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 Kerry Vail.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
My name is Kerry and I am a single mother of three boys. Currently, I work full time for a dentist and am a full time college student pursuing my degree in Criminal Justice. I had a set of twins when I was 19 years old. I didn’t gain too much weight during that pregnancy, and because of my age I was able to get the extra weight off quickly. I had my youngest son when I was 25. I was overweight prior to his birth and by the time he turned a year old my weight was out of control! When I finally decided to step on the scale, I had reached an unbelievable 242 pounds, and only stood 5’2. It was time to make a change. Two years later, I have lost 102 pounds and wear a size 4.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
My younger brother married my best friend in 2010 and I was chosen to be the maid of honor. I was so excited for their wedding and it was a fabulous experience. When I got home from my trip, I was so excited to show my friends all of the photos. I pulled up the photos and went through them one by one. I was horrified at what I saw! I couldn’t believe I looked the way I did. At that moment, I decided it was time to get serious about losing the extra weight. I was too heavy to exercise without it causing extreme pain so I decided to change my diet in little ways initially.
The first thing I cut from my diet was soda and sugary drinks. I lost 10 pounds the first month from this change alone. Seeing the number on the scale decrease was all the motivation I needed to continue making changes. After losing the first 20 pounds I wondered how different the results could have been if I had exercised in conjunction with changing my diet. At the beginning of the following month, I decided I would brace the gym for the first time in my life. During my first cardio workout I remember thinking I was going to die and not make it through the initial 15 minute session. I continued to go to the gym a few days a week. I noticed after one month I had lost an additional 20 pounds and became even more motivated to continue.
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
Nutrition has been the hardest part of my journey. I don’t cook because I simply don’t have time. I never have really learned how to cook according to the way I wanted to be eating. I have tried to stay away from processed foods and foods that are full of sugar. I make it a point to plan my meals ahead of time. One of the most important things I have done for myself is to always take food to work to reduce the amount of eating out. I work in an office where everyone is always going out for fast food and it has been very difficult to not partake in the social eating.
I downloaded an app to my smart phone to help me track my nutrition. It has been extremely helpful in figuring out what to eat and what not to eat. If I am really craving something bad for me, I always wait until the next day before eating it. If the craving exists two days in a row, I will go ahead and have whatever food I am craving. Most of the time those cravings are gone by the second day and I avoid cheating. However, I still allow myself to have the occasional cheat meal to keep my sanity.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
My exercise philosophy is to be consistent. I am a single mother, working full time and going to school. If I can make time to exercise with my schedule, anyone can. Time can’t be an excuse! There are weeks when it is harder to get to the gym than others, and this is normal. I don’t feel good when I don’t exercise, and I use that feeling to make sure I always end up back in the gym. I remind myself that it takes 21 days to make a habit but only 3 days to break it.
I have hired a personal trainer to help get me through the last part of my journey. The advice and knowledge I have learned from him has been invaluable. I have found that being accountable to someone else has really improved my dedication and has ultimately led to great results. I also never skip out on my strength training. This has been the most critical part of my exercise regimen and also has transformed my body.
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
I learned how to be healthy so I can continue to be around to take care of my children. The transformation I have gone through has also changed my family. I have been able to teach my children how to live a healthy lifestyle and I hope they will not suffer from extreme obesity the way I have throughout my adult life. I have learned how to lead by example.
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
I think the biggest mistakes people make when they first begin is trying to change everything right away. I started out with very small changes and gave my body a chance to adjust before adding in additional changes. Avoid the diets that are a fad and trying to do things exactly the way someone else has done them. Figure out what works best for you and stick to that. People are very different and sometimes what works for one person might not work for another. Also, it is important to set small goals along the way to achieving the big goal. I decided I wanted to lose 100 pounds but made sure to set small goals during the process to retain my motivation. It is very easy to get discouraged because the transformation doesn’t happen quickly.
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
I have two pieces of valuable information to share with everyone. First, hire a personal trainer! This has been by far the most important investment I have made in my health and fitness. I lost 70 pounds without my trainer and only lost 3 sizes. I was still overweight, out of shape, and had no muscle definition. In 6 months of working with my trainer, I lost 32 pounds and 4 sizes. Find a trainer who will motivate you in a positive way and create a plan specific for you. Strength training is the key to transforming your body and hiring a professional removes the guess work on what exercises to perform.
My last piece of advice is the most important. Don’t listen to other people! For whatever reason, everyone seems to have an opinion on your body once you begin to get healthy and lose the weight. I constantly have people tell me I am too thin, I looked better when I was heavier, I don’t have curves anymore, I don’t eat real food, and that I have taken things too far. What matters most is how you feel about yourself. People will always try to pull you down and diminish your dreams. Always remember to strive for what you want to accomplish and focus on that aspect. Make sure to set goals and track progress with measurements!