‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’

I am SUPER excited about our featured guest poster today! Her name is Mary and I met her back in the Slumber Parties days. Mary was in my downline and when I retired my biz, we lost touch. Just the other day we reconnected on facebook and I discovered that Mary is a new woman with a tremendous story to share! She’s burned off more than 100 pounds and has changed her entire life around!

She also runs a blog dedicated to healthy eating: Called Mary’s Fork & Spoon. So please, read on and get inspired! Take it away, Mary:

People ask me all the time ‘What happened to make you make your lifestyle change?’.   I guess a lot of people have a moment that changes things for them.  I didn’t really have a moment per-se.  I woke up on New Year’s Day, 2011 and thought to myself ‘I’m going to try to lose some weight’.  Never did I think I would be where I am now.  Never. This wasn’t my plan.  I didn’t actually have a plan, but I figured I’d lose a few pounds and that would be it.

That day I joined Weight Watchers online.  I had heard good things about it, but hadn’t ever done it for myself.  I did know people that had been successful at losing some weight with Weight Watchers, so I thought it couldn’t hurt.  That day, I decided to cut fast food from my diet, to try to eat healthier by following the weight watchers plan, and to drink more water and less soda.  These changes weren’t that hard for me, though it was a drastic change.  I was walking dogs at the time, and I was working mornings and evenings as admin assistant for the same company that I was dog walking for.  Because I was out on the road all day, I was eating a lot of fast food.   It was, after all, fast. But the day I signed up for Weight Watchers, I started packing my lunch.  I started taking bottles of water to work with me. I just told myself that I was NOT going to stop for anything at a fast food place – not even a drink.  And I didn’t.   

Mary’s before picture, she is in the front right. (Also a before pic of me in the red with the Santa Hat!)

This was not a New Year’s Resolution – I don’t make those.  I decided it was going to be a lifestyle change.  New Year’s Resolutions, diets – these are temporary things that you do.  And they never last.  I didn’t want this to be something that didn’t last. I wanted it to be permanent.  Whatever weight I lost, however much that was, I didn’t want it to be back at some point. 

On January 20, 2011, I joined a local gym.  I joined this particular one, the most expensive one in the area, because my friend said she’d go with me if I joined.  Good thing I don’t need others to motivate me – because she didn’t go with me!  I just started going – daily.  It was on my way home from work, so there was NO EXCUSE for me not to stop, even if for just a little while.  I hated it at first. I was so out of shape.  Walking on the treadmill wore me out – even just at a relatively slow pace, for just a short time.  But I was there. And I was doing it.  In March, I met a trainer there who was starting a striking/kickboxing training program called ‘Fight Like a Girl’.  Though I was still very out of shape, I had lost about 20lbs and I was regaining my confidence so I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and sign up for the training.  Mind you, I hadn’t even tried a class at the gym yet – I was so self-conscious I didn’t talk to anyone.  I just went in there, did my thing, and quietly left, mostly un-noticed!

I started the Fight Like a Girl training – after having a mild freak out a few nights before it started – wondering what I had been thinking by signing up for this.  I certainly couldn’t get through a kickboxing training program.  Well I went, and the first several sessions wore me out.  But I found out rather quickly that I liked it.  Sure, it hurt.  The training sessions and my other days at the gym on my own were kicking my butt.  But it was paying off – I was losing weight.  And I was feeling REALLY GOOD!  In early April, I signed on with another trainer – for regular personal training.  So now I had Erin (FLAG) & Daniel a total of four days a week – and the other three days a week I was working out on my own. 

I slowly started to see progress in my physical abilities.  I was told that your brain gives up long before your body will – and that is so true.  Daniel made me set a goal for myself, which I hadn’t really thought about before.  I decided I wanted to lose a total of 100lbs by my 30th birthday.  At this time, I was about to turn 29 – and when I started I weighed 303.4lbs.  This was a goal that I really set just to appease Daniel – I didn’t really think I could ever do that. 

I continued eating well…. In fact, in July I got off Weight Watchers and started using My Fitness Pal.  I decided it was much more practical to switch to actual calorie/macro tracking instead of converting to and counting points.  Once I switched to My Fitness Pal, I started to eat even better.  I’ve done research, and learned what’s good and what’s not.  I tried different things – things that I never would’ve eaten before.  Some of my favorite things to eat have become eggplant, zucchini, greek yogurt, beans, lentils, salmon, etc. I’ve even started a food blog!!  (this was at my grandma’s urging, after she tried some dishes I made)  I try to eat more fresh foods, less processed foods.  I don’t eat a lot of ‘diet foods’ (i.e. packaged meals, low cal/low fat foods, etc).  The diet foods are too full of bad stuff that make it taste good but don’t add a lot of calories – but low fat/low cal does NOT necessarily equal healthy.  I still eat out – BUT I don’t eat fast food.  I go to sit down restaurants, and do research beforehand, and make smart choices.  I don’t starve myself either.  I have consistently eaten 1700+ calories a day while losing weight.  Most days I eat more than that.  I try to eat High Protein (to build muscle), plenty of healthy fats, and healthy carbs (non starchy – I don’t eat much bread, pasta, rice, etc) – I eat tons of veggies, lots of protein – I don’t really restrict myself.  If it’s a lifestyle change it has to be maintainable.

As of Labor Day 2011 I had hit the 75lbs lost mark.  By this point, I started thinking maybe the 100lbs by my 30th birthday was a possibility!

