Forty-two-year-old Ellie Carter from St. Paul, MO, went through the devastating loss of her father at the same time she was diagnosed with her own serious medical issues — it was the perfect storm for gaining weight.
She fought through her medical setbacks with the help of Gold's Gym's challenges, and now she's biceps curling her kids and no longer on the three prescription medications she once needed. Here's the story of how she got her life back, plus tips you can apply to your own healthy journey.
POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start your weight-loss journey?
Ellie Carter: I was tired and in constant pain and had put on a lot of weight. One day, my 3-year old said, "Mommy, come play with us." And before I could respond, my 5-year old said, "Mommy can't play with us. Mommy is tired and doesn't feel good."
At that point I realized that was not what I wanted my kids to remember from their childhood. My dad had just lost his battle with leukemia, and I had so many fond memories of the fun things he did with us growing up. I wanted my kids to have the same fond memories when they looked back on their childhood. At that point I knew I needed to make a change — for me, for my health, for my husband, and especially for my kids.
PS: What drew you to Gold's Gym specifically?
EC: I had done the 12-week Gold's Gym challenge in 2016; it worked in kick-starting my health and fitness journey. After completing the challenge last year, my dad was diagnosed with incurable leukemia, and I was shortly thereafter also diagnosed with serious medical issues. All I had gained during the challenge was quickly lost. Most of my free time was spent running around to doctor's appointments, and my nutrition consisted of whichever fast-food drive through was close and convenient.
I kept my membership throughout my medical issues. I had made great strides last year through the energy and enthusiasm I felt every time I walked in the door. So, of course, I needed to feel that energy and enthusiasm again to get my life back on track. The group exercise classes were always so engaging!
"I needed to feel that energy and enthusiasm again to get my life back on track."
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
EC: Group exercise classes keep me going! When I work out outside of those classes, I always feel like I can't do one more set. But in the group classes, the energy and constant encouragement keeps me going the entire hour!
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
EC: I target certain muscle groups on specific days, rotating each week. And I mix in cardio-only days in between the weightlifting/muscle group days.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
EC: I have a fun music playlist that get me going and in the mood. I switch up my routines to keep it from getting monotonous. And I've started involving my kids! They love sitting on my back while I plank, and they think it's a fun game when I biceps curl them.
PS: How much weight have you lost?
EC: Eighteen pounds and counting! My journey is still ongoing!
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
EC: The energy I now have, the way the stress levels have decreased dramatically, but most importantly the fact that my doctor has removed me from THREE prescription medications. Additionally, all my numbers are now in good healthy ranges (i.e., cholesterol).
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
EC: Just the use of a traditional scale.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
EC: Breakfast: protein shake blended with fruit and spinach. Snack: boiled egg, fruit. Lunch: spinach or kale salad, and some sort of a lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey) with a carb. Snack: fresh veggies and usually hummus. Dinner: lean meat, veggies, and small portion of carbs.
PS: Do you count calories?
EC: I use a meal tracker that helps me count calories. I find that if I count and watch what I eat, I'm more conscious and deliberate about sticking to a healthy routine. I eat 1,200-1,500 calories depending on my workouts planned for the day.
Ellie: Before and After
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
EC: Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, spinach and kale for salads, fat-free Greek yogurt (for dips and dressings), and hummus.
"If I watch what I eat, I'm more conscious and deliberate about sticking to a healthy routine."
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
EC: I research the menu and plan for something healthy. If there are salads, I get low-fat/low-cal dressings, usually without cheese. If there are marinades or preps, I ask for no butter and sauces on the side. Additionally, I'll ask for a to-go box and plan to cut the portion size down since most restaurants serve you enough food for two to three meals.
PS: Do you use a fitness tracker?
EC: Yes, the Fitbit Charge HR. It has helped me track and keep an eye on my fitness level for the day, and it helps me keep track of my sleep too — that's been very important as well. I need an adequate amount of rest to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.
PS: What role did Gold's Gym play in your journey?
EC: Gold's Gym is where my fitness journey began. The employees and instructors are all so friendly and greet you with big smiles when you arrive. My kids go to Kids Klub when I work out and they LOVE it. They often beg me and bug me about when they can go again! The other people working out at Gold's Gym become familiar faces and often greet you and help keep the energy going throughout. I would definitely recommend Gold's Gym!
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
EC: Take the time to sit down and set your goals. What is your big, deep-down "why" you're doing this? Break that big goal into smaller, attainable goals. Don't expect the scale to move right away. You'll see and feel differences (energy, tightness of clothing, etc.) long before you'll see the needle on the scale move. And most importantly, don't get discouraged! It takes time!