There's no doubt that the "eat less, move more" mentality is tempting when it comes to weight loss. And as plenty of people can attest, it often works…for a little while. Then, a little ways down the road, many women (and men, too) find that the combo of chronic undereating and loads of cardio can lead to a cascade of downsides: whacked out hormones causing brain fog, fatigue, and a dead stop to weight-loss results.
Any weight plateau you come up against at this point can't be solved by just eating even less. But plenty of people try, and Shana Abraham was one of them.
In her late 30s, Abraham decided to change the unhealthy habits that had pushed her weight up and put her at risk of diabetes. With a family history of health issues, and she didn't want her two young children to witness the same old story.
"I wanted to make sure they learned from my mistakes and that they wouldn't repeat them as they grew older," Abraham says.
So, Abraham ran—a lot. Then, one day, she hired a knowledgeable coach, and her eyes got opened to the dangerous path she was on.
"She couldn't believe that I was still standing and functioning, because my calorie intake was so low," Abraham recalls. "I remember thinking she was crazy when she told me that she was going to increase my calorie intake."
And yet, the one-two punch of regular weight training, and getting adequate and well-distributed carbs, fats, and protein was a life-changer. In a word, it's a moderate approach. And now Abraham has a passion for educating women who struggle with their own weight loss journeys about the virtue of moderation.
This is her story.
Snapshot: Shana Abraham
- Height: 5' 7"
- Weight: 145 lbs.
- Occupation: Online Personal Trainer
What was life like for you before this transformation?
Before my transformation, my health was a series of ups and downs. It was sending me down a dark road toward some serious consequences. By the time I had hit my peak weight of 230 pounds, I was dealing with two young children and regular bouts of fatigue and irritability.
Knowing my family had a history of Type 2 diabetes, I needed to make some major life changes.
Was there an Aha! moment that really got things going?
What really set everything in motion for me was looking into the eyes of my kids. I was headed toward Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and a slew of other health and hormonal issues.
I looked at my children and finally realized that if I wanted to be around to watch them grow up, I would have to do whatever it took to prevent the worst from happening.
Where did you start?
When I first started to find the path to better health, I did the only thing I knew how to do, and that was to run. I would spend countless hours on the treadmill running long distances. I would run no matter if I was injured, sick, or tired because I thought it was the only way for me to lose weight. I got down to my pre-baby weight, but that's where I stayed.
By then, I was settling in to the idea that I'd reached my limit and had done the best I could do. Then I read an article by an amazing online trainer and nutrition coach. She had a similar story (minus kids) and mentioned incorporating weight training into her routine. For her, cutting back on the cardio and ramping up the weight training helped push her past her plateau. I contacted her for guidance, and shortly after, we began working together on my training and nutrition.
What did your trainer help you with specifically?
She educated me on the benefits of strength training. With her guidance, I incorporated four days of resistance training into my schedule. I continued to run, but kept it to one long run a week. She also taught me about nutrition and how to fuel my body the right way. This was the missing puzzle piece for me and it made me realize that the things I was putting in my body were doing me no good. The results I saw still amaze me to this day!
What did a typical day of eating look like for you?
What supplements helped you along the way?
- Omega Fish Oil
- Collagen Peptides (mixed in morning coffee)
- Protein Bar
What did your training look like?
What was the most challenging aspect of your journey?
In the beginning of my journey, I felt like if I missed a workout or overate, that it was the end of the world and I had undone all my hard work. I learned to let go of these feelings and acknowledge that I couldn't let it affect me.
I also had to learn that it was OK to treat myself once in a while. My philosophy is that if you restrict yourself from enjoying things on occasion, then those treats can become obsessions and make you prone to overindulge when you do have them. My favorite quote is, "Everything in moderation, including moderation." I try to implement that into my daily life.
If you could say one thing to someone aspiring to take on a major transformation of their own, what would it be?
Don't be afraid to ask for help or support. At first, I stressed out about spending time away from my children. Once I vocalized what my goals were and asked for help, they jumped at the chance to support me. Now they're my biggest cheerleaders!
What are your future plans within fitness?
In May of 2018, I passed my personal training certification test and started another path to helping others achieve their own health goals. I am also continuing my education to specialize in female-focused fitness and nutrition. During my second pregnancy, I struggled with health issues and if there had been someone guiding me with nutrition and exercise, I may not have had such a tough time. I hope to be that person for other moms.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
Bodybuilding.com continues to help me reach my goals and help my clients with theirs. The exercise library is the best one online, and I also value the articles written by professionals and follow the sample workouts.
Contemplating a transformation of your own? One common denominator among virtually every successful transformation we feature is that the person followed a plan. Check out Bodybuilding.com All Access to find the expert plan that’s right for you.