Change IS possible! – by ellesan

(Last Updated On: October 5, 2009)

other-before_photosGrowing up I was always active and played sports, which kept me at an average weight for my frame. Eating was a different story. There was no portion control or moderation, and nutrition was something only thought about at the start of a new diet. This set me up for a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

After my freshman year of high school, I stopped playing sports and before I knew it I ballooned to over 200 pounds. Being an obese teenager was painful and embarrassing. I went on countless fad diets, quickly losing then regaining the weight just as fast. I ate emotionally, and eventually tipped the scales at over 224 pounds.

In 2004 I met my future husband and we married in 2005. He loved me regardless of my size and patiently accepted my struggles with weight. After the honeymoon, life was stressful. I was at a job I didn’t like, I was a new step-mom and we were trying to conceive. I was a 34 year old newlywed when I started having all the signs and symptoms of menopause. In early 2006, after several blood tests, my doctor informed me that I had already gone through “the change”.

I was devastated. Infertility due to menopause was something I never imagined could happen to me at 35. The stress was overwhelming and bags of cookies, brownies and chocolate became my solace. I could feel the weight coming on again, but I was too tired to deal with it.

On a hot summer day in July 2007 I reached my turning point. I was getting dressed for work and my generously sized XL scrubs were tight. I was fat and miserable after 20 plus years of yo-yo dieting. I decided then and there that I was tired of making excuses and lying to myself–I was going to change my life no matter how long it would take, no matter what challenges I might face. I weighed in at 201 pounds.

I knew I needed a plan. I work 12 hour night shifts at a hospital and that is a challenging schedule. I told my husband I needed to make my health a priority and asked for more help at home, which he readily gave.

Instead of setting unrealistic goals like I had always done before, I educated myself on fitness, nutrition and behavior change. I needed to let go of the “all or nothing” mentality that I had adopted during the early years of my life. Instead of beating myself up for every mistake, I learned from them and moved on. As I focused on nutrition and started to eat healthier and move my body, I realized how much better I felt, regardless of weight loss. I was in control and that felt fantastic!

I lost the first 50 pounds in about 7 months. I never felt deprived, so I stuck to my plan and reached my goals. I was exercising about 5 days a week, 30-45 minute sessions of cardio and weight training. In March 2008 I reached my initial goal of 150 pounds but found that I still had work to do. About 7 months later, after lots of hard work, I reached my goal of 124 pounds. Being plus size since I was a teen, I never dreamed I could weigh below 130 pounds or wear size 4!

In November 2008, as I was looking to build strength and muscle, I found Cathe. I was so inspired by her physique, attitude and workouts. I started with Core Max and Muscle Max and loved the results I was getting. My arm and abdominal definition were fantastic!

In December 2008 I fulfilled a dream I’d had for more than 7 years, I got certified as a personal trainer. When I heard about the Cathe Road Trip I was so excited. I was able to secure one of the coveted spots and couldn’t wait to meet Cathe and all the other fit chicks on the forum. Just as I was enjoying my new body and really focusing on health and fitness, I had another setback.

In February 2009 I was diagnosed with an acute onset of autoimmune hypothyroid disease and went through periods of extreme fatigue, depression and muscle/joint pain, as well as a swollen thyroid (compressive goiter). Some days I could not get out of bed. I was not able to exercise much and I worried that I would gain back some weight. I was still dealing with menopause and at times the stress was overwhelming. Instead of giving up, I decided to fight. I had amazing support from my family and friends, who knew how hard I’d worked for my healthy and fit body.

At this point I didn’t know what the future would hold, so I made the difficult decision to cancel my spot for the Road Trip. In May 2009 I had my thyroid removed and have recovered well since then even though I still have challenges and will be on thyroid medication for the rest of my life.

I’m so passionate about health and fitness and now I’m in the best shape of my life. I want to help empower other women and show them that change is possible! A big thanks to Cathe for remaining an inspiration and motivation throughout all of my struggles. I can’t wait to start my STS rotation when Shock Cardio arrives!

11 thoughts on “Change IS possible! – by ellesan

  1. Wow,
    What a great accomplishment!
    I’m so proud of your determination and success! Congratulations on achieving your goals….you look fantastic! Thanks for sharing your awesome journey. How much cardio vs. wt training do you know do and how many rest days do you feel allows you to optimally workout?

  2. jubinmic,

    Thank you so much! An average week looks like this right now for me, but I try to change things up every 4-6 weeks. I try to incorporate workouts that give me both strength training and cardio in one, but if I do a total strength workout (like Muscle Max) then I will follow with a day of cardio to give my muscles some rest. I workout 4-6 days a week, my rest days really depend on my work schedule and how tired I am.

    M-Muscle Max timesaver premix
    T-30 min ellpitical intervals
    W-barre work, light circuit
    S-kickbox, barre work
    Su-off or kettlebells

  3. Hi Sheila,

    Thank you! I had taken several nutriton classes and used my ACE and ACSM personal trainer manuals for references to nutriton as well. I also did a lot of research online. I found “You on a Diet” by Dr. Oz and Roizen very helpful in both understanding nutrition and the psychology of change and weight loss. I’d highly recommend “The Beck Diet Solution” by Judith Beck, for dealing with the mental/emotional aspects of weight loss and maintenance.

  4. What an inspirational story. Congratulations and much continued success to you with your health and fitness.

  5. Way to go, ellesan! Many folks have NO idea what a remarkable accomplishment you have achieved. Unless you’ve gone through it, it’s so hard to really understand. You are beautiful! Perhaps we’ll meet at a future Cathe Road Trip! 🙂

  6. Holy Moly Sandra, you did it! You submitted it!!!! I’m so excited for you and proud of you!!! Hey everyone, I just want to say that Sandra and I became friends over Cathe and she has been an AWESOME inspriation to me, not just because of her story but her support too. When I first “met” her, I was really depressed and she listened and helped me to get out of my funk. She even called me out on some excuses I was trying to use so I could stay in a funk! You know only a true friend can do that and still be a friend! Sandra, YOU ROCK!!!!

  7. @Michelle–thank you so much for your kind words. It’s been a rough journey but it’s been absolutely worth it. I’ve learned so much about me and what I’m capable of–we are so much stronger than we think. I’ve learned so many lessons along the way that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I still have work to do, but I love the woman I have become.

    @Cheryl–Thank you!! You are too kind, I’ll have to pay you later for saying all of that nice stuff. I’m so glad that I could help get you out of that funk! You’ve helped me too, the feeling is mutual. 🙂

  8. I have gone through the change at 38, as well, congratulations on your achievement and all your hard work. When I think back, it was also when I stopped dancing and biking that I went from fit and trim to weight/eating out of control. Congrats again; I love Cathe’s workouts (not saying I do them all perfectly, sometimes it’s all I can manage to do the timesaver three times a week)…even today my chest is still shaking….thanks for sharing your story.

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