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 Debi Gomez from www.fit-ographer.com
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
I am 38 yrs old, married, and mother to 10 and 12 year old girls. I am also a business owner (private photography studio). I was a healthy weight growing up even into my college years. After college the weight did not start to pile on, but 3 pounds here and there added up, and then when I was pregnant with my first child I developed a thyroid disorder which went undiagnosed for 2 years, and in that time I piled on 40 pounds. Then I became pregnant with my 2nd child. Luckily this is when my thyroid was diagnosed and I gained a respectable amount of weight during that pregnancy! I had accumulated 50-60 pounds of more ME than was healthy, and stayed that way for 10 years. In that time, I made small efforts to lose weight, and when they didn’t work, I assumed I was just resigning myself to this new “post motherhood” body, and I thought that’s just how life is.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
When a few friends and family started to lose weight I realized it was a choice, not an irreversible condition brought on by motherhood. I looked at family photos and realized that “the big lady” was going to become my subtitle for generations to come for anyone looking through those albums, and something flipped like I was hit with a lightening bolt. I was NOT going to accept that fate any longer. To be honest, my first concern along my journey was just not to be fat any more – I had no idea how much I’d learn about being “fit and healthy”, and those longer lasting goals came after a few months of weight loss. I had to prove to myself that weight loss was possible before I even thought about those deeper goals.
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
Know your intake! My nutrition has evolved a lot over the 20 months of my journey (so far). To start with it was a laser focus on calories and protein in 6-8 small meals a day with much smaller portions than I was eating before. I did start with what I now consider too low of calories, but quickly into my journey I realized that my body needed fuel, especially as I added intense exercise. Then the focus was still on calories and protein but in a much more nourishing way. I started learning about how to phase out processed foods and to enjoy recipes and foods that are more whole and natural. Right now there is a lot of focus on fueling myself for my muscle-building workouts with good foods, especially veggies and whole food carbs (potatoes, brown rice, yams, oats mostly), and I am still (20 months in) tracking those calories.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
Hard and fast! I really hated the idea of being on a treadmill for 60 minutes a day or having to learn to run long distances in order to burn calories. Thankfully I found out that if you do INTENSE exercise, you really don’t have to work that long, and the results are better, so I have found my path! I started out with the Shred workout (Jillian Michaels) 25 minutes a day for 5-6 days a week. This was probably overdoing it but that’s how I started. I did that for about 2 months, then taught myself to jog, then I experimented lifting weights AND FELL IN LOVE! Now my primary work out is lifting weights (heavy and hard!) 4-5 days a week and doing sprints for 20 minutes 2 times a week (again intense and quick!). The weight lifting has given me a better figure than when I was 20 – which I would have bet a million dollars was way out of reach as a 38 yr old mom.
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
You have to LEARN. There is no point at which you should stop learning about how to achieve and keep your fitness and health. When I started my “diet” I honestly thought I’d lose about 30 lbs and then be “off” my diet again – and should I ever gain weight back I’d just go on my “diet” for a few months and get it back off. Because I read so much and learn so much about being fit and healthy, I realized what an awful plan that was and that I could NEVER go back to the way I’d been living if I didn’t want to go back to that body too. It is also nice not to be so dependent on others for your fitness and health – programs that provide foods for you during your “diet” make you dependent on them unless you LEARN – learn how to nourish yourself, learn what helps you lose fat and what helps you retain muscle, learn what a calorie is and what it does for your body, learn about exercises and which goals/results different ones will give you. The easy way out is to buy a box of special food and let someone tell you which exercises to do – it’s difficult to make that permanent though.
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
Trying to lose weight too quickly. Having spent over a decade overweight I understand the desire to just “get rid of it” as fast as you can – almost no such thing as too fast BUT you have to be patient. It’s not good for your body to lose it that fast, and when it doesn’t come off fast, people tend to give up thinking it’s not working.
Not incorporating exercise. I’ll be the first one to tell you that it is quite possible to lose a lot of weight without exercising at all if you get a handle on your food – I admit I lost about 30 pounds before I started exercising. I will also be the first to tell you that I am paying for that decision now. I find it very difficult to put on muscle NOW that I so desperately need to keep my metabolism high! I realize that my body probably HAD all that muscle to begin with, and with that first 30 lbs I lost a lot of it. One advantage you have being overweight is the likelihood of some pretty strong muscles!! Don’t give it up!
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
Try new things – even if you are scared. Kale never killed anyone (I don’t think!). I eat a LOT of food (and enjoy it!) that I found downright disgusting before because my taste buds were used to the sugary and fatty foods I was eating. Now I get cravings (yes) for a hearty whole grain snack – and believe me when I tell you I was laughing as hard as you when I heard “fit” people say that a few years ago.
Try new things – all my life I hated running – I can’t remember running anywhere since jr high. My husband is a runner and I had NO desire to tag along EVER. But during my journey it became a theme to try things even if I didn’t like them, just to prove to myself that I COULD! And sure enough, I took 2 months last year and challenged myself to learn how to run. We even entered a 5K, which was so fun we signed up for 2 more of them! Even if you don’t love it – proving to yourself that you CAN do something is such a confidence booster!!!
One of the biggest things this journey has taught me is how pervasive the words “I can’t…” had become in my life, and how they stop you from a lot of things, from living really… now at least I say “I’ll try!”
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!