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Female Transformation Of The Week.

Female Transformation Of The Week.

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Vital Stats

BodySpace: DawnMarie

Height: 5'4" (and a half!)
Age: 32

November 4, 2004
Weight: 282.5 lbs
Size: 26/28W

Current...I'm not done yet!
February 6, 2007
Weight: 161 lbs
Size: 8

Click Image To Enlarge.

See all of my progress photos on BodySpace.

Why I Got Started

One day right before my 30th birthday, I came across a documentary about morbid obesity and gastric bypass surgery. The longer I watched, the more I identified with the people being interviewed, how they felt and how they looked.

I knew I had put on weight over the past 10 years after getting married, getting a desk job and having 2 children, but at that moment I realized how heavy I actually was and how much I was risking my health.

After years of eating out of boredom or emotions, making excuses not to deal with it and putting other things first, I was now nearing 30 yrs old and I couldn't go up a flight of stairs without getting completely out of breath! I was constantly sick, tired or aching somewhere.

I was missing out on things I used to enjoy and becoming withdrawn and depressed instead of positive and outgoing. I was not being the mom, wife or person I wanted to be and I felt out of control. After sitting there feeling sorry for myself for a while, I got angry. I couldn't believe that I was even contemplating a risky surgery when I knew in my heart that I had never really made the commitment to lose the weight.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Jun 11, 2005
Size 16, After About 70 lbs Lost.

If I could give 110% and reach my goals at home or at work without letting anything get in my way, why couldn't I do the same when it came to my health? The honest answer was easy: I chose not to. That simple realization made me feel in control of my weight for the first time and I knew that I was finally ready to make the commitment.

I gave myself just over one year and set a goal that I would do whatever it took to change my lifestyle for good and lose 100 lbs by my 31st birthday... and I did! Since then I have made some additional progress and am still continuing to work toward my goals, but the most important part of my transformation is not visible on the scale or the tape measure.

I FEEL better than I ever have, both physically and mentally, and the benefits of that affect everything I do in a positive way. I have regained aspects of my life and my personality that I thought I'd never get back and I am extremely grateful to my family and every person who has supported, encouraged, and inspired me along the way... and continue to do so!

Click Image To Enlarge.
Apr 1, 2006.

Thank you so much, I could not have done it without you!

How I Did It

My strategy was to look at my past failed weight loss attempts and focus on the things I did right and then find solutions to the main obstacles or excuses from the past. I approached it as a marathon instead of a sprint and used "baby steps" to ensure I would keep going longer than a couple weeks and truly change my lifestyle.

Diet had always been a struggle so I went with the path of least resistance and focused on making exercise a habit first while making smaller changes to my diet. Over time I gradually increased the duration, frequency and intensity of my workouts and enhanced the quality of my diet and the amount of tracking I did of both diet and exercise.

I also tracked my progress with weekly weigh-ins, measurements (and eventually body fat %) monthly, and progress pictures whenever I could force myself to take them.

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Here is an idea of how I progressed in phases over time to get to where I am today:

Phase I - Getting Into The Groove - 3 To 4 Months

    I started going to Jazzercise 1 day a week with some friends. The non-intimidating, supportive environment was just what I needed. I worked up to 3 times a week, and then added in beginner level DVDs at home until I was doing cardio at least 4-5 days a week.

    I used small goals/challenges to motivate myself like: making the "100 club" (attending 100 classes), adding or increasing lbs on hand weights, moving my step height up, doing the higher intensity movement over the easier version, or doing another 5 minutes of the DVD than I did last time (or not fast forwarding it!).

    On diet, I eliminated obvious things like fast food, soda, sweets and focused on watching my portions, trying to make substitutions for a healthier version, avoiding things that triggered me to binge and reading labels. When emotions, boredom or cravings kicked in, I looked at my weekly weigh-ins, success stories of others, or did activities not tied to food to occupy myself.

    As the weight started to come off it motivated me to keep going and keep challenging myself. After 3-4 months, I had lost about 24 lbs, exercise was a habit I enjoyed, and I felt ready to take it to the next level.

Phase II - Cardio Queen - About 1 Year

    I joined a gym, took every kind of group fitness class I could get myself to and rotated in the cardio machines. At home, I moved up to intermediate/advanced DVDs, mostly from Cathe Friedrich who I discovered on FitTV. Her workouts kept me challenged and got me doing barbell squats and SLDLs for the first time ever!

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Jul 1, 2006
    During My Training Program, Doing A Step DVD At Home
    & Learning To Love Airborne Plie Squats!

    After a lot of modifying exercises and yelling at the TV, I could eventually complete the workouts and had maxed out my cushy, padded, "girly" barbell and dumbbells. I added in a full-body workout with weight machines 3 days a week and continued doing cardio 3-4 days a week for 1 hour.

