I went back to San Diego for work during my last week of this transformation contest. I had attended the same conference at the same hotel in March 2009, but last year I never even visited the hotel gym. I ate whatever I wanted at every meal, and by the end of the 2009 trip, I felt pretty horrible. But it wasn’t till May of last year, after a theme park vacation with my husband and daughter, that I really hit rock bottom in my feelings about the state of my body and my health.
While I enjoyed the uninterrupted family time, the rides and seeing my daughter meet all her favorite characters, at the same time I was uncomfortable in large summer clothes that barely fit me.
Eating at huge buffets and daily junk food snacks didn’t help. I tried to avoid being in pictures as much as possible that week, but when I returned home and saw our completed vacation album a few weeks later, I knew it was time to face the reality that I now weighed a completely depressing 180 lbs at 5 ft 4 inches. Swimsuit season was already upon me and I didn’t even want to go to the neighborhood pool.
I knew it was time to do something about this situation. So I began to rollerblade on the weekends and ride the stationary bike or elliptical at night after my daughter went to bed. Slowly I made progress.
My endurance improved and I lost 5 lbs, but since I continued to eat whatever I wanted, the results were not what I’d hoped. In my mind, I could picture the body that I had in high school, and again in grad school, when I weighed 135 pounds and was a fit athlete. While looking for fitness podcasts to listen to while I rollerbladed, I stumbled upon Craig’s Turbulence Training podcast series.
Craig’s was the voice of reason that reminded me how I could get back to being that fit athletic woman. You would think that I would have remembered that I was fit in high school and grad school because I was lifting really heavy weights! You would think I would have returned to what I had done in the past that had been successful. But I hadn’t.
Why? I was working out at low intensity because it was easy, but I wasted tremendous amounts of time doing it-up to 1 1⁄2 hours a day some weekends! The more I listened to Craig, the less time I spent doing that mindless cardio.
I went back to short and intense interval training. I added weight training back into my fitness program, gradually working my way back to weights that challenged me during every workout.
I wasn’t following the TT programs just yet, but I did incorporate a number of exercises that Craig mentioned in his podcasts into my workouts-deadlifts, lunges, inverted rows. I dropped more fat, but I also started to see muscular changes in my body and my clothes fit better.
Craig’s podcasts came with me on my iPod to work and on various work trips across the country. Even if I was following other workout programs or designing my own workouts, I was listening to his advice, doing the same basic strength exercises that are in the TT programs, and loving it.
I was getting stronger with every workout, and I had dropped 10 lbs by Christmas, even continuing to lose weight during the dreaded nutritional black hole between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I stopped my daily snacking on the free candy in the break room at work by substituting healthier snacks, like peanuts and almonds. I packed my own healthy lunches and cooked on the weekends.
While listening to older podcasts, I heard Craig talk about his
transformation contests, and the more I heard about it, the more I wanted to
do the next one. I had missed TC#6, but when TC#7 came along, I decided to do it.
I had my husband take my before pictures. They were far better than the awful summer vacation pictures but still humbling. I joined the website around New Years and picked my first program.
From that point, the biggest change I made was to write down everything I ate. Prior to that, I had been following a compliance grid for meals but not tracking my calories too closely, so I started doing that. Again, this was a habit I had followed in the past when I had fitness success…so it was not too painful to pick it up again.
Partway through the contest, my husband and I watched the documentary Food Inc and re-assessed our eating habits. We committed to buy more fruits and vegetables and organic foods (especially avoiding the worst chemical pesticide offenders), and reduced the quantity of our meat intake while increasing the quality of the meats we bought.
I posted my TT workouts in the forum all throughout the contest, and I check other peoples’ threads as often as I can. Lots of other participants have similar challenges to those I face-limited time, lots of fat to lose, young kids, demanding jobs and work travel.
It’s been good to know that I’m not alone, and I wish I had more time to read and comment on everyone’s threads. I do know that if this process of becoming fit was easy, everyone would do it.
It breaks my heart now as I walk along a beach or an airport terminal and I see overweight and unhappy people. I want to talk to them and help them, but I know everyone has to come to their own rock bottom like I did, and they don’t appreciate you pushing them off the cliff if they’re not ready to jump.
It’s funny, though, I almost left graduate school to study personal training, right around the time Craig started TT. I ended up switching fields and stayed in graduate school to finish my PhD.
I guess some part of me still wants to help be the catalyst for fitness change in other peoples’ lives. So instead of randomly talking to people in
airports who may or may not want to hear my thoughts, I have taken a different approach.
I’m taking Craig’s advice to be loud and proud of what I’m doing with the
people I know and love. During this contest, I’ve talked to my husband daily about what I’m doing with my workouts, and have even inspired him to start tracking his own workouts in a notebook-which he admits has helped him get stronger. We alternate morning workout times so my daughter’s wake-up time is always covered, and even work out together sometimes when schedules permit.
I’ve talked to people at work about working out, and I’ve even inspired one of my female co-workers who never did any weight training to start working out (with a trainer’s guidance).
Several co-workers have commented on my weight loss and I always talk about strength training and nutrition as key. My parents and in-laws have been showing recent interest in keeping up strength now that they’re retired.
My dad is back to working out with weights now, and we talk about it regularly. I think he actually likes me checking up on him! My in-laws have started on a bodyweight and strength training routine, under supervision by a health consultant. I’m still working on my mom. She is active and walks a lot, and I know she will come back around to strength training again, as she’s done it in the past and she knows the benefits.
I would absolutely do this contest experience again, and I probably will when TC#8 starts. Maybe I can get Mom to do it with me!
OK, now back to San Diego…finally. I went back this year to the same conference, same hotel, but in stark contrast to last year, I actually had a plan this time. I packed snacks for every day so I wouldn’t be tempted by junk I should avoid, I watched what I ate carefully and wrote it all down, and I exercised every day!
I did two TT circuit workouts from my current program, two different running interval workouts, one on the trail and one on the grass, and on off days I walked on the path that wound around the beach. I sat in a lot of talks too, and stood in the company booth for hours each day.
Still, maybe it was because of the sunshine and the workouts, but for a work trip, it felt relatively relaxing. My room had a water view, and after workouts I stretched and did yoga on the patio while I looked out at the water.
The biggest transformation that I have experienced in this contest is the change in attitude I've experienced-feeling that I am an athlete again. I might not be the strongest, smallest, or fastest I’ve ever been, but I’m strong, fast and successfully losing fat. I lost somewhere around 10-12 lbs during the contest, and lost inches everywhere.
I can wear my size 10 pants comfortably. I’m now a morning exerciser. Ican walk up and down the 7 flights of stairs in my building 4 times!
Ending measurements (with change during 12 week contest in () )
Weight 160 (-10)
Chest 37 (-1)
Hips 39 (-1.5)
Waist 29 (-1)
Waist at belly button 32 (-2.5)
Upper thigh 23.25 (-1)
Calves (-0.5 each)
Upper arm 12 1/8 (-3/8)
Congratulations to everyone in the contest as you finish up, and thanks to Craig for all your motivation via email and Facebook. Those daily messages really do help me stay focused!