Kelli is a newbie to the fitness family, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at her. She is fit, energetic, and motivated. After a while of being around her at the gym, I had to know more…and she has a weight loss journey that will inspire all of you! Kelli is getting it right, and can encourage all of us with some amazing advice!
I first met you at the gym and loved your attitude, and drive. You seem so focused!
Thanks Cassie! I have loved getting to know you and taking your classes. I always leave a sweaty mess, feeling better and stronger than before I got there. 🙂
In relation to your wellness, health, and fitness, tell me a little about the old Kelli, the Kelli you are today, and the Kelli you are looking forward to.
I was 31 pounds heavier than my driver’s license said I was 5 years prior. I had 3 different sizes of clothes in my closet and shopping had become stressful and overwhelming. Minor anxiety attacks while trying to get dressed in the morning were not uncommon. I had gotten comfortable eating the same portions as my 6’4” husband (I’m 5’2”), indulging in sweets, and not exercising. Since I had lost some weight in the past, I knew what it would take – me being completely, 100% dedicated to making the change. The timing was never quite right, I was never completely ready.
In December 2013, I saw a picture of myself at a work holiday party. I was shocked at the sight and tried to convince myself it was just a bad angle. Then I realized, this is it – the “a-ha moment” I had been waiting for. It was time to make a change for the better, once and for all. It was perfect timing with the new year approaching, so I decided to set my first-ever New Year’s resolution for 2014: Lose 27 pounds by my 27th birthday (at the end of June).
In January 2014, I joined Weight Watchers, started a regular workout routine, and have never looked back! I set small goals along the way, like losing my first 10 pounds, losing 10% of my body weight, running my first 5K, etc. I hit my goal of losing 27 pounds by my 27th birthday a few weeks early, and went on to lose 14 more. Since then, I have become a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers! I not only ran my first 5K, but also ran an 8K and a 15K in 2014. I have made new friends with similar goals, had a lot of fun, and really challenged myself along the way. In doing so, I have inspired and motivated others around me and become an advocate for living a healthier lifestyle. I am proud of who I am now, both physically and mentally.
What are some of your top tips for weight loss and fitness?
I chose to join Weight Watchers and a true believer in the process. Yes, it’s a structured program that some people don’t prefer – there’s a fee to pay and points to track. I felt like paying for it made me work harder and appreciate it more, and made me want to achieve Lifetime status as quickly as possible (now it’s free!). I don’t think of Weight Watchers as a diet, instead it’s a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. I don’t deprive myself of the foods I love – I just have to make smarter choices and compromises. Ultimately I cut the salt and fried food, reduced my carbs and sweets, increased my fruits and vegetables, controlled my portion sizes, and then work out as often as I can to offset what I eat.
Eat dinner on a salad plate, not a dinner plate. I would rather see a plate full of food than a plate that looks half empty. The smaller the plate, the bigger the food looks!
Measure everything. I use measuring cups as serving scoops and put everything else on the food scale. The food scale has become my best friend, mainly because it usually works in my favor. (Example: Rold Gold Tiny Twist Fat Free Pretzels. The bag tells you 1 ounce is approximately 18 pretzels. If you weigh them, it could actually be 20-21 pretzels. If I’m going to track the food and count it against my day, I want to get all that I’ve accounted for!)
The two bite rule. Cravings are satisfied in the first two bites. So if you have a craving (like chocolate, my typical craving), have two bites and really enjoy them. Your craving will be satisfied and you won’t be going crazy thinking about that chocolate for the next week!
Water, water, water. Water fills you up and is good for you. If you think you’re hungry, drink a glass of water first, just to make sure. Drink water between each bite of food – you’ll feel fuller longer. Only drink water with your meal – don’t waste calories on another type of beverage when you’re really just using it to wash down your food.
In terms of fitness, I am a fitness class junkie. I go to a class nearly every day – whether it’s strength training, HIIT (shout-out to Cassie), boxing, Step, etc. It’s like having a personal trainer, but there just so happens to be 30 other people there too! The trainer and the other people in class really keep you motivated. I love that classes ares easy to fit into your schedule – put it on the calendar, you know when you have to leave and when you’ll be done. Then, once you start making friends with the trainer and classmates, they start holding you accountable for being there… and call you out when you’re not!
I never thought I would say this, but I also picked up running. I decided to start running because it’s always free and always available, so no matter where I am, I have a workout option. It’s also a quick-and-easy ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of burning calories in a short time frame. My first time running, I told myself to run as fast as I could before I thought I was going to pass out. I went home and mapped it out… and it was half a mile! That day, I signed up for a 5K taking place four months later and made it my goal to run the entire thing. It didn’t take too long to figure out that running is 90% mental, and pretty soon I was running 3-4 miles at a time. When I was already comfortable running 5-6 miles before my 5K, I switched my 5K registration to the 15K race to really challenge myself…
How has your diet changed?
I am a quantity eater – I would rather see a heaping pile of salad on my plate rather than a tiny square of pizza for the same amount of calories. Next, if I can and will have it again, I don’t need to over-indulge. Finally, I try to remind myself that tomorrow, I won’t remember what I ate today… so keep it healthy unless something is really worth the splurge! (like the tartufo ball dessert at RPM Italian downtown Chicago)
You are a young, beautiful, and busy! Is it difficult to get out the door each day and stay committed to your healthy goals?
