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TOPIC: One Year of Barbells and Ice-Cream: My Story…So Far (pics)

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February 24, 2013 10:35 AM
So, this is incredibly nerve wracking for me…no, I am not always a confident bish! This is the first time I am posting ‘before’ pics as I could not find any until recently…partly because I did not allow my picture to be taken very often as I hated seeing how big I got, and partly because I did not look very hard for the very same reason. Fortunately/unfortunately I recently ran across some pictures that were taken while on vacation a couple of weeks before I started on here…when I saw them I was shocked and to be honest, completely embarrassed as to how large I actually was. The timing however was a bit fortuitous as I was coming up to my one year anniversary on MFP and I wanted to post a success, or rather progress, thread on my anniversary. So, here it is!

Anyway, here is my story so far, which some of you already know, so please feel free to go the TL;DR bit at the end.

I grew up in England and moved to the States a little over 14 years ago. When I lived in England I was always relatively lean - but had never set foot in a gym. When I moved to the States, however, I slowly gained weight. So after a few years and a few increases in pant sizes, I decided enough was enough and I started tracking calories, joined a gym, and started weight training. After a few trainers, I found one that I really liked and started consistently going to the gym, did the usual 15 rep iso lifts for a while and really enjoyed it. I got down to about 18 - 20% BF with really good muscle mass and was very happy with where I was. I continued lifting but ate intuitively at that point.

Unfortunately, 5 years ago, I suffered from a double cerebral aneurysm, one of which ruptured. I was incredibly lucky to survive, let alone come out of it with no permanent damage from the aneurysm. However, while I was in hospital, I got a very bad staph infection, which in turn lead to an infection in my upper spine (osteomyelitis). So, with the stay in ICU, the treatment and recovery from the staph infection, I was not ambulatory for about 2 months and was under-eating for quite a while longer than that. As a result, I lost a significant amount of LBM.

Due to lower muscle mass, lack of energy and inattention, I put on quite a bit (read, a lot) of weight over the following years and topped out somewhere in the 190’s. Before joining MFP, I lost some of that weight in a couple of 'spurts'.

I joined MFP exactly a year ago, this coming Tuesday, when I was 185lbs., a US size 12/14 and with a body fat percentage of goodness knows what – but in hindsight, and looking at my pics, I estimate I was in the mid to high 30’s % as you can see from the pics:

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At first I just used the calorie tracking part of this site and then discovered the forums. I lurked for a while and I worked out who were the people that knew their sh!t and could support their assertions. Pro tip: figure out who knows what they are talking about and listen to them, but some of the folks that show time and time again that they know what they are talking about, and can back up what they say, are SideSteel, Acg and Tigersword. I learnt a tremendous amount from these people, and their posts got me interested in fitness and nutrition and made me understand the importance of having a healthy skepticism and of researching claims and sniffing out BS. They also made my life a whole lot easier and enjoyable by helping me to realize that losing weight is really not that complicated and should not be purgatory. Another thing I discovered was my enthusiasm for weight lifting (and ice-cream). Not the high-rep lifting I had been doing years before, but lifting heavy arsed weights with a focus on strength. I find strength training incredibly empowering. Also, since I started lifting again, I no longer have any back pain from the osteomyelitis that I used to continually suffer from.

When I first joined I did not put any, then current, pics up and did not want to take any progress pics while I was so big. I regret that now as it would have been very interesting to see my progression at that time. So, the first pics I put up were taken on my 45th birthday, some of which are below. I was about 165lb then and probably in a US size 8 or 10:

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So, here I am now, a year into dieting and training, and I have hit my goal BF%. I am currently 37lb lighter at 148lb, a US size 6 and, per a hydrostatic test I had done a few days ago, 17.5% body fat (which may well be a couple of percentage points on the low side). Based on my hydrostatic tests and estimates of body fat, I have maintained all of my LBM during this time, a fact I am very happy about. These current pics were taken this week:

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You will notice a progression…as I lost my weight, I also lost my clothes in my pics…it came with increased confidence. Some may not ‘get it’, but going from someone who was too embarrassed to post a pic of herself at all, to someone confident enough to post pics showing skin is a huge deal for me.

How I did it is pretty simple really, no restrictions on foods or food groups, no special ‘diets’ – not necessarily easy, but simple:
- Ate at a reasonable caloric deficit – my average intake was probably about 1,900 – 2,000 calories, which baked in my exercise, and my deficit was generally 200 – 500 cals a week.
- Took a diet/training break every now and again
- Ate food that is mainly nutrient dense but also included treats (pop tart ice cream sammiches are da
- Worked out the macros appropriate to me and hit them (1g protein per lb LBM and 0.35g fats per lb body weight as minimums)
- Ate ice-cream every day
- Strength trained

So, what next? Now I have hit goal I am starting to reverse diet up to maintenance and then will do bulk/cut cycles to try to regain some of the LBM I lost when I was ill. I am one of those strange women who likes to weigh a lot (assuming a low body fat of course!). Now that part will probably be harder than losing the weight in the first place as doing an intentional bulk is new territory for me. Another challenge that *may* be next is to start doing powerlifting competitions – just small amateur stuff and for fun.

