For Sarah Craig, staying fit wasn't a huge worry for most of her adult life. She didn't stick to a workout regimen or specific meal plan, but her day-to-day activities kept her reasonably healthy—at least for a while.
"When I had my first child, I was in England and worked pretty much up until the delivery," she recalls. "The running around I did for work alone kept me in decent shape, but that luck didn't last for my second pregnancy."
A more difficult pregnancy led to some weight gain, but Sarah still wasn't worried. She'd lost the weight after her first child was born and didn't think her second pregnancy would be any different. It was.
"When I had my son, it was a C-section, I ended up with a couple of severed arteries," she says. "I was bleeding out faster than they could transfuse more blood into me. I woke up a few days later in the hospital with a tube down my throat."
That was the end of Sarah's plan to effortlessly get back her prebaby shape. Instead, she was left facing a long, painful recovery. It took more than a year for Sarah to get back on her feet, but once she did, she knew it was time to take back control of her health. By harnessing her competitive nature and entering a fitness contest in her workplace, Sarah kicked off her fitness journey and has been running full-speed ahead ever since.
This is Sarah's story.
How did your recovery affect your health?
With a regular C-section, the scar is only a couple inches long. With my surgery, they had to cut across my entire abdomen. It left a huge scar that was extremely painful. For the first few months after the surgery, I was in so much pain that I couldn't even walk.
Six months later, I tried to get back into a healthy routine, but sudden movements would still trigger pain. For about a year after that, I was unable to do anything physical. Movement was still painful.
Weight: 190 lbs.
Body Fat: 30%
Weight: 117 lbs.
Body Fat: 15%
What stopped you from getting back in shape once you recovered?
It just got difficult to stick with anything. I had two kids, was working from home, and I had no guidance. I didn't have a routine, and I didn't know the first thing about building a meal plan. I had access to all kinds of weight machines, but I didn't know what to do. It wasn't until I started my new job and they started having fitness contests for the employees that I got serious about learning my way around the weight room.
How did you get started lifting weights?
I followed Craig Capurso's 30 Days Out program! Knowing that the plan was only 30 days long gave me a goal I could stick with. From there, it was easy to just repeat it for the 90-day contest.
How did you feel about entering a fitness contest?
I was excited because I knew it was something I needed. I work in a male-dominated office, but my competitive nature runs deep—I loved the idea of beating all the guys. Still, the idea of getting on a scale in front of the whole company was nerve-racking.
What did the contest entail? How did you do?
The first contest was 90 days long, and the person who lost the largest percentage of their body fat won. I didn't do very well—I lost 12 or 13 pounds and came in fourth. By the time the next contest rolled around three months later, I was ready to win. By that time, the company had grown, which meant a bigger pot and even more incentive. During that contest, I ended up losing around 28 pounds!
What do you think made you so successful?
I incorporated a lot of high-intensity cardio in the mornings, which really helped. I also followed a weight-training plan in the evenings, which was essential. Craig Capurso's plan was a great start, because it was only 30 days. Since then, I've also done Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer.
What do your workouts look like now?
Reverse-Grip Decline Smith Machine Press (shown with flat bench)10 sets of 3 reps, 30 seconds rest between sets
Single-Arm Top Cable Fly (shown two-armed)1 set of 30 ascending reps per arm
Hang Clean and Press (shown from floor)10 sets of 3 reps, 30 seconds rest between sets
What was the most difficult part of your transformation?
Our work provides catered lunch every day, which made it difficult to stay on track with my food. It was so difficult seeing all of those different foods, from pizza to Mediterranean. But I didn't want a meal to stop me from winning. I avoided the room where the catered lunches were held and got in the habit of bringing my own food to work.
How did you create your meal plan?
I went with the guidelines that accompanied the trainer I was following.
What does your meal plan look like now?
Green juice 1 glass
Chicken breast 6 oz.
Asparagus 10 stalks
Sweet potato 1 cup
EAS Whey protein 1 scoop
Milk 1 cup
Turkey chili 1-1/2 cups
Green salad 1 serving
How did you discover Bodybuilding.com, and how did it play a part in your transformation?
I've been on the site for eight or nine years now. I haven't been too active on it until this last year, but I've stopped by to order products, look at transformations, or read articles. Now that I've gotten serious about getting in shape, I spend a lot more time on the site!
What's next for you?
I'm currently working toward getting my certification in personal training. I want to help people get back into shape. There are too many people who fall into bad habits because they work office jobs. I want to show them that being healthy while juggling a family and career can be done.
What made you want to become a certified personal trainer?
I've been working in customer service for more than 10 years now. At my job, I've been able to see the effect the fitness contests have on everyone—getting them to eat healthier, work out, and just make better all-around choices. Sure, we're all competing against each other, but we're all still supportive, because ultimately, we're working to better ourselves.