How Did You Get Started In Health And Fitness?
I have actually always loved to exercise. I danced, cheered, played softball and ran cross country when I was growing up. Kickboxing is one of my favorites! My weight started creeping up on me in 10th grade and then exercise became more difficult. I stopped exercising and participating in sports as much.
Tell Us About Your Transformation
212 (that is the heaviest that I saw on the scales. I didn’t weigh myself for a long time, I was scared to, so who knows? I got up to a size 20 jeans, I know that much (and they were tight). I hang on to those as a reminder of where I don’t want to go.
123lbs. Size 4 pants, XS tops
Right around my youngest son’s 2nd birthday (October 2010) was my heaviest weight. Instead of losing weight after having him I gained weight. A lot of weight, and continued gaining. Weight has always been and always will be a struggle for me. It was by no means just a pregnancy thing, but gaining 65lbs with my first son and 45 with my second and hardly losing any didn’t help. I am short and so every lb shows!! I tried diet after diet and NOTHING worked!! As my sons got older they became very active and I could NOT keep up with them. I wanted to be a good role model for them.
How Hard Was It To Change?
WOW… there are NO words really. I struggled from about 10th grade on with my weight. It became a very negative cycle of disappointment. The hardest thing for me personally is to be CONSISTENT. I literally have done every diet, workout program, joined every gym, etc. but the main thing is find one that works and to STICK with it. I would get really inspired and try hard for a while to be healthy and then lose steam after a week or so. I’ve learned you can’t do that, it does not work. You end up losing the same 5, 10, or 20lbs over and over. I searched for YEARS for the easy way. And it DOES NOT EXIST. Consistency is the key and that is the hard part. And if you slip up you have to pick right back up where you left off. Everybody has off days, that is just life, but you can’t lose focus of your goal!
How Others Can Follow In Your Footsteps. Any Set Backs Along The Way?
Oh my goodness, if I can do this I am 100% SURE that ANYONE can!!! I had completely given up and thought that I would NEVER lose weight. I honestly believe that if you have a significant amount of weight to lose that you should:
1. Figure Out Why You Are Overeating. (that is the most important thing). Are you eating because you are depressed? Angry? Lonely? Bored? Addictive personality? There is a reason. Figure it out, then find something else to replace eating (ex. Exercise, a new hobby, friends, helping others, a new job)
2. Find The Eating Plan That Is Right For YOU. Not for just for others or your favorite celebrity. Take time to try different things. What foods does your body handle well? What makes you gain weight? Sugar, fat, portion size? Do you like cooking or do you need food that is fast and convenient? Same with exercise. Find what you like to do. Run, dance, roller blade, bike?? And add in some resistance. Finding what works best for YOU is the key. Make behavior changes that keep you happy and interested (not things that you dread) and you will keep them up!!
What Has Your Life Been Like Since The Transformation?
Jennifer Hudson recently put it best when she said that losing weight is “self-empowering.” That is exactly how I feel. I think that I had lost confidence in myself for a long time. And I finally put my mind to something and it feels AMAZING to accomplish my goal. Not for anyone else, but to prove to myself that I am tough. And I can rely on myself to pull me out of a hard time and not give up. I have been amazed at all of the people that have reached out to me (my before and after pics have been on fitness boards, on facebook, etc) for a long time I felt very alone in my struggle with my weight and I have learned that it is a challenge that I share with tons of people!!
I now feel very passionate about helping others do the same. I am currently a fitness instructor for Pure Barre: www.purebarre.com and am also working on my personal training certification. I want to spread the love and joy!!!
If Someone Asked You ‘How Did You Do It?’, What Would Your Response Be?
HARD WORK!!! I think we are all searching for the “magic” or “easy” way to keep our weight at a healthy range. But I have learned first-hand that it takes a lot of dedication, time and persistence. I do think that changing your eating habits needs to come first. There is no way around eating healthy and smaller portions. You have to be ready to make that change. No excuses!!
What Is Your Best Accomplishment So Far?
My best accomplishment so far has been to be hired to be a fitness instructor at Pure Barre. It is amazing that I get the opportunity to help others. It also shows that ANYTHING is possible!! My life has done a complete 360 in a year and a half. And that my friends is possible for EVERYONE!!!! Never give up!!
My proudest moment was the day that I hit the 90lb weight loss. For some reason on that day it all hit me. It was a VERY emotional day for me. I cried for the first half of it. It was surreal. I was overwhelmed with happiness!!. It is very hard to put into words. I’m not sure why 90 was the magic number for it to all sink in, but it was.
What Workout Routine Has Worked Best For You?
Mandy’s Beginning Workout Schedule (from her heaviest weight)
I did the app on my phone called run 2 5k. This if a very detailed running program that takes you from running 60 seconds at a time up to a 30 min 5K. I did this 3 to 4 times a week. I also added in 2 days of strength training. I started with dumbbells and worked my way up to machines. I completed my first 5K in September 2011.
