Transformation of the Day: Giftie lost 58 pounds. This awesome mom decided to change her life after her doctor told her she was on course to develop the same illness that has afflicted her mother, father and several other close relatives. Some reverse psychology on the part of her boss led her to develop a deep love for running and she has completed 7 marathons. Check out what she shared with us about her journey.
My weight loss journey started at 24 years old. I was at a routine doctor’s visit when my doctor shook my world up. He told me that I’d have diabetes by the end of the year if things didn’t change. Diabetes runs on both sides of my family. My mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncles, aunts and other extended family have battled with the disease. I’ve seen the struggle firsthand and I couldn’t accept that. Very soon after this wake up call, I received my bonus check from my job. I took that check directly to the local Gold’s Gym that I’d passed by every week and asked them to put it all towards me working with someone who could show me how to lose this weight. I weighed 253 pounds at the time.
Within 3 months of consistently going to the gym twice a week and doing very minimal cardio, I’d lost 25 pounds. (I hated cardio with a passion, to the point where if my trainer left my side, I left the treadmill) Then, I hit a plateau. My bonus money had also been spent, so I had to let go of the personal trainer. Over that next 9 months, I still did my workouts, now three times a week. That’s when I started exploring.
I started looking at home workout videos and watching my nutrition very closely. We’d worked on that in the gym, but I didn’t get serious until my results started to slow. I realized you can’t out work a bad diet. It was during this period that my former boss tried to get me into running. She knew I hated cardio, but she was training for a marathon. NO WAY IN WONDERLAND was I running, much less running a MARATHON! A year went by. I now had a very consistent workout routine but I was pretty much in the same place I was in the year before, hovering around 223 pounds. At this point I knew I had to add cardio into my routine… but I wasn’t ready to budge.
One day, very close to the start of the next marathon training season, my boss came up to me. She asked me about my workout routine and I told her I just couldn’t submit to the whole “cardio craze.” Her response changed my life. “It’s okay Giftie. I really just think some people don’t have running in them. It’s not what you can do and I’ll respect that.” I was taken all the way aback. “I have running in me!” I thought. “I could run if I wanted to.” Over the next few weeks that simple statement bugged me so much that one afternoon I grabbed my friend and took her to the nearest school track. I told her we were running a mile. She was game, but 5 minutes in I was NOT! I had to keep stopping, gasping for air and going to get water. My friend told me I was starting too fast, and that I should have gotten hydrated before trying to run in the Texas heat. Long story short, I felt like I almost died, but at a 16:11 minute pace I completed my first official mile outside of the ones we had to run in school for gym class.
After building up to two miles over the next month, I did what my competitive “you don’t tell me what I can’t do” self would only do: I showed up at the first day of marathon training with a group called Round Rock Fit. The group was full of all different age ranges and abilities. My boss was completely shocked…or so I thought. I struggled to complete the required 3 miles that first day. I wanted to quit at every mile…but walking back would have meant accepting defeat. I just couldn’t do it. So, I kept showing up. About two months or so later on the way back in from an 8 mile run my former boss turns to me and says “I’ve got you right where I want you now.” WHAT?! I’d been…bamboozled! Tricked! How dare her! How did I not see it! She totally set me up! And I will thank her for the rest of my life.
In that running group, I learned about proper nutrition, hydration, injury prevention, incorporating strength training and so many other healthy habits I’ll keep with me for life. I successfully completed my first marathon. Not only that, I went on to run two more with them before coming back for the fourth season as one of the marathon pace coaches! I’m currently training to complete my 6th and 7th marathon with this being my second year as a pace coach. I love being able to motivate people like I’ve been motivated.
I also got involved with another running group called Black Girls Run here in Austin. One of the most important things I realized I needed to do was surround myself with like-minded people with like-minded goals. Round Rock Fit and BGR did that for me. It wasn’t until after my 2nd marathon that I got really involved with the girls of BGR. I had tried to train for my third, but I’d recently had my son (love of my life) and getting back into running proved to be harder done than said. I remember struggling to run one mile, like I’d never run before, on a trail and here comes two girls from BGR. One of them looked at me and said “You got this girl!” I busted out crying. Half frustration – half motivation. I did have it. Little did she know, she kept me running. I started getting more active in that group and I felt at home. Just seeing these other girls pounding the pavement and coming back consistently was so inspiring. I’ve built a very close relationship with many members of BGR Austin. I was also very recently made Co-Ambassador of the same Black Girls Run Austin running group!
