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2 Years & Still Going Strong!

Posted Jul 12 2010 2:21pm

GO ME GO ME!

Since today is my 2nd SparkPeople Anniversary aka the 2nd Anniversary since the day I decided to lose weight and change my life for the better forever, I decided to write up my full weight loss success story for you all to celebrate the occasion and my milestone.

anniversary cake

AT THE MOMENT

I get emails and questions in my comments asking me what I did to change from how I looked then to how I look now. Let me start off by saying that I am not a good writer - I’m better at talking to people by voice so please bear with me if I go on and out of subject as I will try no to. Please note that I made some mistakes along the way so if you spot them just know I know about them already. Ha! This is MY story so whatever worked for me may not work for you, but if you are in a weight loss funk please try to take something from my story to try to help yourself out.

THE WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY

On July 12, 2008, at the old age of 30 (why did I wait so long?), I decided to make major changes to my body. I suffered from High Blood Pressure during the end of childbirth back in 1995 thanks to Pre-Eclampsia, which never went away. I had been getting bigger and sicker ever since then AND worst of all, I didn’t think I was as big as I was. Ha! Not funny, but it is the truth. After all was said and done, I had gone from 147lbs to 181lbs.

Before I got pregnant with my second child in 2007, I was always getting migraines, feeling tired, retaining water, feeling numbness in my face and in my hands, on five different blood pressure medicines, etc. and this happened for at least five years. Five years of major suffering, but losing weight was still not an option for me. I kept going to different doctors to get relief and I can only remember two of them telling me I should start watching what I eat. I didn’t take it seriously because I thought that if I could get my medicine cocktail right I could get my blood pressure controlled.  Wrong.  I was weighing in around 210lbs at that time.

THE SOUTH BEACH DIET

One day I was telling my mentor, a 57 year old Caucasian male (we met through online gaming) who had suffered from high blood pressure, about how I was feeling bad all the time. I added in his age and race because usually Caucasian people do not suffer from HBP like African-Americans do…but he did! He told me that he had lost 20lbs on the South Beach Diet and that I should try it too to see if I can lower my blood pressure. He sent me pics as proof of his loss, before and afters.  I was in awe!  I hadn’t seen him in a long while so I was in total shock that he had been doing this diet all the while and I didn’t know about it.  Just 20lbs made him look like a new man.  I was game!

The next day I took his advice and I went online to learn about the South Beach Diet , went over to the supermarket, bought everything I needed for the first phase of the diet (Phase 1) and started - I never looked back! My mentor coached me through Phase 1 and I’m glad because I was making mistakes like just eating the bare minimum on food groups which were set to unlimited…so I could have eaten more when I felt hungry. I was feeling light headed for no reason basically. I need to learn how to read better let alone learn how to write. Doy! Ha! I lost a total of 10lbs during the first phase of the diet.  He took me through the first two weeks of Phase 2, as well, with adding certain foods back into my diet and then I was able to handle SBD all on my own.  I was on a roll losing between 1.5-2lbs per week after that.  Without his support and knowledge of the diet I would have given up and fell off of the wagon.

The key to changing my eating habits and patterns came from tracking what I eat by writing everything down on paper. So far I have been tracking for almost one hundred and four (104) weeks already and I keep my logs in my 3 ring binder. When I mess up and eat something I am not supposed to eat, I mark it with a yellow highlighter. By highlighting, I am able to see how many times I messed up, hold my head in shame and try better the next week. I don’t just hold my head in shame, I make myself ACCOUNTABLE…I almost chastise myself for messing up. If I don’t give myself a kick then I will not change and that is the key. You have to change what you’re already doing in order to change the future or you will continue to get the same results. The less yellow marks for the week the better.

