I Lost Weight: A Name-Calling Incident Motivated Cherie Steffen To Lose 85 Pounds

Cherie Lost 85 Pounds: 'I'm Still Me, But Healthier'

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Name: Cherie Steffen
Age: 34
Height: 5'3"
Before Weight: 230 pounds

How I Gained It: Eating too much and being sedentary packed on the majority of the pounds, but some personal life changes added to it in a short time. My mother was diagnosed with cancer in March 2009 and she died soon after. I was a total Mommy's Girl, so I was devastated. Two weeks after she passed away, I herniated my lumbar disc and couldn't move for some time. I was very limited in movement for about two months. During that time, I was fired from my job because they had no light duty for me and I couldn't do anything else there. So the mom, the back and the job sent me into a depressed eating frenzy. I ate a lot of "comfort" food -- anything that tasted good. My favorites at the time were endless amounts of cheese puffs, nacho chips, potato chips with sour cream and onion dip, cake, cookies and French fries galore.

Breaking Point: I went back to school for a second degree in January 2010. I needed to take a different career path and needed a fresh start. One of my teachers called me "Precious" (the fat black girl from the movie of the same name) in front of a bunch of students. Instead of getting angry, I vowed to use those hurtful, embarrassing comments as motivation to lose the weight so no one would ever, ever call me that again. I always knew I needed to lose it -- had even promised my mother on her deathbed that I would -- but that one name-calling incident sparked a fire in me.

How I Lost It: I started walking four times a week for 30 minutes a day on my treadmill. It was rough at first. I was the type to like to watch exercise shows or informercials, but not actually get up and do it, as if thinking about it was going to burn calories. But I had to make myself do it until I finally saw a few changes in my body, which wasn't until about three months into working out. I walked faster, raised the incline and upped it to 45 minutes. After another plateau, I started mixing in jogging with the walking and then finally mixed in running with the jogging. Now I solely run about four or five times a week, averaging 20 to 25 miles a week. I also do hot yoga and strength training about three times a week, and it feels amazing. I actually get upset when I miss my workouts because they're such stress relievers and my "me time." The sweat running down my body after a workout gives me such a sense of accomplishment that I never knew I could have. Training for races helps too, as I'm currently training for my first half-marathon in November.

My diet was a big part of it, too -- it had to be. I had no clue what to do at first and had to learn through trial and error. I read every fitness magazine I could get my hands on and began measuring and weighing portions and eating clean. It's a lifestyle change, so I had to learn how to make my favorite foods in a healthier way. Now, fast food is gross to me!

I tend to eat very clean now, staying away from artificial and processed foods. I like to make my own foods instead of going out to eat. For instance, if I want chicken nuggets I make them from scratch with cut up boneless chicken breasts, an egg and Panko crumbs or crushed nuts, whereas before I would just buy them in a big frozen bag or go to a fast food place. I love lean meats and seafood, veggies, fruits, Greek yogurt, nuts and grains, and incorporate those into my meals every day.

I always have dessert, but it's either a piece of dark chocolate or Greek yogurt with fruit and a little granola. I also try to have two snacks during the day -- depending my workouts, that could be a protein shake, a serving of almonds or fruit.

I'm still me, but healthier. I'm the me that I knew was in there all the time, but was trapped and didnt't know how to get out. During this journey, I studied to become a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and work as a Certified Fitness Trainer for Dick's Sporting Goods. So I work and practice what I preach for my day job! I am more extroverted, confident and believe anything is possible. I'm happier and excited to live life without literally a bunch of weight holding me down. Oh, and clothes shopping is a lot more fun!

After Weight: Currently I'm at 145 pounds. My goal is 130 pounds, so I still have 15 pounds to go. After I reach that, I'd like to add muscle on my frame and go back up to the range of 135 to 138.

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