Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Transformation Tuesday- Stephanie's Story

This week’s Transformation Tuesday come from Stephanie Wimer of Strong Figure. I’m an ambassador for this strong group and am excited and happy to share Stephanie’s Story.

 Here it is in her own words.

I grew up in the country. I didn't have a lot of neighbors and while 23 acres of land was a lot to run around on, honestly, I never did much running. A little basketball in the yard or riding circles around the house with my bike was about all the exercise I ever got as a kid.

I preferred Barbies, writing poetry, and reading The Nancy Drew Files. As I grew up, not much changed. I wrote in my journal every night. I read every Lois Duncan book in our school library. And while most kids laid by the pool all summer, I watched soap operas in my room and finished my Christopher Pike mystery collection.

No one made me exercise--ever.
No one made me eat healthy--ever.

Of course, my parents "tried" to get me to eat my vegetables but no one ever really forced me to eat anything I didn't like. I grew up in the south so most of our vegetables were actually battered, fried, and served with a side of bread. Everything was made with mayonnaise and sugar. And when it wasn't homemade, food came out of a box with a side can of Pillsbury biscuits. Sure, the corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes from the garden were probably awesome...but as a kid, I didn't care much for any but the corn...in which I slathered in butter.

I played volleyball and tennis in high school and that was it. Nothing extra--no extra weight lifting, summer skills practice, AAU teams, nothing. Just one season here and there and whatever happened, happened. I wasn't particularly good at any sport so by the time I got to college, I avoided all of them as best I could. I even avoided my health class--sitting in the last row of the class--yet I still remember more from that class than most that I took that year. Or all four years.

When I started college back in 1999, I was a small, shy, 130-pound freshman without a clue about life and the real world. I remember my health professor told us that if we didn't start working out regularly, we would indefinitely gain the "freshman 15."

"Whatever," I thought. I was walking all OVER that damn campus every day. That had to be enough right?! I never exercised a day in my life and ate pizza, chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, pasta, chocolate milk, and orange juice regularly. I didn't have any problems.

But college food was SO MUCH BETTER than anything I ever had before. I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and as much of it as I preferred! I was a regular at the fettuccine and bread-stick bar, as well as the chicken wraps, Chick-Fil-A, and the super cool vending machine that spit out hot fries and cappuccinos. (Don't forget, I had never even had vending machine food before college. To me, this was incredible.)

I bought snack bars between meals, and on long days, I'd buy bagel sandwiches and lots of coffee--full of sugar--to keep me awake to finish my homework. I don't think I partied as much as the typical kids in my school, but I had my fair share of "too many drinks and late night pizza and/or Sheetz take-out."

By the time I graduated, my five-foot short frame weighed almost 170 pounds. Just to reiterate, that's double the freshman 15 plus 10 more.

When I was somewhere between 22-23 years old, I decided I needed to figure out how to lose weight. I first tried weight watchers, and I'll have to admit, even though I'm not a "fan" of the WW method anymore, it was this diet that got my brain spinning. I became obsessed with learning about food.
Of course I didn't do anything "right" for the first year...maybe more. I'd save all my "points" for a slice of pizza and eat nothing else the rest of the day, or I'd eat a crap ton of 100-calorie brownie bites--you know what I'm talking about--because they were just one point on the WW scale. I had gone completely low fat, high carb, minimal exercise; and while yeah, ANYTHING works to lose weight when you're coming from doing NOTHING, eventually you get stuck.

So I got stuck.

And that's when I started reading and experimenting and even going to the gym. I joined our local Gold's Gym and became a cardio fanatic--I pinned my Dan Brown books to the ellipticals and sweated out a few chapters. I even "bumped up" my training by adding in Pilates on Saturdays. Whoa! Go me!

And the more and more that I read about food, the more and more fascinated I became with it. I experimented with whole foods, vegetarian foods, soy foods, Atkins diet, South Beach diet, Zone diet, eating meat substitutes, and I even tried being vegan for about four days. I couldn't take it.

I can't possibly tell you about my years between 23 and 28 because it was nothing but experiment after experiment after experiment. I yo-yo'ed my weight ALL over the place. My mystery reading turned into nutrition reading. I literally tried everything.
One day, Erik, my co-worker at the time who had listened to me talk each and every day about food and weight, just came right out and said, "Look, you're eating too many carbs, and not NEAR enough protein."

"Protein...like meat? Won't that make me fat?"

"No," he said. "You need to read labels differently. Eat only the foods that have TWICE as much protein than carbs. You'll lose weight, I promise."

DO YOU KNOW HOW FREAKIN' HARD THAT IS for someone who only knows about "low-fat processed smart choice frozen cuisine meals"?!?!

And then, do you know what he had the nerve to tell me to do next?


What?! Does this guy have a clue?

Only because I had plateaued for so long and nothing else was working, I let Erik have a go with this grand idea of his. He said that he needed to get back into the gym himself and that if we lifted together, maybe we'd have enough motivation to continue.

So guess who fell in love with big weights? ME!
I started focusing more and more on weights and less and less on food. Well, I take that back, my focus on food was even greater than before but this time I had a clue. High protein, low carb, moderate fat; It was working.

This guy, this plan, these weights, and this style of eating completely changed my life. I'm not exaggerating, either. I'm not the same Stephanie that people knew before. The Steph that existed before the age of 28 is nothing more than a memory. This new Steph, in my opinion rocks.

Here's what changed for me:
I became proud, confident, and stronger than I ever imagined.
I went from being the elliptical book reader to the girl that was asked to start training and teaching classes.

I found that one passion that I had looked for my entire life but had no clue where to find it or what it even was.
I became a coach, a personal trainer, a group fitness instructor, and the owner and writer of my own health and fitness website.
I get to motivate someone every single day.
I get to train with athletes that inspire me, every single day.

And as much as my life is awesome right now, don't think it was easy or even that it was fun for me to change so much about my life.

I changed so much (in my opinion for the better) that I lost several friends. Well, people I thought were friends. People I still run into occasionally, who have nothing to say to me.
I got divorced (partly) because I changed so much.
I moved away from small town I thought I would live in for the rest of my life.

When I changed my life, one of the hardest lessons to learn was that you can't change the people in it. They're either with you, or not. I had to leave a lot behind.

But what I have now is my health; Amazing friends, a job and career that I love, a website that is taking off in the fitness world. I get to be that person that others come to for advice. I get to be strong. I get to design lifting programs for my gym and my friends. I get to compete athletically, and I get to wake up every morning loving every single moment of my crazed day. My life revolves around exercise, nutrition, good health, and still--a great book.
But the best part? I've still got Erik right beside me, supporting me the whole way.

Often, I laugh when I think about it. Erik told me years ago that I needed to start lifting weights and I thought he was crazy. A few days ago, he had me correct his front squat positioning. It's amazing how much can happen, how much can change in a matter of a few years and a lot of hard work. Transformation Tuesday might be an awesome before/after picture for the world to see, but for the people who've had to experience it first hand, it's the transformation of a lifetime.

Please visit me on my website: http://strongfigure.com and if you like what you see, subscribe to our site--it's FREE!! Please "like" and follow us on our social media below and give us your #strongfigure shout outs! Post your workouts and pics and we'll share them with our readers!

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If you would like to be featured in a Transformation Tuesday post please contact me and I’ll be happy to feature you.

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie Wimer is amazing!!!!! She is 100% dedicated to health and fitness and shares her passion with everyone around her!! What an amazing success story!