Welcome to the How They Did It series, where we spotlight one individual and their body transformation. Learn what they did, and how they did it to succeed at their weight loss journey. Today we are featuring Corinne Bondal.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
I’m a working mother of four boys, and had been overweight most of my life. I grew up in a single-parent household that had no structure surrounding food or meals. It was normal to eat what I wanted and as much as I wanted, usually until it was gone (or I at least found a good hiding place for safe-keeping for later enjoyment). I was also responsible for caring for my younger sisters, so extra-curricular activities weren’t an option, and exercise was never a topic of conversation. I’d spent my life being told how pretty my face was – the kiss of death for an overweight teenager/young adult.
When I started my own family, I knew I wanted better for us. However, being a working parent and student opened my eyes to my own mother’s struggles, and I began repeating similar patterns. We ate out frequently, and prepared several meals out of a can, box, or frozen tray. An all-meat pizza with cheese-stuffed crust and a side of buffalo wings was my absolute favorite meal, and of course I had to have a 2-liter bottle of regular soda to wash it all down.
Before I knew it, I was a size 20 on a good day. I was unhappy with myself, and would wish for the change to magically happen. I remember showering thinking to myself, “I wish this body wash would just melt the fat away.” I wanted more for myself, and made the decision to stop wishing for change. I took ownership of my life and started to make small, manageable changes in my nutrition. First, I vowed to drink more water, and less soda and juice. Then I started eating breakfast daily – usually eggs and oatmeal. I’d always loved to dance and found a dance video game that tracked how many calories I was burning while I was “working out.”
Over seven years, my small changes added up to big lifestyle changes. Each milestone I reached gave me the motivation and courage to take on a new goal and further challenge myself. Today, I’m a group fitness instructor, over 100 pounds lighter, and 8 sizes smaller. I make the time to take care of myself. I want to be the hope, inspiration, and biggest cheerleader for others who’ve been where I was, and show them anything truly is possible once you believe in yourself.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
After giving birth to my youngest child, I was at my biggest. I absolutely despised having my picture taken, and dreaded looking at photos of myself even more. I wouldn’t plan day trips or vacations with my family because I couldn’t comfortably wear what I thought would be appropriate clothing. My normal train of thought was that I was too big to (fill in the blank). I was putting off living my life because of my size. Being overweight as a child, I thought I was used to people making comments about my size; however, a few comments made by both children AND adults over the span of a few months really affected me. I then began experiencing physical pain. I’d often become violently ill to my stomach after eating greasy and acidic foods, to the point where I barely had enough energy to crawl out of the restroom.
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
Eat well-balanced meals. When I eat well, I feel well. Food is fuel for our bodies, and our bodies need protein, carbohydrates, and fat to function properly. Eating the right foods gives me enough energy to get through my 8 hour work day, weight training, group fitness class, and still have the energy to be a parent when I get home.
I also try not to associate food with guilt. If I have a craving and choose to give into it, I don’t allow myself to feel guilty about that decision. I instead choose to enjoy the treat. If I’m dieting and have a “cheat,” I take ownership of it, stay compliant to my plan for the rest of the day, and try to make it a learning experience for next time.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
Exercise should be both effective and enjoyable. Find an exercise that you enjoy doing and do it regularly. Then when you’re comfortable, find a way to push yourself to the next level. Having never exercised before in my life, I’ve always loved to dance. Naturally, when I found a dance video game that tracked my calorie burn, I looked forward to make it part of my daily routine. Then when I felt comfortable, I found dance-based group fitness classes at my local gym which filled me with the energy and inspiration I needed to push myself harder than I would have in the comfort of my own home. When the instructor began dragging me out from the back corner of the room to the front row, I was encouraged to start teaching my own classes, which I teach to this day.
Regular strength-training is also very important. Lifting weights changes the shape of our body, makes us stronger, and burns more calories throughout the day. Also don’t be intimidated to progressively lift heavier. Lifting a light dumbbell 50 times only gives that muscle the endurance to then be lifted 60 times. However, by increasing the amount of weight we lift, our muscles become stronger.
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
It’s OK to love myself first. My family suffered the consequences of my unhealthy lifestyle choices. Because of my decision to take care of myself, I’m better able to take care of them – both physically and mentally. I’m happier, have more self-confidence and energy, and can teach them how to live a balanced and healthy life. I now see that it would be selfish NOT to love myself.
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
It’s too easy to become discouraged when comparing our individual journey to others, particularly when we feel we haven’t been as successful as they were. This is particularly true when we read that so-and-so lost 10 pounds in one week, or when we watch those TV shows where people lose 200 pounds in 6 months. Keep in mind that is their journey. Maybe you don’t want to give up carbs for the rest of your life, or you don’t have 6-8 hours every day to work out.
Jump in knowing that your journey will likely have more than a few obstacles. Overcoming these obstacles and getting right back on track is true success. Remember, this is a life-long journey, which means that every day you have the choice to make it work for or against you. If you commit to your plan, the results will take care of themselves. Will it happen overnight? No, but if you make the commitment, it WILL happen!
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
Use methods other than the scale to track your progress and success. We tend to put so much stock into how many pounds we’ve gained or lost, and forget about other important milestones, such as losing inches, being able to make it through your favorite cardio class without needing a break, or being able to lift more weight than you could a month ago. The scale only tells us one thing – how much we weigh at one particular moment. There are so many other important indicators of improved health and fitness to celebrate.
Be sure to check out the past editions of How They Did It. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the How They Did It body transformation series, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you’re interested. More details will be provided. Don’t be shy. Your story will inspire others!