SUPPORT AND MOTIVATION THROUGHOUT IT ALL

You will need support guys no matter which diet you choose to go with or whatever fitness plan you’re on…find your motivation whether it’s through other people who are where you want to be health wise and/or fitness wise (be careful with this though), collect pictures from magazines and make collages (but do not obsess over those because all photos from magazines are enhanced to look better, but it’s great to look at for motivation), join an online community like SparkPeople, 3 Fat Chicks, etc. and stay active in it, etc. to help keep you afloat. In my case, I had my good friend to run to when I needed help at first, look to everything positive. Find your focus points!

Hint/Tip:  Every month I took pictures so I could SEE my progress.  I also weighed myself every single day and tracked EVERYTHING I eat each day (I still do).  These three things were also ways for me to keep myself motivated…a little over the top, but that’s what I had to do to make my goals a reality.

BEGINNING MY FITNESS JOURNEY

So after getting on South Beach, my best friend turned me onto SparkPeople. I tried it out and really didn’t like it so I dumped it right away. Period. Silly me! More about SparkPeople later…

On October 1, 2008 I decided to begin the 30 Day Shred because I found that after losing 37lbs dropping pounds was becoming a little bit harder than usual. I didn’t exercise at all since I began my weight loss journey and this was the first time I was going to attempt to ever. I never worked out before so I didn’t know where to begin. I knew that I wanted to learn how to run so I downloaded that Couch to 5k training program (a simple .pdf document) and got to running. I also decided to do the 30 Day Shred because I remembered Jillian from watching a couple of episodes of watching The Biggest Loser. I knew that I liked her style and that she knew what she was doing being that she always wins on The Biggest Loser so I gave it a try. I absolutely LOVE the 30 Day Shred as you all know. I master all levels back to back now, but it took me a while to be able to - that was one of my goals and I achieved it.

Hint/Tip: I recommend anyone who has no experience with fitness to start out with the Shred. It’s very hard at first, but then you get used to it and eventually will fly through all three levels at one time.

SPARKPEOPLE.COM, ANOTHER A GOD SEND

I went back to SparkPeople again, but time in September 2008 to use the tools like the fitness tracker and nutrition tracker again because I wanted to keep count of my caloric intake. I also decided to try out teams so I ended up joining the popular 30 Day Shred team amongst some others. I have been very active in the 30 Day Shred team since I joined and now I’m the Team Leader and I’m still going strong. I am also the team leader of a team called “Iron Maidens” where us chicks and dudes talk about the joys of weight lifting without specific kinds of goals attached.

What I really like about SparkPeople are the member pages…you will find so many people who started out bigger than me and who are now smaller than me. Amazing! Everybody there has a different story and has different goals AND are doing different things, but eventually we all reach the same goal – to get smaller and healthier. We look and feel better. Some people there are still struggling and still trying to find motivation, but there are a lot of motivators over there working on them and I hope they never give up. I find that there is a lot of motivation to be had over at the Spark and I hope none ever goes to waste.

GATHERING UP ADVICE FROM OTHERS, BOOKS AND THE LIKE

Back on topic! I was able to complete the 30 days straight of the 30 Day Shred the first time around and after that I was hooked on fitness forever. I’ve been working out ever since and it’s thanks to Jillian Michaels! 30 Day Shred is my favorite workout still. Circuits are my thing! I love workouts that incorporate both strength and cardio training.

After the Shred, I needed more challenging workouts so I moved onto a book program called, “Body for Life” and I did 4 weeks of that and became a lot stronger, but I was still a saggy mess. I knew I had to step up my game, but didn’t know how. I also did The New Rules of Lifting for Women from the book as well. Both Body for Life and New Rules are great programs for anyone to follow. At the 50lbs down mark I had stopped taking monthly pictures of myself (I would take one here and there), but found later on that I had lost A LOT of fat, not pounds, but lots of fat. Sweet!

I also surfed onto countless websites and communities trying to find help and all the advice I was getting basically said that I had to find a way that worked for me. That really made me upset because I wanted straight up answers to my questions, but no one could or maybe didn’t want to answer them. I decided to just experiment as I was doing with my nutrition (SBD taught me that).

