Pam didn't grow up with the healthiest of habits, and that ended up contributing to significant weight gain over time. At her heaviest, Pam was 240 pounds. She had her epiphany after a moment of deep embarrassment and regret at an amusement park in 2014, and it reminded her of a promise she made to her late mother — one to get healthy. She took action and found a program called Take Shape For Life, which set her up with a healthy-eating and weight-loss plan. Pam's commitment is admirable, and the amount of weight she's lost is stunning, but there are so many practical tips you can learn from her journey to apply to your own. Warning: many tear-jerking moments ahead!
POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start your weight-loss journey?
Pam Horrocks: Growing up in Ohio, my mom was a great cook, and family dinners consisted of meat, potatoes, bread, and butter at every meal. I remember often going back for seconds at meals. We didn't have healthy food options such as fresh fruit or vegetables. I have always been an emotional eater as well, but when my mom was diagnosed with liver cancer was when my emotional eating started to spiral out of control.
One day in 2014, my husband, son, and I went to Legoland, a local amusement park. It was my turn to get on a ride with my son, the helicopter ride to be exact, and when my son and I went to get on the ride, I did not fit. I felt every single emotion one could imagine: embarrassment, sadness, regret, and even hate. In that exact moment, I remembered a promise that I made to my mom before she passed away in 2010. My mom was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2008, and I remembered during one of my visits she said that she was very worried about me because I had gotten so heavy — heavier than I've ever been, even though I had been heavy all my life. I reassured her that I would take care of myself, but now was not the time to worry, because we needed to focus on her. Fast forward to that moment in 2014, I immediately realized that it was my time to worry about myself. After leaving Legoland in July 2014, I decided to make a life change.
PS: What drew you to Take Shape For Life?
PH: I was on Facebook and saw my sister's amazing transformation — I immediately messaged her and asked what she was doing. She introduced me to Take Shape For Life, and it transformed my life! I knew immediately this program was something different than ones I'd tried before. Take Shape For Life combines the personalized support of a health coach, healthy habits, and Fuelings [TSFL's brand of healthy snacks and meals] to give you the resources to live a healthier life. I was on the "Take Shape For Life Optimal Weight 5 and 1 Plan" that consists of eating five healthy Fuelings throughout the day, along with one healthy meal of lean protein and low-carb vegetables.
[Before TSFL,] I tried a number of other approaches. Counting calories and/or points was too overwhelming to me. I would start off strong, but after a week or two, I would stop counting, fall back into my old habits, and regain the few pounds that I lost — and then some. It was a vicious cycle.
"I remembered a promise that I made to my mom before she passed away . . . I reassured her that I would take care of myself."
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
PH: I love strength and circuit training! I work out with a personal trainer and attend group fitness classes. I work out with my personal trainer two times per week and [on my own] two times per week at Orangetheory Fitness.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
PH: After reaching my goal, I was still afraid of working out! It scared me, but I asked myself "What's next?" . . . I didn't want to stop, I wanted to continue to improve myself and continue to live a healthy lifestyle, and exercise was the next logical (and exciting!) step. I love connecting with others who love feeling alive and amazing in their own skin. The feeling you get when you are working out is like nothing I have ever experienced. I feel empowered, strong, and confident!
PS: How much weight have you lost?
PH: 121 pounds.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
PH: When my son was small, he was never able to sit on my lap . . . because I did not have a lap for him to sit on! My biggest accomplishment was picking up my son (even though he was TOO BIG at this point to sit on my lap) and putting him on my lap and giving him the biggest bear hug ever. That was an emotional moment for me, and one I will never forget! The other big one was the first time I crossed my legs for the first time in my life! There have been so many more accomplishments, especially those almost all "normal-size" people take for granted. So many proud moments.
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
PH: During my journey, I used a simple Google Doc document to track my weight loss. Once I realized that "Wow, this is really working!," I purchased a Fitbit, an Aria scale, and I started using a few apps to track my weight loss. It is fun to look back at my progress; it keeps me grounded and helps me keep my perspective.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
PH: I continue to eat six small meals throughout the day that consist of a combination of healthy lunches, dinners, and [TSFL's branded] Optavia Fuelings. On a typical day, I eat a 1/3 cup egg white omelet first thing when I wake up. Then at about 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., I eat a healthy Fueling or 100-calorie snack. At around noon, I eat a healthy chicken salad lunch. At 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., I eat a healthy Fueling or 100-calorie snack. At 6:00 p.m., I will make a lean and green style dinner.
PS: Do you count calories?
PH: I try to not count calories. What I find works best for me is to buy prepacked 100-calorie snacks such as 100-calorie almond packs, Light & Fit individual yogurts, individual hummus packs, precut and prewashed veggies, or Optavia Fuelings, etc. It takes away the guesswork and makes eating healthy quick and easy.
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
PH: Vegetables such as jicama, celery, broccoli, cauliflower (especially riced cauliflower for making "rice" and cauliflower pizza crusts), and sweet peppers. Others include unsweetened almond milk, egg whites, string cheese, chicken strips, and of course PB2.
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
PH: I always go online and look at the restaurant's menu. I come up with at least two healthy choices before I ever walk into any restaurant. I then ask a lot of questions and order my meal with sauces on the side and healthy substitutes prepared to meet my needs.
"I learned about being the best me that I can be, and I am forever grateful."
PS: Do you use a fitness tracker? Which one, and how do you think it helped you?
PH: I use a Fitbit to track my fitness progress. It is helpful to track my daily activity, but it has now become a habit . . . so I don't need a fitness tracker to remind me to stay active! Healthy habits, including healthy activity, are the key to success!
PS: What role did Take Shape For Life play in your journey? Would you recommend it?
PH: Take Shape For Life has truly transformed my life! My family and I headed back to Legoland in 2015, and not only was it a fun trip, but it was a trip that took me full circle in my weight-loss and optimal health journey! I got on that ride with my son, and this time my son rode that ride with his healthy mom, in both her body and mind. Through my journey, I have learned so much more about myself than just how to eat healthy, I learned about being the BEST ME that I can be, and I am forever grateful. I have also become a Take Shape For Life Health Coach, which is something that I could previously not have envisioned. I am so excited I am able to pay it forward and motivate others on their journey to health.
PS: What advice do you have for someone starting a weight-loss journey?
PH: My best health tip would be to get creative with your foods. You can enjoy healthy foods by experimenting with nontraditional ingredients to create your former fattening favorites. For example, try things like cauliflower pizza and experiment with a healthy vegetable like zucchini to replace pasta noodles. I've gone so far as to transform my Triple Berry Smoothie Fueling into a bagel — I add egg whites to it and bake it, put it in the toaster, and eat it like bread!
Pam: Before and After