My client Michellen Alfano lost 70 pounds! Do you have any idea how challenging that is? I am so proud of her. She is an inspiration to anyone trying to overcome any obstacles in their life. She embodies all the reasons I love my job. Read my interview with her to see how she did it….the ups, the downs, and everything in between. Michellen gets real, no sugar coating involved. She is so brave and I love her for sharing her story with you.
Q. How much weight did you lose and how long did it take you?
So far I have lost 70 lbs in 14 months. I went from a size 22 to a size 6!
Q. How did you lose the weight?
I hired you! LOL. No seriously, I knew I could never do it on my own. I needed someone to motivate me, push me, and hold me accountable. Between you, my hubby, and training with my BFF, I had all grounds covered.
In the beginning I used a calorie counter app which really helped me understand what I was eating and how many calories I would burn during exercise. I began to realize how much work (exercise) it would take to burn off what I was putting in my mouth. And I wasn’t doing all of this work and spending all of this money for nothing! So I started eating a lot healthier, like 1 cheat meal a week healthy. I stuck to a 1600 calorie a day diet. I hired you to push me through 3-4 hour long strength and interval training sessions per week.
Since I’m so lazy and don’t like to think about what I need to eat and pack for lunches/snacks, I literally would eat the same thing every day. People always asked me, “Aren’t you bored? How do you do that?” Hey, it made it so easy for me to eat good! At some point I realized that food is for fuel, not to make me feel better, not to make my problems go away, it’s fuel! So eating the same things everyday didn’t matter at all to me. But, that took awhile to click, and honestly it was not from what anyone else said to me, it just clicked. I think that’s the biggest misconception about losing weight that naturally skinny people just don’t understand. You have to want it, you have to have the motivation and it’s really hard to change your way of thinking about food. If you are addicted to food and lazy (that was my case) then you have to completely change the way you think about food, like an hour by hour thought process. Just get through each hour of not eating bad and before you know it a whole day goes by without eating something bad. People can tell you a million different ways, and until it clicks in your brain and it’s something YOU want to do, you will stay unhealthy.
Q. What obstacles did you face on your weight loss journey?
Many! Still facing them. When I first started to workout with you I struggled so much and beat myself up a lot. I used to be a cheerleader in high school and college, I had a 6 pack and everything! Then I just kept putting on the weight and would emotionally eat all the time. It’s a viscous cycle. I would get upset, so I would eat, then I would be upset for eating bad, then I would eat more… nearly 100 lbs later and a horrible denial complex, I finally pulled my head out of my ass and hired you.
The beginning was so hard, I remember not being able to do a pushup which was just crazy because I used to do a ton of them with no problem. It was so sad what I had done to myself, what I had become. I cried in my car several times after my initial workouts, thinking to myself, “Oh my GOD, you did this to yourself, you are so weak and fat.” I think that was my biggest obstacle, facing the fact that I had done this to myself, but I found the strength to pick myself up and love myself again. I don’t punish myself anymore.
Another obstacle is staying positive and patient. When you are losing weight the right way (healthy eating habits and exercise) it takes a long time. It’s a process. So many times I would get frustrated because the scale would not go down. But, I would see a difference in my clothes. That stupid number on the scale meant everything to me though. Now, I’m much better about the number and do not beat myself up about it.
Q. What helped you get past these obstacles?
What helped me get past these obstacles was to just keep moving forward. I have fallen off the wagon many times and been in a rut where I went back to eating bad and had a hard time stopping myself. I could have been at my goal weight by now. The key for me is to not let my stress lead to emotional eating and stop it before I get into the “cycle” again. My husband is very good about helping out when he sees me struggling and reminds me of how hard I have worked. I really need someone else to point out what I’m doing to myself sometimes or I would just go backwards.
Q. Do you have any advice for people who are struggling to lose weight and get fit?
My advice is to know your strengths and your weaknesses. My strength is being a very driven person, my weakness is food and justifying my unhealthy habits. I knew if I hired someone to help me, I wouldn’t get away with justifying unhealthy ways. I need to be told what to do and be held accountable. This works for me. I think a little digging into yourself is necessary before you can really start to change your choices and your body. You have to figure out what motivates you and don’t beat yourself about what you have done…it doesn’t matter. What matters is just doing it and not justifying it anymore! Find a partner to workout with, it will keep you from backing out because now you are part of someone else’s journey and you don’t want to mess with that!
Q. How has your life changed since losing the weight?
Well, I look good! LOL Seriously, I feel so much better. I have energy, I sleep better and most of all, my self esteem has improved so much. I am no longer uncomfortable walking into a meeting at work and I have so much more confidence to speak in front of people. I never realized how uncomfortable I was with myself until I started losing weight. When you take yourself seriously, people take you seriously! Opportunities have been opening up for me in my career and I know it has a lot to do with the way I feel and look at myself.
I have an even bigger shopping problem than I had before because I can wear clothes that I have been wanting to wear for years. I cried in the freaking dressing room when I took a gamble on a size 6 and it actually fit (I started at a size 22). It’s more fun to get dressed and go out. I used to turn down invitations to go out, family functions were always uncomfortable, but now I don’t have to worry about making excuses why I can’t go. It’s so nice to not be in “hiding” anymore or feel embarrassed.
Q. What was surprising or unexpected about the weight loss process?
I have been on every diet imaginable but I had never actually worked out so I was surprised how hard it really was! I began to appreciate and respect fit people and the process one has to go through to look that way. I used to think that fit people looked down on me (I’m sure I was just projecting) but, the more weight I lost, the more compliments and encouragement I received from these people. They know what it takes, so getting encouragement from them was really special.
This is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and through the process I became stronger and proved to myself that I do have willpower. I was shocked at the beginning when I could not lift myself off the ground, it just wasn’t that hard before. I realized that I had been in denial for years about what I really looked like and how out of shape I really was. That was a hard process to get through emotionally and hit me really hard when I saw my before pics a few months ago. I honestly did not feel like that’s how I looked. I never expected that losing weight would be so hard, and I never thought in a million years I would actually do it!
Q. Besides exercise and nutrition, what other aspects of your life have changed to support your fitness goals?
Being fit is a huge commitment…I make it a priority. I never thought I could afford to keep training as long as I have, but I make it happen because it’s that important to me. I have had to make choices, training or doing something fun, training or a new pair of shoes, training or taking a nap. My attitude about fitness has changed, I actually like going whereas before I dreaded it. It does help that you are like my therapist, trainer, and friend all wrapped up into one!