Reflecting back, when I was overweight it seemed impossible. However, I was determined. I allowed myself to gain weight and was determined to get back in shape. I went from being this physically fit Army combat paratrooper to this overweight college student.. I kept thinking how did I let myself go? My ex’s father made fun of my weight and joked about it. It hurt me so much; I was so embarrassed that I avoided taking pictures. I could not fit in any of my clothes and always took so long in getting ready because of this. I was really unhappy and unhealthy! I ate a box of Oreo cookies to feel better… It was horrible.
So how did I get from that point to where I am now? You have to start somewhere. Below I will tell you what steps I took in order to go from overweight to fit.
Overweight to Fit Transformation Plan
Step 1: Joined a gym that offered classes and one I felt more comfortable in
When I first started I joined Planet Fitness. I never stayed consistent because I was not comfortable there. I joined a gym that offered classes and met people that were into fitness too! I know I struggled at first thinking I would be judged or I have to lose weight before I go to the gym- BUT THIS IS CRAZY TALK! Everyone has to start somewhere; I could not even do one push up when I got back to the gym.
Step 2: I met people at the gym and found a workout partner
The gym was helpful, because I made friends that were into fitness too. I found one friend that I can go to the gym with and it helped me to stay consistent. I never wanted to let my friend down or myself so I stayed on track. (This was during the beginning and then I just took off and started going to the gym on my own 😉 )
I had a plan every time I went to the gym
I wrote my workouts in advance and this helped me finish them. I noticed if I went to the gym without a plan I wouldn’t accomplish as much as I did with it. Having a plan meant that I was going to complete it!
I stopped self-doubt
I stopped thinking I can’t and worked at it every day ensuring I would take baby steps to my accomplishments. It is so easy to get frustrated with the process and give up; the key to not giving up is tracking your progress. Knowing how far you have come will help you to keep going much more than focusing on how far you still have to go. This is very valid for me, I just was so determined to keep at it that I never quit! It was a lifestyle change not just some fad diet.
I incorporated a healthy nutrition plan – Healthy eating healthy living.
Nutrition has to be the most important! I researched and started reading what I should be eating. I read that six small portioned meals instead of 3 big ones a day is the best for fat burning as your metabolism will continue to work better when you fed yourself in this manner. I stopped drinking any juice- I was reading the nutrition facts of all the juices even the organic juices- but they are all high in sugar! I just ate fruit and consumed a lot of water.
I avoided fried foods and drinking any alcohol! I also stopped eating red meat, because I noticed my body had difficulty digesting it. I did not eat out, because I could not control what was put into the food I was eating. If I did eat out, I would ask for my food to be steamed or my fish to be blackened. I would rather just go for sashimi to be honest.-that’s what I would tell my friends. I stopped telling people my plans to lose weight, people don’t understand. So I just said I have food allergies and have to stay away from a lot of different foods- I know it is a lie, but it was better than getting into a discussion about the whole thing. People can be very critical and judgmental at times. I was not ready for that, at least not in the beginning. Now I am strong enough to say no thank you, I am good! I ate before parties or I brought a dish that I can eat during parties and only ate that. If I had a craving for sweets, I had a protein shake or protein bar! My food was plain, but good for me. I avoided missing meals by bringing my meals with me or finding a healthy alternative.
So to recap, here are the changes I made to my diet:
• Ate six times a day- small portions- every two to three hours
• Avoided drinking juice, soda etc.- only consumed, coffee, almond milk and water.
• Avoided eating out- or I asked for my food steamed- or just ate sashimi
• Avoided drinking alcohol
• Avoided telling everyone my plans and just said I had a food allergy or said no thank you.
• Ate before going to house parties or brought healthy foods to house parties- that I could eat (like bringing salmon burgers to barbeques, etc).
• When craving something sweet I ate a protein bar or a shake.
• Avoided missing meals, by bring my meals with me or finding healthy alternatives- (protein shakes come in handy for this).
I incorporated workouts I loved.
I changed my workouts every month, but when I first started back in the gym I tried everything. I attended the classes to see what I could do and what I was most passionate about. I would also see where I had the most fun for my cardio sessions. I loved boot camp, it reminded me of the military and I love being told I can not do something- it motivates me to try harder.
I also practiced weight training and at times I did more isolation work for each body part – picked a body part each day and performed 4-5 exercises for 10-12 reps. Another month I would work groups of muscles together like- biceps and triceps one month and then the next I did back and biceps, etc.
Below is a list of some of my favorite exercises and food items :
Legs- deadlifts and squats- using the power rack- (this helps with my balance and helps me get the most out of my workouts.
Shoulders- seated dumbbell rear delt raise
Back- seated lat pulldown
Biceps- 21 barbell bicep curls- (7 half way up, 7 mid way up and 7 full curl without stopping)
Tricep- dips (I could not do them when I first started, so I did the assisted dip machine)
Calves- seated calve raises- toes pointed inward 5X, toes pointed outward 5X and toes straight 5X
Abs- I perform abs in between sets to save time, my favorite ab workout is, weighted Russian twist.- about 20-25 reps in between weight sets.
Carbs: sweet potato
Protein food source: Salmon
Fats: Peanut butter
Veggies: Spinach (like Popeye)
FOR ENERGY AND PRE-WORKOUT: Super Charge, grape flavor
FOR PROTEIN: Lean body for her packets– it has a small amount of carbs (so you can add to it or leave it as is), it has low number of calories and no transfat and has all the essential vitamins and amino acids
FOR RECOVERY: Glutalaen– helps with soreness and allows you to get the most out of your workouts. Especially when you are first starting out or on a new workout plan.
FAT BURNER: Lean body for her fat burner
About the Author
Nora Aly is a champion bikini competitor and former Army airborne and Iraqi combat veteran who gained over 35-lbs once she went off active duty. Through fitness she not only was able to lose the weight but also deal with all of her oversea experiences. In her words: “Working out has been my self-medication and through working out I feel empowered. I gained my confidence back and inspired people at the gym (that witnessed my weight loss). I gave them hope and the reality that hard work does pay off. I want to continue to give people inner strength through fitness and be a role model for other women that have shared similar experiences.” You can follow Nora at any of the sites below: