Transformation of the Day: Ashley lost 76 pounds. Autoimmune disease, aches, pains and depression did not stop this strong mom from transforming, mind and body. She shifted her mindset and found out just how strong and capable she was. She even found that going vegetarian and changing her eating habits helped her become seizure free. Check out her inspiring story.
I have always struggled with my weight throughout my adolescence into adulthood. After years of struggling with random medical issues (hair loss, seizures, syncope & skin issues just to name a few) it finally came to light that I have an autoimmune disease. At this point, roughly 3 years ago, I became fed up with all the aches, pains and depression associated with not only my frame of mind, but my health status. I rejected all ideas of working out, figuring that if I were to stress my body physically then I would do more harm than good. Boy was I wrong.
I began my wellness journey in June 2015 and I am now down a total of 71 pounds. I attribute it all to a shift in my mental health. Depression can control so many aspects of your everyday life. My depression was tied to years of low self esteem and feeling trapped within a body that I felt I didn’t ask for. Once I began to change the way I viewed my body and mind, I was able to apply my new outlook towards my ultimate goal, which is to compete in a figure competition one day.
In a weird way, I am thankful for my diagnosis. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to understand the gravity of the decisions I was making with regard to my health. All the drinking, partying, bad food choices and toxic people are things that I absolutely do NOT miss! My hope is through my journey that I can show my daughters that you can change your path in life, no matter your age. All you need is a positive mentality and perseverance to continue forward in the face of many who will doubt you, including your own self at times.
I use a variety of tools to keep me motivated and on track. Google was my first stop. That’s where I found websites, like Livestrong, Runners World, Bodybuilding.com and Fitness Blender on YouTube. I would research workouts and read reviews of the different plans people would try and rate. It was not only essential, but vital to do this research. To this day, when it comes to keeping me on track, it’s about soaking up as much information as humanly possible, especially when it is free. Remember, you can’t beat free.
How did you change your eating habits?
Initially I began my journey by consuming more leafy greens and water. I used to go for hours without properly nourishing my body. I would rationalize having a bigger breakfast for skipping lunch and eventually overeating at dinner time. That was a HUGE contributing factor to why I was holding on to so much weight. Over time, I began to fine tune my nutritional intake. I began to juice in addition to eating a primarily plant based diet. That is where I truly began to see results. When I became a vegetarian, I noticed massive changes in my skin, hair, stamina and most importantly, my overall health. Before, I was having multitude seizures daily (due to my autoimmune disease) for almost a year and I found minimal relief from the medication that was provided to me. Once I cut out processed foods and meat, I saw changes in my body composition and overall health within 30 days. I have been vegetarian since January 2016 and seizure free since February 2016!
What did you stop or start eating?
I basically cut out anything that didn’t grow directly from the earth. I avoid most packaged items with the exception of guacamole, cheese and beans. Everything else I eat comes from local co-ops and farmers markets. If you’re ever in a pinch and need to purchase prepackaged items, Aldi is your best friend! Its cheaper than a Whole Foods and Trader Joes. They have a multitude of items that are GMO free, organic and grass fed. Inexpensive AND healthy! You can’t beat that.
What did your workout routines look like?
My workouts normally consist of lifting heavy with a variety of different cardio options (Ignore the myths about weight training, Ladies). I was a distance runner in high school, so I enjoy long runs throughout the city. Then there are days that I just utilize the stair master or do HIIT work that I find on Fitness Blender. I have found my body has responded the quickest to lifting heavy. If I do a week of lifting in the gym my body will morph quicker than if I just ran mile after mile. It took me a few months to see that there was a distinct difference and I only realized it after I compared photos/measurements. I workout about 5-6 days a week. It’s always a mix of working out home and in the gym. I like having options and the ability to switch up my scenery if I feel the need to.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
In the beginning, I weighed around 283-285 pounds. Now, I weigh 209 pounds and counting! Height: 5’1″
What advice do you have for others who want to lose weight?
The best advice that I have for others who want to lose weight is to remember that it is a process and it doesn’t truly begin until you are mentally ready to do so. I battled depression for a long time and consistently made excuses as to why I couldn’t move/be active. I rationalized everything that required hard work in regards to my body. Once I learned that I could break some of that negative narrative that I had conditioned myself to accept over the years, I was able to truly grasp what I needed to do. You can workout feverishly all you want but if your brain is not engaged in what you’re doing and able to see the true benefits that you’re gaining you will not be successful long term.
It also helps to have a buddy with you on your journey! I know some are not fortunate enough to have a workout buddy, but when you do 9 times out of 10 you’ll be more consistent! My husband works on a railroad. All year round, outside in ALL elements. Rain, sleet, snow, sunshine, ect. No matter the time that he clocked out each day he would ALWAYS go running or lifting with me. He’s one of my biggest supporters, in addition to my daughters who were always willing to go on long runs with me. It helps to have a wonderful support system during your journey.