Back to the story – so my FLAG training ended in October.  Then I signed with Daniel for three days a week for a while.  I slowly tapered off…. Down to two days a week…. And then one…. I finally got down to once every other week.  I had learned a lot, and I had learned how to torture myself…. Err, create my own workouts.  I started setting small fitness goals for myself.  One monster I wanted to tackle was the stair climber.  Oh how I hated that machine.  When I first started, 5 minutes on a slow pace was killer.  Now I can stay on there for an hour at a pretty fast pace, no problem! 

Someone at my gym told me in January of 2012 that I should train for a half marathon.  I seriously laughed at them.  I told them they were crazy and that I had no desire to run.  Which was completely true.  I’m that girl who didn’t even run the mile in gym class in middle & high school!  One of my friends (who has lost over 100lbs) convinced me to sign up for the Monument Ave 10k.  This is a huge 10k in Richmond, with 10,000+ participants.  I signed up, but was very nervous and didn’t think I could walk that distance.  So we ‘trained’.  I planned on walking it with my friend’s wife.  Something happened at the beginning of March.  I decided one day while I was out for a walk that I wanted to see if I could run. I could.  Not for long, only a couple minutes at a time…. But I kind of enjoyed it.  I ended up doing interval running for the first four miles of the Monument Ave 10k at the end of March.  I had to walk the last two miles, but that was Ok. I finished it.  And the race atmosphere is amazing!! 

Feisty and Fit!

I stopped training with Daniel in July 2012, mostly because he was going away to college (Yep, he’s a youngin’, but he was good!).  I just kept working myself….. I was approached by another trainer at the beginning of August who convinced me that I should join her training team and train for an upcoming half marathon.  Yep.  Me. Who didn’t even run the mile in school gym class…. Me. Who could hardly get through a 10k.  Yea, this was going to happen. 

It is now October 4th, 2012.  We are about 7 weeks into the half marathon training program.   I haven’t missed a run – and each week I get better! Last weekend I ran 8.52miles – in 96 minutes (my time at the Monument Ave 10K in March was 96minutes – for 6.2miles).  I want to run everywhere!  Walking?  Why waste my time – let me just run!  😉  I’ve developed a slight addiction to running.  It’s a high that I have never gotten from any other work out.  I am still doing kickboxing… I do other cardio on my own and I do strength training.  I also do Pitaiyo at the gym once a week (for those that don’t know – Pitaiyo is a blend of pilates, tai chi, yoga, and qi gong breathing).  I have my second 10k coming up next weekend….. Oh and the Half Marathon is in Richmond on November 10th.  I do not have a time goal – My goal is simply to finish.  I’ve read that only .17 percent of the population has completed a half marathon.  I want to be part of that .17% – and I will be!

Mary now! HOT DAMN!! 😉

I have a bit of a secret to share too.  The scale hasn’t moved in months. Yep.  I’m doing all this training, eating better than most people I know… and my body is rebelling against me. The scale is NOT moving.  I have currently lost almost 115lbs.  My current weight is 188.8.  Now, most people I know, unfortunately, would get discouraged that the scale isn’t moving.   I have seen too many people ‘fall off the wagon’ and quit – because they don’t see results on the scale.  When did the scale become the only measure of success?

What keeps me going?  How amazing I feel.  I didn’t even know before that I felt bad – until I started feeling so good!  My goal is not to be skinny. It’s to be fit and healthy and strong!  I keep going because this is the life I want.  I want to push myself harder, I want to see what I can accomplish.  I want to see what I can do that I once couldn’t – and what I can do that I thought I couldn’t.   I truly feel that if I can come as far as I have, anyone can.  And I feel that if I can get to where I am now, there isn’t anything that I put my mind to that I can’t do.  I’ve read ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’. And I believe that. 

It’s all too easy to give up.   It’s much harder to keep going – especially when you’re not seeing the ‘results’ you think you should be seeing.  This is why all too many people fail.  But when you give up, you’re only hurting yourself.  I love myself too much to give up.  They say it’s a mental game.  It is. You have to believe that you can.  It won’t be easy. But it will most definitely be worth it.


Tara is a stay at home mom to two sons. She is a lover of family, friends, food and laughter. Her life is a roller coaster ride full of hilarity, diapers, exercise and fun.

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5 Responses

  1. Mary Meadows says:

    Thanks for everyone’s support, and for allowing me to share my story. I wanted to share that this past weekend I ran 10.5miles on saturday – and then a 10k on sunday! I have never run that far in my life, but I did it. And I was still walking on Monday (and able to do kickboxing). 🙂

  2. jodi says:

    Phenomenal inspiring story!!! Great read! I love that eating real food has paid off..it’s my way of life as the blessed mother of 5 and a wonderful supportive other half. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Whew Jodi! That’s awesome. Good for you for taking the time to eat and feed your family healthy foods. There are so many easy shortcuts out there that are just not healthy! Great work!

  3. Miapam says:

    You both are great! I needed to read this today! Tara, you for sharing your space and friends and you, Mary, because you took the time to share your story. As I have medical issues I have to be Dr monitored for weight loss so I do the HMR bariatric program. Like you, my scale is not moving so I needed to hear someone remind me to put in the work to get the results. On the good side, once we lose all we want, we sure will know what it is like to maintain a weight number!

    • Tara says:

      Good for you! I’m so glad this helped. Keep on working hard, not for the scale, but for your pride, health, and because you rock! 🙂

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