Ready for another inspiring at-home transformation story? You’re going to love Kristen’s story, and I think her experience will really ring a bell with all of you who have tried over and over again, and possibly even fallen from time to time (because we never fail!), on your own transformation journeys. You see, Kristen has achieved not one, but TWO transformations, and learned a whole lot along the way. It’s an amazing story, and I think it fits in perfectly for this time of year when many of us are already working on our goals for 2015.
Kristen was overweight pretty much her entire life, and like a lot of us, she tended to eat her way through her problems. By her senior year in college she weighed 270 pounds, which is a lot—especially for someone barely over five feet tall. She knew she needed to make some lifestyle changes, so she started working out at a local gym and eating healthier. She was selected for a local Biggest Loser-style contest where contestants got free training and weekly TV appearances, and that’s when her “all-or-nothing,” perfectionist personality really kicked in. At one point, she was exercising excessively, living on iceberg lettuce and canned crab, and rewarding herself with six (6!) peanuts for dessert. Her efforts paid off, and she won the contest. But here’s the interesting part: During the contest, Kristen says, “Nothing I did was ever good enough. It was sick behavior…and I was far from healthy—physically or emotionally.” Tough words, for sure.
A few months after the contest, Kristen had gained back all the weight she’d lost—and more—and was suffering in every way possible. She couldn’t climb one flight of stairs, she hid her scale, and she became a hermit. She so badly wanted to do the things her friends were doing: Get married, have babies, and simply live life. She felt like a 27-year-old stuck in a very unhealthy 80-year-old body. She became invisible, and she hated herself.
Kristen wrote a letter to Chris in June 2012, asking for his help, but never sent that letter. She realized she was the only person who could rescue herself, so at 328 pounds, her second transformation journey began. She started eating healthy foods (not “diet” foods), working out at the gym (even though she was totally embarrassed), and after losing 100 pounds, found her exercise “soul mate”—running.
Kristen hit that dreaded plateau, which lasted for months, but she never gave up! She added strength training to her workout routine and conquered that plateau. Her regular workouts begin at 4:30 a.m. and include an 8-mile circuit where she runs and does several exercises along the way. While people think she’s a bit crazy (4:30 a.m.?), this is her alone time and it keeps her grounded.
While Kristen’s lost an entire person, for her, the biggest and most important changes are on the inside. She now believes in herself and has the confidence to try new things: Surfing, kayaking, and even dating! And instead of being invisible, she wants to be seen! 🙂
I asked Kristen for her top tips for transformation success, and they are so awesome, I wanted her to share them with you in her own words:
- The number one, most important thing for me has been moderation. Successful weight loss can’t involve an all-or-nothing mentality. It doesn’t have to be either I’m sitting on the couch all day eating ice cream or I’m running a marathon every day eating broccoli. It’s about exercising an hour or so a day and eating good, nutritious food with a treat thrown in every now and then. The question I ask myself a lot, especially when I see myself getting too extreme, is, “Can I see myself doing this for the rest of my life?” If the answer is “No,” then I usually shouldn’t be doing it. (I LOVE this! How many of us woke up on January 1st with a mile-long list of things we’re going to accomplish, and by mid January (or sooner), we’ve burned that list because we can’t do everything on it ALL the time).
- Especially in the beginning, I made a conscious decision NOT to look at the big picture in terms of how much weight I needed to lose. I mean, saying I needed to lose nearly 190 lbs. was way too overwhelming! I focused on small, 10-pound increments instead. I did the same thing with my running. I didn’t start out saying I was going to run 8 miles a day. I focused on running half a mile farther than I did the week before, or some days I just focused on running past one more street light. Small goals and small changes, a little at a time, are the way you accomplish big and lasting results.
- I have only two completely inflexible rules concerning my weight loss. One: I track everything that goes in my mouth every single day, even if it is terrible for me and it’s painful to look at the calorie count. Two: I weigh in every single Wednesday, NO MATTER WHAT. No excuses. If I’m traveling, I take my scale with me. (Love this idea!!!)
- Find an exercise you really love, and you’re much more likely to stick with it. It took me a while to find running, but now it’s seriously one of the best parts of my day. If you love it, then it won’t be a chore or just something to check off your to-do list.
- Share your weight loss goals with other people—it really helps with accountability. There are plenty of weight loss groups on Facebook (I know, I’m in one!), so you can have virtual support too. I’ve asked people to text me at 4:30 in the morning because I wasn’t sure I would get up to run otherwise. Starting a blog is a good way to stay accountable too. You’ll be surprised how many people are interested in what you have to say…I know I was! Plus, it’s awesome to have a written record of your journey.
- Eat real food. Stick with lean cuts of meat, lots of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, and whole grains (pretty much the outer perimeter of the grocery store), and it’s really hard to go wrong. I stay away from diet food because I’m not on a diet. And I don’t make anything totally off limits because that just makes me want it more, and I get resentful. So if I want some pizza, I let myself have a couple of slices every now and then.
- Get right back on track when you slip up. It’s too easy to say you’ll wait till next Monday to do better and have next Monday turn into next year.
- Give yourself permission to mess up. It’s going to happen sometimes. This was tricky for me to figure out because I have spent the majority of my life trying to be perfect. That didn’t work out so well for me. But then I figured out that giving yourself permission to mess up doesn’t mean that you’re not expecting the best from yourself. It just means that you accept that you’re human. It’s all about striking a balance between being accountable to yourself, and at the same time, not beating yourself up over every single little mistake.
- Find what works for you. When I started this, I would read about other people’s stories and think I should be doing all the same things they were doing to lose weight, or I would compare myself to them and wonder why I wasn’t losing as fast. But the truth is that everyone is different and everyone loses weight differently. There’s no right or wrong way. Your body is going to tell you what does and doesn’t work for you. I’ve picked up some weight loss tips from lots of different places, and some I’ve kept, and some I’ve decided weren’t right for me. It’s okay to pick and choose.
Another thing I love about Kristen’s tips is that yes, they are all about how she completed her own transformation. But you know what? Many of her tips could apply to any goal you want to achieve!
Thank you, Kristen, for your honesty in sharing your story with us. I know your experience and words of wisdom will help so many others who are beginning or struggling on their own paths to transformation. You are amazing!
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Want more inspiration? Check out these other amazing at-home transformations:
Are you, or someone you know, on the weight loss journey of a lifetime? I want to hear about it! Send your transformation tale to email@example.com for the opportunity to have your story shared right here on the blog.