Transformation of the Day: Shanora lost 11 pounds and lots of inches. This New York Times Bestselling Author’s wakeup call came when she saw the photos from her wedding last year. She wasn’t taking care of herself due to a number of factors, including working too much and the loss of a loved one, and it showed in the photos. Check out how she took action to take her life back.
One thing that has been holding me back from my weight loss goals is my career. I am a full-time writer and a mother of two young boys. I work from home in front of a desk all day and since I work for myself, I create my schedule. My schedule was always to work, work, work, take care of
family, and work some more. I have felt like my life is always on the go and would forget about taking care of myself all the time. As long as my kids were happy and fed and there was a roof over their heads, everything was fine.
I avoided mirrors, going out in public, and for a while I was fine with that as long as I had my laptop with me and could write as many stories as I wanted to. It wasn’t healthy one bit. It was taking a toll on me, my husband, and even my kids.
And then my wedding day arrived. I got married on December 1st, 2018. It was one of the happiest days of my life and I wasn’t too concerned about my weight because I’d found a great plus-sized dress to wear and looked like a doll.
The photographer sent the pictures to me several days later and I cried. I cried because I didn’t recognize the woman in the white dress. She was gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but for a second, I had no idea how I’d let myself get so out of shape. Trust me, I knew I’d gained weight, but I didn’t think it was that transparent.
Then I realized that yes. Yes I do know why I had let myself get so out of shape. I was working too much. I had just experienced a loss in my family, which was one of my siblings. I had my second son less than two years before that and experienced postpartum anxiety with him. My mind was in a dark, sad place.
Seeing the pictures is when I became fed up. I wanted my life back. I wanted to be happy again, so I began to space out my schedule. I still worked every single day, but during the moments where I wanted to sit around and be lazy, I’d do some sit ups, or jog in place, all at home. I wasn’t brave enough to go to the gym yet.
This is tough to stick to when you work from home all day, so I slowly worked on eating better, preparing meals to have that are quick to warm up or grab. I’m a snacker, so I made sure to cut up snacks I loved, like apples peanut butter cups.
Once I felt I was comfortable with my eating, I incorporated more exercise. I kept feeling like I was wasting time since I wasn’t sitting at my desk getting some words out for my next book, but I soon came to realize that one day I wouldn’t be able to work if I didn’t take care of myself. Not only that, but I felt like I was too young to be so unhealthy!
I gained a little confidence to start going to the gym twice a week, then I picked it up and went three times a week but was doing strenuous cardio. Cardio was getting me nowhere at all and I got bored, so I joined a kickboxing class. I went three times a week to kickboxing and loved it. Then I studied more about strength training in February. I have always loved lifting weights. I did it all four years in high school and enjoyed it. I now strength train 2-3 times a week and to incorporate some cardio, I do my kickboxing classes two times a week.
This has not been easy, but I know that it is worth it. I feel so muchm better in my clothes. I’m happier with myself and where I am going. I get stronger every single day just from staying dedicated and consistent. I never thought I’d be the girl who stopped making excuses for her health, yet here I am. I struggled mentally, but once I got over my mental frump, I was ready to take on the world. I have a long way to go, but that doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m ready to face the challenges. I’m prepared because I know that I can only go up from here.
What was your motivation? What inspired you to keep going, even when you wanted to give up?
My motivation would be my kids. I have two boys (2 & 4 years old) and they are extremely active. I have to be on my toes with them constantly. What keeps me inspired is knowing that I have it in me to achieve my goals. I have accomplished a lot things at the age of 26, so I know if I really want to drop the weight and feel good about myself, I can do this too.
How did you change your eating habits?
I honestly don’t feel like I have given up too many things. Before, I would binge on all sorts of junk food like candy bars, cookies, cake, donuts, etc. It doesn’t help that my mother is a baker and I visit her house every Sunday, but I have limited what I consume a lot. I check all my portions before eating. I don’t follow a strict diet, I have just made better eating choices. I do not deprive myself, but I am mindful of everything I put in my body. I have cut out white breads, pasta, and rice. I mostly eat whole grain or whole wheat if I can.
What did your workout routine consist of?
I do strength training 3 times a week and a HIIT/Kickboxing class 2x a week. I never stay at the gym for longer than an hour during my strength training sessions, but I do give it my all. My kickboxing classes are an hour long.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
I weighed 269 pounds and that was my highest weight ever. My current weight, believe it or not, is 258. I’m only 10 pounds down but I am several dress sizes down and have lost a lot of inches around my waist, hips, butt, and arms.
What is your height?
I am 5’4.5″.
When did you start your journey?
I started officially in December 2018, right before Christmas. I haven’t completely transformed, but I am on my way to a better, healthier me!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to be patient and kind to myself. I am very, very hard on myself because of the way I grew up. I am the oldest girl of 8 kids total. I have always had to look out for everyone but myself (which I think prepared me to be a mom), so when I mess up, I always let that get to my head and set me back. I made the New York Times & USA Today bestsellers list with my romance novel when I was only 19 years old because of my hard work and discipline. I worked hard for it, hoping one day it would pay off. I know my journey to a healthier me will require the same dedication, consistency and discipline. I just have to put my mind to it!
What advice do you have for people who want to lose weight?
It’s so, so tough to lose weight, but patience is key! I’m not a very patient person at all. I like things to happen right then and there. I have tried diet pills, shakes, and even resorted to cutting meals, but none of that helped. One thing I will suggest is to take A LOT of pictures of yourself throughout your journey. When you’re having a low day, open up one of your photo apps and compare the pictures from when you first started and your current stage, so you can visually see your progress. This has helped me so, so much and definitely motivates me to keep going so I can see how I’ll progress the next month. Also, don’t trust the scale so much.
When I first started, I was letting the scale get me down. When I started ignoring the scale, I felt freer, better, and happier. Measure your inches instead with a tape measure. I have my husband do it for me every month.
Keep going based on how you feel. I am one of those people who seems to be losing inches before I lose the weight. I have been told I look like I have lost more weight than 10 lbs, but my scale only sees a 10 lb difference. Hopefully I am trading my fat for muscle, which may be what’s making it seem like a much slower weight loss. But I’m not focused on overall weight, I’m focused on the fat, and my body fat percentage has definitely gone down.
Another piece of advice: if you have a hard day, don’t let it set you back. Get back up again the next day and make it yours. One minor set back does not define you.