In June, we asked our Facebook fans, “Who’s been an inspiration to you?” Patty named her daughter-in-law, Nancy, as her inspiration in the comments. About two years ago, Nancy committed to healthy eating and regular exercise and, so far, has lost 113 pounds! She is feeling confident, energized, and happy with the changes in her life.
We thought Nancy’s attitude and determination were so amazing we wanted to share her story with the rest of our fans. We asked Nancy some questions recently about her new healthy lifestyle, and below are some excerpts from that conversation.
Q: What prompted you to try to live a healthier lifestyle?
A: I’ve always been overweight since I was little. I’ve tried different diets and all that crazy stuff. What really hit it for me was when I flew back home [in September 2011] and had to get a seatbelt extension and all that hoo-hah. When I got home, my family was complimenting me on how good I looked. I stepped on the scale and saw I was actually heavier than the last time I was home. I thought: I’m changing. This is it.
Q: What are the biggest differences between how you live and eat now versus before?
A: I actually realized it’s not about dieting. You just have to make this whole lifestyle change. You just have to know it’s not going to happen overnight. You have to realize this is how you want to live your life.
Q: How do vegetables fit into your healthy eating plan?
A: I just make sure there are lots of vegetables in what I’m cooking. I don’t care what vegetable; I just want to make sure there are vegetables in my meal. I try to throw vegetables in as often as I can. I love juicing.
Q: How have you seen your life change since you adopted a healthier lifestyle?
A: You start getting active. I don’t like sitting still. I just want to experience different things. Before, you’re just so scared to try, so you end up not doing anything.
It really is tough to explain the emotional journey that goes with a weight loss journey, especially when you've been overweight and unhealthy your entire life. There are just so many emotional scars that you have to overcome.
A lot of people who are overweight (especially if they were overweight as a child) have been put through hell and back. We've suffered name calling, bullying, feeling left out, feeling that you don't fit in, just knowing how uncomfortable it is to try to squeeze into a classroom chair, lacking self-esteem, etc.
Now, my whole attitude is a complete turnaround. I used to be sort of kind of confident, but once the weight came off my confidence skyrocketed. I don’t care what the obstacle is; I feel fierce and powerful—I’m just going to destroy it.
Q: What inspires you to stay healthy?
A: I look at old pictures and just know that I never want to be that again. It helps remind me where I came from. It’s all mental. You can do anything you set your mind to. I admit, I love looking at myself in the mirror and I’m like, “Oh, wow!”
Q: You help inspire others, too? [Nancy runs a Facebook page and a Facebook group with tips on being healthy and active.]
A: It wasn’t my goal to inspire others. I’m surprised I have and I’m really glad that I have. I’m such a perfectionist; I didn’t want to start blabbing about my journey and then fail. I started putting myself out there as a way to not fail. It’s been really nice having a support group and sharing ideas and recipes and different activities to do.
Q: What’s one thing that has surprised you during this journey?
A: Just passing that one month mark, where I thought I would fall back into my old habits was a total surprise. I didn’t think I would enjoy cooking so much and eating vegetables, that I would enjoy eating healthy and working out. I’m surprised I’ve actually embraced the lifestyle and I’m enjoying it. I never thought I would be this happy with myself. I have so much energy.
I finished my first 5K in March and thought I would die, but you start to realize that you're not going to die when you decide to push yourself.
When you go through this journey and start doing things you’ve never done before, it’s empowering to realize you have been in control this whole time and it’s amazing to realize you have the power to do whatever you put your mind to.
Q: What would you tell someone out there wishing to make a change but thinking they could never be healthy?
A: I would tell them to quit making excuses. Ever since I started, I know the change is possible. You don't have to do what I did—I just woke up one morning and just started walking for 2 hours. You just have to make some kind of change in the right direction.
Regardless of how you start, you just have to start. Walking 10 minutes a day, or substituting whole wheat for white bread. Start somewhere; once you start seeing changes, it’s addicting. Once you start losing, you just want more. You just have to start and no more excuses.
I wish I wouldn’t have taken so long to find "it" in me. Whatever snapped to cause this change, I wish it would have snapped sooner, but I’m glad it snapped.