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Mother of 2 Refuses to Accept Mommy Body, Discovers Weight Training, and Gets Better Figure Than When She Was 20

Debi Gomez 1aWelcome 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

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.

Debi Gomez 2

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.

Debi Gomez 3

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.

Debi Gomez 4

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 and let me know you’re interested. More details will be provided. Don’t be shy. Your story will inspire others!

  • Aycha

    What an inspiring story! I love the “I can’t” to “I try” philosophy. This philosophy should be applied to every part of life!! You look fantastic keep it up!!

    • Debi G

      You are right Aycha! and the funny thing is that it kind of does start to transfer to other things in life! overcoming a really tough obstacle kinda proves to yourself that you can do things if you just TRY!

  • Jean

    Good for you Debi! I’ve just begun a similar journey myself.

    • Debi G

      tks Jean! You can do it! build yourself a support team (online if necessary!) – I can’t tell you how much that helps :)

  • Geneviève

    How inspiring! you look terrific! i’m a 30 year old mother of 3 beautiful boys (5 years old, 3 years old and 10 months old) and decided a few months ago to lose the pounds i gained over the years and ended up losing more than i gained with my pregnancies, but most important i got fitter and healthier than ever before in my entire life! your story and mine look alike, keep it up Debi :)

    • Debi G

      congrats to you girl!! that is great! and kudos for getting a handle on it so soon after the kiddos!!

  • Raquel

    I totally get it!! I also refuse to “look” like a mother of three! Getting fit after my last daughter is the best thing I ever could have done! I went from a size 9 to a 1! When everyone laughed at me and told me I couldn’t do it, just made me strive to prove them wrong! Even my husband was unsupportive…I say WAS. He is amazed by my transformation, and has taken on the healthy way of life.
    It’s not the destination, but the journey that counts!!

    • Debi G

      congrats to you!!!
      ya my husband was reluctant at first – or I should say uninterested in the health habits… he was very supportive of what I was doing but it took about a year before he jumped on board. and just by eating the way I was eating he lost 30lbs himself!
      If I knew I’d feel this good I wouldn’t have waited so long :)

  • Debbie

    What an awesome story, great inspiration, thank you for sharing it!

    • Debi G

      tks so much! Every story I read helps me just a little so I hope it can help someone in return! :)

  • ann Mclean

    What an inspiring story Debbie…I so desperately want to do the same..having now reached my lowest point & failed so many times to loose weight since my 3rd child was born almost 8 yrs ago…I find it overwhelming trying to learn the best cardio tips..the best weight lifting tips & healthy eating with acute IBS that isn’t bland & boring…I would truly appreciate any tips of a good website/book (apart from Coach Calorie which I love following)…Kind Regards/Ann :)

    • Debi G

      Congrats on staying with it! It is so easy to just say “oh well…”
      My own journey is more detailed at and talks about the things I learned (am learning) along the way.

      It IS very overwhelming if you try to do and learn everything at once. My PERSONAL journey included learning one thing and trying to incorporate it, then another… My journey might have been more perfect if I started weight lifting early on or didn’t lose weight so fast in the beginning or ate perfectly proportioned protein/carb/fat meals 6 times a day from the beginning BUT it did not work out like that. I learned one basic thing and got that down, then went one more level, etc etc
      There are so many good resources (web and books) – I just started reading one at a time and took the information that made the most sense to ME AND didn’t overwhelm me… some information I was not ready for and would come back to it a few months later.
      I will tell you that I find Coach Calorie to be a GREAT source of GOOD information – it’s not so far out in left field to be unapplicable to real human beings heehee, but also not so vague that it doesn’t help you – I only found this website a few months ago and wish that I’d found it sooner!

  • Kathryn

    Oh my goodness, this is MY story! I could have written this myself, seriously. Before, I used to just think that I could go on a diet, do some exercise, get back in to my pre-pregnancy clothes, and thats it, I’m done. If I started to gain again, I’d just start over. What a change I have made this time. I LOVE going to the gym. LOVE lifting weights more than any cardio. I love how I feel now, so much more energy. Even when my baby was still waking every night up until a month ago, (she’s 8 mths) I was going to the gym at least 5 days a week. I’ve made a change in my eating habits, and my lifestyle. I can’t imagine going back now!