    On diet, I started eating smaller, more frequent meals, drinking more water, and keeping my diet low in fat. By the end of this time I had lost over 100 lbs but I wanted to go further with my weight training to change my shape and not end up a smaller version of me.

Phase III - Putting The Gloves On - 1 Year

    I discovered and after much lurking it was time to conquer my fear of the free weights. I got a Push/Pull workout from a member and forced myself to do it - after a couple times I was hooked! I eventually moved to a 3-day split and continued cardio 3-4 days a week for 60 minutes.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    July 3, 2006
    Taken For Online Physique Improvement Competition
    After A 14 Week Diet & Training Program.

    On diet, I started tracking my macros, upping the protein, adding good fats, eating more calories (I had been under eating), and eating cleaner with more whole foods. I added a protein supplement and started experimenting with various other supplements and weight routines.

    I started logging online to help me stay accountable and learn from others. The closer I got to my goal weight, the harder it got. I had a lot of body fat to lose and after hitting a long and frustrating plateau, I hired Michael Elias to help me change focus from weight loss to changing my body composition.

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    I started his plan of a 4-day split with 6 days of cardio and a clean diet using carb cycling. After 14 weeks, I lost significant body fat, gained muscle, and learned a lot. I worked the hardest I ever had in my life!

    Inspired by the potential I could start to see through the body fat, I continue to work on getting lean and look forward making visible progress by November of 2007, three years since I started this journey - in some ways it seems like yesterday and in others it seems like a lifetime ago!

Click Image To Enlarge.
Aug 1, 2006


I experimented with many different supplements, mostly during the last phase of my transformation and did various supplement logs. Prior to getting my diet and training in check I used a few things to try to jump-start when I hit plateaus and had varying success.


My biggest successes with supplements were after my diet and training were in check. For me, Whey Protein was the most important supplement to ensure I could get the protein I needed despite a busy life.

When training hard, I've found Xtend to be very helpful in reducing muscle soreness.

I also like to rotate in various thermo or stimulant type products, currently I am using Basic Cuts. Some products I have used and found helpful depending on my goals at the time were:

Basic Cuts


My typical diet is to eat at least 6 small meals a day (eating every 2-3 hours), usually consisting of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fats. I try to drink at least 1 gallon of water per day and choose whole foods over processed foods whenever I can. Some frequent food choices include:


    • Chicken Breast
    • Turkey Fillets
    • Ground Turkey Breast
    • Top Sirloin
    • Tilapia


    • Green Veggies
    • Oats
    • Whole Wheat Grains/Pasta
    • Apples
    • Grapefruit


    • Almonds
    • Natural Peanut Butter
    • Peanuts
    • Flax Oil
    • Olive Oil


I typically do cardio at least 5 days a week for 30 - 60 minutes and weight train anywhere between 4-6 days a week depending on my goals and my schedule. Currently I am training one body part per day on a 6 day split and doing steady state cardio 5-6 days a week.

My current routine is below:

Monday - Back

Tuesday - Chest/Abs

Wednesday - Shoulders

Thursday - Biceps/Abs

Friday - Triceps

Saturday - Legs/Abs

Sunday - OFF

Advice To Others

  • Set Realistic Plans & Goals - A diet and workout plan can look great on paper but be ineffective if you can't make it work for you. If you are short on time, plan your workouts to fit in the time you have and plan your meals so you can prepare food ahead of time. Make your goals challenging but achievable.
  • Before
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Sep 27, 2006
    Almost 2 Years Into My Journey,
    125 lbs Lost & Reached Goal Size 8!

  • Think Big But Focus On The Small - Visualize your ultimate goal but use smaller ones to motivate yourself day-to-day and allow you to appreciate your progress rather than be overwhelmed by how far you have left to go. Remember that every rep, weight increase, minute of cardio, healthy meal is one step closer!
  • Always Get Back On The Wagon - If you have a slip up or life gets in the way, avoid "all-or-nothing" thinking and immediately take the next opportunity to get back on track whether it is the next meal, workout or day.
  • Before
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Feb 5, 2007

  • Find A Plan B & Use It -When obstacles come up, be creative! Doing something is better than nothing even if it isn't what you planned. Modifying your diet is better than blowing it completely. Can't get to the gym? A great workout can be done with a pair of dumbbells or even no equipment at all.
  • Track Your Progress - Recording your stats, taking progress photos, starting a journal (for yourself or online), tracking your diet, and logging your workouts are all great ways to keep you accountable and motivated. You may not see progress one week but when you look back over the previous weeks and months you will see it and it will motivate you to keep going!
  • Think Positive - Believing you can do it is half the battle. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you.
  • Just Do It - Don't be afraid to try something new or make a mistake. What works for someone else might not work for you and sometimes the only way you'll know is to give it a try!

Click Image To Enlarge.
Just Do It.

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