Being active can cover up a multitude of dietary sins, and that's as true for kids as it is for adults. When Adrianne Gurley was a girl, she ate pizza, nachos, and mac 'n cheese, but she also played sports, so she was only a little on the heavy side. But when her activity level shrank, her waistline expanded, much to her chagrin.
"I noticed my weight gain really started to kick in once I stopped playing basketball in 11th grade to focus more on academics and music," she says.
The weight gain continued and, by her 21st birthday, the number on the scale was creeping close to 200. All the while, Adrianne was majoring in health science and learning about preventable illnesses she was likely to develop if she didn't get her weight under control. That's when she decided to give herself a life-saving gift for her 21st birthday: A new, healthy lifestyle.
This is her story.
What was your turning point or "aha" moment?
It was a combination of things. After celebrating my 21st birthday, I reflected and thought to myself, "Adrianne, do you really want to go into your 20s and early adulthood being unhealthy and insecure about your appearance?" I was studying health science and, after learning so much about anatomy, chronic conditions, and pathologies, I decided I didn't want to wreck my health by being overweight. I was already thinking about turning things around when I had my real "aha" moment: I weighed myself and saw that I was five pounds shy of 200.
What changes did you make?
Initially, I examined my lifestyle to identify unhealthy habits. In reflection, I realized that eating was an area of my life where I was so undisciplined. I was eating processed or fast food for every meal, and I was eating late at night. I started by completely cutting out fast food. To this day I have no idea how I was able to do it cold turkey, but, for those 11 months, I ate no fast food.
What did you eat instead?
I ate lots of fruit, granola bars, peanuts, mixed greens, and any type of vegetable. I stuck to lean protein sources like egg whites. I drank lemon water throughout the day to cut down on cravings.
Did you start working out right away?
Yes. I started going to the gym and doing cardio every day. I was completely out of shape, and I could barely run one lap around our track on campus. Still, working out felt wonderful and I became a regular at my gym.
I worked up to doing 60 minutes of cardio at a time, and then I started going to the gym two or three times a day! I was a cardio queen—until I hit my first plateau. That's when research showed me that I needed to incorporate strength training into my workouts. My husband helped me come up with some of my first strength training programs.
What was the biggest challenge for you to overcome?
The supplementation challenged me the most, and I am still working on it. When I first transformed, I didn't use supplements because I did not know how. However, my husband started teaching me about the benefits of whey protein, which has helped me tremendously on my journey.
What supplements are you using now?
I only use whey protein mixed with almond milk for my shakes.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
I have benefited so much from articles about shredding, toning, and cardio. I've used some of the workouts posted in articles—most recently Lindsay Cappotelli's Perfect Power-Outage Workout. I also have the BodySpace app, which allows me to follow workout plans and track my workouts for consistency.
What are your future fitness plans?
I have currently started doing half-marathon and full marathon races. Since 2014, I have run four half-marathons and two full marathons. I have two half-marathon races coming up in February, a fitness competition in April, and a duathlon in November.
I am also studying to become a certified health coach. I am passionate about helping others reach their goals and adopt healthier lifestyles. My husband and I recently started a nonprofit to promote optimum health and minimize the prevalence of chronic health conditions in rural and urban communities alike.
What made you want to make fitness into your career?
I wanted to make fitness a career after experiencing the rewarding effect of inspiring and encouraging people to be their best selves. Helping others warms my heart and empowers me, and I love knowing that I can help inspire my community through fitness. Making fitness a profession requires discipline, integrity, and character. It requires one to be professional and accountable to the image that they portray. For me, it's been very rewarding.