Mara Lost 90 Pounds Sheds the Baby Weight

What was the turning point that prompted you to lose weight? I had just had my daughter and gained 40 pounds during the pregnancy. I was desperate to go back to work in my pre-baby clothes. I didn’t give myself any outs or excuses. I was determined!

When did you start trying to lose weight? Technically, when I was eight years old. I have a long history of struggling with my weight. But the most recent time — when I really made a permanent lifestyle change — began three years ago in January 2012.

How did you get started? I hadn’t been cleared for exercise by my doctor, so I just started by cleaning up my diet. I eliminated all of my trigger foods, including flour, dairy, candy, and wine. It was excruciating! But I was committed to doing it for 40 days and I made it through. After that, my habits and tastes had changed, so I kept going. Cleaning up my diet was the single biggest factor in my change to a healthy lifestyle. I lost 50 pounds before I started exercising!

What was your biggest challenge? Staying away from my trigger foods. Those things are like a drug for me and kicking the habit was like going through detox.

Were there any times when you wanted to quit or give up? How did you stay motivated? Absolutely. I wanted to give up on many occasions. And there were times I had big setbacks. Two things kept me going. One was my faith. I prayed a lot and I knew that God wanted me to be healthier. The other thing was knowing that I’d never reach my goals if I gave up. I just had to keep going. Persistence is victory.

If you reached a weight loss plateau, how did you break out of the rut? I reached a major plateau and couldn’t shake the last four pounds before reaching my goal. I stayed there for about a year. A year! I broke through by upping my cardio big time, while really refining my diet. I realized I’d gotten sloppy and lazy on a lot of things.

What’s your current exercise routine? I work out every single day; sometimes twice a day. I love it. It’s the most fun I have all day. I do SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Yoga, and barre classes. I need classes; if I work out on my own I don’t get much done.

What’s your daily diet look like? Before I exercise I have a spoonful of peanut butter and half a banana.

Immediately afterwards I eat the other half of the banana. About an hour later – once I’ve showered and dressed – I eat a big breakfast: egg whites, chicken sausage, sweet potato, and oatmeal. Lunch and dinner are about the same, usually a piece of fish or chicken, veggies, and some brown rice or quinoa. If I need a snack, I’ll have some nuts or fruit.

What’s your favorite healthy snack and meal? Oatmeal with caramelized bananas (I sauté them in a non-stick pan) with pecans and agave. Yum! My favorite meal is roasted chicken with broccoli and mashed sweet potato.

How has losing weight changed your life? It has changed everything, from the amount of energy I have, to how I feel after I eat, to how I cope with stress. If you would’ve asked me before I lost the weight, I would have said that wearing a size 6 was going to be the best part. But now, I realize it’s so much bigger and better than that.

Do you have any advice for those trying to lose weight? Set small goals. Don’t try to lose 50 pounds. Start with five. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

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