At 34 years old, I currently sit at 195 pounds. I am 5 feet, 6 and 3/4th inches tall. My goal is 175 pounds. I’ve started P90x training but after 5 weeks realized that I’ll have to modify that program to fit in with marathon training. I am also still learning new things about nutrition every day. Lately, green smoothies with protein have been a really great way to attack sudden hunger and cravings. I meal prep on Sundays for the week and give myself my Saturdays after my long run as my cheat days (I’m usually too tired to eat too much and with the work that I just did, I don’t dare negate my gains by doing the most.) I am definitely a foodie though. Somedays my lunch stays right in the fridge and I get what I want to eat. That is just part of the journey. I take each day one at a time, but I also don’t usually give myself an out or an option. When there’s work to be done, there’s no excuse. We GET IT DONE!
Eating Habits: To change my eating habits, I did a massive cut to fast food eating. It was a really bad habit cultivated by instant gratification and built for years and years on convenience. The short of it? I had to stop being lazy. And I have to KEEP CONTINUING to stop being lazy. I failed today because I didn’t plan yesterday. But I don’t let that happen too often. It really is a journey and you have to take each loss and make it into an opportunity to learn. That being said, when you do go and do something like get chicken curry with a gyro taco (yes, I just did that), then you don’t give yourself the option to just do nothing. Don’t just have a pity party and feel bad about it. You made time to eat it and now you can make time to go work it off! I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss even when I don’t always maintain my meal plan by putting in the work necessary to at least MAINTAIN.
I buy frozen fruit and veggies because I am on the go a lot. This makes throwing them into a smoothie with my pea protein in the mornings and whey protein after workouts super easy. My “I’m tired and I don’t want to cook but I am not eating out unless it’s a cheat day” go-to meal is stir-fry with some type of protein and brown rice. I also have fallen in love with trying different recipes again. During my 2nd marathon training, I was also doing Weight Watchers and their recipes gave me life! Over time, I got away from it, got into a boring routine and ended up hating having to cook the same thing. Like for instance, I used to hate the fact that I had to eat chicken so much, but it along with turkey has now become a real staple for me. What made the difference is my son. He is three years old and he looooves cooking with me. It’s become the favorite part of my day to go pick him up and decide what we’re going to make for the night – chicken will never be boring again!
Advice: Listen, I still struggle with losing weight, mainly because I like to eat, not because I don’t work out. However, we all have our shortcomings. The key is to recognize them and make better decisions daily, like seriously up to the minute – every day. As in most areas of life, it’s the little things. Make these little changes every day, be determined and be consistent with making these changes.
Don’t talk yourself out of a good time (and by a good time I mean a grueling workout or a meal prep you promised yourself to do even when tired). Think positively about things that you don’t like doing. I told myself, “I’m going to looove eating this chicken breast and rice for the 5th time this week. I cannot wait to get home.” Then, I would go get a really good workout in so that I truly did enjoy the meal that I already planned. I was saving money that I didn’t need to spend and keeping the promises that I made to myself not to eat out and to workout. As an added bonus, I felt really good and empowered by making that decision.” Making that kind of change gives you the courage and confidence to continue making better decisions. I don’t always do that, lol. The difference is that when I DO make a bad decision I let that be an exception, not a rule.
I don’t give myself the option not to be my best or just give up. Yes, It gets hard. So what! I got this. It hurts? Ok, lets fix it and get back up again. Life happens? Life has a way of doing that – NOTHING will stop this train from moving! I’m doing it for myself, for my son, the rest of my family and the person reading this who needs to know that the only thing stopping you is YOU. See yourself as someone’s future goal. You will soon be someone’s role model, because soon you’ll be able to say I DID IT! Believe in yourself! Make the change by being the change… everyday. You’ll look back in just a short while and be astonished when you’ve done all the things you never even dreamed you could do.