Meet Fit Girl (aka. Erika):
Me: Your physical transformation is AMAZING. Tell us about it!
Erika: I, like a lot of people, have struggled with my weight for a long time. I was a big baby, a big toddler, a big child...so it seemed inevitable that I would be a big adult!
When I was in high school, I lost a significant amount of weight for the first time, and kept it off until I got married. Although lighter, I certainly was not what you would call ‘thin.’ I had decided that my body must have had a set point that it was comfortable with. A size 14 was a good size for me! Over the years, if I was at this point, I felt like I had done what I could do. With marriage, moves, and child birth, my weight has gone up and down in the last eleven years.
After having my second daughter, I weighed in at 265 pounds. I had a condition called postpartum thyroidosis...my thyroid was overactive, then underactive. I felt horrible and the anxiety about what else could be wrong with me was overwhelming. After spending months consumed with self, I decided that I had to take action, and know that I was doing the very best I could to take care of my health.
In January 2009, I really got serious. At this point, I weighed 235 pounds. I had met a walking buddy the previous year, and we decided that we would begin training for a half marathon that spring. I started a First Place 4 Health Bible study group and started tracking my food intake. I began to realize that there was a connection between the way I cared for my body and my spirituality.
In April 2009, I completed my first half marathon and felt very accomplished! My friend and I walked the 13.1 miles. I felt like a superwoman afterwards. My theme for that training period had been, “Yes, I can!”
I remained diligent during the year and tried to be consistent...making the right choice over and over again. The accountability from friends, positive comments, and the fact that I just felt great propelled me forward. I kept on discovering new things about myself...maybe the reason I had always been overweight had to do with more than just loving food.
Currently, I weigh 145 pounds. I reached this goal weight in May 2010, and have maintained for almost one year. I’ve done a triathlon, run two half marathons, and two full marathons...this is very fulfilling for me! These races keep me moving forward with my health, and give me a deep sense of accomplishment. I continue to look at my healthy living as an area God gives me to practice those things that I say I value and believe in...faith, hope, love. This is one of the biggest challenges in my life, and it is a very spiritual experience for me.
People sometimes ask me the question..."How did you do it?” I have not had weight loss surgery, or been on any specific program. I’ve eaten good food in reasonable portions, moved my body, and nurtured my mind and spirit. It sunk in for the first time in my life that good health is about working on the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Only that will lead to lasting change.
That’s it. That is how I know this will be the very last time for me.
Me: Wow. That gives me goosebumps...What was the most difficult thing(s) to change for you?
Erika: At first, the most difficult thing was being consistent with my exercise. I got a buddy that I started walking with, and that was a huge help for sure. I just had the attitude that it didn’t really matter...I was only burning a few hundred calories that I could eat back in five minutes. I did not realize the power that getting out there and doing what I needed to do each day would have over my mind. After almost two years of exercising consistently, I actually started to like it. Love the quote I read recently, “Exercise is not negotiable for good health.”
Me: Love that! Tell us, did you ever want to quit?
Erika: For sure. Even at my goal weight, I get tired sometimes of the mental, physical and emotional energy it takes to keep fighting for my health to be a priority. The longer I have done it, the more committed I have become to the lifestyle. Now, it is just who I am.
Me: Talk about how exercise has been a part of your journey.
Erika: It really has been huge! I have never been athletic...I never even really played sports as a child. So, this area has always been one that has been very intimidating to me. People coming along side of me has been such a great thing here. I have had many different people to exercise with...walking, running, swimming, cycling, doing tapes, taking classes...whatever. Also, it has been a big confidence-booster. Reaching goals that I set for myself spurs me on to try new things!
Me: I can totally relate. What is the best part about your new lifestyle?
Erika: The positive self-talk I am able to do myself. I know that I am doing the best job I can do to take care of me...this puts me in a great place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Me: Do you ever feel deprived or like you are missing something you used to have? If so, how to you deal with that?
Erika: Now that I am at my goal weight, I have a little more flexibility with my food choices. What it comes down to is whether or not I want to pay the price for the choice. I weigh out things very carefully...if it is worth it, I have it, and if is not, I pass! I have learned through my journey that I can not have everything I used to have. There are things I can’t keep in the house...things I know I will eat too much of. Another great quote...I will either be deprived of eating whatever I want, or deprived of the benefits of lasting weight loss and good health.
Me: If you could go back in time and meet the "old you" , what would the "new you" say to that person?
Erika: The changes are worth it! Start slow and small, and you will see rewards. It is about so much more than just counting calories. Admit that you have issues that drive you to overeat...stop running...look them in the face, work through them, get over it and move forward. Connect the dots...your spiritual journey and this journey are related.
There is so much I have learned about myself and about God that I did not know at the beginning. I didn’t even know that I could be the person I am today, and I am still moving forward.
This photo really says it all, doesn't it!? Love this!
Many thanks to Erika for sharing her amazing story of transformation with us and for always being a huge source of uplifting encouragement to me--just when I need it most :-) For more inspiration, visit Erika's blog aptly titled, Fit Girl!