Hint/Tips: No one can really tell you what you need to do with your body to get it to where you want it to be. You will need to take other peoples experiences, tips, tricks and hints with a grain of salt, apply some of them to yourself here and there to see what works and what doesn’t work for you. I found out mid way through my fitness agenda that I needed to find my own way because other people’s ways were not working out too good. I had to tweak through trial and error to get things right.

The weight loss basics that everyone should start out with is:

I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT ME, MYSELF AND I

Here is what I found out about me, personally:

a. I found that I needed to consume 1800 calories per day to gain weight, consume 2000 calories per day to maintain my weight loss and consume 2200 calories per day to lose weight. Cool, huh? Not everybody knows their limits…my advice is to find out what yours is because it makes things so much easier. You HAVE to count calories in order to lose weight and that’s the just the reality of it and if someone tells you different then they are either 1. Lying to you, 2. Is a hater and doesn’t want you to lose weight or 3. They are just not educated on the subject. *shrugs*

b. I also found out that I have to work my legs everyday (every other day pure strength and every other day through cardio like step, plyo, or through circuits) to get fat burned and my skin tightened up in my thigh and butt areas at a faster rate - my hanging booty is no more thanks weighted and bodyweight squats and lunges.

c. I learned that it is easy for me to gain muscle mass in my triceps than it is for me to do so in my biceps. I found that ab and core work does not get rid of belly fat or make my waist smaller, but it makes it actually makes it bigger and stronger. That’s a plus in my case.

d. Diet alone helps me to burn great amounts of fat all over and even in my belly it is the only thing that works for those issues. Not any amount of exercise will remedy this problem for me, it only supplements it and aids in firming and tightening only.

e. I found that I love cardio bootcamp type workouts. I love beating my personal best when it comes to drills and bootcamp workouts. The more I beat myself each week to faster and quicker I become. I only compete with myself and no one else.

f. Working on my agility through plyo and running on un-even terrain has helped me with my balance, leg strength, flexibility, stamina and endurance tremendously. I don’t just look the part. A balance of both lifting and traditional cardio is good for the body and will keep it feeling and looking well.

g. I found that my favorite type of workout is the “circuit workout” (workouts that contain both strength and cardio exercises using high reps and medium weight loads) and it shapes my body the way I want it to - I burn more calories, fat and build more muscle mass this way. I find that I don’t bulk up as I do on a regular three day lifting split.

h. I found that I can no longer drink soda, exclusively, and I don’t because it shoots up my blood pressure, bloats my belly and slows me down - when I go into sugar overload, I get tired and sleepy.

And there is so much more that I don’t want to keep going on and on about. Shoot me an email and I can share them all if you want to know. I think that everyone should know everything about their body for goal accomplishment reasons. If you know how to lose weight, know how to burn fat, know how to build your muscles, etc. then you’ll know how to accomplish the next set of goals you have set up for yourself.

WEIGHT LIFTING, STRENGTH TRAINING, CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT

Along with just getting into fitness, I eventually picked up weight lifting. I came across a lady on the Spark named Meltnsue (her transformation is awesome) and I noticed she was big into a woman named “Cathe” so I started researching who this “Cathe” was. I went to Cathe’s site and took a look at the clips of her workouts and knew right away Cathe was the one I wanted to train with. So I bought a step and a beginner DVD and started working out with Cathe and the rest was history! I also bought a high step and then Cathe’s Hardcore Series…that’s how I earned my first set of gunz.

I must admit that when I started out with working out and especially with weight lifting, I started off too much too fast. I wanted a muscular physique like right away so I figured that if I lifted heavy and often that I could reach this goal in half the time that I expected. I was wrong. I only burned myself out and I didn’t like lifting weight too much after that experience. I knew I had to push and pull weight and if I wanted to change the way I had to suck it up and I bought Body for Life and it taught me the three day split method (by dividing up different muscle groups every other day or by full body workouts and it taught me about training for muscle endurance (training muscles to work for longer periods of time). So…after that I became more tolerant, patient and okay with strength training. Burning fat and building muscle is a process and not a fast one.

