Behind every strong woman is a group of other strong women supporting her fitness goals. One year ago, Shabraya Caldwell embarked on a fitness journey unhappy with how she looked. She joined a sisterhood focusing on the overall fitness journey, not just weight loss. This is Shabraya's story as told to POPSUGAR.
POPSUGAR: What made you start your journey?
Shabraya Caldwell: I started my fitness journey because I was tired of being overweight. People would tell me I looked fine, but I saw myself in the mirror. As cliche as it sounds, I wanted to look good naked. I wanted to be comfortable in my skin. I wanted to love my body. I remember climbing a flight of stairs and being winded. My clothes stopped fitting, and mentally I was in a bad place.
PS: What made you join the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants?
SC: I joined the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants because I saw two of my friends do it the year before and they had crazy results. I remember seeing videos and pictures of challenges and I wanted to see if I could do it. There was a video of a girl pushing a tire and everyone was around her encouraging her. I remember watching it over and over. It's inspiring seeing all these women come together and support each other in all walks of life — I just wanted to be a part of it. I remember telling myself when I saw the post for the 2017 SHSP, "I'm doing this."
PS: What was your starting weight?
SC: My starting weight was 182.6 pounds.
PS: How much weight have you lost to date?
SC: To date, I've lost 22.3 pounds. I gained 15.4 pounds of lean muscle — I'm extremely proud of this.
PS: How long did it take you to lose the weight?
SC: All off 2017 and still going in 2018. Once you get the weight off, you have to maintain.
PS: How did the Sisterhood help you lose weight?
SC: The Sisterhood is more about your fitness journey than it is just about losing weight. I went into it wanting to lose weight, but then it shifted into me wanting to be fit and healthy. First, it taught me how to eat to fuel and nourish my body. Not eat just to eat, which I was doing, [but to eat] the good fats, good carbs, more fruits and veggies, and focus on eating enough protein and drinking more water. Second, the challenges are set up to where you have to move three to four times a week, if not every day — if you've never worked out before, it's all challenging. The coaches' approach is, "If you give 100 percent, I'm going to rock with you." They push you and see more in you than you see in yourself. When you're eating right, drinking water, moving every day, and have a support system around you, the weight falls off, you become stronger, and you just keep going.
They push you and see more in you than you see in yourself.
PS: Did you follow a specific diet?
SC: I just eat whole foods. We followed Whole30 for the first month, and since then, my diet sticks close to that. I eat a lot of chicken, veggies, fruit, sweet potatoes, some beef and turkey. Those stay in my diet. I had to grow to like how a lot of it tastes, but now it's normal. It makes you feel so good and gives you energy, and it's nice to know what's going in your body. I do slip and have a treat from time to time, but I never dive off the deep end. Sugar is such a weakness of mine that I have to stay away from it.
PS: What do you eat when you have a sugar craving?
SC: I will eat something small. I have an obsession with Tootsie Pops, so I will have one every once in a while. I had to learn to tell myself that one bite, one cupcake, and one doughnut won't ruin the entire week. I also have fruit — it may not be a piece of cake, but it is sweet.
PS: What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
- Breakfast: Coffee, potatoes, eggs and turkey scramble, and fruit.
- Snack: Turkey slices with spinach rolled together.
- Lunch: Brussels sprouts, chicken, and some sweet potato. On the days I lift, I have ground beef.
- Snack: Cashew butter and an apple.
- Pre-workout: Chicken and sweet potatoes, strawberries, and mandarin oranges.
- Dinner: Chicken, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes.
PS: Did you have a specific training schedule?
SC: I work out five to six times a week. On Monday, I do cardio; on Tuesday, I lift weights (usually leg day); on Wednesday, I do a SWAT fitness HIIT class; on Thursday, I lift weights (arms); and on Friday, I do another SWAT fitness HIIT class. I personally need someone yelling at me in order to work out a full hour, so the group training has really worked for me.
PS: What are some nonscale victories you've had?
SC: I've never been a runner, and my coach had us running every week. One week he said, "Run three miles or 10 if you're about it," and at first I laughed at the thought and told myself that wasn't happening. But I did it. I ran 10 miles. I'm still shocked that I have gotten my body to the point where I can do that. I remember crying that day when I got in the car. I've never been so proud of myself. It was hard, and I felt it for a few days after, but completing something you told yourself you could never do was a powerful feeling. Another thing was my sister got motivated. She saw my progress and she joined [the Sisterhood].
Completing something you told yourself you could never do was as powerful feeling.
PS: What advice/tips do you have for others on their journey?
SC: Don't focus on the scale and losing weight. Focus on the actual fitness journey. You can lose 15 pounds and feel great, but if you don't stay on the journey, you will gain it back. Losing weight is not what it's all about — it's a plus. Finding out how strong I am, the things my body can do, how far I can push myself is much more important. If you have the motivation to start, start and don't give up on yourself. This is life-changing. Will it be hard? Yes, at first, but in a few weeks, it won't be as hard and you'll learn so much about yourself.