Name: Mary Kay Z.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: mkzabek
LIVESTRONG.COM Member since: Nov 9, 2009
Height: 5 ft 10 in
Weight: 180-190 pounds
Dress/Pant Size: 14
Waist: 32.5 inches as of Feb 3, 2010
Weight: 155 pounds
Dress/Pant Size: 6
Waist: 27 inches
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Mary Kay Z.: Prior to joining LIVESTRONG.COM in 2009, I was doing Weight Watchers. When I got married in 2003 I was in the 150-pound range and was able to shed about 15 pounds using the Weight Watchers program.
I have always been active but prior to being married, was not committed to nutrition or fitness as I am now. After I was married, I was less committed to both nutrition and fitness. Because I was married, I figured "what the heck." Also, I'm very tall and any weight added didn't result in "rolls" per se - but I knew it was there.
Around 2007 I started to go to the gym regularly after work and I would sweat, but I was never sore the next day and if I was, I didn't work out for a few days thereafter. The weekends started on 4pm on Friday at happy hour and then pizza afterward.
Outside of that my husband and I were relatively healthy as he's an avid a runner. We rarely ate red meat, we didn't fry anything (other than Friday happy hour) and we always had salads and vegetables. I was always on the fence with Weight Watchers, trying to stay within my points. I ate all of the right foods, but it didn't seem to matter. I didn't know anything about nutrition for athleticism and working out.
In 2009 I saw my arms in a photo and I think I cried...or was really close to it. All I heard from my friends/family was "you're so tall, you're not so fat!" But I'd had enough. At that same time, my husband was told that he had high cholesterol — very high. As the doctor described what he should be eating, it was as if he was describing our everyday meals and snacks - so we were left confused.
After some further research, my husband decided to become vegan in the winter of 2009 to combat the cholesterol, as he did not want to have to take modern medicine. At that time, I said, "What the heck... if he can do it, I can do at least vegetarian." It was also around the time of lent so it was the perfect "excuse" to try something. So we both changed our eating habits a bit and it really wasn't that hard. I'm not sure I lost any weight though, as I still ate way too much food.
That November after deciding something had to give with me, I stumbled upon LIVESTRONG.COM and the idea of counting calories on MyPlate and knowing which foods to put in versus what your body puts out, as well as portion sizes. It was so much easier than Weight Watchers! I'm not sure how or why but something just clicked and somehow it made sense that I could eat a ton of food and be within my limits as long as the food was "good quality!" Cha-ching!
I started really doing the work at the gym too. I researched workout plans and really got down to business and my husband signed up for running races. We supported each other. At the same time, my best friend and co-worker teamed up with me and we were in it together. We officially weighed-in weekly with each other. It was all coming together.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Mary Kay Z.: I saw a picture... I'm not exactly sure which one, but there are several I keep around as a reminder. I just didn't want to be a "big girl" any longer.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose the weight?
Mary Kay Z.: I was accountable for my food and I was committed to having a nice body. I wanted muscles. I love muscles and I think they are extremely sexy on a woman. I didn't want to be a beefed up bodybuilding type, but I wanted muscles and to be "jacked." The community I engaged with was my husband and best friend at work so wherever I went, I was surrounded by health and fitness and the determination of being healthy and fit.
I used MyPlate daily and for the first few years, on the weekends and some holidays. I made myself account for EVERYTHING from a slice of pizza to the occasional French fry. It's a wonderful tool because almost every food on the planet is available and the nutrition info is accurate. It took me about a year to lose the weight.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system?
Mary Kay Z.: At the time, it was my husband and his health as well as my best friend/co-worker. I used LIVESTRONG.COM daily and honestly, that's all we talked about. Food and what it "cost" (calories) and how long I would have to run or spin to burn 500 calories for a bigger dinner etc.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Mary Kay Z.: Myself. It's so easy to say "it's just one night of pizza." It was a process to train myself to remember how it felt to be in a smaller pant size. My neighbors liked to party at the time and we all hung out together and just sat around "picking" at food and drinking. They weren't pushy or mean about me trying to cut back but it came down to me again. I had to be strong enough to be better for myself.
I also became separated/divorced about three years ago, which didn't help. I was in limbo in my living arrangements and was living further away from my work. I really struggled to make time to properly prepare my food and get my exercise in. I really had to rely on myself and make myself do what was needed because I started to feel lousy.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are your BIGGEST secret(s) to success that you want to share with others?
Mary Kay Z.: Weight lifting. Back then it was light weights for me because I was scared, like the majority of women are. But as I saw my definition increase when my weights increase, I was ecstatic! You have to start somewhere. For instance, start with pushups on your knees and then once you have the hang of that, try and see if you can do just one "real" push up or hold your plank just five or 10 seconds longer than you did yesterday.
Coming home from the gym soaking wet made me feel like I did something, like I'm a total bad-ass. I didn't use a trainer. I used myself because it's only me that can get anything accomplished with my body.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What is your life like now?
Mary Kay Z.: After I hit the 35 pound weight loss mark, I thought, now what? Do I keep doing what I was doing? And I had to say "yes." Nothing should change, because if it does, then my body is going to change back as well and that was something I didn't like.
Since 2009, I've severely increased my activity. I love lifting weights and I've started to ride a road bike as well as incorporated cross-fit and TRX training. Some people are runners but I'm a cyclist. On the weekends I ride 50-60 miles with a group of people that I found have the same athleticism and nutrition values that I do and that's literally all we talk about while riding. Food. What's good, what new things we've tried and what other physical activities we've done.
I've done a triathlon, cycled thousands of miles, become a better runner and started to hike the high peaks of New York and I love to cook. I also haven't weighed myself on my own scale in well over a year. That was hard. I notice how my pants fit and adjust myself from there. I actually think I've put on some weight as I've increased my muscle mass. This year I started to focus on more definition and strength in my legs as I've always been thick from the waist down. Slowly since January I've started to see some change in my bottom half.
As I'm on my own now, it's still a struggle every day to get the proper foods and nutrients and to make time for it. I just know in the back of my mind how quick the "big girl" can come back and I don't want that. I've learned how to properly fuel my body for optimal running and long-distance cycling, and it requires a lot of planning and commitment. The work is well worth the reward.
I love my body. I love being an athlete, albeit not on any podium, but I love competing against myself and seeing the look of awe on people's faces when I tell them what I did in my work out.