Many people ask me why and how I changed my appearance. More importantly they ask me what my motivation was. First I must tell you that my transformation is one that is still a work in progress. That is the first thing I tell people when asked; that it is true ‘work’ and that there isn’t a magic pill, diet or potion that led to my transformation. I refer back to my 3 D’s which are Determination, Dedication and Discipline. I’m sure there are many more D’s I can add to the mix but those were the 3 that helped me stay focused and driven to achieve my transformation.
So, let’s back up a bit and discuss what truly sparked the fire in me to make a change. It was the Fall of 2013, that it hit me like a ton of bricks. My sweet daughter was going to her high school homecoming and photos were being taken. I’ve never been one to be the subject of photos, I must prefer to be the one behind the lens. But, this day was different since all the mothers were being photographed with their daughters. So, I posed for the obligatory photo. It was not until I came home and viewed the photos on my computer that it hit me! Was that really me in the photo? Did I really look like that? I mean, I’ve heard the photos add 10lbs or is that television? Nonetheless, I was upset with my appearance and then anger set it. Why anger you might ask? Well, I was angry because my loved ones didn’t tell me how un-healthy I looked. Of course, they denied that I looked un-healthy but then I realized why. You see, if I continued to live the life style I was leading then they could continue to eat junk food without any protests.
On that day I vowed to change not only my appearance but my entire lifestyle. After all, how could I preach healthy living and not live up to my words. Now, don’t get me wrong, we always ate somewhat healthy. I was eating as a vegetarian but that didn’t mean I was making healthy choices. After assessing my meals, my kitchen cabinets and pantry, I knew that this change was not only going to affect my lifestyle but also that of my family. I knew that if I was going to see changes that I needed my family to help but of course, they protested the entire time. So, without their support I vowed to make the changes.
I proclaimed the year 2014 my year of Transformation. I shared online my goal of changing my lifestyle and had them hold me accountable to my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal was to compete in a fitness competition at the age of 50! This was the year that I not only turned 50 years old but major changes were going to happen. And so it began….Here is the initial photo that made me cringe, but also provided the needed motivation to make a change.
The fall of 2013, I decided to change my diet. As a vegetarian, I still enjoyed the occasional seafood dish and although I was lactose intolerant I cheated with pills that allowed me to enjoy dairy, or so I thought. Not only was I miserable with my way of eating but I was truly kidding myself with my choices. It was then that I became a true vegan, eliminating seafood and ALL dairy from my lifestyle. Notice how I didn’t use the word ‘diet’? The word diet is a word used when folks want to change how they eat for a limited time. Many diets are impossible to continue long-term, so my choice was a complete lifestyle change. Again, my family formed a revolt! How could I remove seafood and ALL dairy including butter and eggs from my lifestyle? I comforted them and told them that although changes were going to happen in our home, they could still enjoy seafood, meats and poultry as well as dairy but they were going to be healthier versions.
The next step of my transformation was to post photos of myself to not only motivate me but to also help keep me accountable. So this is the photo that I shared.
I look back at this photo and honestly can’t believe it! I vowed that I was going to change and was determined to do it!
It took daily exercise of at least 30 minutes to get me started. I tried yoga DVD’s and honestly thought I was going to die! I was so out of shape it was embarrassing. Have you ever heard of the saying ‘skinny fat’? That’s what I was! I looked somewhat skinny but I was not healthy! I couldn’t walk without getting out of breath and it was truly embarrassing considering my children were very active in cross country and track.
I purchased a bike and rode my bike every evening along with the 30 minutes of exercise that I followed along with in the comfort of my own home. There are some incredible work-out programs that are merely 30 minutes that will truly whip you into shape. I still remember waking up sore and wondering why I was doing this to myself. I could barely go up and down the stairs in my home and I honestly thought of giving up more times that I can remember. But I didn’t! My goal after all was to compete in a fitness competition and I had to not only wear a bikini but also balance myself on 5inch heels!! Was I crazy? Some people thought I was but again I was determined!
So speaking of bikini’s…I found this photo and truly cringed and wondered again why I didn’t ‘see’ it, then realized I didn’t want to ‘see’ it or admit I was unhealthy at the time.
So my mission continued. I changed the way I ate adding more fresh fruits and vegetables. Discovered green smoothies and drank those daily. Researched more meals that I can enjoy while still keeping my macros in check. Oh yeah, I learned exactly how much carbohydrates, protein and fat I had to eat each and every day to not only help with my weight loss but also help with the intense training I was putting myself through. My goal was to lose the weight so that I could then tone up enough to wear the outfit I needed to wear for the fitness competition. Interestingly enough, my way of eating is that of HCLF (high carbs/low fat) opposite of what most would imagine but mainly because my carbs consist of vegetables, grains and fruits that are much healthier than the unhealthy carbs many are familiar with such as breads, crackers, pasta and white potatoes.
My year of transformation continued and I managed to lose 40 lbs and 4 sizes. I was actually squeezing myself into a size 12 because I refused to go a size higher. By mid 2014, I was wearing a size 2 and had lost enough weight to begin training for the fitness competition. Yes, it took 6 months to lose that much weight and again, I was no where near my goal. The most difficult part of the entire transformation was toning, and building muscle, because now I had lose skin and my belly was not as tight as I had been before 6 pregnancies. Again, I was not going to allow excuses deter me from my goal. I knew that my age was going to make it much more difficult but not impossible.
Here is what I looked like by the end of 2014..but I was not finished yet.
The hard work began in September of 2014. I hired a trainer to help me with my goal of competing in a fitness competition. There were days I wanted to poison her but I knew that she was simply doing her job. I knew that if I remained disciplined and followed her recommendations which I later adapted to fit my vegan lifestyle, that I would reach my goal. Again, remember I was now 50 years old and the menopausal symptoms were starting to creep in. However, I can honestly say that with my lifestyle change, my eating habits and the daily exercise I was able to keep the menopausal symptoms to a minimum. Sure, my hormone imbalance would make me cranky but exercise helped with those symptoms and to this day I don’t have any of the symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance. Yes, you read that correctly. To this day, I have yet to experience the night sweats and insomnia or cravings associated with hormone imbalance and I attribute this all to my exercise and way of eating.
Here is the result of my first competition, yes, my first competition because I am now officially ‘hooked’ and plan on competing more often and showing that age should not define you or limit you from your goals and dreams.
Can you believe it?? I actually won 1st place in my division of over 50 and 2nd in the overall division. Again, I set out to prove that with discipline, determination and dedication anything can be accomplished. It helps to have people around you to keep you accountable but ultimately you must have the internal drive to achieve your goals.
So, my mission is to encourage women that no matter what your age or circumstance, if you want to improve your health that you certainly can. You must be truly aware of the foods you are putting into your body. Although they may claim to be ‘healthy’, you must take the initiative to research and pay close attention to the ingredients. Whole foods will always be the best and first choice and making the time to cook your foods is important. Don’t use time as an excuse or any excuse for that matter because that will simply be an anchor you are creating and one that will keep you where you presently are and not allow you to move forward.
My goal was to not only prove to myself but to prove to other women that age should never be used as an excuse to not succeed.
As I mentioned above I am completely ‘hooked’ and will continue to compete in fitness competitions representing not only vegans but women over the age of 50 and beyond. Here is my latest competition photo and again I placed 1st in my division of over 50 and 2nd overall. Not bad for a Mama of 6 that is over 50!!
My mission continues – To inspire, empower and encourage women and moms to lead happier and healthier lifestyles and to truly love and embrace the aging process.