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Name: Liz Merriweather
Before Weight: 252 pounds
How I Gained It: I have been a nurturer of others since childhood. I've always been in my comfort zone when caring for others. It's no wonder I became a social worker by trade. In the early 1990s my life became complicated, and I overate as a way of soothing myself. I was working full time, began a four-year graduate school program, had a second baby and moved into a new home. It was all good, but each brought a significant set of stressors. A few years later I had bunion surgery, which resulted in a staph infection in the bone and spent an entire summer in bed on I.V. antibiotics. I ate anything I wanted to, and a lot of it. I loved buttered popcorn, ice cream, pizza, burgers, fries, chips and diet soda. I didn't have the knowledge about how processed foods affect the body. It's painful to even remember this next one, but on day one of our two-week family vacation in 2001 we had a roll-over crash, with our brand new Airstream trailer. It was after this that I began to gain weight like never before, eventually reaching a gut-wrenching 252 pounds. I'll never forget that number.
Breaking Point: I have a vivid image of standing on the scale and seeing 252, a number that shocked and shamed me. I'd had enough. I'd had enough of shopping in specific stores and paying higher prices for larger clothes. I'd had enough of feeling self-conscious about my physique. I'd had enough of the hypocrisy of helping other people become well emotionally, and yet, something was obviously wrong in my world.
How I Lost It: Losing weight was not the primary obstacle I had to overcome. Losing weight was the outcome. The obstacle I overcame was self-doubt. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. Self-doubt was likely a symptom of a larger obstacle. The truth is, I had to learn to love myself unconditionally. By that I mean care, nurture, honor and respect myself. I had come to a turning point, determined to take better care of me. It's been a journey of no turning back! Between 2007 and 2011, I gradually lost about 40 pounds. I began eating healthier foods and exercising regularly at a gym. It was hard, physically, but I enjoyed the challenge, and that kept me coming back for more, day in and day out.
With few exceptions, if it didn't come straight from Mother Earth or have a mother, I don't eat it. I eat very few grains, and never bread, although I will indulge in pizza occasionally. I do enjoy steel-cut oatmeal and brown and black rice, beans of all sorts, nearly every vegetable and fruit (in moderation), lean cuts of beef and bison, Atlantic salmon, white fish, egg whites, raw nuts and plain Greek Yogurt.
Last year I set a new goal. On January 1, 2012 I decided to become fit enough to prep for a bodybuilding competition by December 12, 2012. I reached that goal and shred another 40 pounds in the process. This time I hired a personal trainer who educated me about how to effectively eat to lose fat and lift weights to gain muscle. My goal for this year is to enter my first bodybuilding competition before November 12, 2013 (yes, I like to have fun with numbers!). To date, I've lost 10 more pounds (with 10 left to go), and now it's all about packing on the muscle!
Now, I “train” rather than “work out.” There's a difference. So many people go the gym and routinely "work out" and remain in a rut. They don't see results, so they give less energy and may even give up. There is a method and a science to fat loss, endurance and muscle strengthening. Knowing what to do, for my particular body, has been crucial.
I'm a new me now. Physically, I've never been healthier or stronger. I am remarried, to the man of my dreams. I'm emotionally and spiritually fit, and I love me! Professionally, I am co-founder (with my husband) and lead coach at Artist Development Coaching, an organization devoted to furthering the personal and professional lives of musicians. I am also the founder and lead coach at Coach Liz, a system for goal achievement success. I am very excited about my current undertaking: writing my second book, co-authored with my personal trainer, about the topic of fitness, of course!
I don't think people lack motivation or desire, they lack information that is tailored to their specific needs. This is why there is no one-size-fits-all answer to health and fitness. I am deeply committed to encouraging and assisting people in finding their ultimate fitness: physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. As a therapist, life coach and now, fit person, I am in a good position (and feel responsible) for doing so.
After Weight: 162 pounds
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