Work in Progress Angie: Positive Change is Contagious!

Welcome to the third installment of Works In Progress, the stories of real people who are in the midst of a weight loss journey.  Angie makes a really important observation about how much other people impact your change, and how much your change impacts other people.  Look for inspiration everywhere.  It is in the most unusual places.  Angie talks about how complete strangers on Twitter have influenced, inspired, and supported her efforts, more so than anyone else in her life. Who would have guessed?  And, consider that when you take on a healthy lifestyle it is very likely that you will be the thing that influences, inspires, and supports another persons change, whether you know it or not.  Live healthy and you will make the world a healthier place.  Just like Angie does, every single day.

Name:  Angie

Age:  32

How much do you weigh now?   As of this morning, I weigh 150. I am 5 ft tall.

How much weight do you want to lose?  My next goal is 144, which will be my lowest adult weight ever (I am 32). I plan to practice maintenance for at least a month once I reach that goal. I have an ultimate goal of 128, but I haven’t weighed that since I was probably about 11 or 12 years old. My ultimate goal is definitely not set in stone, more like a number floating around out there.

WHY do you want to lose this much weight?  I definitely want to reach 144 because that’s a weight I haven’t seen since I was 14 (this was also the year I went on my first “diet”). At a height of 5’1, all the charts say I should weigh in the 120s or less, but truly I am going for a ultimate feeling versus an ultimate weight.

How would you feel if you lost half this amount but kept it off forever?  It’s very likely that I would be perfectly content. Weight loss requires A LOT of hard work and truly the ultimate goal is really a feeling versus a number on a scale. That being said, having a number to work toward gives you defined goals and success is difficult to measure without defined goals. For this next phase of my weight loss journey, I plan to focus on losing weight in smaller increments and practicing maintenance for time periods in between before setting a new goal. I think it’s very possible I will find my life-long weight somewhere before 128.

Why do you want to lose weight at all?  GREAT QUESTION. Primarily, my health. Type 2 Diabetes and Congestive Heart Failure have had a strong presence in my family history. Both are diseases related to lifestyle choices, which means I can control my risk for those by losing excess weight, eating healthy, and exercising. Also, I have had 3 surgeries on my right knee (Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis– onset at age 4) and have osteo-arthritis in that joint. Every pound of weight I carry is 4 pounds of pressure on my knees and it’s important for my mobility that I stay at a healthy weight. Lastly, to FEEL the way I like to feel. Vanity has never been adequate motivation for me. But the more weight I lose, the better I feel and I like to feel great. I like feeling healthy and strong.

On a scale from 0 (no confidence at all) to 10 (extremely confident), how confident are you that you can lose the weight?  My confidence that I can reach 144 and then ultimately reach my ideal maintenance weight (or maybe “feeling” is the right word?) is a 10. I will do it. Will I reach 128? My confidence for that is only about a 5, because I think there is a chance I will find my ideal weight prior to that.

On a scale from 0 (not at all difficult) to 10 (extremely difficult), how difficult will it be to lose this weight?  Difficulty level for 144 is a 7. Losing weight has gotten increasingly difficult as I have progressed and I know I will be fighting hard to lose the next 6 pounds. Difficulty level for reaching my ideal weight is 8.5, while getting to 128 is a 10. Maybe 10+.

What motivates you the most?  At first, it was the vision I had of who I knew I could be. Now, I am motivated by looking back and seeing how far I have come in the last few months and knowing I still have more I can accomplish. Recently, I have also been motivated by how my lifestyle change is affecting others. Positive change is contagious!! My friends and family members have been inspired to change and that motivates me in return. I have a team of 4 people that I send motivational texts to at least once a week (after my weigh-in).

How long do you think it will take you to lose this much weight?  I would love to reach my ideal weight by October 17th of this year and I think that’s possible, although it will take a lot of hard work. That will be the one year anniversary of my current weight loss journey. I like setting time deadlines, but I also know that sometimes your body has different plans. Long term weight loss requires patience!!

