Lean & Mean: Second Place Winner Sheila Kelly
“Nothing tastes as good as health and strength feels.”
Sheila lost 49% of her initial body fat.
What made you decide to enter the 2019 Lean and Mean Challenge?
To be honest, the day I heard about the 2019 Lean and Mean, I won $50 on a lotto ticket and thought “I can’t think of a better way to invest it than to enter the Challenge!” It was as simple as that.
What strategies for nutrition and exercise did you put in place?
I decided that to excel in this challenge, all three variables had to be in place all the time: nutrition, cardio and weights/resistance training. I was already regularly doing strength and resistance training with my One on One trainer twice a week for years (thank you Danny) but increased it to three for the challenge. I performed some kind of cardio every single day of the 12 weeks except 3 single days. I walked on my treadmill (I don’t run – hate it – so I don’t do it) You have to do exercise that you like!
Or I biked, hiked or went to spin class.
I committed to a calorie amount per day calculated based on a projected loss of 1 lb per week and a macro nutrient balance of 50%/30%/20% (carb, fat, protein). Yes 50% carbs – you don’t have to go all silly with the carb reduction! I diarized every morsel that went in my mouth and every cardio session every single day of the challenge on my phone app My Fitness Pal. That means everything! Every taste while cooking, every alcoholic beverage, every salad topping, every scrap off my kids plate that I ate instead of disposing. All of it. Of course committing to counting it often discouraged me from eating unnecessarily. BUT, I also added back the calorie equivalent of my cardio exercise. So for example if I committed to 1500 calories a day and I burned 400 during spin class, I gave myself 1900 calories of food that day. But when I ran out of calories for the day, I had only two choices: stop eating or perform more cardio. If I’d done my cardio for the day already, the choice was clear. Simply stop eating – you’re not hungry, no matter what you think. Oh, and I drank a lot of tea.
Here’s a tip that worked for me. I’m an evening snacker and I like to do so while watching TV. Lots of books and articles say don’t eat after supper or after 8 pm etc. I don’t subscribe to any of that and simply worked evening snacks into my nutrition count. I wouldn’t have been successful if I hadn’t accommodated that.
What was the toughest part of the Lean and Mean for you?
You know, it wasn’t that tough. It felt like a game; not with the other Challenge participants, but with myself. I made the mental switch to do it and announced it out loud to myself. (Yes, I actually did that.) For me, if you’ve committed in your head and heart, the execution is not so difficult. When I’ve not made a goal in the past, it’s because I hadn’t really decided to do it, not because it was too difficult. Okay, going to the grocery store 2-3 times a week to keep fresh healthy food in the house was a pain, but worth it.
What was the most rewarding aspect of the event for you?
Seeing a real difference in the appearance of my body. I wasn’t just a smaller version of my same body. I lost 49% of my initial body fat. Crazy!!
A healthy strong body elevates all parts of your life (your relationships, your career, your ability to take care of your family). Those things are too often used to justify why we’re not healthy – that’s just wrong. Take care of yourself first or you won’t be able to care of others.
What did your friends, family (or spouse) think of what you were doing?
Everyone thought, “Cool…. Ok, next topic.” But soon, they saw that I was doing this by the book and they started to help accommodate my nutrition and exercise routine, even on two vacations during this challenge!
What did you learn about yourself along the way?
Nothing tastes as good as health and strength feels. There’s no such thing as “I don’t have time.” Time is all you have. Age has nothing to do with your ability to improve your health and appearance. The body is a magnificent machine and never gives up responding to how you treat it.
What are your goals now?
To experiment with the combination of the three variables (nutrition, cardio, weight training) that support maintenance of what I’ve achieved. That includes adding back calories, and pulling back on the cardio just a bit. I’ll still perform two sessions a week of strength with my new One on One trainer, Broden.
If you could give advice to another person who was struggling with their fitness what would that be?
I’ve been health conscious my whole life, but at 54 years old, I was seeing that my body was softer than I was used to. But, I knew it didn’t have to be. This challenge was about taking it to another level. I had the benefit of knowledge and experience already – for me it was applying what I knew. For those struggling, talk to someone who has already been there and done it successfully and embrace what they offer. Ignore diets – you have to find a way to eat that you can do forever. You have to move – if you think I wanted to move every day of that challenge, I didn’t. But so what, friggin’ do it anyway. And the empowerment of strength training- there’s no feeling like it. When I leave One on One, I am pumped!