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April 27, 2009

One Woman’s Journey

Erica Stewart- Before

Erica Stewart- Before

One day I woke up, twenty six years old, the mother of two wonderful children, and I thought I was having a heart attack. “This is it”, I thought my heart was pounding out of my chest. All my years of neglecting and abusing my body had caught up with me. I was going to leave my two children, then ages 6 months and three years motherless. I went to the doctors expecting to hear the worst, heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke. But after many tests I was remarkably in good health for 212lb, 42 inch waist women, with a BMI of over 39%. Even though I was on the brink of being morbidly obese I was not having a heart attack. I was having a different type of attack, a panic attack. When I delivered my second child I tipped the scales at over 250lbs and for months after he was born my concern over my weight grew more and more. I had always been overweight, a size 14 by the time I was in middle school but never before had I truly thought about the impact my weight was having on my health. So, from that day forward I vowed to make my health my priority. In nine months I went from 212lbs to 127lbs. More importantly I went from the brink of morbid obesity to being healthy women. Here are some of my tips of how I did it.

1- Discover your why! -I had a clear vision of why I wanted to lose weight. It was not to fit into some great pair of jeans, or impress some old friend. My why was to be around for my children. Your why needs to be significant and clear. You need to be able to remind yourself of it every day and it needs to be able to motivate you even on the darkest of days. No matter how much someone else wants this for you, whether it is your trainer, your spouse, your children it will not happen if you don’t want it.

2- Take it one day at a time!
– I learned very early on in my weight loss that I was going to have good days and I was going to have bad days. I learned to focus on what I can control. I cannot change what I did yesterday, so if I screwed up… forget about it. Also, I cannot control what I will do tomorrow. So, if I want to splurge today on the pretext that tomorrow I will scale back it will never work out. I focus on today. Today I will make good choices.

3- Do Butt Busting Cardio first thing in the morning!
Sam taught me a valuable tool; a half hour of cardio in the morning is equal to an hour of cardio at night. I wanted to maximize the amount of calories burned. In addition if I get it out of the way first thing in the morning, no excuse during the day will get in my way. It takes sacrifice. I was a working mom of two small children; I woke up every day at 5am to hit the treadmill. If I was making that sacrifice I wanted to ensure that what I was doing was worth it. So, push it. Break a sweat… push your limits. If you set goals for your cardio, it can be exciting. I started running, holding onto the treadmill for dear life, than I held on with one hand, than I let go one day and have been running ever since. I don’t get off until I am drenched in sweat. There is no better way to start your day!
4- Lift to Lose! – I didn’t do much weight training at the start of my weight loss. What a mistake! One day I woke up 50lbs down and

Erica Stewart- After

still couldn’t wear a tank top because of my “wings.” Not only did weight training transform my body it allowed me to break past my longest plateau. I had been stuck for four weeks at the same weight, once I added resistance training the scale began to move again.
5– Set small goals– I had so much weight to lose at the start that it seemed impossible. Instead I took one small goal at a time. I started with a certain amount of weight I wanted to lose by a specific date. I focused on that goal only. I never really had an overall number I wanted to reach. I still do it today, I have my next goal of 125lbs that I am after.
6- Throw out the fat pants- As you shrink so will your clothes. I would clean out my closet each and every month. I would take anything that was too big and give it away. I would then replace it with one essential item. I didn’t go out and by a whole new wardrobe each time I lost a size as I did not want to be comfortable until I reached the size I wanted. Sometimes it takes being a little uncomfortable to motivate us further.
7- Keep it lean and green- I hate protein shakes, protein bars, gels, etc. Some people love them, me not so much. So I needed to find foods I liked that were healthy. So, I decided to focus my day around lean meats and green vegetables. But, I wanted to be able to eat like a normal person so I spent a few weeks playing around with some lean and green foods until I found what I like. In addition I added some whole grains, dairy, and some healthy fats. I planned my day of food the night before. If I was going out to eat, which I do often since I hate to cook, I look up the restaurant ahead of time online; most places have their nutritional information on their website. It’s a shock sometimes, something I would have ordered assuming it was healthy maybe one of the worst things on the menu! If I went to a restaurant I spoke up, do not be afraid to ask to have something prepared differently for you.
8- Eat Like a King for Breakfast and a Peasant for Dinner– If you are doing your workout in the morning go home and have a good, big, healthy breakfast. Refuel, replenish yourself and start your day off right. Have a good size snack a couple of hours later, then have a slightly smaller lunch, a small snack a couple of hours later, and finally a protein packed small dinner. Avoid carbs after a certain point, for me my snack before dinner was my last meal with a carb. This is what worked for me; everyone’s body is a little different. It will take several weeks of tweaking your diet until you find what is working.

Erica Stewart

9- The Scale Does Not Lie I weigh myself every Monday at the same time. I record it down in a notebook. I chose Monday’s because weekends are the biggest challenge for me. All the outings and distractions it is hard to remain focused. But, I know Monday morning I will be stepping on that scale and I do not want to let myself down. The very few Monday’s that I have had to write down a gain have been very hard. But, I look at it as a learning tool. I hit two major plateaus in my weight loss, the first being when I lost the first fifty pounds. It was then that I started to do resistance training and it helped my breakthrough. I am currently at my second plateau with five more pounds to go. I am using the scale to guide me as I do some tweaks to my diet and workout, I am confident that we will find the right formula to take off those last five pounds.
10- It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon- My journey to being healthy is one that in on- going. I did not become obese overnight, nor will I become healthy. I have days that I simply just don’t feel like it. I need to embrace those days. This was a very personal journey for me; one that sometime’s quite frankly sucks. I am realistic, one day I will not wake up and never have to work out again or watch my diet ever again. If I want to be healthy this needs to become my life. I battle it each and every day. But, I know why I am doing it and I have all the tools I need to succeed.

This post is by Erica Stewart

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April 29, 2009

Laing Stevens @ 7:43 am

Awesome! What dedication. It is very interesting that my routine is very much like hers…even to the weighing every Mon. She is more disciplined than I am. She is so right about the cardio…That’s where I come up short. I do the weight resistance ok…I don’t do the cardio like I should. I don’t do any cardio on the days I come into the gym. This inspires me. I will get on my recumbent bike tomorrow morning for at least 1/2 hr. Thanks for the article Erica and Sam.

Laing Stevens @ 7:45 am

I meant to say that I don’t do any cardio on the days I do not come into the gym. Sorry, I could express myself better if I did more cardio!

May 7, 2009

Donovan "DFitnessguy" Owens @ 11:51 pm

Very inspirational.

All 10 of your tips are dead on.

Congratulations on your journey!

Donovan “DFitnessguy” Owens

May 17, 2009

Arman Patel @ 5:45 pm

Wow! What a transformation. Great suggestions! Very helpful.


September 11, 2009

Delphina Martinez @ 9:16 am

wow Erica, what a transformation. Your tips are very helpful… I’ve actually printed them and placed them on my wall in my office and on the mirror in the bathroom. I can’t wait until I transform my body. with the help of Sam i’ve already lost 20lbs. reading your story has given me more modivation to stay on track…

September 15, 2009

Yvonne Franks @ 6:32 pm

Very inspirational! Very good suggestions!

February 1, 2010

Mark Alvarado @ 10:26 am

I love all these stories of success. Thank you for sharing!

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