If you have already started your journey, tell us a little about how things have been going so far.  I started my journey right before the holidays which brought many challenges, and my friends and family didn’t always get it, but I had a made up mind. I have learned a lot and I know how I want to live the rest of my life. I am committed to a healthy lifestyle. I have learned that I MUST be accountable for what I eat whether I am losing or maintaining weight. And I will weigh in at least weekly for the rest of my life. In looking back at where I went wrong so many times in the past, denial was the culprit. I just stopped weighing in, and then stopped being accountable.

How much weight, if any, have you lost so far?  I have lost 21 lbs since Oct. 17th, which was day 1 of my most recent weight loss journey. I have lost 35 lbs since my heaviest known weight (2004).

If you have tried to lose weight before and you either didn’t lose much or you gained it back, what went wrong?  My first success at weight loss was in 2002. While I had wanted to lose weight many times before this, I had never committed myself to it. It required healthy eating and exercise, and I got down to 145. However, I allowed myself to get distracted from my healthy habits and went into denial. Two years after, I hit what was my highest known weight. Looking back, it’s clear to me that my downfall was not weighing in regularly and not being accountable for diet and exercise. Since then, I have had periods of small loss and gain, but I have never committed myself on the level that I am now. To be successful at weight loss, it has to be a priority. You can’t put your health on the back burner.

What is the hardest part about losing weight for you?  Tough question. Can I say more than one thing? Re-thinking traditions is difficult. Unfortunately, like most Americans, many of my personal and family traditions revolved around food. Take Thanksgiving for example. This past year, I knew what was going to be served and so I planned in advance what foods and what portions I would eat. It was hard and definitely a departure from my normal holiday behavior, but I left feeling really great! Thankfully, my family has some healthy traditions as well, like having a family Biggest Loser competition most every year (and my mom is beating me right now!!). I am also helping start some new ones, like going for a run the morning of or a couple of hours after a holiday feast. But probably even harder was making time for exercise. I had to make it non-negotiable. You will never “find” the time to exercise. You will have to fight for it. And if your life is busy, you may even have to give up other things to make it happen. Currently, the hardest part for me is finding the balance between fueling my body adequately for half-marathon training and also losing weight. Running for weight loss and running to race well can be two different things.

Tell us about your diet.  What is the toughest part about dieting?  Hands down the toughest part is planning ahead. My diet mistakes happen when I have not planned well. It takes menu planning, having healthy snacks available, and being prepared for events where gluttony abounds. I love fruits and vegetables and lean protiens. I love eating clean. I am not a fan of most processed foods. But if I haven’t planned well I am setting myself up for a hasty– almost always bad– decision. As far as what has worked for me, I started with Weight Watchers, and I love their program, but switched to counting calories when my husband decided he wanted to get serious about weight loss and announced he was tracking on MyFitnessPal. We currently count calories using that app. I do miss my free fruits and veggies with WW!!

Tell us about your exercise.  I run at least one mile every day (today is day 124 of my runstreak). I am running a half marathon on March 31st. I have been less consistent with strength training and this is a component I know will be necessary to get me to the next level, both with weight loss and running goals.

Tell me about your relationship with exercise? Love it, hate it, on again/off again?  I love to run. I have enjoyed other types of cardio in the past, like aerobic classes or videos, elliptical, walking, etc., but nothing does for me what running does. I have a NEED to run. It’s like a cleansing process for me, and I always have more energy when I am running on a regular basis. I haven’t found my connection with strength training yet. I tend to get bored with it. But I know I am going to find what works for me. I had a good yoga practice a few years ago, and would like to get back into that.

