At just 28 years old, Leandie Williams' health was a ticking time-bomb. "I had developed Type 2 diabetes and my doctor feared I would have a stroke or heart attack just from walking briskly," she says. "Tests were performed to make sure I didn't need to be hospitalized." Still, for some reason, reality just didn't sink in. Leandie felt invincible, even though her doctor tried to tell her that she was definitely not. "Despite having these health issues, I still had no sense of urgency about taking control of my life," she admits.
Leandie's moment of reckoning came unexpectedly, and publically. "One morning, when I had to fly to another city for work, the airplane seatbelt would not fit over my stomach and I battled to fit in the chair," she recalls. "I was so uncomfortable, and deeply embarrassed." The embarrassment didn't end there, though. "It was also around this time that I bought the biggest pants I could find in a super-sized store, and it occurred to me that I would need to have my clothing specially made," Leandie says. "I realized I had to do something drastic."
Leandie knew she needed a change, but she also knew she couldn't do it alone. With a personal trainer and a nutritionist on her side, she embraced a new lifestyle full of activity.
This is Leandie's story.
How did being so overweight affect your life?
I found that some people treated me very differently when I was overweight, and there were many nights that I would go home feeling heartbroken and cry myself to sleep. Some will say that it's silly to let such superficial things get to you, but they do hurt and were a major factor in me changing my life.
How are things different now?
Many aspects of my life changed. My standards changed. What I wanted out of a relationship, and what I would accept, is very different now compared to when I was overweight. Friendships ended, new friendships were created, and my self-worth slowly improved. Now I surround myself with people who have the same goals and are looking to change their lives. I can understand their pain and frustration.
After losing the bulk of my weight, I can confidently say that I will never, ever go back to the old me. The quality of life I have now is incomparable to before. I have become quite the adrenaline junkie, compared to the hermit I used to be.
So how did you do it?
At the start of my journey, I invested in a personal trainer who started me on a regimen of 20 minutes of hard cardio and 40 minutes of light weights every day. I felt that I had wasted years trying to figure it all out by myself, only to get nowhere. I wanted to know that I was executing the exercises correctly, and not wasting more time. I have since joined a public gym and work out with my own programs.
What kind of workout programs helped you get on track?
I liked to switch things up every few weeks, but a typical week might look something like this:
How did you change your diet?
In the beginning, I just tried to eat as much protein as I could, while cutting out carbs, sugars, and fats. It was pretty effective, even though I didn't know what I was doing. When I started to plateau, I invested in an online nutritionist. I wanted to learn more about nutrition, and I knew it was time to get professional help and educate myself, too.
What does your diet look like?
What was the most difficult thing to overcome?
In the beginning, I had a hard time giving up soda and chocolate. To overcome that, I learned about substitution. For example, if I was craving chocolate, I would have a cup of skinny hot cocoa. Eventually, my body was weaned off the unhealthy stuff. Now, I can go weeks without chocolate.
What are your future plans?
I would like to enroll in a course for personal training and nutritional studies, focusing on morbidly obese people that want to change their lives. I can relate to their struggles: the emotions, the physical difficulties, the falling off the wagon, feeling sorry for yourself, and drowning in guilt and regret.
I also experienced different emotions once the weight was off, and no one prepared me for that. Many trainers I have spoken with don't understand the mentality of morbidly obese people. I think it is difficult to understand when they have not been in that position before. That's where I could help.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
I use Bodybuilding.com to set up my workouts. I also use the site to refresh my memory on how to perform exercises or see how to do something new. I have been recommending the site since I stumbled upon it a few years ago—especially to those who cannot afford a personal trainer.