Need motivation?

Figure911 isn’t a transformation blog, there are plenty of those out there. I chose to do this post as a little tribute to some lovely ladies I met over the last couple of months.

They are MY motivation.

I don’t have a transformation story. I’ve never been “over weight”, I just harboured a muffin top throughout my teens, and most of my adult life. It made me feel embarrassed enough to avoid figure hugging clothes, and I felt a small tweak of shame whenever I tried to squeeze into jeans fresh out of the dryer. I worked hard to get lean, and struggled with sticking to proper foods.  I thought mine was a tough journey.

That is, until I met Agatha Peszt.

When I first met Agatha at a Team O’Brien leg conditioning class I knew nothing about the journey this beautiful lady had taken. The other Team O’Brien-ers kept commenting on how great she looked. When we finally got a chance to chat and get to know each other, she shared her story.

In her words, here is Agatha’s journey:

In 2002, I entered my first year of college at York University in Toronto, Ontario. Best years of your life, or so they say, yet I was in the worst shape ever. Weighing in at approximately 207 pounds, I was considered obese and found myself shopping at plus-size stores. The frustration of going to a regular clothing store and asking for their biggest size only to find it too small was finally getting to me.

In May of 2003 I went to Orlando, Florida for a family vacation. Prior to this, I avoided taking pictures. If people absolutely insisted, I’d run in for a quick group shot, usually hiding behind someone else hoping to conceal myself from the camera. On this vacation however, I realized that if I keep this up I won’t have any photographic memories from my 20’s. Plus, you don’t meet Mr. Mickey Mouse himself without taking a photo!

Upon my return, I developed the pictures and sat down to have a look with the rest of my family. This was my wake-up call. Somehow prior to seeing these pictures I was still in denial of just how overweight I really was. My weight was holding me back in several aspects of my life and I needed to change that.

How I Did It

At the time, I knew very little about diet or exercise. I didn’t know how many calories I should be eating, what foods were considered good or bad, I didn’t even know that sugar was carbs, needless to say, I was completely clueless! I started researching a little, seeing what kind of diets were out there and what I had to do.

This was around the time that Atkins came out. I read a little bit about it, not in too much detail, and decided that low-carb was the way to go. I cut out bread, pasta, and any type of baked goods for a period of 3 months and got down to 185 pounds. At around this time I hit a bit of a plateau. I was still eating low-carb but the scale would not budge. Being happy with my progress so far, I decided to take a break and just try to maintain for a bit.

After about a year, I realized that although weighing 185 pounds is much better then 207, there’s definitely room for improvement. With the 2005 new year fast-approaching, I decided to try another diet. I settled on the South Beach Diet (even bought the book!) and made it my new year’s resolution. Around the same time I got a gym membership and started doing cardio 2-3 days per week. By May of 2005 I was down to 150 pounds and ready to take another break

This is when people really started to notice. Losing 20 pounds when you’re over 200 was almost undetected by most, but going from a size 14 to a size 8 was a different story. I maintained this weight for about a year, and then summer of 2006 rolled around, which turned out to be my biggest setback. I was finishing my last year of college, working a full-time job, plus a part-time job on weekends. I was unbelievably stressed and my diet and exercise plan went right out the window. I became a slave to the fast food drive-thrus and the XL double creme, double sugar coffees. By the end of the summer I was physically exhausted, crashing and 20 pounds heavier. I was not happy about my relapse, but I was not going to sit there and cry over spilled milk.

The realization that I could be back where I started just like that is what made me recognize that doing these fad diets was not the way to go, I had to make a permanent lifestyle change. This is when things really picked up steam and I started doing some proper research. Instead of focusing on fad diets and what the latest diet craze was, I researched how the body really works. I learned about calories, fats, carbs and precious protein!

I set a goal weight of 130 pounds and started measuring my food, tracking calories and implemented the 30-40-30 ratio into my diet. My friends knew I was dead serious about reaching my goal weight when I completely cut out all alcohol, and being Polish that says a lot! Ha-ha, here I am backing up that stereotype! I started regularly attending the gym, 5 days per week (doing mainly cardio) and reached my goal weight in August 2007. I couldn’t believe I had done it. It took me 4 years, from June 2003 to August 2007, but I finally did it.

But now what? The last 4 years of my life I had been trying to lose that next pound and now there were no more pounds to lose. I was somewhat lost. I maintained for a few months but when February 2008 came around I was bored and still searching for something else to do, and that’s when I discovered weight training.

Within a few weeks of regularly training I was hooked. And where did I learn how to train?! I still have the Exercise Guide Database bookmarked on my laptop! Almost a year later, here I am, even more educated about nutrition and training and in the best shape of my life.

The first thing I always tell people who are trying to lose weight is to realize that the only thing standing between you and your weigh goal is yourself. Nobody is forcing you eat to the things you eat and no one is holding you hostage preventing you from being active. Sure there are exceptions, you may have an injury or disability, but for the most part there really isn’t anything one can’t do if they want to do it. If you want results then you’re gonna have to work for it, no ifs ands or buts.

Also, I found it a good idea not to set a strict goal date and be realistic with goals. From time to time stop to see how far you’ve already come. Often while trying to lose weight, we’re so preoccupied with losing that next pound that we fail to see how much progress we’ve already made. If one week you don’t make your “lose a pound a week” goal, stop to see how much you already lost. Seeing how a pound a week adds up over time will give you that extra motivation to stick to it the following week.

