How LIVESTRONG.COM Helped Maddie B. Lose 38 Pounds and Feel More Confident
By ANN RUSNAK
First Name and Initial of Last Name: Maddie B.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: Mblanchard8890
LIVESTRONG.COM Member since: February 2014
Height: 5 feet 4 inches
Weight: 148 pounds
Dress/Pant Size: 6 to 10
Weight: 110 pounds
Dress/Pant Size: 0 to 4
1. LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
I was always naturally small when I was younger. I went through a growth spurt in my preteens when I gained a considerable amount of weight without getting taller. My height eventually caught up, but those years were difficult for me. I believe that my body-image issues originated during that period of my life. I was made fun of and judged for my size, and that stuck with me. By the time I was 14 I was back to a healthy height and weight. I felt that I could eat whatever I wanted and didn't often exercise intentionally. I danced in high school and walked many miles a day during college, and that helped me stay in a healthy weight range without monitoring my diet closely. Anyone who looked at me would think I was slim and healthy, but I still didn't really see myself that way. After I graduated from college I got married, moved off campus and started a desk job. This, combined with eating the same as I always did, led to considerable weight gain over the course of approximately eight months.
2. LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
My body image issues were exacerbated by my weight gain. I felt horrible about my body, but I told myself that it was natural to gain weight after college and that I shouldn't be worried about it. Eventually, I looked in the mirror and decided that I needed to make a change. I downloaded the LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker app (formerly known as MyPlate) in February 2014 and started counting calories.
3. LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
At first I only used the LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker to track my calories. As months passed, I discovered the Community feature in the Calorie Tracker app and started reading the many posts. LIVESTRONG community members helped me to realize the dangers of undereating and the value in making sure my calories were from wholesome, nutrient-filled foods. I also learned about valuable tools like heart rate monitors through the Community, and I have been encouraged and motivated to work out consistently. It took me approximately six months to lose the first 30 pounds, and I have slowly lost the last eight pounds over the past 10 to 12 months.
4. LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
My husband has been amazing during my weight-loss journey. When I told him that I was taking this journey seriously he always encouraged me by helping with food prep and by discouraging unhealthy eating habits. I also have some close friends I shared my journey with who encouraged and supported me. They affirmed my progress and were always willing to talk when I had a rough day.
5. LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
Running is one of my favorite forms of exercising now. I used to hate running with a passion, but I have slowly gotten faster and run longer distances. Now I use it as a form of stress relief. My goal is to run three times a week. I am considering signing up for a 5K race. I also enjoy lifting weights and am trying to focus more on strength training and building muscle.
6. LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
I usually try to run for a few miles and follow my run with a weightlifting session. Each week's schedule is usually a little different, but I strive to work out at least twice during the week and once on the weekend. Some weeks I do more, others less. I also take a 30-minute walk during my lunch break every workday.
7. LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
I eat three meals a day with snacks interspersed in between. My breakfast is usually small, my lunch medium and my dinner large. I usually have a midmorning snack, a midafternoon snack and an evening snack. I always strive to prepare my meals and snacks ahead of time so I'm not left scrambling for food when I'm at work and don't have easy access to healthy options. I usually pack beef jerky, veggies and hummus as snacks, along with the occasional protein bar. I eat a lot of chicken and vegetables with my meals. Some of my favorites are roasted asparagus, sweet potato, baked broccoli, various fruits, chicken Caesar wraps, chicken quesadillas and chicken pesto pizzas using a low-carb tortilla.
8. LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
I strive to eat 1,600 net calories a day. I don't formally count my calories anymore, so some days I eat slightly less and other days I eat slightly more, depending on various events and workouts. I always make sure to eat above my BMR and try not to be too hard on myself if I have a day that is slightly below or above my calorie goal.
9. LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
I always have frozen chicken, various fresh vegetables and fruits, low-carb tortillas, shredded and block cheese, wheat bread, beef jerky, hummus, turkey bacon, Greek yogurt, lettuce, turkey sausage and so on. Vegetables and fruits typically vary based on what is on sale and freshly available, but there are always plenty in our fridge!
10. LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
I try to wash and cut vegetables one evening at the beginning of the week so that I can quickly grab them when prepping meals. My husband (wonderful man that he is) will usually cook chicken twice a week so that we have it available for lunches and dinners. I almost always pack a lunch to bring to work, and when I don't have time to make a lunch or have run out of healthy foods for lunch, I have meals that I like at nearby restaurants that fit my calorie goal. I usually do my main grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday, and I might make a supplemental trip once throughout the week.
11. LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
The biggest challenge I faced was not becoming too obsessive over counting calories and working out. I found that I would get overly anxious if I couldn't meal plan as well as I wanted to or if I missed a workout. I am working on being more relaxed while also planning ahead so that healthy choices are easier to make. I would advise anyone wishing to better their health to develop a plan that works for them and to gradually ease into it -- too much change all at once can be overwhelming and lead to burnout.
12. LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
I personally think that if you want to achieve long-term change you have to want the change for yourself. Internal motivation was my key to success. You also have to be content with steady, slow progress. The changes are more likely to stick if the progress is slow and steady.
13. LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
Right now I am focusing on becoming stronger and building muscle through weightlifting, and I can feel the difference! I am also working on improving my running times and distances. I still use the LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker, mostly to read posts on the Community message boards.
Ann Rusnak is LIVESTRONG's Sr. Community Manager. Her quest to lose the "baby weight" before the "baby" finished elementary school sparked an interest in health and fitness that continues to be a passion to this day. She loves hiking and yoga, and thinks the best exercise is one you can do with a good friend. Over the years, Ann's desire to fit into a certain size has evolved into what she feels is the more important goal of feeling good and having energy to live life to its fullest.