82 Small Changes

Submitted by: Heike Yates

Lori's Success Story

82 Small Changes
I was always an athlete but I never thought I had the body that I wanted. I took for granted that my body would always do what I needed it to do, but I rarely appreciated it. I wanted to be like the skinny girls. I did not recognize what a great, strong body I had. Then I went away to college and stopped playing sports, I slowly started gaining weight... there was no big event or sudden change.

Over the years, I had tried to lose weight, but I would always give myself an excuse to not follow through. Then one day, a healthy and fit coworker started talking about what they were doing to stay in shape. At that moment I realized that I was simply making a choice to stay the way I was. All along, I was making excuses- I had too much work to do; I need to meet friends for drinks; anything to convince myself I could stop. I realized that I needed to change. I was about to turn 33 and there was no reason that I did not deserve to have the body and life that I wanted. This time, I did everything possible to take away all of my excuses. Sure, I had tried changing my diet in the past, but this time I looked back at what changed when I first started to gain weight... I had stopped moving.

It started with a passing thought, "I think there is a gym in my office building. If I don't even have to leave the building, I really have no excuse not to go". I did a quick Google search and found Heike and before I could make an excuse, I emailed her. She quickly responded that she was in the gym that afternoon and invited me to come up and look around. I figured I should just go do it before I thought about it any further. It was time and I was finally ready to make myself a priority. I had to care enough about me to make this change.

I first saw Heike that following Monday. My only goal was to survive. It was hard but I knew she could not let me die on the gym floor, could she? I still remember driving home that night, hitting traffic, and being worried about whether I could still move my legs to hit the brakes! By 7:00 pm the following night, when my friends started calling me T-rex because my arms were so sore I could not straighten them, I was seriously wondering what I had just signed up for ... but then I just kept reminding myself that this is not supposed to be easy.

The next step was to start tracking what I was eating and drinking. I didn't think that would be too hard ...I didn't eat that bad did I? But Heike didn't want me to change anything I was eating yet... just keep moving.

I started by meeting with Heike once a week, my workouts included everything from athletic workouts, Pilates, to interval training, to keep workouts fresh, challenging and blast the fat. In addition to walking another four times per week for 30 minutes. I thought, "Ok, I can do that. It's only a walk around the block." I would walk... and it was uncomfortable. My calves hurt, my thighs would rub. But I just kept moving my feet and not thinking.

A couple weeks went by and I realized my legs didn't hurt the same any more ... Wow, this is so much better, maybe I can run a little... So I did.

I told Heike that I didn't want this to be something I could quit. I didn't want to go on a diet. I wanted to change my use of food. It was no longer about mindlessly eating whatever I wanted, it was about eating food that was good for my body. I wanted to eat without anyone realizing I was "on a diet."

The changes were small... all about habits. Eat more often. No processed foods. It was about planning what I was going to eat so that I didn't fall back into those old habits. I learned what foods worked best for me. It was science and I looked for the foods that gave me the biggest bang for the buck. In the grocery store I noticed that I shopped on the perimeter- vegetables, dairy, and meats. The only time I headed to the middle was for my peanut butter. It made life much simpler.

I also created a routine with my meals. Breakfast is still the same basic formula- protein, fruit, carbohydrates, and a fat. In my world this was cottage cheese or an egg, a banana or apple, a low fat multigrain English muffin with a little peanut butter. Lunch was always safe if I stuck to salads and dinners were a protein, a good fat, and two vegetables. I soon realized that I didn't miss the "bad" foods. I actually started to feel so much better changing the quality of the food I was eating.

I also started adding exercise as a part of that same routine. I needed to view it the same way I would eating dinner or taking a shower; add it to my schedule and get it done and out of the way. In the beginning my typical week was to have one training session and then walk an additional 4 times per week for 30 minutes. As I started to realize how much more I could do I began to run more.

My typical week now consists of Monday training sessions with Heike. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, depending on the weather, I run outside right after work (and avoid some of the rush hour traffic) or head upstairs to the elliptical for at least 30-45 mins. On the weekends I will typically go for one long run. The length would vary depending on if I was training for a race (which seemed to be all the time).

And now, a little more than a year later and 82 pounds lighter, at 33 years old, I look back and think that this has been a fantastic year. I never imagined that accomplishing something I thought was so large, could be done by so many little changes. Together, they all added up to one great accomplishment.

My original goal was to wear a size 12. That was what I wore my freshman year in college. Today I can wear that 12 and sometimes even a 10. There were also so many other victories along the way- crossing my legs (under a table or on an airplane), seeing 199 on the scale, wearing clothing that was handed down from a friend and then realizing that they were now too big, or the first time I ran two miles without stopping. That run is still my favorite.
I had started running using the couch to 5k app. The entire week before I had to complete that run, I was terrified. But the day came and I laced up my shoes and went for it. I tried to tell myself the whole time that I couldn't do it, but at the end of mile one I decided that I need to stop thinking and run.
There were times when it was hard and I started to believe that I couldn't do something. But I was able to choose to push those thoughts aside because I knew that Heike never doubted that I could do it. All I had to do was listen and with her support I have not only lost the weight, but I have also run a 5k (with tears in my eyes at the start line because I did not believe that I was actually out there running), a 5 mile race, a 7.5 mile race, three 10 mile races, and even a half marathon.

And now I keep running by remembering how I felt after that first race and crossing my legs, and looking at the other runners out there with me and thinking that only thin people run. I keep signing up for races and I close my eyes and remember how I felt during that first 5k and continue moving. Maybe the next stop will be a bikini... who knows what else I can accomplish.

The biggest reward has been sharing this experience with my friends and family. We have started an office running group. I am the girl that said I would only run if someone was chasing me with a gun! I run weekly with an old college friend and we have spent so much time side by side (we have logged over 300 miles together), sometimes talking, sometime just silently encouraging each other to keep going.

My goal for the future is to continue to be present in my life. I remember that this is my choice and I am choosing to be the healthiest and happiest version I can be.


Lori Before


Lori After