In 2009, Lori (LORI-K) was sedentary, ill with respiratory issues from 23 years of heavy smoking and ate poorly. Although she was never severely overweight, Lori knew she was unwell. With a husband and three children who were depending on their mom, Lori decided the time had come to start making changes to improve her health.
Lori's first step was to quit smoking, and that goal prompted her to join SparkPeople. "I had several failed attempts at quitting until an illness scared me enough to get serious about becoming smoke-free," she recalls. At just 41 years old, Lori was told that she had the lung capacity of a 95-year-old woman, which left her petrified. Lori was prescribed medication to help her quit smoking but it had some negative side effects. At that point, she turned to willpower, walking and drinking a lot of water to deal with the cravings.
"At first the walks were very short. A block and back is all I could do," Lori recalls. As time passed and she began feeling better, her walks got longer and longer. Eventually she decided to try a 5K training program and began running. "I went from being very sick and having a hard time breathing to eventually running long distances including a half-marathon just three years after I quit smoking," Lori proudly states.
While starting a regular exercise program was important, Lori knew she also needed to change the way she was eating. "I was a self-professed junk food junkie," Lori admits. "[My kids were young] so I ate a lot of fast food [and] their snacks, or [I] didn't eat at all." As she spent more time on SparkPeople and learned about proper nutrition, Lori began to realize that her diet needed serious changes. "I started logging all of my food which was an eye-opening experience," she says. By logging, she was able to see how she was doing relative to her recommended calorie and nutrient ranges and identify where she needed to make serious changes.
Injury Leads to a Shift in Routine
In 2016, a foot injury derailed her running progress. "I knew I had to do something to stay active," says Lori. "My husband had been lifting weights for a while, so I joined him and did upper-body strength training while I was unable to run."
Instead of becoming a temporary solution, weight-lifting became a passion that Lori has pursued ever since. "I quickly came to love weight-lifting as I started getting strong, seeing changes in my body and changes in my overall mood." Lori says she gained confidence, improved her posture, experienced less anxiety and stress, and had an improved sense of well-being as a result of her strength training. "I've been lifting weights for two years now. I'm almost 51 and healthier than I've ever been," she declares.
Lori's fitness routine includes a structured weight-lifting plan as well as regular cardio exercise such as running, rowing, elliptical and high-intensity interval training. Lori treats her fitness routine like a job that counts on her to be there every day. Consistency is key.
"I weight train five to six days a week for at least an hour but usually longer," Lori says. "I follow specific lifting plans and switch them up every six to 10 weeks or so; upper body is my favorite (chest, shoulders and arms)."
Lori isn't afraid to lift heavy and encourages other women to challenge themselves in the weight room. "Don't be afraid of 'bulking up'," she advises. "Weight-bearing exercises are important as we age and naturally begin to lose muscle mass. I've been lifting for a little over two years, and from my experience, it takes daily, lengthy and focused lifting to start developing [significant muscle mass]."
Lori's Advice for Newbies
Although Lori joined SparkPeople for support and resources when she quit smoking, she's still an active member nine years later. She tracks all of her fitness and food to measure progress, and says she sees better results when she's consistently tracking. "The friends I've made here and the support I've found have been amazing," Lori says. She reads member blogs for inspiration and enjoys participating in SparkChallenges for an added boost of motivation.
For someone just starting out on their wellness journey, Lori believes that anything is possible. "Anyone is capable of making big changes as long as they are consistent with fitness and proper nutrition. Experiment with different food plans and activities until you find something you enjoy that produces your desired results."
Lori has a few valuable tips to share with new members: "[In addition to] logging your food and exercise, take pictures along the way," she advises. "Pictures show a much better measure of progress than the scale. Also, take measurements [since sometimes you can see a loss of inches even if the scale isn't moving] and journal your thoughts. These tools have been very helpful for me."
Over the past nine years, Lori has become discouraged many times when she wasn't seeing the results she'd expected. "There have been times when I lost all motivation and direction," she recalls. "What I have learned is that my motivation won't always be there, but discipline and willpower is what gets me through the rough patches. I remember why I started and get it done even when I don't feel like it. I just keep moving. With consistency, every weight lifted, every repetition performed, every step walked or run, and every wise food choice adds up to big changes over time," Lori believes.
How has weight training made positive changes to your body? Share in the comments below and congratulate Lori on her amazing progress!
More From SparkPeople