To my fellow females, don’t be intimidated by free weights and/or weightlifting, and don’t be afraid to lift heavy! I’m sure many of you’ve heard this before but you wouldn’t believe how many women approach me about weightlifting and ask if I lift light. Absolutely not! If you want to build muscle you have to push it past its limits, I go as heavy as I can without injuring myself.

And last but not least, stay focused! Keep your goals in mind at all time! If you fall of the wagon get back up and keep going. Don’t give up! I myself had setbacks, but it was having my eye on the prize at all times that kept me going, and the prize? A better and healthier version of me!

Agatha’s beauty and strength speaks for itself.  Her weight loss was a challenge, and instead of giving up when she hit her plateau, Agatha found the strength and drive to continue the fight.

Fast-forward to October 27. I arrived early for my photo shoot with Dave Laus. That’s when I met Brenda Cappadocia Brouillard.

Looking at her work the camera you wouldn’t know the journey Brenda started just last year. She carries a photo album around with her as a sort of reminder of where her journey began. I flipped through it while I waited for my turn in front of the camera. I was both shocked and inspired. There was no way the girl in the photos was the same one oozing sex appeal right there in front of me.

This is Brenda’s story:

In August of 2011, on a trip north with my husband and two children (aged 6 and 3) I found myself having a conversation with my husband about our goals and dreams. I told him that one of my goals that had slipped through my fingers as I got older was to be in exceptional physical fitness.

It is something he had never heard me say before. Since we had met and married my number one goal was to have a large family. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as simple as I had always imagined. Several years of fertility treatments had led me on an emotional roller coaster and six pregnancies before giving birth to my two beautiful children had ravaged my body. My weight hovered around the 185 pound mark and peaked at 230 during my pregnancies.

After giving birth to my daughter I tried to loose weight on my own using fad diets and following tips I received from friends and mass media. I was proud of myself for getting down to 165 pounds and thought that might be the best my “mom body” was going to be. I never exercised because in my mind I had 1000 reasons not to. I had a house to take care of, two kids to take care of, a full time job that required extra hours at night which were interrupted by sleepless kids, a husband who worked shift work so I sometimes was that single parent for days at a time. I envied the few women in the world who in my mind had a blessed life with time to take care of themselves.

So here I was at 165 pounds telling my husband I had sacrificed my dream. He encouraged me to take the time to take care of myself and follow my dreams. He pledged to take better care of himself and support me along the way. He pointed out that it would be positive for me, my children and us. We came up with strategies we could take on as a family to make it possible. He stopped at a convenience store on our trip and bought a copy of Inside Fitness to get me motivated.

When we returned from our vacation I was motivated and ready to get started. I knew I had to do something different than I had been doing but wasn’t sure where to start. I decided to wake at 5:30 every morning to get to the gym before my family woke and cleaned out our cupboards to make room for clean eating. I hired a personal trainer who showed me proper technique when weight training. Before meeting her, everything I had read and learned about weight loss was around fad diets (i.e. Beirnsteins, Weight Watchers, no carbs, Isogenix)
I am very proud to say that 1 year after my first day in a gym, at 37 years old, I competed in an   IDFA figure and fitness competition at 130 pounds and came away with two 3rd place trophies. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

This has been a life change for me and not a phase. The repercussions have been far reaching, from being a positive influence and role model for my children who now talk about healthy eating choices and exercising to inspiring my husband to lose 50 pounds himself. I also never thought I would be the one who my friends would come to for advice on health and wellness after seeing my results.

I have never been this physically fit or happier. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me next!

Brenda’s journey has just begun. I am excited to watch her develop and continue her transformation.

Finally, while at the KW Oktoberfest Classic OPA event I met Elizabeth Liverance-Dunphy – it just dawned on me that not only did I meet some amazing ladies with weight loss in common, they also have freaking long last names!!! 

Elizabeth reminds me of me. While we both didn’t lose a tremendous amount of weight, we both started at the same spot – slightly overweight, with that dreaded muffin top. Why does something so awful have such a cute name?

Just today, Elizabeth contacted me to tell me that she was starting a new blog that documents her transition and asked if it was okay to mention me.

Please head over to her blog to read about her transformation story.

I know there are hundreds of amazing transformation stories out there, but these ladies and their stories is what motivates me to work hard and stay on track. My journey was easy, through their stories I will never take for granted what we all work towards every day – health and happiness.

Weight loss is attainable, and these ladies are living proof. It took courage to start their journeys, and even more to share their stories. Please continue to support each other by leaving comments below. If you have any questions for these ladies, please ask below and they will answer. They bared themselves to share with you a small piece of their life.

I thank them from the bottom of my heart for motivating and inspiring me.

Thank you girls xo


8 thoughts on “Need motivation?

  1. Thanks for sharing these stories!..P.S I think I can let finally give up my cream and sugar in my coffee now! :)….starting tomorrow.

  2. Definately inspiring stories. I have often thought that having a “muffin top” is a normal part of getting older and that I would just have to learn to live with it. Now I know I don’t have to, I can set a goal to get rid of it.

    • It’s whatever fits your comfort zone. A muffin top isn’t necessarily “bad”, us women tend to carry weight in our midsection, butt, thighs… It’s always best to consult your doctor regarding what weight is within the “safe range” for your height.

      I don’t often weigh myself, I know when I struggle to do up the top button on my skinny jeans, fresh out of the dryer, that I need to get myself back on track. However, over the last year I have added muscle, which makes certain clothes a little tighter in areas. It’s all relative. You have to look at the whole picture.

  3. Pingback: What you think is not what others see « A working woman's guide to keeping fit

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