I'm so excited to introduce Cheryl and honored to have her share her weight loss success story with you! I reached out to Cheryl through her inspiring Facebook page, which explains how she was featured in Prevention Magazine!
Up till now our success stories have featured folks who have lost weight with Weight Watchers. But there are many healthy options for losing weight and the tips, lessons, and inspiration they provide are universal, as Cheryl's success clearly demonstrates.
I love how real she is and how she reminds us that we don't have to be "perfect" or become a 100% "clean eater" to be healthy and successful! Read on and I think you'll agree…
Tell Us A Little Bit About Your Weight Struggle
Hi! My name is Cheryl. I'm a 43 year old dental hygienist who decided in Summer 2014 that enough was enough. I am 5' 6" tall and weighed 272 pounds.
My lab work was creeping up to the high side and I knew I just HAD to do something with my family's history of diabetes and heart attacks.
I originally started off considering Bariatric surgery. (Spoiler alert! I didn't do it.) I went through the four hour seminar, attended the required nutritional classes, did the EKG, blood work, pre-surgical psychological evaluation and was ultimately cleared through the nutrition department at Navy Medical Center Portsmouth for surgery.
BUT…working with my wonderful dietitian, Christine Zirpoli, RD, CNSD, during the pre-surgical clearance phase, things had changed dramatically. I felt as if I just may be able to lose weight without surgery with Chris's guidance. I asked Chris if I could work with her awhile before pulling the trigger on surgery. She agreed that we could certainly give it a try...and the rest is history.
Within one year, I lost 100 pounds logging calories, exercising and meeting with Chris once a month. I'm now down 115 pounds and my blood work is PERFECT. That's what it's all about right there - getting healthy.
What Was Your Wake-Up Call Or "A-Ha Moment" That Caused You to Get Serious About Losing Weight?
My blood work was creeping further and further up. I was having heart palpitations and that was terrifying, especially with my family's history of heart attacks.
How Have Your Eating Habits Changed Since Beginning Your Weight Loss Journey? What Did You Eat Before And What Are You Eating Now?
Please know this, I'm certainly not perfect. I'm not a "clean" eater (I'm my version of a "clean" eater and my dietitian is A-okay with what I eat.) and sometimes I just flat out goof up and eat things I'm not supposed to…for weeks at a time.
But know this - it happens to the best of us. Sometimes you fall off the wagon, roll down the hill and the wagon rolls right the heck over you!!!
The best thing you can do is learn how to brush it off and fight to climb back onto that wagon. There are so many of us fighting this same battle.
Nutritionally, this is how I started: When I was 272 pounds (I'm 5'6"), I started with 1700 calories (dietitian recommended) and I stayed with that until I got to 180-185 pounds…somewhere around there.
Now…I was only able to stay on 1700 calories so long because I kept increasing my exercise. If I hadn't have done that, I would've had to decrease my caloric intake MUCH sooner. And nobody wants THAT.
I told my dietitian from the very beginning that I would rather walk/jog longer than to give up food. She was totally onboard with that plan. WHEW!
Soooo, when I got to around 180-185-ish and the scales finally came to a screeching halt, THAT'S when I went to 1540 calories, at my dietitian's recommendation.
I used a very user friendly app with a large database called My Fitness Pal. It's a HUGE help! I logged every single morsel.
What Is The Difference In Your Fitness Now Compared to Before?
As for exercising, here's how I started: At first, (at 272 lbs) I bought a pedometer (any kind will do) and just aimed for 10,000 steps a day…however I could get them.
I usually walked about two miles a day as fast as I could as my workout and then got the rest of the steps anyway possible…wandered the mall or a store or took my doggies somewhere.
I just did what I had to do to keep moving. I didn't care if my steps were slow or fast - I just had to get to 10,000 before bedtime.
Then I'd do more and more on my actual workout walking (like upped it to 3 miles, then 4) until I got to where I am now.
I now walk/jog five times a week as my training. (Four miles four times a week and then one long training day as the fifth day…usually somewhere between 8-10 miles this one day, but you certainly NEVER have to do that. I just do long races from time to time so I like to stay ready.)
When I have energy or a a great song comes on, I jog. (And you NEVER have to jog or run either) If I'm tired, I walk as fast as possible…and I don't worry that I "gave in" and walked.
I'm out there. Every single step is a step in the right direction, whether it's walking or jogging - so just keep moving. I have found THAT is the key!
What Has Been The Biggest Change/Payoff For You So Far?
The payoffs have been so HUGE that it's truly hard to choose just one. Having my health back has allowed me to participate in my own life again. I can do everything so much easier now.
I even did a full marathon with my son, Jordan. (He's my hero, by the way.) The cutoff time to finish 26.2 miles was 7 hours. I trained to finish it in 6 hours, but we surprised everyone when we finished it in 5 ½ hours! That was monumental.
Never in my wildest dreams did I have a full marathon on my radar.
How Much Weight Have You Lost? How Long Did It Take You To Lose It?
I lost 100 pounds in the first year and by 14 months, I had lost 115 pounds. Now I'm in the maintenance phase…please don't underestimate the maintenance phase. It's quite a journey.
Advice and/or Words of Wisdom to Others Who Are Struggling?
Love yourself enough to forgive yourself for the past. Just focus on the future. Keep your goals small. As you complete one goal, reward yourself… But not with food. I reward myself with a pedicure, a massage, a good book, new clothing, etc.
Follow Cheryl on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cherylsslimdown/
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