In closing, I would like to send my hugs and kisses (and the occasional sneaky grope) to all my friends on here and to all the people who have supported, encouraged and empowered me, whether they are on my FL or not. At the risk of looking like I am about to accept and Oscar, I also want to give a shout out to some peeps who have helped me along the way in certain areas. This is not to say that others on my FL have not been total rockstars, or have not helped or motivated me, but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank some peeps for very specific reasons.

So, smooches to SideSteel for being my ‘partner in crime’ in our group, for being there to bounce ideas off, for bringing sanity back when I was at risk of going bat crazy and for being one of the main people who got me interested in nutrition in the first place – basically for being a really good friend. I absolutely would not have got where I have without him and it would not have been nearly as much fun doing so.

Muah’s to MoreBean for being my MFP bestie (yes, I am 45 year old and I called her ‘bestie’ – deal with it!). She knows why she is being mentioned here.

I also want to give a special thank you to love4fitnesslove4food and the ladies of the group I joined when I was first on here for making sure I was on the right path and answering all my newbie questions.

Big hugs to Sublog for being my friend, here and IRL, and for being there to share the ups and downs of my lifting sessions and progress as well as a slew of other reasons. <333’s to all the lifters on my FL who answer my questions and provide input, but especially to taso for his total unabashed enthusiasm for lifting. And I am not sure whether to kiss or kick Acg for all things food related and for turning me into a total ice-cream snob.

I got fat, got thin, got ill, got fat and got thin again…oh, and I love lifting and ice-cream!

Ermegherd…that’s long!
February 24, 2013 10:36 AM

you are so amazing and inspirational!
February 24, 2013 10:38 AM
You look FANTASTIC !!! Awesome job.
February 24, 2013 10:39 AM
You inspire me! I love it! Your body is amazing and beautiful! heart
February 24, 2013 10:39 AM
Great job. I love your no non-sense approach. And, I love how you still enjoy foods you love to eat.
February 24, 2013 10:39 AM
You look happier too!
February 24, 2013 10:39 AM
fan$#&@ingtastic :) you go girl
February 24, 2013 10:41 AM
Thanks for sharing.

I always see you on these forums patiently giving advice and offering your knowledge.

You're an inspiration to many.

My hat's off to you.

February 24, 2013 10:41 AM
Yay Sara! Your rock! Such an amazing asset to MFP!
February 24, 2013 10:41 AM
February 24, 2013 10:42 AM
you look incredible! congrats!
February 24, 2013 10:42 AM
Amazing, wonderful, spectacular! Not just the weight loss (which is just beautiful) but to survive the aneurysms and osteomylitis. Rock on! (ps-sublog is a great MFP friend, always an inspiration...and he loves his ice cream too!)
February 24, 2013 10:43 AM
Holy Frozen cow milk! Your are amazing!!
February 24, 2013 10:44 AM
You. Look. AMAZING. Well done.
February 24, 2013 10:45 AM
So inspirational, you look GREAT!
February 24, 2013 10:45 AM
Great post, Sara! I'm very glad I added you to my friend list. You're an inspiration, especially since our body types are so similar. flowerforyou
February 24, 2013 10:45 AM
There's so much raw WIN in this. Congrats on your progress and thanks for being such a great friend!
February 24, 2013 10:46 AM
Wow, amazing story! You really inspire me to keep going because you did, even after so many health issues standing in your way! You go girl! :thumbsup:
February 24, 2013 10:46 AM
Just awesome. Congrats Sara!
February 24, 2013 10:47 AM
Amazing! You look phenomenal!
February 24, 2013 10:47 AM
Total inspiration flowerforyou
February 24, 2013 10:48 AM
Awesome story! Awesome results! Go you!!
February 24, 2013 10:48 AM

You are a physical and intellectual inspiration.

You look fantastic these days, but you still have that beautiful smile in your before pics too :-)

Thank you so much for the tireless efforts in the forums slaying dragons of the "diet" and "fitness" industry.
February 24, 2013 10:48 AM
Rockin' it girl!! Such fantastic progress. Congrats!
February 24, 2013 10:49 AM
That is one amazing story / journey. You have transformed into a lean-mean fighting machine, and i know you are an inspiration to not only people our age (40-somethings that is) but to all the other members on here that are looking for advice on eating and exercising THE RIGHT WAY. I've seen your posts on the forums, and statuses on here, and i will say that you are definitely one of the popular members (IMO) on here. Keep up the great work Sara!

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