    • Debi G

      Congrats Kathryn!
      It took me several months to make that transition in thinking but I feel like I am there. I am sure there will be episodes from here on out where it’s more of a struggle but I think I am equipping myself to handle those times!

  • Vix- Miss Fitness Life

    Debi you have done fantastic.

    I love your approach to eating, especially that you worked out you didn’t have to starve yourself and that your eating is all around clean food.

    I also love how your embraced both weight training and running.

    You are a great inspiration- thanks for sharing!

  • Eve Young

    Hi Debi,

    Congratulations, you look amazing! I love your story, it mirrors mine. I’m also 38 and about 50 lbs overweight. I do work out on a regular basis, my downfall is my eating. Even though I eat clean about 70%, the portions are out of control. I’m really trying to cut them down, and even succeed at times. Progress is slow, but it is there. Thank you for being such an inspiration!!

    • Debi G

      Progress is progress Eve!! congrats :)
      It hasn’t always been the easiest journey or the most fun – I found myself crying in the corner several times (think bbq or birthday party when everyone else is eating and I was not)… but I knew it would be worth it! The crying didn’t last forever ;)
      You are doing great eating clean that’s for sure! It took me a long time to clean up my food…

  • Alex

    Debi, I have a question, how did the Jillian michaels shred go? I’m 18 and actually just started the 30 day shred and have 26 days left. I don’t have a ton of weight to lose. I weigh about 154. So what do you think I’m going to get out of this program?

    • Debi G

      I don’t know if your focus is weight loss or something else (building muscle, “toning” up, etc).
      But as far as weight loss, from MY experience and tons of reading, whatever exercise program you do will not give you results unless you are EATING to lose weight. The Shred is high intensity so it burns a good amount of calories for the time you spend…
      When I did the Shred the first 2 times I was eating to lose weight so I cannot say my results were FROM the Shred specifically :) I’d already lost a major portion of my weight at that time but I think in the 2 months that I did it I lost another 10 pounds. I noticed a LOT more definition in my muscles and strength in my ability to do things just because prior to that I had not done any strength training. (ie went from 1 pushup to about 23 by the time I was done with it).
      It really was the best thing I ever did though because it taught me that I could exercise HARD and still be alive! hahaha

  • Kelly

    Great job. I love hearing success stories like yours.

  • Emma

    Hey deb,
    I am on a similar journey as I type. Since June of this yr I started changing the way I eat and started exercising to Jillian Michaels just like u did in the beginning. But now I have noticed that my weight loss has stopped. My muscles are sore when I work out so Im wondering if I am building muscle or turning my fat into muscle. (Not sure how that works) But what would u recommend or suggest for me to do to help kick start my weight loss again. My meals are pretty balanced and I watch my carb & sugar intake. I try to keep them low to no intake at all. Any input would help and be welcomed at this point. I don’t want to get frustrated or discouraged and give up. I love my progress up to this point and just want something to help me continue my journey. I am 15 lbs away from my goal of 115 lbs at 5’0″. oh I am a 32 yr old mother of 2 boys, 12 & 2. Please help…thanks and congrats on ur results and continued journey of success.

    • Debi G

      oops – comment below was meant for you emma :)

  • Debi G

    congrats on being so close to your goal!!!! those last few pounds are the most stubborn for sure!

    I did a few things when I hit various plateaus…
    one was eat more – sounds weird but it worked – i had been eating 1200 for a while (please note I would never again eat that little amount after learning what I have!) and when I bumped it to 1500 I started losing weight again, same thing when I bumped it to 1700 later on.