If you hate exercise, which exercise do you hate the LEAST?  Running, obviously, since I have already declared my undying love. As for which exercise I hate the MOST, I tend to hate most any exercise done in a gym. Weight machines, treadmills, etc. I do all my running outside, regardless of weather. I have a small screened-in porch and with Spring here, I am thinking I could make some serious progress with a yoga mat and birds chirping in the background. Just thinking out loud I guess. 🙂

Who has been helpful to you on your weight loss journey?  I would actually say TWITTER. My husband has definitely been supportive and he actually runs with me several times a week (he has lost about 15 lbs this year). It is SO awesome to share my love of running with him!! I have friends and family that continually tell me what a good job I am doing. But unfortunately, if I was having a bad day and just wanted to go drown in a bowl of ice cream, all those people would probably go eat a bowl with me. And if I didn’t feel like running, they would tell me I deserved to take a day off. I am usually the one having to motivate those around me. So when my resolve is running low, I look to Twitter. I follow many people simply for the fact that they inspire me to stay the course. I have also gotten a lot of great information regarding fitness from Twitter. Social media has filled in the missing person in my support team, that person who doesn’t put up with your excuses, who doesn’t let you settle for less than who you COULD be– the person I haven’t had in previous weight loss attempts. I am so grateful for my Tweeps who keep me encouraged! Fitness hashtags like #runstreak and #plankaday have been crucial for me.

What part of the whole process do you need the most help with most?  Currently, I think I need help with finding the balance between eating to lose weight and eating to run. Also, probably just motivation to get the strength training part of my routine consistent.

What questions would you like to ask to people who have lost the weight and kept it off?  What does your current exercise/diet routine look like? What are challenges with maintenance? I have never gotten to a weight where I wanted to focus on maintenance so I am not sure what to expect.

I turned to Mike Bauman, @mbfgmike, Real Life Biggest Loser who said that weekly weigh ins are the key to maintenance.  I want to see if my weight has exceeded a certain threshold (3 lbs over my preferred weight) and if it has then I commit myself to a week of MyFitnessPal, with 100% logging of everything that I eat and burned.  The reality is that I find myself having to do this about once a month.  I’m currently on an injury and unable to do nearly the exercise I used to, and I’m now approaching that threshold.  I’m back to really watching my diet, not having exercise to help out is tough. This is the process and if I keep it up I know I will always stay on track.

What questions would you like to ask me?  As a runner, what are realistic daily calorie goals? I tried 1200 calories/day, but I didn’t feel like I had enough energy to run high mileage so my current calorie goal is 1400/day.

My response:  Your daily calorie goal certainly depends on your activity level and your weight loss goal.  Check out this post:  Calculate your basal metabolic rate and then the Harris Benedict equation to determine how many calories you would need to maintain your weight at your current activity level.  To lose 1 pound per week, subtract 500 calories from that number.  Also keep in mind that these equations are based on averages across people so may not be 100% accurate for any one person–you may find you need to adjust and tweak it over time.

If we want to follow your journey, how do we find you?  Twitter is the best place to find me @angiebpearson. I have a blogger buried within me, I just haven’t brought her to life yet.

Angie lives in Richmond, Kentucky and is the director of a medical adult day center.

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  1. Mbfgmike says:

    Great job Angie! I know you can hit your goal with the attitude you have. It’s awesome to hear you say you have a confident factor of 10 when it comes to hitting your immediate goal of 144!
    Ohhh and of course, PLANK ON!! #plankaday :@)

  2. HippyFitMom says:

    Thanks for sharing. It is interesting to read how different people have different struggles. No one person is the same. I love getting insight on the lives of others. I would like to be a life couch one day and I think that understanding that not one thing works for all people is key.

  3. Angie says:

    Dr. Sherry, I came back and read your interview of me today and it was JUST what I needed… When I was interviewed, I actually didn’t know I was pregnant at the time, and found out just days after this was posted. I am almost 18 weeks now, and admittedly am having a tough time watching my weight creep up after working so hard to lose it. I continued my runstreak until a little over a month ago, when I had a pregnancy complication– unlrelated to running, but I needed to take every precaution, which meant no exercise at the time. That was discouraging. Thankfully, that issue has resolved and I am hoping to resume running some short distances a few times a week.

    Reading this today reminded me of what a strong person I am, and after my pregnancy is completed, I am looking forward to continuing my weight loss journey and raising my child in a healthy home.

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