I’ll be honest – some days I just want to go home after a stressful day of work and lay on the couch instead of hitting the gym. Instead, I remind myself that I need to keep the momentum going, working out is the best form of stress relief, I’ll feel better afterward, and I’ll never regret a workout!
What does your support system look like, and do you think having one is important?
I’ve learned that letting your support system know what you’re trying to accomplish is key, because they help hold you accountable. I couldn’t imagine going to my family’s house for dinner and trying to keep it a secret. Instead, I let them know that I was committed to making healthier choices. Now when I go there for dinner, they pre-plan healthier options and say things like “I know Kelli won’t eat this,” which helps remind me that, although it looks delicious, no, I don’t want to eat that. I am also proud that I have also been able to motivate my family members to eat healthier as well, including my mom, dad, sister and aunt! My sister has even started running and vows to run a 5K with me!
Being married to a 6’4” husband with lightning-speed metabolism isn’t the most motivating scenario I could have asked for! However, once I told him that I was giving up my old ways and committing to a healthy lifestyle, he stopped offering me cookies and tried to help as much as he could. Now he knows that when he brings in dinner from the grill, it goes straight on to a small plate, on top of the food scale! He’s also gotten more active… whether he likes it or not! I will be going for a run or a bike ride, and not wanting to feel left out or shown up, he will go for one as well! (We start together but we don’t stick together – let’s face it, that height difference would never work out!) Our competitiveness works out really great when it comes to fitness. When we go for a run, we play a secret subconscious game of “Who can run longer?” We’ll secretly check each other’s Map My Run app to see if the other is done yet, and if they’re not we’ll each keep going, hoping to be the one taking a longer run. (I usually win, in case you’re wondering!)
My gym classmates and Weight Watchers group have become an essential part of my support system, especially as we are all working toward the same goal. It’s fun bonding over healthy things we did over the weekend and swapping healthy recipes.
What are some of your favorite ways to be active?
Group fitness classes and running are my primary methods of exercise. Having more energy, I also find myself being more active around the house – like taking more trips up and down the stairs to get something or put things away, and helping my husband with yard work. All of these things are a win-win… he will tell you!
What is your favorite healthy recipe?
- 8oz. tub sugar free, fat free Cool Whip
- 1 package, instant sugar free, fat free Vanilla Jell-O Pudding (just the packet of powder – you don’t actually make the pudding!)
- 4.5 c. cut up strawberries
- 1 Angel Food cake (I buy the 13 oz. pre-made one from the store – it’s only $3-4)
- Clean and chop the strawberries.
- Cut the entire angel food cake into 3 even sections.
- Let the Cool Whip sit out for a few minutes so it’s slightly thawed and easier to work with. Mix tub of Cool Whip with package of Vanilla Jell-O pudding. (You’ll know you’ve coated it all because it turns slightly yellow!)
- In a trifle bowl (or really whatever dish you have), create 3 layers:
- Tear ⅓ the angel food cake into bite size pieces, push down to make a flat layer
- /3 of your Cool Whip mixture
- /3 of your strawberries
- Layer the next ⅓ of your ingredients; then the next (End with strawberries on top – it looks the prettiest!)
- When you serve it, try to dig down and get multiple layers. Enjoy!
- Weight Watchers Points:
- points per ounce (28 points for the whole container!)
- oz. serving = 1.2 points
Although it’s sometimes ‘scary’ to go out to dinner or be out of my routine, I just try to make the healthiest decision I can. I am never afraid to ‘get picky’ at a restaurant – I ask questions, make substitutions… and then tip the wait staff well for putting up with me! When going out to dinner, I always look ahead at the menu online and determine what my best option will be – that way, I am not tempted at the restaurant. If I am tempted by a menu item, first I ask myself, “Is it really worth it?” I usually make the right decision because I remind myself how hard it will be to work it off the following day! If I decide it is worth it (and sometimes it is), I mentally commit to an extra workout the next day or week!
Do you view your success as being holistic, and if so, what things other than diet and exercise have you embodied to stay well?
Absolutely! It started with healthy eating and working out, all with a goal of losing 27 pounds by my 27th birthday. Once I realized I was inspiring others around me, I found it important to keep setting new goals and continuing to challenge myself – not only for myself but to continue motivating other around me. I started challenging myself to other things like reading more books, participating in charity events, helping a friend or neighbor, and signing up for more health and wellness events.
What are some of your 2015 goals?
My biggest goal is to run a half marathon! (If you read my story about how 1 year ago I could only run a half-mile without feeling like I was going to keel over, you will understand what an accomplishment this will be for me!) After running the 15K last year – something I never thought I would be able to do – I decided to push myself just a little harder. I will be running in the Chicago Half Marathon in September, downtown Chicago. ‘Official’ training begins 12 weeks prior, and is already on the calendar!
What advice do you have for someone who is sitting where you once were?
Set a goal and start today! Replace the phrase “I’ll start tomorrow” with “Why not today?” The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start seeing positive results, and then you’ll continue to be motivated to keep on going! Have an end goal in mind, but set smaller, achievable goals along the way and work your way toward tackling them one by one. That ultimate end-goal won’t seem as far away and you’ll stay much more motivated. Best of luck – I’ll be rooting for you!Some priceless advice from a truly inspirational woman. I look forward to seeing where this superstar goes next! Thanks Kelli!
Your Friend and Trainer,
Kelli and Cassie