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An amusement park and a hula-hoop saved my life.
I was overweight since childhood, but nothing pushed me to truly change until an afternoon at the local amusement park. My 4-year-old daughter and I had climbed onto the pirate ship, but our ride attendant couldn’t push the safety bar over my stomach to lock in place. The teenage attendant loudly informed me that I needed to get off the ride. Humiliated, I led my daughter to another ride, hearing him laugh with friends about the “fat cow” who couldn’t fit.
Enough was enough! I was tired of being taunted, shamed, and discriminated against because of my weight. I wanted so badly to be a positive and healthy role model for my beautiful young daughter. As she and I stepped onto the next ride, with that teen’s comment ringing in my ears, I pledged to return to the theme park with my daughter the next year—as a healthy, slimmer, hot mama!
The task of losing enough weight to qualify as a “hot mama” seemed daunting, particularly because my husband Keith and I had made several serious attempts to lose weight in the past, without much success. We’d always been overweight, crossing into “morbidly obese” territory after our wedding. To make things even more difficult, Keith had just lost his job and we already had two children, a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old. I had no idea how or where to start, let alone on a non-existent budget!
When I examined all of the diets and workout regimens I’d tried before, I realized that they all had one thing in common: extremism. I had thought that if I wanted to be skinny, I had to run on the treadmill five hours a day or swear off cake and cookies forever.
Instead of going extreme, I decided to change my eating habits slowly. At first I just changed portion size, educating myself on the idea of “calories in vs. calories out.” Additionally, I regularly allowed myself 150 calories of whatever I wanted, usually at the end of the night (when I mostly wanted to binge on unhealthy snacks).
Rather than trying to outright quit eating the things I loved, I found new ways to replace old favorites. When I realized Starbucks was costing me 900+ calories each day, I didn’t throw up my hands and say, “I’m never going to have Starbucks again!” Instead, I changed my daily order to a drink that was less than 150 calories. I altered many of my favorite recipes to be healthier and learned about healthy, delicious substitutes.
Quest products have been a daily part of maintaining our almost 300-pound-combined weight loss for past few years. As a family with young children, the bars, chips and protein powder are used by our entire family to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible to continue our new, healthy lifestyle without feeling like we are being deprived.
While learning about what I should and shouldn’t be putting into my body, I remembered seeing celebrities using a hula-hooping fitness program. I ordered a hoop and Hoopnotica DVD so I could teach myself how to hoop!
I returned to that amusement park with my 5-year-old daughter a year later, and together we rode on the pirate ship. I walked away with a new belief in what I could accomplish if I only believed in myself. I have found the person that I always wanted to be, but never thought I could. Now I have the great privilege of empowering others, including my children, and helping them become the best that they can be.I didn’t spend five hours a day with my hula-hoop. In fact, I set small, attainable goals for myself. I began hooping for only 15 minutes a day at the YMCA. I would stake out a corner, set up my hoop, and try to tune out the snickering from the guys on the basketball court. It took two weeks before I could keep the hoop spinning on my waist, but from day one, I felt a tremendous difference in my core strength, confidence, and energy. Within a few days, I stopped looking at the clock during my workout and found myself actually looking forward to my time at the gym. This had never happened before.
I’d like to leave you with my…
Top 5 Tips to Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle:
1. Love what you do! If you haven’t found a fitness activity that you love, keep trying new things, like Zumba and hiking to hooping or running. Find the passion buried deep inside!
2. Small steps add up to BIG changes. Don’t be extreme! Do things that you will be able to maintain for the rest of your life.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I posted all over social media about my lifestyle change: Biggest Loser-style before pictures, sharing new recipes, challenges I was facing, successes I had. I was astonished at how many people believed in me and helped me keep going at a time when I didn’t quite believe in myself.
4. Keep trying new foods! I used to hate vegetables. When I began my lifestyle change, I decided I was going to have to change my tastebuds as well. Not impossible! I tried new veggies and would sneak them into recipes when I still didn’t like them. Today I actually crave vegetables that I never would have touched before. And our tasty Quest products help us eat healthy while feeling like we’re indulging!
5. Look for the non-scale victories. I learned to appreciate and savor the triumphs I had off the scale just as much as when the scale moved. I celebrated when I fit into a new size, when I simply made a good choice, when I made it through the day without binging, and many other things. I focused on the small things to keep myself going, rather than beating myself up when I ate the wrong thing or didn’t workout during the day.