I currently use books, DVDs, magazines and Youtube to put my weekly workouts together. I do not workout at a public gym, I work out at home. What I transformed into, so far, all happened at home. I don’t use machines because I don’t own any nor do I have the space for them. If I could have one machine I’d get a rowing cable machine, but I use free weights, stability balls, a barre, pull up bar, resistance bands / tubes, a step, a high step, a mat, yoga blocks, jump ropes, a dip station, mini traffic barriers, my heart rate monitors, my Gymboss timer, my home gym, my backyard, the public street, the public park / reservation and my own body weight in all of my fitness routines and they all work well for me. That’s it.

As you can tell, I am not a gym rat. I hate the gym for many reasons – I blogged about it in the past (do a search on my blog and ye shall find). My inspiration to workout at home came early on from a guy named John Stone (Google him please)…he transformed into something sexy and massive and he did it all AT HOME with this crazy fabulous workout setup called the “Titan” and Mr. Stone is still killing them out there doing it at home. Amazing! I respect him immensely because even on his down days he still motivates me. I wish I knew him personally because he seems like a great guy to have as a friend.

And yes yes I know that some people cannot workout at home because of a lot of reasons, which I can understand, so if you need to get out of the house to workout then get to the gym! Do what you have to do get the job done.

FINALLY REACHED MY 50LB LOSS GOAL

On January 9, 2009 I reached my weight loss goal and that was to lose 50lbs after 26 weeks of effort. I was so happy that I made it!!! I had a hard time getting the last 10lbs off and December 2008 was quite tough because I had gained a massive amount of water weight and didn’t know what was going on. I had stopped taking my blood pressure meds because my pressure was on point…but then, for some reason, it had risen very high out of the blue. I ended up in the ER with a serious migraine with nausea (I wanted to die for real) so after that, I went back on a minor med which helps me with not retaining water and so far so good. The med I’m on now is Captopril 25/15. I went from taking five to six strong medications down to one water pill so I’m happy too. I’m too happy, huh?

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IS A B!@#$%TCH

I was kind of bummed that I still have to fight the unwanted battle of high blood pressure after losing the weight and getting fit, not as high as it once was (244/142+ – stroke, heart attack, aneurisms, death was after me), but very disappointed that I could not beat it altogether. On an average, at this point in time, my pressures are around 120/80 or lower – which is normal. My doctor came to the conclusion that my ailment comes from heredity so I will need to keep my eye on my pressure and control it with a minor med (Captopril) as long as I’m living a healthy and fit lifestyle (which I will because it’s totally a part of my life now).

Speaking of high blood pressure, my Tio (my husband’s uncle – Tio means uncle in Spanish for those who don’t know), suffered a stroke last month and also had a hemorrhage in his brain. He had to go through surgery to stop it. Everybody knew he had HBP and it was high! We used to compare numbers. The only difference between us was that he’s in his 50’s and I’m in my 30’s, he suffered no symptoms and I suffered all of them and he was thin and I was very fat at the time. He figured he was OK since he felt OK and for a long time he did. Not even two weeks later he suffered a heart attack. He had to have open heart surgery and at this point there is nothing he can do to make himself better or healthier. It’s already too late and the damage is done.  Get well soon Tio!

Moving on…

ANALYZING THE LAST STUBBORN 10LBS TO LOSE

I could have reached goal weight back in November 2008, but those last 10lbs were very hard to get off. I ended up having to do the Cooler #1 Diet from the Eat-Clean Diet book. I lost 7lbs in 5 days (I kid you not) and then I lost the last 3 that Monday following and reached goal of 173lbs! Nice!!!! And I am one to worry about the scale because it is the all and end all when it comes to weight loss…after all you have to drop pounds to lose weight so don’t throw that scale out just yet!!!