Mandy’s Current Workout Schedule:
I go to 02 Fitness and I LOVE their classes. My week looks like this:
Monday: Shabam (dance) cardio 1 hour class
Tuesday: Bodypump (weights, barbell) or Pure Barre (pilates, dance, weights combo)
Wednesday: Body Combat (kickboxing) MY FAVORITE ☺ I hour class, cardio and ab work
Thursday: Chisel (weights) 1 hour class, dumbbells, intervals and ab work
Friday and/or Saturday: run day on the treadmill (35 minutes) I alternate speeds and incline and then weight machines
I love finding new ways to exercise and am always excited to go walking with friends, so some days I double up.
Top 3 Favourite Exercises And Why?
I love pushups, they make me feel strong!! Anything ab related because this is one of my most challenging areas. Upper cuts, jab jab cross. Anything related to kickboxing as it helps me get out frustration and stress.
Favorite Form Of Cardio?
Kickboxing and Dancing
What Is Your Diet Like?
So after many years of doing every diet out there I found Take Shape for Life. It encompasses all of the aspects of healthy living including diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. The basic idea of losing my weight has been to cut back on simple carbs and eat more lean meats and green veggies. I HAVE to eat frequently or I still battle with binging. I eat 6 very small meals a day. I try and eat clean for the most part.
Breakfast: Protein Bar or Shake and coffee with sugar free half and half
Snack: Almonds (10 to 12) and a bar
Lunch: Salad with lean meat and balsamic vinaigrette or deli meat with a little cheese (I like laughing cow)
Snack: Sugar free jello, an apple or a bar
Dinner: I eat a lot of seafood, grilled chicken and occasionally steak. I also love tofu. The Whole Foods hot bar is my favorite for a quick, healthy meal. Steamed veggies including, zucchini or broccoli are my favorite.
Snack: Low sugar brownie with sugar free whipped cream
In a pinch, if I get shaky or do a lot of cardio I eat nuts or a tbsp. of peanut butter (organic) I do drink one diet drink a day. I eventually would love to get rid of this, but it is my treat. I do not count calories. Instead I make sure that I eat my six meals a day and keep them lean and green. I eat small portions of complex carbs and fruit. I stay away from desserts, but If I want to splurge I eat 3 healthy bites and most times that is enough to keep me happy.
Any Staple Healthy Meals That You Always Eat?
Almonds help me SO much if I am feeling shaky from being hungry!! I love salads with grilled meat and veggies.
What Is Your Favorite Cheat Meal?
I have to admit that if I want to cheat it is usually going to be used on either cheese, chocolate or alcohol. I love a good glass of wine or a mixed drink. I have learned which drinks are fairly low in carbs and try to stick to those. I also love cheese and add that to my salad if I have worked really hard at the gym. Everybody needs a little chocolate every now and again. Just not the whole bag (like I used to do!!)
What Supplements Do You Use?
I do not take any supplements.
What Are Your Tips For Success For Beginners?
Best advice is to realize that this is a permanent change. Don’t do anything diet or exercise wise that you do not think that you will continue to do and enjoy doing it. The more you enjoy something the more you will want to continue. Programs like Couch 2 5K are awesome. Work your way up. I think that so many people go so hard at first that they wear themselves out and begin dreading their eating plan and or exercise schedule. If you make little changes and work up it is much easier. Set new goals for yourself weekly or monthly.
What Is The Best Advice You Have Ever Been Given?
Make a promise to yourself that you will exercise 10 minutes a day. Just 10 minutes. That is a lot easier than shooting for an hour. Most times if you start, you want to keep going. If not, then you know it is a rest day and your body needs a break. This mentality helped me in the beginning when I was so overweight that exercise was hard. Now I LOVE to exercise and miss it if I don’t. It’s addictive!!
Did You Make Any Mistakes When You First Started Out?
The 2 biggest mistakes in general:
1. Spending a long time try to eat low fat/calorie foods and not paying attention to sugar. Eg. I totally abused 100 calorie packs, that was a major binge food for me. My body doesn’t handle sugar/simple carbs well. Once I figured that out I got rolling.
2. Trying to be a certain weight for others, like friends, family. Do it for yourself, you will never please everyone else!!
Your Best Tips For Sticking To A Fitness Regime?
Start small and work your way up. Find activities that truly interest you so you will want to continue. Give yourself a day or so off a week. It is healthy to rest, mentally and physically. Set small goals along the way. Push yourself to try new things so that you don’t get bored.
Where Does Your Motivation Come From?
I am motivated by my memories of being morbidly obese. I could not run, wear fun clothes and I lost confidence in myself. I don’t ever want go back there. I also want to be a good role model for my children and be around a long time for them. Also, I am a HUGE music lover!!! MUSIC gets me pumped up, very motivational. I need to thank Kanye, Flo Rida, JayZ , Pit Bull and many others without their music losing weight would have been a LOT harder for me ☺ I LOVE getting in my music zone. It quiets my mind and gets my body moving. It is my “me” time. With kids and work “me time” is hard to find.
Favourite Fitness Models? Inspirations?
Kenna Shell and Kelsey Byers. Both of these amazing women have worked very hard to transform their bodies. They both have turned their eating habits around, trained hard and look at them now!! Neither one of them lets excuses (jobs, kids, busy days, etc. get in their way) Both Kenna and Kelsey are sweet, down to earth girls that serve as inspirations to thousands of people.
“If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough.”
“Everything you need is already inside.”
“Fall down seven times get up eight.”
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Muhammad Ali