Name: Marilyn S.
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LIVESTRONG.COM Username: msmith117 (member since 2008)
Age: 51 Height: 5'5"
Before Weight: 245 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 18
After Weight: 165 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 12/14
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Before joining LIVESTRONG.COM I tried to lose weight, but it was mostly up and down. I was uncomfortable with my body and didn't like going out or shopping for clothes. I pretty much ate what I wanted and didn't understand the degree to which what you ate (or didn't eat) could hurt or help.
After I started learning about tracking calories on LIVESTRONG.COM I realized the importance of eating to live. I knew that if I was going to be serious about losing weight (and keeping it off) it would have to be a lifestyle change, not a diet.
Before joining LIVESTRONG.COM my diet included a lot of fried foods, white bread, rice and pasta. I wasn't big on vegetables (other than corn). I loved my desserts — especially chocolate.
My only exercise was typical daily walking (and only when necessary). My overall health was OK, but I was living with obesity and had issues with my back and hips as a result.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Seeing two of my plus-size cousins sharing their workouts on Facebook inspired me to start thinking about trying to lose weight. I was finally motivated to start pursuing my own weight-loss journey when I realized that my daughter was getting married and I was turning 50 within the span of a couple of months. Thinking about how I wanted to look in photographs from those events was a turning point for me.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
LIVESTRONG.COM helped me come up with a plan that worked for my goals. There were so many options — meal plans, workouts and stories about what did and didn't work for others — that eventually I found things that I liked. A weight-loss doctor I went to introduced me to tracking calories with the LIVESTRONG.COM Calorie Tracker app.
I did the STRONGER workouts (alone at first, then later in a class). I fell in love with high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. Discovering that there were ways to exercise that didn't require hours at a time was great! Although I didn't participate on the community message boards, I did read the posts of others. It took me close to two years to put everything I learned into practice and lose 80 pounds.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
My family was my main support team. And I also relied on a Facebook support group I joined called Lean Strong Fast for support in my journey.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
In the beginning I used to walk on my treadmill or outdoors; sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. I also ride my stationary bike in my bedroom. But my favorite way to work out currently is in my HIIT class.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
My daily exercise routine includes crunches, reverse crunches, squats, planks and burpees, and I take a HIIT class on Wednesdays when I'm able. I also include the exercise of the day that's shared on the Lean Strong Fast Facebook group in my daily routine.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
My favorite breakfast is oatmeal with fruit. Lunch is often baked tilapia with vegetables and, occasionally, wheat melba toast. Dinner is typically baked chicken breast with broccoli. Snacks are usually apples because they are filling and I love them, though I do eat a variety of other fruit for snacks as well.
I eat three meals and two snacks a day, and my favorite food is actually broccoli. My best tip would be to drink plenty of water and eat fresh vegetables and fruit daily. I'm also a fan of juicing when you can.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
I always keep broccoli, apples, oranges, cabbage, carrots, a variety of fish and lots of water on hand in my kitchen.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
When I was actively trying to lose weight I would prep my food in advance by weighing, measuring and portioning serving sizes. I planned my meals two weeks in advance to be safe and make sure I was prepared.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
The biggest challenge I faced was giving up bread. I loved it, but it didn't love me back. I ate bread with every meal, and it just sat around my waist.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Set goals for yourself and keep a weight and exercise diary. Start as slow as you need to. Don't worry about trying too many complicated exercises in the beginning; just work your way up to the more challenging stuff. Don't feel discouraged if you need to modify an exercise or if you can't do it for as long as you'd like. Remember, you weren't even doing it at all yesterday! Even if you only exercise during the commercials at first, that's a start. And every little bit helps.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
My life now is great. I love my body (and shopping). I enjoying going out now. I no longer have to worry about finding something to wear because nothing fits: Now I have so many wonderful options!
I still use LIVESTRONG.COM for recipes and exercises. There's always something new to try, even if it's a variation of something old, tried and true. I still read the success stories because there's always something to inspire me.
My diet is so much better now that I eat so many vegetables (not just corn) and stay away from fried foods and bread. My overall health has dramatically improved. My back and hips are in much better shape. I used to not even be able to sit on the floor. Now I can do that with my legs crossed Indian-style!
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.