When my client Lori Pulkkinen was a kid in gym class, she could barely finish the mile fitness test by walking. She had asthma attacks, panic attacks, and she admits she cried many tears because she felt ashamed because she was overweight.
But now decades later, after spending most of her life as an obese person, she has lost 100 pounds — at a tiny 5’1”, that’s a lot of extra weight – and last month she ran her first 5K.
I predict that Lori – who has lost weight before – will beat the odds and maintain her weight loss this time.
Why? Because she has put together all the pieces of a healthy lifestyle. For the first time, she has combined diet and activity not only to keep her weight but also her health in check. If either weight loss or living a healthy lifestyle was one of your 2015 resolutions and you’re finding that commitment starting to waver, her story might help you hit your goals.
Over the years Lori’s weight has slid up and down the scale several times (sound familiar?). In her early 20s through diet alone she got her weight down to a healthy range. but those pounds – and more – crept back on as she reached her mid-30s.
When she hit her heaviest weight, in March 2011, she joined Weight Watchers and dropped 42 pounds in seven months. But then she got off-track and gained half of those pounds back.
“I had my wake-up call in September 2012,” she says. “My father spent 21 days in ICU. During that time, I realized the preciousness of life and how you only get one body to live it in. Wanting the most out of my life meant that I was going to need to treat my body differently. During my dad’s recovery, I was able to walk with him four or five times a week. For the first time in my attempt to battle my weight, I had started an activity routine before an eating program.”
She rejoined Weight Watchers in January 2013. “Activity was starting to become a big part of my life. I was walking a lot, tried golfing, hiking, snowshoeing, Zumba, and even started jogging,” she says.
But then Lori, a photographer who lives in Brewer, suffered a knee injury. “Which was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me because I needed to be active but in the right way, using correct form that would prevent further injury,” she reports. That’s when she started working with me. By this time, she was down 64.6 pounds from her heaviest. She now works out at the gym several days a week.
Over that time, watching Lori build confidence – even starting to run again – has been so much fun for me as a trainer. And I think gaining this confidence in herself as an athlete has been fun for her, too.
Her suggestions for making weight loss stick:
- Be moderate. Allow yourself occasional treats but get back on-plan as soon as possible. An infrequent glass of wine or slice of pizza will not undo all your efforts (as long as they are, in fact, infrequent). Banning foods just makes you think about them more.
- Stay the course. Lori has had a few bumps along the way. She suffered a nagging knee injury and had a long bout of vertigo, both of which got in the way of her training. She stuck with her diet, however, and the weight loss kept coming.
- Combine fitness and nutrition. She had lost weight through dieting before but the pounds (and more) returned. She developed a fitness plan before beginning the last lap of her weight-loss journey. Putting them both together made all the difference for her in terms of maintaining muscle, energy and building confidence as the last stubborn bits of weight came off. Studies repeatedly show that diet is key for weight loss but a regular fitness regimen is vital for maintaining that loss.
- Do things you love. Truth: As her trainer, I wasn’t a fan of Lori starting to run again because of her history of knee injuries. However, running a 5K was on her bucket list and so she started to slowly incorporate running into her routine and she was able to do it (running a pretty good time for her first race, too) with healthy knees.