Staci in 2009 – 170 pounds
This is a picture of Staci back in 2009 before she decided to make some changes in her life.
As I said previously, Staci works a typical American desk job where she spends all day in front of a computer screen.
Starting around age 16, she started to put on weight relatively steadily through high school and college and after, when she reached her peak at 170 pounds in 2009 at the age of 25.
Here’s her background:
“Growing up I was never comfortable in my own skin. Never. I was always the weird one. I mean, I raised rabbits for a hobby! RABBITS. The only after school activity I did was band, and never participated in any sports. I always thought I was fat. I always hated my legs, and would refuse to wear shorts in the summer because I was so uncomfortable with them. If we went to the beach, I’d wear shorts over my bathing suit bottom.
I was super timid, super shy, afraid to talk to ANYONE I didn’t know, even if we were all out with a group of people.”
I asked her what a normal day used to be like for her back in 2009:
“I’d get up at like 9, go to work, have a Slim Fast shake because I never had time for breakfast. I wasn’t a big snacker but I ate a lot for my meals – I’d typically go out to eat for lunch every day and get a sub or something from D’angelos or Subway – and it was never the 6″ one, it was the big one. And chips. Lots of chips. Or french fries. Getting home I’d either go out to eat with friends or plop in front of the tv playing video games for hours.
My favorite meal was tacos and nachos. I just asked my old roommate what I used to eat because I didn’t remember, and she said ‘oh, you used to plop in front of the TV with a big plate of meat and cheese, and go ‘Hm, I guess I should have some chips with this.’ On many occasions we’d order pizza around 11PM too. On top of all of that, I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day!”
I’m sure this is a daily scenario that you can relate to: too tired in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast, lots of unhealthy meals, general apathy towards what you’re eating and when, and no real direction. She went to the doctor, who told her that she had high cholesterol and needed to lose some weight if she wanted to live a long healthy life.
Except that she wasn’t really sure how to lose weight and get in shape. And she certainly didn’t want to get bulky by lifting weights (gasp!), so she did what most women do when they want to lose weight: eat way less and run way more.
Staci in early 2010
To get started on her weight loss journey, Staci joined a gym and started doing the elliptical as much as possible (because that’s what you do when you want to get skinny, right?). She said:
“At first I was only able to make it 10 minutes, but eventually got up to about an hour a day. Keep in mind though, I’d smoke a cigarette walking up to the gym, and light up again immediately after leaving.”
I always thought that being super skinny would make me happy, like it was the one missing piece of my life. I bought countless exercise machines for my apartments, which all ended up sitting in the corner gathering dust. I bought DDR thinking that if I could exercise in a video game, that would do it. But it didn’t. I even tried “Sweatin to the Oldies” (which, for the record, everyone should do, because it at least gets you laughing and moving). But nothing stuck.
Until I was finally ready. I can’t say what it was, but I just got up one day and said “ok, I’m going to do this now”. I can’t tell you what it was – I didn’t set a date ahead of time, I just woke up knowing it was time. I went on weight watchers, I started running. But as I started to feel the effects of the weight loss, I got obsessed. I’d weigh myself every day, I got a scale that measured every ounce so I’d know what I lost.
Following this unhealthy plan, Staci went from 170 pounds all the way down to 117 pounds over the course of a year. And then she started to open her eyes…
“I did lose the 50lbs that I needed to lose, but instead of ‘finding myself’ and becoming comfortable in my own skin, I ended up being LESS comfortable. Everything I did was based on appearance. I couldn’t do certain things because I was afraid I’d gain an OUNCE back. It got to the point where a friend of mine would message me all the time with just “EAT SOMETHING!!!”. I was tired all the time, I had no energy to do anything even when I was sleeping like 10 hours a night. the bags under my eyes were insane – I simply wasn’t getting the nutrients i needed.
It was at this point that I dated a bodybuilder for a few weeks. He informed me I was doing it all wrong (but didn’t tell me what to do right, just said “youre doing it wrong). That made me start researching nutrition and strength workouts because I was so incredibly unhealthy, tired, and weak all the time. I got a set of 5lb dumbbells and a Jillian Michaels DVD and tried doing pushups. I remember struggling doing chest presses with the 5lb dumbbells. I was so weak. And I wouldn’t use weights at the gym because I was so scared of all of the boys on the weight floor. SO SCARED.
As I found more info on nutrition, I started questioning Weight Watchers, and finally stopped going after I asked a question on how something was healthy and he pulled the line, “we’re not trying to get healthy here, we’re just trying to lose a little weight”. I started doing more research, read, and started my transition to eating more Paleo in April or May 2010. I upped my calorie intake to like 1500 a day and immediately started to feel better.”
[Steve’s note: I understand that this representative of Weight Watchers certainly doesn’t reflect the beliefs and views of all employees at Weight Watchers. However, I do think WHAT you eat is very important along with how much you’re eating.”]
Staci starts weight training, goes full Paleo, finds Nerd Fitness
On June 1st, 2010, Staci’s work office opened up a gym with free weights. Because she was working out with coworkers rather than random strangers, she felt comfortable with strength training; she felt okay asking coworkers questions on different exercises. Over the next few months, from June until late August, she continued to educate herself on eating better and getting stronger:
“I finished the paleo transition in August or September, and stopped counting calories. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life; it’s a freedom I can’t even describe. I just…ate when I was hungry. I gained weight, but I stayed the same size clothes, so what the scale said didn’t matter. I went from 117 pounds (at my lowest) to around 130 pounds and felt GREAT about it. My scale broke in May, so I threw it away and only weigh myself probably once a month these days out of pure curiosity.”
This is Staci at 117 lbs. on the left (doing her best “deer in the headlights” impression), and 131 lbs. on the right.
It was right around this time on her search for Paleo diet information that she stumbled across Nerd Fitness and saw my latest article about the Legend of Zelda (her favorite video game series too). She joined our community, signed up for one of the monthly challenges, continued to put her focus on strength training, and made sure she ate enough to fuel her workouts.
And then things got interesting. After tons of encouragement from members of the Nerd Fitness community (thanks Dantes!), she began a torrid love affair in October that most women would scoff at.