Age: 30 Height: 5'3" Weight before: 200 lb Weight now: 130 lb Location: Kansas City, MO Occupation: Attorney Favorite clean meal: Oatmeal flavored with cinnamon Favorite move: Biceps curl
Name a food and Denise Fields can instantly rhyme off the proper portion. Peanut butter? Two tablespoons. Chicken breast? Four ounces. How about oatmeal? Half a cup. Hard to believe that a year ago, Denise didn't give food labels a second glance. Clothing labels, however, were another story. When size 14 started to get too tight, a 200-pound Denise promised to purge the pudge and set out to lose 70 pounds.
Shrinking Her Portions
The first change Denise made was ditching her morning Starbucks mocha for a clean breakfast. She also replaced her regular restaurant fare with a meal plan made up of six smaller meals a day. "I had to control my calories and the quality of foods I was eating," says Denise who started preparing her own foods — mostly lean proteins, complex carbs and vegetables — and weighing her portions. By experimenting with spices, marinades and healthy swaps, Denise turned up the taste. "Most surprising to me was that I could cook healthy foods that I actually loved more than the bad-for-me foods."
Denise quickly learned that having no time was just an excuse not to exercise. "We all make time for the things that are important to us," says Denise who squeezed in five cardio and three strength-training sessions a week. On days she didn't feel like working out, just putting on her workout clothes and stepping foot in the gym nixed her negativity. Denise's trainer also came to the rescue: "She was a constant reminder that every choice I made counted." On the plus side, Denise discovered a calorie-burner she truly loved: running. "Once you find an activity that you love to do, it won't seem like exercising as much."
Pushing Past Plateaus
Denise dropped 50 pounds in less than a year, but then she hit a wall. Determined to kick-start her progress, Denise tightened up her diet, upped her water intake, started focusing on just two muscle groups per strength-training session and began Tabata, high-intensity interval training. "I just told myself that to quit or slack off at this stage is like stopping just when you see the finish line." It worked. Five months later, Denise hit her goal weight, not to mention dropping from over 40 percent to 22 percent body fat over the entire transformation. She celebrated by buying a new size-six outfit and treating herself to a day at the spa.
While tracking her food was obvious, Denise faced a reality check when she realized just how many calories she was drinking away. "One small but significant change you can make is to not drink your calories," she says. "I used to be a heavy consumer of those sugary, caloric lattes and I regularly drank soda everyday. I had no idea the damage I was doing!"
Follow Denise's muscle-gaining tips.
- Keep track of the weight you're lifting and gradually increase it.
- Focus on one to two muscle groups per session and work them until failure.
- Work out with a trainer or partner who'll push you to lift more or do that extra set.
- Don't be afraid to lift heavy.
- Drink a whey protein isolate shake within 30 minutes after your workout.