Emily Gant (HOPEFULCHANGE)
Weight Lost: 67 pounds
Hometown: Ozark, MO
What was life like before your weight loss?
After getting married in 2004, I put on some weight. Then, I had my first child in 2006 and another in 2008. I gained a significant amount of weight with each pregnancy, with very little loss in between the two, which left me with quite a bit of extra weight packed onto my small frame. While pregnant, I developed horrible eating and exercising habits. I ate a lot-- whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! Plus, my activity level was next to nothing. I was always out of breath just doing the simplest things. I never wanted to go anywhere or do anything because I was ashamed and embarrassed about who I was. I hurt; not just physically but emotionally as well.
What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?
One day I put on my “fat pants”, and the loosest hole in my belt had become, once again, too small. I could feel the skin from my rolls touching. My face had changed so much. I thought: “This has to stop.” I couldn't stand myself any longer. The time had definitely come. The only question that remained was, “how?”
What are some obstacles that you experienced during your weight loss journey and how did you handle them?
Many people fall off the wagon completely, especially those who are in for a quick fix. Stuff is going to happen: you’re going to make poor food choices occasionally, you’re going to slack off on exercising from time to time, but the difference is you keep going anyway. Forgive yourself and move on. You may blow it here and there, but you don’t fail until you give up.
Thankfully, I never completely fell off the wagon, however I did get extremely frustrated when my weight loss would get “stuck” and I couldn’t seem to move beyond a particular number or size. I just kept going, trying to up my workouts, being extra cautious of what and how much I was consuming and most importantly, focused on the fact that I was, in fact, healthy. There were times it took months of going back and forth with the same five pounds, but eventually I would break through, just never give up!
Early on in my journey, I experienced a major negative experience. While I was out trying to go for a run, I was actually taunted and made fun of for my running and it hurt! Yes, I got upset and yes, it made me consider stopping. But then, I made my mind up to use that as motivation to keep pushing! Besides, I was out running and bettering myself; while those people weren’t getting any healthier by teasing me. People who really care don’t judge those trying to be healthy and the ones who do judge or mock, their opinion just isn’t worth your time.
Tell us a bit about your weight loss journey:
I knew all those fad diets and pills didn't work in the long run, so I went online and did a search for “free weight loss programs” and SparkPeople was the top result. I knew nothing about the numbers behind losing weight, but I was willing to do whatever was necessary. Much to my surprise, I wasn't just overweight; my weight fell in the “obese” category, which gave me even more motivation to make it happen. So, I began making the changes needed to meet my goals. I counted calories and stayed in the range I was given. I figured out how to burn the amount of calories needed to reach my weight loss goal for each week. I lost 50 pounds in nine months!
Running has played a huge part in reaching my goal; however, I soon started having injuries. They slowed me down but never completely stopped me. I simply adapted. As I struggled with running injuries, I turned to Zumba and really enjoyed it. In early 2012, I ran three races pretty close together: a 15k, my second half marathon a few weeks later and a 10k three weeks after that. I found out that I was pregnant with my third child at the time of my races. I continued running as long as I was comfortable. As my pregnancy progressed, I was unable to continue. But, I kept attending Zumba instead until the end of September. I delivered my son in November 2012 via Cesarean section followed by an emergency surgery five days later. It was a lot to recover from, but three months after giving birth I was back to running, doing Zumba, shadow boxing, toning, and whatever else I could do to get back to the exact condition I was in before. Staying active throughout my pregnancy made it much easier to get back into my previous exercise routine.
SparkPeople gave me the information and knowledge on HOW to lose the weight, gave me the tools to do what I needed to, and the community to encourage, inspire, and push me. I love SparkPeople and I believe it is an amazing tool to help us reach our goals!
What is your typical exercise routine like?
I run, and then I run some more! I do still go to Zumba on occasion, especially when I’m not training for a race. I enjoy being active in general, especially if it’s outdoors.
Do you have any upcoming fitness or health-related goals?
Just last week, I ran my third half-marathon, which I spent a lot of time training for during the past few months. My other goals include dropping the remaining 10 pounds from pregnancy and I’m seriously considering running my first full marathon in 2014! I’m excited!
How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss?
I pay way more attention to what goes into my body, I try to have the mindset that food is my fuel, and I need to choose wisely. I do still eat things like pizza, ice cream, or cake; but it’s ALL about moderation and portion control. I also usually do a larger portion of veggies/fruits than my main course with a meal, and for seconds I tend to only take more veggies/fruits instead of starches. I try to be mindful of selecting a grilled option rather than fried option, or a smoothie rather than ice cream, for example. It’s all about making better choices. It’s HARD in the beginning, but over time it just becomes habit.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight loss program?
Be fully committed; think of it as a lifestyle change versus a diet. Do not expect results overnight, because those won’t last. Instead, have the mindset of ‘slower but off for life’. Get an accountability partner to keep you on track and to cheer you on. Use everything as motivation, not just positive, but negative as well! It can either throw you off the wagon or fuel your fire, if you let it.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
I feel amazing! I'm proud of who I am. I worked hard for my weight loss and have always had the mindset of this being a lifestyle change, not a diet. Now, I love being active and my energy is sky-high compared to before my weight loss journey. My self-esteem and self-confidence are like night and day from how I used to be. I feel like I could honestly do anything I set my mind to. I love who I am, inside and out.
Wonderful job, Emily!
*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.
Have you lost weight and kept it off using SparkPeople.com? We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com
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