As a kid, I loved being outside and playing sports with my friends. Weight wasn’t something I noticed until some of my friends started wearing bikinis during the summer. I felt more comfortable in a one-piece and my tomboy-style clothing.
My mom never kept soda or junk food in the house, but whenever I went out I ended up eating super greasy or processed snacks like Doritos. We also ate a lot of pasta because I was a picky eater.
I stayed pretty active playing softball throughout high school. I even got into running for a while and lost about 10 pounds—though I gained it back by eating out at restaurants a lot with my teammates.
The summer after my sophomore year of college, I finally felt like enough was enough. I’d been hitting the gym a couple of times a week and trying to go for healthy meals, like turkey sandwiches and salads, when I could. But I knew I needed to make a serious change.
I came across a 21-Day Challenge on Twitter that suggested cutting out pastries, donuts, cookies, chips, and soda for three weeks, and I decided to try it out. After a month, I lost about 10 pounds. That's when the motivation to change my lifestyle really kicked in.The Workouts
When I first started cranking my fitness game up a notch, I focused on building my running endurance. In the beginning, I could only run about a mile at a time. As I got better, I signed up for a few 5-Ks and eventually found running to be fun—not torturous. (Kick your fitness routine into gear with these moves from Women's Health's Look Better Naked DVD.)
I lifted weights with some friends, but never felt fully comfortable strength training until I started working with a trainer (about two years into my fitness journey). He taught me about proper form, how to use different kinds of equipment, like kettlebells, and how to plan out my workouts. I totally fell in love with lifting and even learned a few power-lifting moves.
The gym became a place of empowerment, instead of a place of intimidation.The Food
My body felt so good after kicking refined carbs and sweets to the curb. Adios, bloating!
I started cooking for myself and finding ways to get more veggies into my diet. I ate zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti, and even nixed burger buns for portabella mushrooms.
After years of not eating breakfast, I realized that eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day kept me feeling satisfied. I made sure each of my meals had lean protein like chicken or turkey, and I pumped up the green veggies, too.
One of the toughest changes was cutting back on alcohol as much as possible, saving it only for special occasions.The Reward
After three years, I’ve lost 40 pounds and transformed my entire outlook on life. I was always an energetic and loud person, but worried that people saw me as the funny fat kid. On top of that, I never had the confidence to wear a two-piece bathing suit growing up, but I bought my first bikini last summer!
Now I push myself to be better every day and reach the goals I set. I feel physically and mentally stronger than ever. I can even deadlift 255 pounds!Michelle’s Number One Tip
You don’t have to try crazy diets and cleanses to feel better and fitter. Just try to cut one type of junk food at a time. It’s a slow process, but it’s OK to take it one step at a time. Your body and your life won’t change overnight.
It’s taken me three years to come this far, and there’s no stopping me now.
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