It’s stories like these that I get excited about. No secrets, no magic pills, nothing supernatural, just hard work and determination. Taryn’s story is a great example of how you can accomplish anything. She went from 310 to 160 pounds and feels her absolute best. Enjoy this inspiring interview and see how exactly she accomplished this!
1 – Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you accomplished.
My name is Taryn and I am from Loveland, Colorado. I am 28 years ago. I have struggled with being overweight for my entire life. Two years ago I found myself at a shocking 310 pounds and in size 22 jeans. After committing to a healthy lifestyle full of clean eating, running, and exercising, I am proud to say that just over 2 years later, I have lost 150 pounds and am in the best shape (physically and mentally) than I have been in my whole life!
2 – What inspired you to take action and make this incredible change?
People often ask me, “What changed? Why did you decide to get healthy?” And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I wish I could say I had some romantic moment where I had the whip cream aerosol can in my mouth and heard a divine voice say, “Taryn, this is not the life for you,” but no. I had no “this is the time I’m going to succeed!” mentality, no “aha, I’ve hit rock bottom, I need to climb my way out!” moment. I had a few motivators, sure, including a far-away dream of being a certain size and looking a certain way. But mainly the reason I started getting healthy is…well…that’s what you do when you’re heavy – you think about losing weight and being thin, yet never really thinking you will.
3 – Did you find it difficult to stay on track during the process?
Old habits die hard, this I learned very quickly. For 26 years I was in a cycle of high sugar, high fat, high salt (highly addictive!) food consumption, emotional binge eating, and having a damaging relationship with food (food as comfort, as celebration, as reward). On top of that, let’s be honest – committing to 6 days a week working out is not always going to sound so appealing…so YES! I often found (and still find!) it difficult to stay on track. Nobody is perfect, so give that up today – because you will succumb to temptation, and that’s ok. But it’s important that you don’t allow it to spiral into days, weeks, months of unhealthy eating and missed workouts.
4 – What helped you stick with it and not give up? Because I know it can get tough.
Revisiting my motivations for losing the weight was key. I put post-it notes on my bathroom mirror with goals I had in mind, those scale related and non-scale related. I spent a TON of time on pinterest pinning motivational quotes (My absolute favorite: “I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday”), healthy recipes, workout routines, and articles on health and fitness. I celebrated each and every success, not just pounds lost, but things like being able to wrap a single bath towel around my body, shopping at clothing stores I never was able to because they didn’t carry my size, healthy doctor’s visits, getting a PR in running, etc. The biggest thing I would attribute to my success was the hard work I put in to establishing a great support structure, all of whom helped me be accountable for working towards my goals. I let my family and close friends know what I was up to, I committed to working out with friends, I joined Facebook groups with others who were in their health journey and met new friends that way. I sought the help of a therapist to help me deal with my anxiety around food.
5 – Were your friends and family encouraging you during the experience? If so, do you find it helped you stay motivated and kept you going?
Yes and no. You learn a lot about who your “friends” are when you go through such a life-changing experience. Those who stuck around and continued to support me are the ones who really matter, and those that fill your time with negative talk (“You’re losing weight too fast…you shouldn’t deprive yourself or you’ll just binge…You can have just one cookie it won’t kill you…stop getting so skinny…) are better left for those once a year visit over coffee or drinks! However, as I said before, I do have a strong group of individuals that continue to support and love me through this journey, who make a special side dish at their party for me made of veggies and hummus, who see me stumble and say “It’s ok, I love you anyway!” who join me for walks or runs, who remind me every day how blessed I am to be on this journey.
6 – What are some of the benefits you got from the whole experience?
There have been so many benefits to my weight loss success – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Physically, my body is capable of doing more now than I ever thought possible. Resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels have all gone down. I even had a physical this past month where my results indicated that my slow heart rate was “normal for an athlete”…me…an athlete?? The girl who could not physically run 2 years ago is now competing in half marathons and being called an “athlete” by doctors! On top of that, my confidence has skyrocketed, allowing me to be more comfortable in my surroundings to open myself up to new opportunities, new people, and new experiences, which continue to pay back tenfold. The benefits of exercising and endorphin release, and the energy levels I achieve from eating good, whole, nutritious food, leave me with feelings of vitality and positivity whereas before I was often tired and depressed.
Although I know this will be met with some serious disdain, but for me, the weight loss was (in theory) is simple. Eat better, exercise more. I tracked my calories through the use of a phone app called Myfitnesspal that allows you to enter your food as well as exercise to measure your calories in versus calories out. I followed no particular “diet” or meal plan, but just committed to choosing more foods that were as close to their original state in nature as possible which means…lots of veggies! I also eat a lot of lean proteins in chicken, turkey, greek yogurt, and egg whites, and most of the carbs I do eat are complex carbs like sweet potatoes. I began working out 6 days per week, including 3 days of straight cardio (running mostly, sometimes stair-master or elliptical) and 3 days of strength training. I fell in love with running, and committed to running one road race each month…starting 2 years ago with a 5k (which I didn’t run completely just fyi) to this month running in my first ½ marathon.
8 – If you were able to go back in time before you made the change what advice would you give yourself?
Some people may answer this question and say, “start sooner,” but for me this would not be the case. I know for me, I had to be in the right frame of mind, and in the right time in my life to make this kind of change. If I could tell my former self one thing it would be “don’t be so hard on yourself anytime you slip on your food or workouts…your body will recover, you will get back on track, and you will lose the weight.”
9 – Do you have any advice for those who don’t know how to get started?
Write it all down! Start first with writing down your why’s – your motivation for losing weight. Is it to see your grandkids grow up, is it to feel and look beautiful, is it to go to your 10 year reunion looking like a bombshell? Whatever your motivation is, writing it down makes it more real, more tangible, more motivating. Second, write down your goals, those that are realistic and achievable. It may be pounds lost per week (1 – 2 pounds per week is healthy and successful) or maybe it’s going to the gym 3 days per week. Maybe it’s running X amount of miles per month. Whatever can be measured can be achieved! To the nitty gritty – start writing down what you’re eating. It’s important that you get real with what you’re fueling your body with, making sure that it’s appropriate for the amount of energy you are expending in a day. This was a key first step for me, as coming to terms with the amount of calories and fat I was eating on a daily basis was shocking! And I was able to start making small adjustments appropriately.
10 – You have an inspiring story! Do you have any last words you’d like to share with anyone?
There is nothing special about me. I’m no different than you. I’m not genetically disposed for a stronger will-power, I don’t have a switch that can be turned on that makes me enjoy working out more than you. Trust me, you don’t lose 150 pounds by never missing a workout, or never occasionally dipping into the tub of raw cookie dough! What made me successful is that every time I stumbled, or got off track, I would settle down, refocus on my goals and my why’s, and get back to work. I only succeeded because I would not let the failures stop me. And you can succeed too!