The following #TransformationTuesday story was submitted by Charlene Bazarian
My weight gain, like many women experience, had been gradual: a few pounds in college, a few more in law school, and then after I got married, got pregnant and after I had my first son and hit an OMG number of 208 lbs. I had treated myself to a day of beauty at the spa before my first son’s Christening, and was mortified when I had to return to the desk and ask the receptionist who appeared to weigh 89 lbs. if they had a larger robe, as the one size fits all robe, was lying. That was my “aha moment.”
While I couldn’t ignore the sizes on my clothes getting larger, I felt a balance of denial and excuses. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, as it seemed like my friends could eat salami sandwiches on white bread with mayonnaise and weigh 108 lbs. I blamed a bad metabolism, my hypoactive thyroid, genetics and anything else I could think of. It was a balance of self-pity, self-disgust and just downright disbelief. I have gone from 208 lbs. to 117-119 lbs. I look at my own “before” pictures, and while I knew I was getting heavier, I never felt THAT big.
After my “spa experience,” I became determined to change. It was one of many times I had said I would lose weight, but something about that event really hit home.
I started very simply by doing home workout videos, and I tried a variety of types of workouts. Any time previously that I had tried to get into shape, I mostly did aerobics or some sort of cardio (walk, step class, etc.) This was the first time in my life that I ever did any sort of weight training, and it was a life changing thing for me. I started to mimic the person I wanted to become so to speak. I subscribed to fitness magazines, watched fitness documentaries, learned everything I could about working out and nutrition. I even took a personal training certification class myself.
I tried all kinds of workouts: Zumba, kick boxing, fat burning, abs, weights, cross training, anything I could get my hands on. I would try to progress to more advanced tapes as they became easier to do. To this day, I still do home workout DVD’s and some of my favorite instructors are Cathe Friedrich, Gilad and Holly Perkins. After months of home workouts, I began training with my first personal trainer, Carla Dunlap. This was life changing. I never would have pushed or challenged myself in so many ways without her incredible knowledge, support and encouragement. When Carla moved to Florida, I found another fabulous trainer in Greg Rando. Besides my DVD workouts and weekly visit to my trainer, I try to stay active in many ways throughout the day.
In a typical day, I do a ten minute yoga stretch in the morning, followed by ten minutes of ab/core work, and then I do 30 minutes of weight training, doing different muscle groups each day to avoid over training or injury. Later in the day, I try to get 30-45 minutes of cardio in by either using my LifeFitness cycle while watching a favorite program, using the elliptical at the gym, running stadium steps, power walking with my neighbor, or going for a bike ride with my boys.
The nutrition component has changed over the years, and now my general rule is to eat foods in their simplest form. I try to eat lean proteins like chicken breast, bison steaks, turkey breast, salmon, and a large portion of vegetables with every meal. I love kale, broccoli, asparagus, and try to avoid to a certain extent peas, corn, or white potatoes. For carbs, I love sweet mashed potatoes, steal cut oats, quinoa, and occasionally brown rice. I work in zoodles (zucchini or summer squash) noodles so I don’t venture into the pasta world. I love Luna bars which I grab for breakfast on the go or alternate with scrambled eggs, an egg white omelette or oatmeal with protein powder. I try to limit my liquid calories to a cran water mixture (100% cranberry juice cut with water, some fresh lime and a smidge of stevia), water, coffee and an occasional wine or martini. I try to limit my alcohol because it lowers my resolve and can cause me to make poorer food choices. I always say, “Moderation is for maintenance!”
I had to change my relationship with food. As I got heavier, going out to eat and going out for drinks, became something to “do.” I now carefully plan my meals, and try to do other things with friends other than just going out to eat, and when we do go out to eat, I suggest sushi or seafood. I have stopped thinking of food as a reward. I haven’t been “good” and deserve a cookie, and I’m not depriving myself by not having certain foods. Rather, I’d be depriving myself of a good body if I gave in to every Golden Oreo cookie that called my name.
I learned that you have to be single minded in your approach and just accept that what I have to do for myself is what I need to do with no envy or resentment. I can’t look at other people and think how unfair it is, that some people have a fantastic metabolism or seem genetically gifted. I learned that there’s no touch down dance. You don’t hit a magic number and celebrate that you’re “done.” I recognized that it’s day to day choices day after day that get you in the shape you want to be in. I knew that well meaning friends and family would sometimes try to tempt you into the “just this once” not working out or having some extra treat, and that you needed to be firm in what you wanted to accomplish. I frequently say I had to make my workouts like “brushing my teeth,” something I just do and not think about. They’re not negotiable. No matter what anyone else is saying or doing, I need to stay on my plan.
