Welcome to the How They Did It series, where we spotlight one individual and their body transformation. Learn what they did, and how they did it to succeed at their weight loss journey. Today we are featuring Michelle Dunham.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
I am a self-employed 38 year old mother of 2 children. I have a son who is 20, and a daughter who is 16. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I have a passion for fitness, and I teach classes at my local gym. I live a very active and healthy lifestyle. Growing up I was your average girl. I was never “skinny” or “overweight”. I was always active, and very busy. When my son was little, our babysitter decided to go back to school, and I chose to become a stay at home mom. This left me at home all day surrounded by food. I ate when I was hungry, bored, happy, sad, or simply just because it tasted good. I became a couch potato. It didn’t take long at all for the weight to pile on. I went from a very healthy 130 to 196 pounds in a very short time.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
I weighed 196 (+/-) pounds for about 4 years. I was miserable, unhappy, angry, and at times I felt lonely. I accepted my weight gain (mainly because I felt like I was never going to lose it) and I figured this is just who I am. I bought bigger clothes as I outgrew them, and simply felt words like “healthy & fit” were never going to be used to describe me. I knew I had to do something different. Quite frankly I was tired of how I felt, and how I looked. I was tired of the looks and comments I received by strangers, and even people who knew me. One day I woke up and I said to myself “I’ve carried this extra weight and all that goes with it for far too long”. It was time to make changes. Time to get back to the healthy, happy me….no more excuses.
With being a stay at home mom, I didn’t have the extra income to join a gym, so I went and bought a workout video to do at home. I also walked for 30 minutes every day. I stopped eating so much fast food, fried foods, and I quit going back for seconds. I started drinking more water as well. Eventually the weight started coming off, and I was back to my original weight of 130 pounds in about 7 (+/-) months.
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
I have learned so much about nutrition. Truth is, I’m still learning. I’m human, so I do enjoy cake, cookies, and pizza just like anyone else. What I have learned is I can have these “off limit” foods on occasion and in moderation. I have learned to replace foods with healthier options. For example; I use plain Greek yogurt for everything. I’ve learned not to be afraid of foods like grape seed oil, quinoa, chia seeds, or even kale. I eat five small meals each day instead of three. I learned proper portion sizes, and water became my drink of choice. When we dine out, I’m not afraid to ask the waiter/waitress questions about substitutions, or ask for half my dinner to be boxed up before it’s brought to the table. I encourage people to try new foods, new spices, and look for healthier versions of your favorite recipes. Buy, prep, and cook your food at home. You’ll not only save money, but you can control exactly what you are eating.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
I can’t afford the gym, I don’t have time, I’m too out of shape….these are just excuses!! I lost ALL my weight without stepping foot in a gym. I myself don’t have time to exercise either, so I make time. I’m fortunate enough to have a gym membership now, and I wake up every morning at 4:30am, six days a week and go. Boot camp, interval training, spinning, weight training and running have been a major role in my transformation. No matter your choice of exercise, just do it. Everybody has to start somewhere.
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
I have learned so many things during my journey from 196 pounds to 130 pounds. I have learned about nutrition, how to properly fuel my body, and how exercise is beneficial in more than just losing weight. I’ve learned that I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned to push myself, as well as dedication and commitment. I’ve learned to keep going when I feel like quitting. More importantly, I’ve learned that when it comes to being healthy and fit, I am worth it and I deserve it!
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
Unfortunately, people are out to get the “quick fix”. Truth is, diets don’t work. They don’t properly teach you how to eat, and unfortunately, when you stop “the diet”, you eventually gain the weight back. Another common mistake is people often compare themselves to others or those in the media. This can be very discouraging for some, simply because no matter how great they eat or work out, they don’t look like “them”, (due to their body type or genetics) and it causes them to give up.
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
Surround yourself with people who will support you. Find a workout that you enjoy doing, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Make it fun. Get friends or family to join you in your journey. Make eating healthy and exercise a lifestyle. Be consistent and hold yourself accountable. Keep a journal of what you eat, when you eat, and your progress. Set small attainable goals, to be reached one at a time. Most of all, be proud of yourself for choosing to become a better you. Remember, it will take time to see changes, so be consistent. Don’t give up. Your hard work will pay off!!
Be sure to check out the past editions of How They Did It. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the How They Did It body transformation series, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you’re interested. More details will be provided. Don’t be shy. Your story will inspire others!