Name: Clara B
Profession: Director of Human Resources for an 1800 employee hospitality & property management company
How long have you been on this weight loss journey?
August 2009 – present
Weight Loss/Inches Lost:
Started at 285 pounds. So far 100.2 pounds lost, 82 inches. About 20-30 pounds left to lose. I’ve gone from a size 24 to a size 12. Thinking I’ll land around 160 pounds and a size 8 as I have a very athletic build. Will not be sacrificing muscle to be skinny.
My favorite part:
August 2009 – Total Cholesterol 235, Triglycerides 228
August 2011 – Total Cholesterol 185, Triglycerides 106
August 2009 – Resting heart rate at the dr office 117
August 2011 – Resting heart rate at the dr office 61
Migraines – 2/month to 1/year at most.
Diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in May 2009. Have not snored since sometime in 2010, cured of sleep apnea. J
Came off of a joint pain medication in September 2011 that I’ve been on for over 2 years due to the strain of carrying around the excess weight.
(Clara, before and after!)
What was your “low point”?
Low point was in April 2009. I had been fighting a “mystery” illness for almost 3 years. I was lethargic, clumsy, forgetful, had constant headaches and fought exhaustion constantly. Something was showing up in my brain in MRIs but it was unreachable to biopsy and no neurosurgeon had been brave enough to diagnose it. I felt like I was going crazy but I knew there was something wrong. Then my 4th neurosurgeon studied my case and diagnosed me with a meningioma tumor. It is wrapped around my carotid artery in my cavernous sinus (all the way in the middle of my head behind my left eye). My tumor is stable, I have annual MRIs and it is not growing right now. Most meningioma tumors (90%) are benign so until it grows we are in a watch and wait status. My low point really turned into my high point. I looked up the symptoms and all of my symptoms were listed except a few – the ones left were symptoms of obesity. I knew I had to do something. I needed the rest of me to be healthy if I was going to possibly have to fight this tumor one day.
How did you get started?
I began making small changes to my lifestyle. I started walking. My toes would bleed at first as I could not reach my toenails and was too proud to ask my husband to help me trim them. I started drinking water and quit diet coke altogether (I used to drink just 4 of those a day and nothing else!). I began changing my eating slowly – nothing happened overnight. My eating has morphed slowly but completely through the last two years.
What is your workout routine and eating plan?
I became a runner in the summer of 2010. I love it! It’s my favorite activity – but I believe strongly in cross training as well. I run 4 days a week (1-2 longish runs, 1-2 shorter faster runs, 1 speedwork/sprint workout), I also do Zumba once a week as well, and try to strength train once or twice in addition to that. My eating plan is mostly whole foods, I try to avoid anything processed. I don’t eat diet food or fake food (like margarine) at all, and I do let myself enjoy dark chocolate on a daily basis. I drink a LOT of water and every now and then I have a diet coke if I need to wake up. Overall, I try to make good choices in eating most of the time and allow myself to falter every now and then…and I just get back up and keep going. I travel frequently for work and have to eat on the road a lot – I have made it a priority to keep up my exercise – I always utilize the hotel treadmills and almost all restaurants serve chicken breast or a 6 oz steak and broccoli. The choice is yours…
What are your top 3 favorite resources that helped you along the way?
I started using www.Sparkpeople.com last year and love the community feel of it. You can track your food, activity, etc. and join weight loss support groups who run challenges all the time. I belong to a team called The Weight is Over and we do a Biggest Loser challenge each month. It’s nice to be accountable that way. They also have thousands of recipes on their site – and you can put in your own recipes and get the full nutrition facts on them. Very helpful and FREE! Three months ago I bought myself a BodyBugg. (www.bodybugg.com). This is a device I wear all of the time that measures my calorie burn, my steps, etc. Body Bugg has been great because there is also an online system where you track your food (I track there now instead of at Sparkpeople) and each day you are trying to reach a certain deficit – this deficit will ensure weight loss. I needed something to keep me more accountable for this last 20-25 pounds. The system itself has some up front costs and a monthly fee for the online system usage but I bought a 6 month package and so far its been very worth it. Third favorite resource has to be my blog (www.changemyblueprint.blogspot.com). I was injured in February 2010 and had to take 9 weeks off of exercise – I was terrified I would gain the 35 pounds I had lost up to that point back. So I started blogging for accountability. And it has turned into a place I can inspire others and be inspired by others!
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is sitting on the sidelines and waiting?
Get to the point where you really DECIDE you are ready to make a change. Decide you are going to do it for yourself, and determine you will make it a priority in your life. Get those that love you to rally around you and encourage you. Realize it has to be a change for LIFE not a change for your reunion, wedding or other short term goals so you can gain it all back afterward. Stilll set short and long term goals and celebrate along the way. Don’t allow setbacks to derail you; they WILL happen but you CAN prevail.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is in the process but is feeling discouraged?
Go back to the beginning and see how far you have come. Don’t allow yourself to feel like a failure – take each missed goal or poorly planned meal and learn something from it – and declare that learning out loud or on paper (or computer) to yourself and those that love you. I have learned something from every failure and believe me there have been failures! But as I look back at how far I have come and how I have completely changed my blueprint for my future health, I know I can keep going and will succeed – even if the journey doesn’t look like or takes longer than I had planned it to.
If you are a parent, how have you balanced everything?
I have a 7 year old little girl who is my biggest cheerleader! And a wonderful husband of 11 years. Both are incredibly supportive – and were willing to try the healthier food in our house. I have a demanding and important position at work that keeps me busy 45-50 hours a week, travel a bit every month, serve as a pastor’s wife and play piano at my church. My husband is a part time pastor and full time student finishing his degree in pastoral ministry. For the first year of my journey I traveled almost 50 percent of my time. The ONLY way to balance is to PLAN. In a few minutes I’m going to be planning out our menu and grocery list for the next week. I cook at least 5 nights a week and you already read about my workout schedule. I am busy but it is worth it – and the planning for my health has become a non-negotiable in my life. There is a lot of compromise and getting up super early but I wouldn’t go back to my old lifestyle for anything.
Anything else you would like to share?
Don’t allow yourself to let setbacks be failures. Give yourself an opportunity to stumble, figure out something to learn and glean from it, then move on. Be prepared not to meet every goal you set for yourself – “stretch” goals are goals that may be tough to reach – but if you get even halfway there it’s still worth the effort and the push to try it. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else’s journey. You are doing this for YOU and it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s plan. Find what works for you, stop the yo-yo dieting and make permanent lifestyle changes. Burn more than you eat, and fuel your body appropriately. I promise it will thank you!
Clara, thank you so much for opening your life to us! You are amazing!!
Do you have a shed story that you want to share? We want to hear it! Please contact me below or firstname.lastname@example.org to be a part of the series! Stay tuned because I have many more women with more inspiring stories to come!