I’ve talked to loads of people who talk bad about those last 10lbs they had to lose and how it was the hardest thing to do. Bascially, we all had to SHOCK our bodies one way or another to get it off. My way, I went with Cooler #1 diet for a few days and then I went back to my regular diet. Problem solved! I never hit a plateau because if I came up short on that 1.5-2lb loss on any given week I’d switch up my routine and change a piece of it to make the routine a bit different and I mostly did that with my diet.

THE EAT-CLEAN DIET AKA COMMON SENSE DIET

I transitioned over from the South Beach Diet (never stopped using SBD principles though) to the Eat-Clean Diet and increased my fitness workout intensity by A LOT. The reason why I did that was because I wanted to burn fat, lift my saggy skin and earn body definition. I was just a saggy mess and I looked terrible NAKED. Ha! I am so glad I made this choice because it was the right one. I have been dropping fat on a consistent basis for the past year and four months now. I don’t look like how I did on my 50lb goal weight at all. I’m leaner, more sculpted and I have no belly fat. I don’t look skinny or how people I know would say …looking like I’m starving.

What got me into The Eat-Clean Diet was reading a lot of the comments from teammates on the Iron Maidens team and on the Bodybuilding team over at Spark. People ALWAYS asked about how to get rid of belly fat and the answer was more or less ALWAYS eat clean to become lean and strength train to build core muscles or “cheat” get plastic surgery aka lypo or tummy tuck. So, I joined up with the Clean Eating team and I taught myself how to eat good. The women over there put me onto Tosca Reno, the creator of the Eat-Clean Diet. I bought her book and cookbook and went from there.

I didn’t jump into clean eating 100% on the first day because it was not that easy for me. It’s takes time to break habits and get used to a new way of doing things and this goes with anything in this life. I had to gradually work my way up to eating 100% clean or at least 85% clean and I can tell you that that has only happened one time for a period of 6 weeks and then I had to eat something out of my character and ruined my track record. LOL! I only eat about 90% clean now which is 100% better than how I was eating for the first 30 years of my life so I am doing things better now and I am very proud of myself.  I’m eating veggies I never heard of before I made the decision to change.  It’s amazing. My body tells the story of my successful eating so no, you don’t have to eat 100% clean to look like an Iron Maiden , but you do have to come as close to it as possible. I would advise not to go under 90% or your progress will slow up and you will feel it AND when you look into the mirror you will see it.

MY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF NO LONGER BEING THE FAT GIRL

On July 12, 2009, I reached my one year anniversary at working to living a healthier lifestyle. I re-evaluated myself and found that I was NOT the person I was back on July 12, 2008 at all. What a big difference a year makes when you’re focused.

When you are serious about something and dedicated to making great things happen for yourself anything is possible and that goes for anything you want to do in life. My next goal is to become a medical doctor or a nutritionist focusing on primary preventive care, nutrition and endocrinology. My inspiration comes from my husband who has suffered, since he was a teen, from Diabetes, my own self who had suffered through high blood pressure through poor diet and no exercise and this may sound cheesy, but I also get my inspiration from President Barack Obama who made it clear that preventive care is what America needs and I believe that – if we find the problems before they escalate we can save lots of lives in the long run – I also get my inspiration from my love of nutrition and fitness because I feel better mentally and physically and I want others to feel good too! Nobody wants to suffer. I feel bad for people who are suffering from ailments they could have prevented in their younger days. What a shame.

Right now, I’m a pre-med student working for it, fighting through these science courses and it’s not easy. It is totally taking away from my daily workouts. Every major goal takes TIME, blood, sweat and tears to accomplish, but remember time flies so keep going and work hard! There is always an end to a finish line.

MY TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY IS TODAY!