My advice to others would be to make a decision that this (being fit) is the most important thing to you. That it’s not selfish to put yourself first by carving out the time to workout and make healthy choices. I hear a lot of people say how busy they are. We’re all busy. I have two businesses, plus a fitness and inspiration blog and social media channels to encourage others, three children, care(d) for my parents, and still make the time to workout. My response is always, “You’re no busier than a fit person.” In fact, I find that working out gives me the strength and energy to tackle all the rest of life. Eating clean, healthy and nutritious foods is also not “depriving myself.” I’m not deprived of not feeling sluggish and bloated by passing up some processed, sugar and fat filled foods. I have come to love the healthy foods I eat. I would never have imagined myself as loving kale, Luna bars, and all kinds of other foods. Like a child who drinks orange soda would never envision drinking coffee, let yourself acquire new tastes and new experiences. Don’t get stuck in your mental images of who you are or what kinds of things you do/don’t do. Be open to change.
- Before weight: 208 lbs.
- Before Body Fat%: 33%
- After weight: 117-119
- After Body Fat%: 14%
I remember friends and family being very encouraging AT FIRST when I began my commitment to a healthier lifestyle. After an initial success in losing some weight, the thing I was most surprised with was what seemed like resentment. Friends would tell me I wasn’t fun anymore if I suggested maybe we get a manicure or go for a walk as opposed to going out for drinks and apps. My family seemed to want to interrupt my morning home workouts to ask me for help with one matter or another. Well meaning friends would have never-ending “just this once,” “have one little piece,” and “everything in moderation” comments for me. I was undeterred by all of it, but it did require me to have a few tough conversations to be clear that this wasn’t a fad for me. I realized to be successful; I needed to be single minded in my quest to get in shape. I didn’t give into feeling guilty or sad for how the time and decisions I made for myself made others feel. Eventually the day came when everyone just accepted the new normal. People knew I was never going to order the “Blooming Onion” and my children know that unless the house is burning down or someone is bleeding, mom’s workout time is non-negotiable.
If I could tell my younger self to not be a cardio queen, but lift weights, and lift heavy, I’d have done myself a huge favor. Pretend your future self is giving you advice now, telling you not to make excuses, get your workouts in, and quit the “I’ll start Monday” mentality. I’d suggest they shop down the outside aisles of the supermarket to avoid processed foods their body doesn’t need, and most importantly, I’d tell them there is no finish line. You don’t get to stop when you hit that magic number on the scale. I make deals with myself. I try to have a general rule of not watching TV unless I’m on my LifeFitness Cycle or the elliptical. I always check menus on line before I go to a restaurant, so I don’t get distracted, and order something I’ll regret.
The birth of my FBJ facebook persona has been the greatest change to my life. When I first lost weight, a few high school girl friends messaged me on facebook asking me how I had lost weight, and I began giving them advice on what worked for me. I began commenting if they’d check in at restaurants, about what they were ordering, they’d text me from restaurants, asking me what to order, and I earned the nickname “Facebook Jillian” as a joke, as I was always trying to encourage them to bust any excuses why they couldn’t work out. As they began losing weight, several of their friends started messaging me as well, and I created a facebook page dedicated to giving diet/fitness tips, sharing healthy recipes and overall fitness inspiration. The page has grown to having 2400 followers, and I have met people for the first time who’ll tell me they follow my page and that it helps inspire them. I have found this page to be my labor of love, and try to share advice and inspire those who follow it. I find that doing the page keeps me on the straight and narrow as I try to set a good example. There have been several occasions I’ve been at a party, and someone will come up to me and tell me that they follow my page, and ask me questions. One time I was at a season end soccer party for my son, and I joked back, “good thing I was having the salad and not the pizza!”
If I had to pick my absolute favorite move, I’d say it’s running stadium steps. A friend and I try to meet on Sundaymornings at the local high school, and run/jog/crawl up the stadium steps. We try to mix it up by doing them one at a time up and down, then two at a time up and down and then three at a time up and down. When we finish all the aisles of the bleachers three times, we then walk the track a few times to catch up on life and vent. I find nothing quite hits your leg muscles like this, and it always makes me feel like Rocky!
There isn’t one part of my life that’s the same. I do almost everything differently from food shopping, to cooking, to what I do with my spare time, to the magazines I read, right down to almost never taking an elevator anymore. I tell myself that my workouts give me the strength and focus to handle all the rest of my life, and it’s true.