Words hurt, but they also have the power to drive change. No one knows that better than 46-year-old Peggy Pullen. After all, a negative comment from a child at a pool on a warm summer day in 2014 is what sparked her desire to transform.
"He called me a hippopotamus!" she exclaims, recalling the incident that left the then-200-pound, 5-foot-3 mom embarrassed—mortified, in fact. "That really hurt," she says. "Moms sacrifice our bodies, endure sleep deprivation, and have no time for ourselves. I've changed 10,000 diapers and nursed my children for 10 years straight—two kids at a time. I homeschooled my children for 14 years—by the time they were 18 months, they were fully potty trained, and at 4 years old, they were reading and writing. I had given so much."
For Peggy, taking care of others came at a cost. Days spent catering to a family took their toll. Time spent counting points with Weight Watchers, popping diet pills, and chasing a "quick fix"—paired with years spent uncomfortably squeezing into a girdle—finally came to a head that day at the pool. Painful as it was, it was the push Peggy needed to muster enough determination to finally lose weight and live fit, once and for all.
This is Peggy's story.
Being Insulted At The Pool The Spark
Watch The Video - 7:05
What Was The Hardest Part Of Starting Your Transformation?
The problem wasn't finding the diet or workout program; the problem was somehow dealing with the fact that I felt so lost. I had tried every possible diet on the planet—every miracle pill and every magical 30-minute workout that promised to transform my life.
I'd joined some of the top weight-loss companies, spent thousands of dollars—money that I didn't have—trying to find myself again, but nothing had worked. Not only was I left broke every time, I was left with a sense of failure and knowing that something was obviously wrong with me.
It Seems Like You Had A Lot Going On In Your Life At The Time, Too.
Absolutely. After having four C-sections, I was disgusted at myself when I looked in the mirror. I was so desperate to change, but being hit with a new child and nursing and scheduling everything else—my goodness, it was so overwhelming.
On top of everything else that I was doing, my husband had a calling in the church. He had about a thousand members that needed help, and I was chipping in by putting in 20 hours a week. I ended up cooking for people. I tend to cook not by recipe but by my palate—I can taste the ingredients in a restaurant-prepared meal, come home, and whip up that same recipe.
Cooking was a hobby and stress reliever for me, so when I has the opportunity to help those who were sad or hungry, I found myself cooking like crazy.
How Did The Bodybuilding.Com $200K Challenge Motivate You?
At the end of the year, I remember thinking, "This is the last bad meal I'm going to have. I'm going to hit it hard next year," but the possibility of winning a Bodybuilding.com contest was a huge motivator for me. It really helped me get through some of my training sessions.
It wasn't so much about winning for me, but rather winning for my youngest son. He's naturally gifted and has played the piano by ear since he was 3 years old. He's just amazing, and I promised him that if I won I would buy him a grand piano. We didn't have the money to put him through music classes or anything like that, but he continued to play. I'll never forget the look on his face when I told him.
How Did You Feel Getting Started On Your Journey?
I worked out when I was single and did my thing, but I never had any guidance. I would do cardio and weights here and there, and I thought I was in good shape. I had no idea what I was doing, but being so desperate to win this thing for my son, I knew I needed some kind of guidance. I knew I needed to be involved and show accountability, and that's what I got with BodySpace. My "before" picture was right there, and that really forced me to open my eyes. I needed those tools and that motivation, and the encouragement I found on BodySpace and from the awesome Bodybuilding.com team is what kept me going when I felt like giving up.
Did You Follow A Certain Program When You First Started?
Through the weekly emails, I learned about Arnold Schwarzenegger's Blueprint program. Arnold is obviously one of the greatest bodybuilders, and I was hooked immediately.
I found his motivational videos on YouTube and that was it—he became my training partner, the voice that would play in my headphones as I worked out. I needed someone to talk to me and keep me away from the negative, destructive self-talk I experienced every time I looked in the mirror and realized how far away I was from my goal.
The reason past diets didn't work was because I didn't have the support. This time, I had Arnold motivating me, working out with me, and talking to me every day. I also had the support of BodySpace. That made all the difference.
Wow, That's A Hard Program To Start With!
I knew where I wanted to go and that I needed something challenging that was going to help me succeed in burning all this fat. I learned about muscle and how it burns more fat than anything. Because of breaking my back a few years ago and all the problems after having a child—specifically the C-sections—I followed the trainer as closely as I could, implemented it according to my level, and worked my way up.
What's Something You Had To Modify When You Started But Can Now Do Unassisted?
It wasn't so much learning an exercise as it was targeting the correct muscles. That was especially true with my upper body. I was not used to working it and wasn't aware of the individual muscles—biceps and triceps and all that. I learned how to correctly isolate and about the importance of the mind-muscle connection.
How Were You Treated In The Gym When You First Began Training?
Initially, I faced a lot of opposition from gym bullies—both people who worked there and worked out. All these big guys were like, "Who is that fat old lady coming here and thinking she's going to lift all that weight?" At first I cried a lot, but I became stronger for it. I developed a "who do they think they are, I'm gonna show them" mentality.
Looking back, how have things changed since that first day in the gym? I just remembered I was in a contest, and I just kept Arnold next to me—in my ear—at all times. I remember I was doing wood choppers one day, and they were all laughing at me. One guy approached me and said, "Why don't you just do it this way?" I explained that my way worked better. I was using 100 pounds and offered for him to try that weight, "I said, I do 50, so you can do 15 reps, right?"
After pushing his way to 15, he looked like he was going to faint. After that, their attitudes changed. Now they all ask me for tips and pointers. Now they're all super nice.
How Did Your Diet Change During Your Transformation?
I used to cook a lot of comfort foods and starches. I liked to eat French food, and I cooked with a lot of wine. My diet changed completely. One of the main things I learned was the importance of feeding your muscles the right way, and that if you don't fuel your body correctly, you're not getting the most out of your workout.
Eating a salad post-workout is a big waste of time, because your body needs protein. Once I started eating protein, I was satiated and craved carbs and fat less. I swapped sauce-covered meats for lean meats. Of course I had to plan my meals and measure everything out, but at first, eating protein really did the trick for me.
What Supplements Do You Take?
I can't emphasize how important supplements have been on my journey. They won't replace hard work in the gym and a consistent nutrition plan, but I don't think I would have been able to get this body without supplements.
You Made Huge Changes In Under A Year. What Advice Do You Have For People Who Are Just Starting Out?
The most important thing, as Schwarzenegger says, is not the training itself, but the strength of your mind and vision. If you can change your mindset, you can do anything. I have self-doubts, and there's always opposition and struggle, but knowing that people have overcome similar hardships before helped me realize that I, too, am capable of amazing things. It's about believing that you can do something amazing. Before I lift weights, I mentally prepare myself. Then I know I can do anything.