Faces Of Itness: Meet Michelle McCullough

The Warm-Up

Favorite workout song: Club Can’t Handle Me
Favorite outdoor activity: Walking with my kids on the River Trail near our house.
Favorite motivational quote: That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do.  Not that the nature of the thing itself has changed, but our power to DO has increased.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Favorite Words to Sweat by mantra:  “C is for Crunches Not Cookies”  This whole time, I thought it WAS cookie.

The Heavy Lifting

Michelle before

Why did you decide to make a healthy change?

Honestly, it’s because my friends did it first.  I had two friends who took up running.  One lost 50 pounds, the other lost 40.  I thought to myself, “If they can do it, I can do it.”  So, I bought a gym membership and started exercising.

What goals did you set and how did you stay motivated?

I set out to lose 50 pounds.  Honestly, in the beginning it was easy to stay motivated.  I was pleased with my results and proud of myself for sticking to it.  My back went out in May of last year, and I was out for about 8 weeks.  My doctor and physical therapist told me not to exercise.

So, when I couldn’t exercise I said, “Hey, hand me a cupcake.”  I went down hill pretty fast.  At that point I had lost 40 pounds, and I gained 15 of it back in 8 weeks.  It’s taken me the last year to lose 10 of those 15 pounds with my back intermittently going out.  Luckily, I’m currently strong and can exercise my heart out!  I’ll be well on my way to hit my 50 lbs, and hoping to lose it by my birthday in June!

What main changes did you make to your lifestyle that you feel provided the best benefits?

I actually called my doctor and asked, “I’m starting an exercise program and would like your recommendations for exercise and calorie count?”  They told me to exercise about 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes a day.  And they gave me a healthy calorie count specific to my height and weight loss goals.  They aren’t lying when they say that you should seek the help of a medical professional.

What workouts did you find most effective for your needs and your time constraints?

It’s hard to squeeze exercise in when I’m a busy entrepreneur who runs 3 successful businesses from home, and having 2 small children at home (my kids are ages 2 and 4).  I’m also a sedentary lass and I’m good at it.

What worked best for me was trying to shake things up so that I didn’t get bored each day.  I went to Zumba®, spin class, took up running (though I still hate it 2 years later :)), and learned about strength training.  I took every chance I got to walk with my kids on the trail near our home.

I loved every opportunity to involve them in my exercise and to get fresh air.  I also realized about 3 months in that the more I take care of my body, the more I’m able to do when I’m awake.  I had more energy and I did better in business.  Exercise is a great part of self-care, and our bodies are the vehicles to fulfill our dreams.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, then we can’t adequately take care of our businesses, families, friends, and our dreams.

The Cooldown

What are your next goals with your health and fitness?

I ran my first 5k at the beginning of my weight loss journey, when I had an additional 30 pounds on my body.  Since then I’ve run 3 others.  Each time I get faster, and I love that, even though I still don’t love running.  This year I’m running my first 10k in October.  I’m training for that.  I can’t wait to hit my goal to lose 50 lbs.

Michelle after

What advice do you have for people trying to make the same changes?
What’s funny is that people see me and say, “Michelle, you look fantastic. How did you do it?”  My answer is always the same, “Turns out exercise works.”

People are always looking for a quick fix.  A miracle pill or diet, but the best thing you can do is go back to basics.  Exercise and eat well.  Seek the professional advice of your doctor so you can be on the best path for YOU and YOUR BODY not what some size 0 in a fitness magazine recommends.

I also think it’s important to remember that it took us a long time to gain the weight, it can take us a while to lose it.  I’m about to hit year number 2 in May, and I can choose to throw in the towel or continue on my journey to clothes that fit better, compliments for my hard work and a body that feels healthier.

I don’t know if others can relate, but I’ve spent a lot of time telling myself that I don’t need to be thin because I’m happy.  It turns out, I can be happy and thinner and my body really loves me for it.  Small and simple things bring great results.  Keep it up, and keep your chin up.

You can do hard things.

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