Welcome to my new blog series, Journey to Fit!

Journey to Fit will feature an F&F reader with an inspirational weight loss story to share. The men and women featured in Journey to Fit each paved their own path to a healthy lifestyle, and I am thrilled they are willing to share their journeys on my blog. Everyone has a unique story and approach to healthy living, and each and every person had to start somewhere. I hope you find this series inspiring. Enjoy!

First up is my friend and Oak Square Y groupie, Mary!
Marys Journey 1
Mary began exercising consistently in 2009, but it wasn’t until January 2013 that she had an a-ha moment and lost 25 pounds in six months. She has since been able to maintain her weight loss!
Mary, tell all my F&F readers a little about yourself.

I am in my late 20’s, live in the Boston area, and work full-time for a medical software company. I have always been an active person. I sailed competitively all 4 years of college in Newport, RI and was a competitive swimmer for 10 years. I love the ocean, beach, and skiing in the winter.

When did your fitness journey begin? Was there a specific moment or event that triggered it for you?

I have always enjoyed working out and have been a member of the Oak Square YMCA where Athena teaches for nearly 6 years. In November 2012, my work hours changed slightly which allowed me to find more time for the gym. But it was last January (2013) that was my trigger moment. I was at breakfast with my cousin Alice, a certified wellness coach, after my first yoga class. I told my cousin that I had started to find the time to work out 4-5 times a week but hadn’t noticed much of a difference in my weight. It was then that my cousin told me I needed to start focusing more on food and that diet is just as important (if not more) as working out. It was at that moment I realized even though I was working out 4-5 times a week, I needed to change what I was eating.

Marys Journey 5

What lifestyle changes have you made since the beginning of your journey?

To focus more on food, I began logging my meals and food in Lose It. This helped me realize first HOW much I was eating, and then I soon became more conscious of WHAT I was eating. I also make a meal and exercise plan every week, which is something I didn’t used to do. I am very consistent in working out 5 times a week and meal planning for Sunday-Friday. It doesn’t always happen that I have 5 nights free a week, so many times I work out in the morning before work. For meals, I figure out if there are any nights that either my boyfriend or I won’t be home, and then I fill in what we will have for dinner every night on the nights we will be. On Sundays I buy everything I need for the week. This helps both my wallet and my time because I am not running to the store multiple times a week.

Did you encounter any challenges along the way, and how did you overcome them?

One of my major challenges was how busy of a year 2013 was for me. I had two best friends get married, 6 weddings to attend in total, and lots of social activities! It gets hard on weekends away to find time to work out and eat healthy. But I told myself as long as I didn’t gain any weight while I was away, it was okay. I told myself not to dwell on that extra glass of wine or serving of cake, and that I was good with giving myself a pass every once in a while.

My biggest challenge, however, was when I stated to plateau. That was really hard for me because I was still doing everything right but the scale stopped moving. It just so happened that it was at that time everyone else started noticing my weight loss… right when it stopped happening. I struggled with that, but I started switching up my workouts by introducing hot yoga. I also began taking protein powder, which I attribute to beating the plateau.

Marys Journey 2

Aside from the weight loss, what has been rewarding for you? What differences do you notice in how you felt then versus how you feel now?

It feels great to see the hard work pay off. I feel stronger and have a higher endurance at the gym, which feels great. I also did the Oak Square 5K this year, and while I didn’t reach my goal to finish under thirty minutes, I finished in just over 30:30, so I consider that a great accomplishment!  Finally, this fall I participated in a 5 mile paddleboard race, and even though I hadn’t done any paddleboarding all summer, my abs and lower and upper body strength lead me to finish in two hours flat.

Marys Journey 3

What are the next steps in your journey?

I do want to lose that last 5 pounds. My original goal was to lose thirty pounds, so I’d love to push through and lose that last five. Now that life has started to slow down a bit, and there are no big life events on the close horizon, I think this is a great time for it.

What tips would you offer others who are trying to lose weight or exercise more?

It really is about what you eat. I struggled with this a lot at first, but its true that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I love working out, so that part wasn’t as hard for me. But not having bread or pasta daily did not come as easily. I’ve learned to love a lot of “new to me” foods like spaghetti squash and cauliflower. It took time, but it’s all worth it in the end!

Marys Journey 4

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

One last thing that has been rewarding for me is having really great support from my boyfriend, family, friends, and gym friends (who are now real friends!). Having a group of friends at the gym that always say “see you tomorrow” is awesome for support. My gym friends are what keep me going back five times a week, week after week!

Halloween: Gym

Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story. I love seeing the progress you’ve made and how far you’ve come. You rock class week after week, and your hard work has certainly paid off.

Readers, leave Mary some love! If you or someone you know has a weight loss story to share, please email me at fitnessandfeta@gmail.com. I would love to feature you. This series will run as long as I receive enough content to keep it going.