Name: Erica Finegold
Before: August 2008
Weight: 215 lbs
After: February 2009
Weight: 160 lbs
Why I Got Started
I spent most of my school years as an overweight child, so it should come as no surprise that I have horrible associations with gym class. When I was faced with the requirement of a phys-ed elective during my first semester of college, I scanned the pages of the course listings with trepidation.
Staring back at me were what I considered to be dismal options: Volleyball, soccer, swimming and running. I would have rather pulled out my own eyelashes. But then I saw something that didn't sound half bad: Weightlifting. I had always admired the physiques of bodybuilders and fitness competitors, but merely from a comfortable spectator's seat.
I never dared to dream that I could come close to being in that kind of shape. As the semester progressed, I began to see and feel changes in myself, on the inside and out, that I never knew were possible.
I began to educate myself about nutrition and fitness, making gradual changes in my eating and exercise habits over the course of the next few years. Still, however, I carried the baggage of excess weight and old habits.
Throughout college and graduate school, I dabbled in weight training and cardio, continually losing and gaining weight, never quite understanding where I was going wrong. There was always a vague specter of my potential that seemed just out of reach. Like waking from a dream, just as I reached for something concrete, it was swept away from me.
I guess that is the nature of life. I realize now where I failed; I never set clear goals for myself because I never believed I was capable of achieving them. I began to set my sights higher, believing in my ability, and the results soon followed.
After managing to stay in decent shape for a few consecutive years, I found out I was pregnant with my first child at the age of 31. I was overjoyed with the news yet fearful that something would go wrong. I immediately stopped working out and began eating for two.
The numbers on the scale skyrocketed over the next 9 months. On the day I delivered my healthy baby boy in May of 2008, I weighed 235 pounds. Two weeks later, at a follow-up doctor's visit, the nurse asked me to step onto the scale. I somehow naively expected all the weight to have dropped off once the baby was out of me.
After all, he was the reason I had gained it all, right? I faced my first reality check as the daunting numbers glared back at me: 220! It was all me; no longer could I blame it on the baby. I was by far the heaviest I had ever been, and it was time to take control.
How I Did It
My family kept reminding me that I just had a baby, but I refused to fall into that trap. I began my post-baby diet the next day. I bought a copy of The Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno, and I followed it loosely at first. I cut out the junk food and ate smaller portions more frequently, and I managed to drop 5 pounds.
I thought I was doing fairly well until I saw a picture that was taken of me in the beginning of August 2008, three months after my son's birth. My first impulse was to delete the picture, eradicating all evidence of its horrific implications, but instead I saved it as motivation.
This is my "before" shot. I soon added exercise to my plan, just 2 spinning classes a week to start, and I followed the "eat clean" principles more closely. Only then did I begin to see real results.
After 3 months, I had dropped more than 20 pounds, and I was finally able to box up most of my maternity clothes. That alone was enough motivation to keep me going. I started spinning 3-to-4 days a week, and I added strength training to my routine. Today, I am happier and healthier than I have ever been, and I have a sincere desire to help others achieve a healthy lifestyle.
To that end, I recently became certified to teach spinning and a strength training class, and I teach both classes at a local gym. My son is now 9 1/2 months old, and I have gone from 235 pounds at his birth, to 160 pounds today. My ultimate goal for my 5'8" frame is a muscular 140.
I try to include protein and complex carbs in each of my 5-to-6 meals. Here is a sample training day diet. On rest days I cut one mid-day meal (either 2-or-4). I drink about a gallon of water a day (no other drinks except for my 1 coffee). For variety, I like to try recipes from Oxygen magazine and The Eat Clean Cookbook.
- 1/2 cup oatmeal
- Wheat germ
- Protein powder
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup fresh berries
- 1 cup coffee with 1 splenda
With an infant at home, I have to make the most of my time in the gym. I train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (1 hour cardio, 1 to 1.5 hours strength training), and I add one extra spinning class per week wherever I can work it in.
Monday: "Spinning" Class, Abs & Legs
- Squats: 3 sets of 8
- Lunges: 3 sets of 10
- Leg Press: 3 set of 10 at different angles
- Leg Extensions: 4 sets of 10
- Situps: 4 sets of 10
- Kettle Class: 1 hour strength training class
- Bicep Curls: 2 sets of 10
- Incline Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 10 at different angles
- Cable Pushdowns: 3 sets of 10
- Skullcrushers: 3 sets of 10
- Lateral Raises: 4 sets of 10
- Upright Rows: 4 sets of 10
- BTS Group Power: 1 hour of muscle strength and endurance
- Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 10, each set with a different grip
- Rows: 2 sets of 10 with increasing weight
- Pullups: 3 sets of 10, each set with a different grip
- Dips: 2 sets of 10
Wednesday: "Spinning" Class, "Kettle" Class & Arms
Friday: "Spinning" Class, "Group Power" Class & Back
Suggestions For Others
Believe that you can achieve your loftiest goals. If you don't believe in yourself, then you will certainly never achieve your desires. It may sound like common sense, but it took me years to realize and internalize this simple truth. Start small and set concrete goals.
Have someone take a picture of you in the same pose every 2-to-3 months so you can witness your own progress. Sometimes it is hard for ourselves or those who see us every day to see the changes that are taking place. The most important piece of advice I can offer is to find a support network. Look to those closest to you.
Explain to your family and friends just how important your goals are to you. Hopefully, they will understand and support you as mine have. I would never have been able to make this much progress without their continued support. And hey, the worst that can happen is you will get into the best shape of your life.