no matter how busy your day is you will find time to get it done every day.
Eventually I got bored doing the same workouts and cardio. I started losing focus, time to regroup. Without a goal I have no motivation. Without motivation you may find me with a pound of M&M’s watching Lifetime Movie Network in my recliner. Time to spice things up again- so I signed up for my 1st 5k run.
This was going to be a challenge. I’m on medicine every day for asthma and the only time I run is when a bee is chasing me. I completed the race but wasn’t happy about my time, so I practiced running in my subdivision a few mornings a week before I had to wake up the kids. It took a few months but it was worth it. My lungs got stronger, my clothes fit better and I was faster. I raised money for several fundraisers and ran a lot of races….this was fun! Then my friend told me about a big race, The Spartan. This was not your typical race, it’s 4 miles of trail running with tough obstacles throughout, and did I mention some of it is in the mud? I knew I had to train hard to complete this challenge.
For over 2 months I worked my butt off at the gym to prepare. This was the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever faced. When I crossed the finish line, the feeling of accomplishment overcame me. I lived off that natural high for days. I signed up for more obstacle course races and “Xtreme mud runs”. I was faster each race and loved every minute of them. They gave me motivation to keep in shape, and my goal was to place in each one I ran.
This summer a personal trainer at my gym asked me if I ever thought of competing in a figure competition. (I had to Google what that was.) Once I saw what a figure competitor looked like, I thought I would never look like those girls. I said no, and I continued to say no for 2 months.
I heard a little voice inside saying, “What have you got to lose? What are you afraid of?” Knowing I could never turn down a good challenge, I signed up for the 11/5/2011 competition with SNBF. I bought 12 private sessions with a personal trainer and spread them throughout 16 weeks. He was great because he taught me to train with more intensity and maximized my time at the gym. I also found a great online coach who gave me the workouts and diet for each phase throughout my preparation.
If I was to write about my 16 weeks of prep, that would have to be a whole new article. Let’s just say, it was like no other time in my life. My first show was a great experience. As I sat backstage I smiled to myself; I’ve never felt such self-pride. I did it. I was actually a figure competitor. I hit my poses on stage and was overwhelmed with excitement. I heard my husband, friends and 2 little boys screaming my name….well the boys were screaming “GO MOMMY!”
November 5, I didn’t come home with a trophy, and for a competitive girl I wasn’t upset. I know a whole new side of me. I won a new passion for discipline and determination. I won self-confidence. I won being in the best shape of my life at 36 years old and 2 C-sections later. To me, my trophy is the way I look and feel about myself. For now, I’m going to focus on keeping in shape. I have 3 big races coming up in March so I’ve got to work hard. It feels really good to be thin and I refuse to go back to being heavy. I have to work just as hard at maintaining my weight as I did to lose it. There’s no day that ever comes when you can stop eating healthy and exercising.
I was heavy my whole life, so I know how strong the addiction is to eating. I’m aware of the warm fuzzy feeling you get when your belly is full of something fattening. You can get addicted to being fit, eating healthy and exercising too. When you work out it will help you eat healthier because you won’t want to ruin the work you put in. I’m not a fitness expert, but I have a personal list of Do’s and Don’ts I do to stay focused that I want to share with you. Believe me I have tons, these are just a few.
If you can hold a conversation while you exercise you’re not working hard enough.
If you’re bored with cardio, switch it up. Do the walk up trail at Stone Mountain.
Spice up your neighborhood walks, try walking to a mailbox and jogging to the next. Repeat.
You’ll see faster results weight training rather than walking on a treadmill. Weight training continues to burn calories through the day. (Both is better, but always weight train before cardio.)
Eat a healthy meal before you go to a party, or bring your own food. (I pack a cooler everyday)
Eat 6 small meals a day. Make sure you eat enough breakfast. I eat egg whites, ground chicken and plain oatmeal every morning. (And that’s just 1 meal)
Eat with a small fork; it will force you to take smaller bites. You’ll eat slower and will be less likely to go for seconds.
I’m a huge fan of plyometric exercises and do them often. If you can’t afford a gym membership go on YouTube and search “plyometric.” You’ll get hundreds of exercises you can do in your own home.
Do cardio-once you see how hard you have to work to burn 200 calories you won’t want to ruin it with cake and donuts.
Do NOT eat the leftovers from your kids’ plates. It’s only a bite or 2 and may be 100 calories, but when you add that up weekly…monthly….by the end of the year that’s a lot of pounds.
Don’t eat fruit at night. Although it’s good for you, it’s sugar. Eat it in the morning or afternoon.
Don’t skip meals. (Even a good thick protein shake is great between meals.)
Don’t hunt back and forth between the pantry and frig like a hungry lioness and eat everything in sight.
In case of emergency, eat low salt rice cakes with peanut or almond butter; the protein will fill your belly to help get you through till the next meal.
Don’t make a start date to lose weight. (I’ll start next Monday, or January first, or after an event) With a start date that means there will be an end date.
Don’t make excuses. You made up your mind so take the time to exercise and take care of yourself.
If you’re interested in meal plans and/or getting personalized workouts I used an amazing online coach, her name is Kimberly Linton. For motivation you should “like” her Facebook page, DC’s Toughest Trainer. Her free newsletters are awesome; she offers a lot of plyometric workouts. Sign up at www.livinthefitlife.com.
The Spartan Race is March 10th 2012! Sign up using code GASPARTA-002 and save $10 on your registration. Make it fun, get a team together. My son is doing the kid version too, what kid wouldn’t want to run, climb, crawl through mud, cross a finish line and get a cool medal?
Yours in Good Health,