My name is Inger Hill, and I joined American Family Fitness (AFF) at Virginia Center Commons in September 2016. When I joined, I was at my heaviest weight ever. For most of my life, I was considered plus-sized, plump, or obese, but it was because I was used to eating whatever I wanted, however much I wanted, and whenever I wanted. I grew up eating like this, because my parents grew up very poor, and sometimes, especially for my dad, food was very scarce for them as children. Therefore, when they had my siblings and me, they wanted to be able to give us all that they were not able to have, and an abundance of food was one of them. In the past two and a half years, since joining AFF, I have lost 100 pounds, 15 inches from my waist, and I was able to complete my first 5K race ever in 30 minutes as well as compete in AFF’s triathlon for which I was awarded for best female in my age group this past March! Doing simple things like housework and walking around in a larger store like Wal-Mart and Target or walking in the mall is so much easier and rather enjoyable now rather than exhausting as it was before the weight loss. I have also inspired others who may not need to lose as much as I did, but who want to get into shape as well. These people are mainly co-workers and family members who witnessed my progress.
I would like to share the secrets of my weight loss success with you, but I first wanted to share what finally made me get started with actively striving to improve my health. Earlier in the summer of 2016, I went to a Biometric Screening offered by my employer, The County of Henrico. The results from the screening were: high cholesterol, high blood/sugar level, and I was considered dangerously obese. At the time, sometimes my heart would race in my sleep, and I would wake up gasping for breath. That scared me, of course, and I knew that I had to make some changes, but I did not want to do a quick, trendy diet, and I did not want to have surgery. I thought it would be better for me to learn how to eat less and eat healthier without feeling deprived so that I could make it my lifestyle instead of modifying for a short period of time.
My sister and I decided to join AFF on Labor Day 2016. My goal at the time was to lose 68 pounds. After we joined, I had a consultation with a personal trainer, who advised me that I was at risk for injury during exercise, so I should start out taking the water fitness classes and maybe some cycling classes, which would both be easier on my joints.
Here are the steps that I took to achieve and exceed my weight loss goals and improve my physical fitness and health:
1. As a Christian believer, I prayed for help to lose weight. I understand that not everyone is a Christian, but prayer is how I started my weight loss and fitness journey because it helped me to focus.
2. I weighed myself so that I could see my starting point and witness my progression and my weight loss. I still weigh myself once a week to help me stay focused.
3. Since I love sweets and desserts very much, and I narrowed eating them down to only one day a week, which is Sunday. That was the first change I made in my weight loss journey. I still eat them only on Sundays. It serves as a reward for making healthy choices for the other six days of the week.
4. I stop eating carbohydrates every day at 2pm. After 2pm, I eat only baked lean meats like turkey, fish, and chicken (occasionally baked beef) and either steamed or raw vegetables including Spinach, Kale, and Arugula. Cutting carbs at 2pm each day helps me to eat less as the day goes on, and it helps me to make healthy choices. When I made this change, I saw the greatest change, and I lost 35 pounds within seven months.
5. I started exercising 3-5 times a week for at least 45 to 60 minutes simultaneously with changing my eating. I do a different exercise each day to prevent boredom from doing the same thing every day and to avoid overusing any muscles or joints. (Eg. Monday—Pilates class, Tuesday—Weightlifting class, Wednesday—Cycling class, Thursday—Break, Friday—Swimming, Saturday—Running, and Sunday—Break) I always try to do a small, 10-minute ab workout that includes hip-bridges and planks every day that I work out.
6. When I hit a plateau, I start food journaling and controlling my food portions. For example, if I want a bag of potato chips and it is 160 calories, that is the only bag I will have for the day, and it must be before 2pm. I also try to have between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day.
My husband never complained about my weight. He said that he always thought I was beautiful, but he was concerned about my health. He also said that since he knows how much I wanted to lose weight, he wanted to support my efforts. He is been very supportive and is very proud of my success.
The American Family Fitness Staff, especially the fitness instructors, have been so encouraging. They have watched my progress and would tell me, “you look great,” “keep it up,” “you’ve got it now,” or “you’re doing great.” During the triathlon, for example, the staff cheered for us no matter how fast or slow we were going.
Here are some more encouraging words that the AFF staff has said:
“The only bad workout is the one that you don’t do.”
“This is your workout, so get what you came for, but listen to your body, if you need to pull back or modify, then do it as long as you are still moving. Take what you need.”
“If you surprise the body, it will surprise you.”
“You’re a strong woman!”
It is great when you have people encouraging you, but the biggest encouragement comes from within. Here are some things to remember:
1. Be proud of yourself that you are taking small steps towards a big change no matter how small you start out.
2. Take your time with your weight loss, and celebrate each week whether you lose two pounds of only .5 pounds. Do not try to lose too fast, and stay focused on your goal.
3. If you choose one day as a reward day to eat whatever you want, keep that day whether you see the results you want on the scale that week or not.
4. Also, if you find that you have picked up weight one week, understand that this happens from time to time on a weight loss journey, and simply re-evaluate and make changes to your eating for the coming week if you have to, but never give up. Never get discouraged.
5. Pay it forward and encourage others, who are either on or starting their journey towards fitness and better health.