Transformation of the Month: A Second Chance At Life

Sarah Bickel learned that you don't have to do it alone.

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As far as body mass and dress sizes were concerned, I knew I was obese. But I never really “felt” obese. I was as social and lively as most of my healthy friends, so why was I doomed to live life trapped inside of an enormous blob of a body?

Simple activities like climbing a flight of stairs or jogging to my car left me out of breath and begging for better quality of life. But like most in my generation, I was blaming everything but myself. I figured I drew the short straw from the metabolic gene pool, so I took it for what I thought it was: bad luck. In retrospect, I still have no idea how I thought there was nothing wrong with rationalizing my obesity with bad genes. Deep down I knew who the real culprit was. It took years to admit to myself that my chromosomes had nothing to do with my perpetual weight gain. The problem was staring at me every time I looked in the mirror, with food as my best friend and worst enemy.

I tried Atkins, Weight Watchers, Sensa, even weird pills that did nothing but expand in my stomach to make me feel full. None of those worked. I’ve had plenty of little bouts of inspiration that had me at least attempting to eat clean(ish) and exercise, but any time I hit a bump in the road I went right back to my old ways and gained the weight back, plus a few extra pounds.

When it comes to sticking with a healthy lifestyle, education is everything. You can’t expect to eat clean if have no clue what “clean food” really is. I love Quest Bars and they’ve been an enormous help in keeping me out of the pantry at night. When my sweet tooth is calling, I like to substitute my evening protein shake for a bar. Double Chocolate Chunk and S’mores are my favorites. They’re indulgent enough to taste like a dessert but without the guilt!


My last giant leap toward a better life happened while working with my friend Britany; she was always sharing tips on eating clean. My intentions were always in the right place, but I could never put my plans into action so she did it for me. She brought into work a bag overflowing with groceries like oats and almond milk to get me started. She also left an incredibly inspiring note that gave me the push I needed to stay committed. It meant so much that someone genuinely believed I could change when I couldn’t believe in myself. With newfound excitement and the tools to get started, I began my journey to a healthier life.

I started the end of August of 2013 at a hefty 225 pounds, and aimed to drop 75 ounds. I never truly saw myself losing that much weight, but it was nice to think about. I set realistic goals, like having a single-digit pant size and fitting into a size Medium top. I only drank water, stopped eating out, and dropped my unnecessary snacking. I saw instant results and took it a step further by joining a gym, training four to six times a week (I did an hour of cardio and resistance equipment). My best friend Catherine helped keep me on track, buying me a Fitbit for my birthday, making sure I hit my marks every single day. We’d cook meals, workout and even set goals together. Having her active support really helped me power through some of the rough patches on my journey.

And it’s never a true journey without some bumps along the way. The holidays came, and between all of the pumpkin-flavored goodies, Thanksgiving pies, and Christmas cookies, I stumbled into 2014 with 15 pounds back under my belt. I knew I was stuck in reverse, but I couldn’t grasp the discipline to get back on track. I was petrified of gaining the weight back and destroying the progress I’d made, physically and emotionally.

My boss Dayna noticed me slipping back into my old ways and was quick to act by connecting me with her personal trainer who guided me through workouts, wrote me a specialized diet, and cued me in on what to do outside of the gym to maximize my results. It was rough in the beginning, but being held accountable for my food and activity choices made staying on track much easier. I was so grateful for the opportunity, and made sure to show that by training as hard as I could and staying 100% true to my diet. The results with him were mind-blowing. I learned how to prep all of my meals so grabbing something unhealthy would never be an option. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with my new lifestyle.

Never in a million years did I think I would lose 75 pounds in one year. For the first time in my life, I have a healthy relationship with food. Lifting weights and running have replaced TV and binge eating. I can run up five flights of stairs and catch my breath in no time. I’m the happiest, healthiest, and most confident Sarah I’ve ever been. This is my second chance at life and I plan on leaving a huge impression this time. It’s now my passion to share what I have gained on this journey with everyone around me. I want to change lives the way mine has been changed. I’ve come a long way, but my journey is far from over.

Always proud, never satisfied.