    Something else I did was cycle calories – Sun/Mon/Tues 1500, Wed 1900, Thurs/Fri 1500, Sat 1900 just as an example…

    I changed up my exercise routine – aftering doing the dvds for a few months I took a month off and did strength training 2 times a week and running 3 times a week – then i moved to doing 5 days of strength training with 2 days of intense but short cardio (sprints)

    at no time did i ever cut out carbs – i eat about 40-50% of my calories in carbs (oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes) especially now because i workout 6 days a week…

    those are some things that helped me thru plateaus…
    that and give it time – I lost the first 50lbs relatively fast but the last 10lb took several months to make their way off :)

    • Emma

      Thanks so much for ur advice Deb. I will try eating more to start. As far as the interval intake did u plan that around ur more intense workout days? Also, i have been sticking to the 1200-1300 calorie range how is more going to help me? im afraid to gain the weight back. its been a challenge for me to even get where im at now in the past 11 yrs. Im a lil naive when it comes to fitness stuff since Ive just really dedicated myself this past few months to research and figuring outhow to eat. I cant really stop the videos and do weights and cardio any other way cause I have limited means of travel and money. So no access to a weight set or weight machines or anything like that. What I have done is switched up the workouts I am doing of hers from the 30 min one to the hr ones which in turn are a lil more difficult. Do you think that will help?? Can u give me examples of meals & snacks u eat on a regular day? I think my intake is either to fatty or too much sodium or something. I sometimes each boxed rice/pasta meals due to time so Id like to know if its best to stay away from those? Im sorry to bombard you with so much. I am just eager to get my body back and stay healthy.
      Thanks again Deb for your time and patience.

  • Debi G

    I’ll answer but if it’s easier to ask privately you can email me (contact info is on my blog
    Also please know that I am speaking from my own experience – I do have a Weight Management certification BUT I do not have experience working with other people so I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that I am giving professional advice when I answer your question :) I am just going by what *I* did to manage my weight :)

    When I started cycling my calories I just assigned them to random days – Saturday was a high day not on accident ;) that’s when it was most convenient for me :) Generally speaking I would work out on those days though, I wouldn’t take a low cal day ON a heavy workout day but honestly I think if it averages out over a week it really doesn’t matter except that you need more energy on workout days :)

    From looking at the videos I have, the 60 minute one is longer but the 30 minute is more intense – it’s a change though so I think it would help…

    I’ll link to a sample day in my life type of menu but generally speaking my main focus for each of my 6 meals is to obtain protein – that is what I focus on and the rest tends to fall into place. I do watch my fat intake and the foods I eat don’t tend to have a lot of sodium but I don’t guard my sodium intake personally. is where I talk about my food and calories and have a download for a sample day’s menu around here…

    As far as having time to cook meals – it was a convenient excuse until I realized that I could steam fresh broccoli in the microwave in 2.5 minutes, nuke a sweet potato in 4 minutes, pour a prewashed bag of lettuce into a bowl in 30 seconds.. .and when I realized that the boxed food kind of went by the wayside… if you are in calorie range I don’t think that boxed foods hinder weight loss unless you are trying to get shredded! (MANY will disagree with me but…) but boxed foods probably aren’t the “best” choice. I also eat out a lot just for personal preference – it’s not a great habit BUT it also has not hindered my weight loss because I’ve learned another excuse-stopping lesson: you can choose something fat loss friendly just as quickly as you can fat gain friendly ;) meaning I order turkey at a bbq restaurant instead of brisket (which has 3 times the calories), I order chicken sandwiches over burgers, grilled chicken over fried, broccoli over mashed potatoes, etc

  • Emma

    Wow u have given me some great tips and ideas. I totally understand that ur info is from personal experience and sometimes that is better to give since u have lived it. Thats what I am looking for for a real life experience and pointers. Thanks so much u have helped me tremendously.
    I hadnt realized that I was eating a little poorly but now with these quick veggie microwave pointers it will lead me in the right direction. Hopefully this will help kick start me back onto my goal and get me where I need and want to be.
    Again a BIG BIG thanks. I have added u into my email list for any further questions I may come accross. You have been a pleasure. Until next time… :)