Peggy Bradford of Sewell, New Jersey hasn’t always been the avid promoter of health that she is today. Before losing 70 pounds the 47-year-old mother weighed close to 220 pounds and suffered from severe depression. The weight gain came after a major surgery that required her to be on a hormone replacement for one year, which left her feeling terrible both physically and emotionally.
After facing resistance from her doctor about getting off of her medications, Peggy told her husband she was going to take matters into her own hands, and that’s exactly what she did.
Peggy almost instantly began eating healthier and watching her calories, cutting out soda and choosing protein bars over candy bars. For exercise she purchased a pedometer to encouragement more daily movement.
“I started out doing 10,000 steps a day with 4 pound weights,” she said. “I’ve built myself up to between 20,00-30,000 steps a day and 12-15 pound weights. I not only jog in place when I do my workout, but I jog in place when I talk on phone, iron, do dishes, etc.,” she said. “It sounds crazy, but the steps add up and have been a huge part of my weight loss journey.”
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Weight has been a lifelong struggle for Ashley McClellan who fell into a pattern of yo-yo dieting at a young age. Despite committing to change time and again, she always found herself heavier than she was before. Then, one evening she came across a TV ad for a workout program called Turbo Jam and felt compelled to buy it. Though she loved it initially, she eventually grew bored with working out and eating healthy again and put it back on the shelf.
Then in the summer of 2010 Ashley, now 24, knew she needed to make a serious change. Her health was failing and she was on multiple medications for severe depression, pre-diabetic conditions and heart disease, which runs on both sides of her family.
A common doctor’s visit served as a big wake up call when she was confronted about her weight. “That was the first time somebody had ever told me out loud I should lose weight,” she said. “I was nearly 300 pounds at 22 years old. After that I decided I needed to do something different.”
Ashley feared she’d end up with heart disease or worse if she didn’t lose weight. She also had very low self esteem and felt horrible about herself, which began to take a toll on her marriage.
Around that time Ashley’s sister had caught the Turbo Jam bug and became a certified instructor after first being introduced to it by Ashley. Knowing she was struggling to get healthy, she convinced Ashley to pick it back up along with her at the gym she was teaching at. This is where small change began to happen.
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For sisters Brianne Canepa – a 32-year-old paramedic and quality manager for Kaiser Permanente – and Cara Garcia – a 31-year-old communications specialist at Stanford Life Flight – weight loss has been a joint effort. In the last year the pair has managed to drop more than 200 pounds together, and it all started with a life-changing visit to the Biggest Loser Resort in Malibu, California.
At their heaviest, Brianne weighed 361 pounds and Cara, 308 pounds. However, it’s a totally different story now ever since the sisters embarked on a weight loss journey that transformed their health and their lives for the better. Today, Brianne weighs 258 pounds and Cara, 197, which is a combined weight loss of an amazing 214 pounds.
In the process of shrinking down together, these sisters have not only kept each other motivated but also bonded and became even closer friends than they were before. To tell this inspiring story, we’ve asked Cara and Brianne to share about their journeys in their own words starting with where it all began: The gain.
left to right: Cara and Brianne, respectively.
When did your individual struggles with weight begin?
Cara: I was a skinny mini most of my childhood and through high school. Wearing size 12 was the biggest size I wore. I was very active and could pretty much eat anything I wanted to. In 2000, I left home and lived in the dorm at San Jose State University. It was my first experience making my own schedule, my own food choices and none of it was good. I was eating crappy food and taking naps between classes. I think I went to the gym once that whole first year. The freshman 30 turned into 10 years and more than 100 pounds.
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Joy Wilson, of the widely-recognized food blog Joy the Baker and author of “Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes,” is one of my absolute favorite bloggers. Her delicious recipes, candid narrative and quirky personality are enough to make me swoon over everything she shares.
One of Joy’s latest projects is the “Joy the Baker Podcast” on which she discusses recent happenings in the kitchen, in friendships and in life.
On her latest episode titled ‘The Friend Diet,‘ Joy discussed a new diet she’s trying out to become more aware of what she’s eating on a day-to-day basis. It’s called the ‘friend diet,’ and it’s a system she and her blogger friend, Tracy of Shutterbean, dreamed up one day.
The pair essentially takes photographs of everything they eat and text it to each other for accountability. As for whether or not it actually works, we talked with Joy to find out.
What sparked the idea of the friend diet?
Let’s see, I text message with my best friend Tracy all day long. It’s nonsense really. We noticed that a hearty majority of our texts revolved around the food that we were feeling guilty about eating. One day we just decided to flip the script. Now we tell each other, with pictures and with words, exactly what we’re eating all day long. From a huge cheeseburger lunch to a handful of granola, we lay it all out there. We needed a way to be accountable to ourselves and bringing someone else in the loop seemed like the best friend way to do it.
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