On this day, July 12, 2010, I am celebrating my two-year lifestyle change and I cannot believe I’m still on the wagon. This is permanent ya’ll. I cannot go two days straight without working out. I tried. I just have to get up and move. I am truly impressed with myself. Life is good.

In the interim I have turned my husband into a wellness machine too. He eats well, his sugars are down from the high 400s for years and years down to the 120s today. I’m so proud of him. He has bad feet (meaning sensitive feet from Diabetes), but he gets up and walks and gets his exercise in. He’s a good dude and from the beginning he was very supportive of me. I changed my way of eating for the entire house and he complied without argument. He didn’t complain at all. He kept to the regime. I am blessed to have him by my side. I’ve read the horror stories of spouses or partners who refuse to live healthier lifestyles because the other wants to live a better one. I am wishing all of the people with that problem the best with that and not to give up.

I’m still working on my oldest daughter and that’s a hard one to change. Wish me luck. My little one eats very well and doesn’t care for junk food except for ice cream – in which we go for frozen yogurt most of the time.

MAINTAINING WEIGHT LOSS IS HARDER THAN LOSING WEIGHT

And that’s the cold truth. The struggle to maintain weight loss is so much harder than losing weight now that I have lost of the weight. This whole living a healthier lifestyle is another full-time job so I’m not going to lie to you. Adding this type of job to your current list of jobs isn’t going to hurt because it’s so worth it. If you master this job, you will be able to master your other jobs. You will be able to move faster, act faster, think faster and have lots of energy left over to boot to add other things into your daily routine.

Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it, but I am getting the job done. Shopping for smaller clothes is a great job. Being able to fit through smaller spaces without knocking things and everybody over is a joy. Being able to splurge and eat that big slice of chocolate mousse cake once in a while is crazy off the hook. Being able to keep up with your kids or your pets feels mega good. Looking healthy is boosts confidence levels. Being able to feel refreshed and energetic all of the time is priceless. Oh joy!

IDEAS FOR THE NEAR FUTURE

I just have two.  I want to be able to eat raw 90% of the time.  If you don’t know what that is then Google “raw foodist or raw food diet”.  And to look ripped, non-veiny, fat-less and SEXY! Ha! Simple. Let’s see if I can make that happen by next summer.

THE WRAP UP

I hope that I remembered to put everything into this post. I purposely didn’t put any pictures in this post because you need to start looking at your own pictures. If you haven’t started yet, get to it! Get your before pictures up, start your journey and snap a picture every month charting your progress. You don’t have to show these pictures to the World like I did (I did because I wanted to be held accountable), but you should look at them and start comparing your progress from one month to the next. You will know if you are or are not on the right track. If you see no changes then that means you are doing one of three things or all three:

1. You are eating whatever you want whenever you want

2. You are NOT exercising

3. You are eating whatever you want whenever you want AND not exercising.

Pity.

If this is the case then you will need to change something and fast. Wasting time is not an option. Life is really too short. Last time I checked I was 19 years old listening to my Lil’ Kim CD and now I’m sitting here at the lovely age of 32 years old thinking about how I’ll be when I turn 50.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

OFF THE RECORD

I have a few celebrities and fitness professionals I look up to when it comes to fitness or how fit they look. Here are my favorites: Rocky Balboa (I know he’s a character in a movie), Jessica Biel, Robert Downey, Jr., Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Jillian Michaels, Jackie Warner, Cathe Friedrich, Tracie Long (who I want to look like - praying), Tracey Anderson, Leila Ali, Will Smith, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tracie Effinger, Michael Olajide, Jr. & his wife, LL Cool J, Hit from CalisthenicsKingz.net, Marianne from myohmytv.com and Zuzana from BodyRock.tv. As far as “regular” people like me who inspire me, I’d have to say everybody who is working at it day and night to become the people they were meant to be or who they want to become. Will you become another one of my inspirations? I hope so!

blacKandi-Sass [at] hotmail.com

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