Happy November and Happy Health Feature Day! I’m slightly late with October’s feature, but I was a little busy celebrating my birthday. Which, by the way, was an awesome day! I’ll be sure to share it with you next week. 🙂 Now onto the health feature!
Last month, we met Jamika and heard about her amazing story. This month, I would like to introduce you to Meghan Siwecki. Meghan and I actually went to high school together and were in the same section in marching band. She was a year older than me and she really welcomed me into the section and made me feel comfortable. We became fast friends and some of my best memories in band include her.
After she graduated, she went to college at Southern Illinois and we drifted apart. Through facebook, I was able to see what she was up to and in the past few months I noticed a big transformation in her health. She made some awesome changes and she told me that she really wanted to help inspire others to turn their health around. When you read her story and see all the hard work she has put in, I’m sure she’ll inspire a lot of you!
Name and Age: Meghan Siwecki, 28
What did you weigh before and how much weight have you lost?
When I started my weight loss journey, I weighed around 180-185 pounds. Honestly, I do not like stepping on a scale which is why I don’t know the exact beginning weight. Currently, I weigh around 135 pounds.
What made you want to turn your health around?
I decided to change my lifestyle because of how I truly felt about myself- the outside didn’t match the inside. I wasn’t confident in myself at all and that needed to change. I chose to change my weight to help with my confidence. I hated going to the store and looking all the way at the bottom for a shirt size or not being able to go to certain stores because they didn’t carry my size. When I started this transformation, I was a size 14 and in my head that wasn’t bad considering I was a size 18 when I graduated high school. I was the “fat friend” and struggled to do things that should be easy for a woman in her 20’s. It was hard for me to walk more than a mile without being out of breath or sweating like a pig. Also, being a teacher it was hard to hear what middle school students would say every day and it made me flashback to being in school myself and getting bullied because of my weight. I decided to not be sad about it all the time but do something to make myself feel better about who I am.
What did a typical day (food/exercise-wise) look like before you changed?
Before I went on my health journey, there was little to no exercise. Sometimes my friend and I would go walking but that would be less than a mile and it was a slow speed walk. I would eat whatever I wanted to eat! Fast food, tons of chocolate, ice cream, greasy food.. basically anything I wanted to eat. I will say I always drank milk and ate fruit, even before the health journey. Whenever I would be bored at home, I would eat something just because I didn’t have anything else to do at the time.
What was your goal when you first started?
My goal when I first started was to honestly lose about 10 pounds and just be healthy. I knew I wasn’t a healthy eater so I wanted to work on that too. By no means did I anticipate to lose the amount of weight I did.
What did you do to change your diet and lifestyle?
I went through a lot of different ways to help me lose weight and become healthier. At first my friends and I at school all wanted to lose weight so we started The Biggest Loser competition. At that time, I started watching what I ate but didn’t truly try to lose weight. Then my friend told me about the Couch to 5K program and after looking at it I decided to give it a try especially since school was out and I had summer to work on it. I completed the program and it was not easy by any means! There were some days I was crying while running, and I might have only been running for 2 minutes! But it was so difficult because I was that out of shape. However, I didn’t give up. Also, at this time someone I knew started talking about these protein shakes, which helped with weight management. They aren’t weight loss shakes because I know what that does to your body. I decided to give the shakes a try and drank one for breakfast every day, since I was never a breakfast eater anyway. The combination of working out and those protein shakes made me realize that I could do this! I need to get my life back and this was going to be hard work, but it would happen.
After I completed the Couch to 5K program, I ran my first 5K and it sucked! It was in Chicago which was great and my dad ran it with me. At one point, I remember my dad telling me, “Meghan, why don’t you just stop running. You can walk along with these people.” I thought about walking it, but I’m not a quitter. I continued to run and I won’t lie, I walked some of it, but I ran across that finish line! My goal was to finish in less than 45 minutes and I finished within 43 minutes. Looking back, that was a long time to run 3 miles. That was the starting point to my journey.
After that, I decided that I need to do something besides run because it was going to be winter and I didn’t want to go to the gym. I bought a workout DVD from the store, “The Biggest Loser”, and started doing that at home. I worked on that DVD for about a year or so, and I also had another DVD I threw in there at the time. While I was being conscious about my workout regime, I was also careful about what I ate. I continued to drink my protein shakes, eat healthy lunches, healthy snacks, and a well-planned dinner. I didn’t go out to dinner anymore unless it was for Subway. Soon, I felt the need to change my workout routine because I was getting bored and felt like the workout wasn’t doing anything for me. I heard about the program T-25, which, fortunately my sister had and gave that a whirl. Man! I thought I was somewhat in shape after running and my other DVD, but nothing compared to what T-25 had in store. My first day trying it I remember turning it off after 10 minutes because I didn’t think I could do it anymore. I tried it again the next day and took a lot of breaks but got through it. I did T-25 five days a week. I did this program for about a year and a couple months. Then again like before, I got bored and needed something new! I knew I wanted to keep my workout somewhat short and so I found Insanity Max 30. I was so pumped for that and knew it was going to be the true test to see how much I had improved over time. Again, just like T-25 I was dying after the first 10 minutes. I did not turn it off, though… I fought through! That was a 60-day program, but I continued and still workout with Insanity Max 30 because it truly tests every muscle in your body.
My lifestyle changed throughout this time because I wasn’t always thinking about food. I occupied myself with other things in life and thought about what my workout was going to be like instead of where I was going to get dinner that night. I slowly became a happier person and once I saw that, I knew I couldn’t stop the journey. My whole outlook on life changed after I lost some weight that was noticeable.
What does a typical day (food/exercise-wise) look like now?
For me now, I still drink my protein shake for breakfast. I’m weird when it comes to food and food in the morning makes me feel sick. I eat a lot of fruits, protein, salads, and I do throw in the occasional sweet treat. I have a huge sweet tooth so that’s something I couldn’t give up. I just had to change what I ate and how much. I still workout to Insanity Max 30 every day and recently got a new DVD, Cize and have been trying that 3 days a week as well.
Who has been your biggest support?
My biggest supporters have been my family, hands down. They have been there for me the whole journey and have been supportive in both words and making better food choices at home for when I visit them.
What was the hardest thing to change?
The hardest thing for me to change were my eating habits. Food was always a comfort for me when I was frustrated, upset, bored, happy… any emotion really. I still struggle with what I eat some days, but it’s a work in progress. Nothing is ever perfect.
Who or what is your motivation?
My motivation is myself. I look at pictures of myself 5 years ago or even in high school. I realize that I don’t want to go back to who I was then both emotionally and physically.
How do you stay motivated every day?
I stay motivated by thinking about my next fitness goal. I know that I have to work hard to achieve that goal and if I don’t keep with my workout and eating routine then I could fall back into what I used to be. I also think about others who have told me they want to change their lifestyle after looking at my pictures. Life motivates me! Being happy motivates me!
What is your biggest struggle now?
My biggest struggle is what I eat and making sure I keep on track. There are days where I eat cereal for dinner because I don’t want to cook anything. Or when I’m at school I eat chocolate because I’m stressed, but this struggle isn’t going to stop me from achieving my goal.
What are your goals now?
My main goal now is to tighten my body and gain more muscle. I honestly don’t want to lose any more weight because I’m at a stage where I’m comfortable. I just need to work even harder to make my body what I envision it to look like.
What is one thing you can do now that you never thought you would be able to do?
One thing physically I can do now that I never thought I could do is a burpee and lots of them! I know that sounds silly but I remember having to do them in high school and I just pretended because I couldn’t do it. Not only can I do a burpee but I can do a one-legged burpee and a one-armed burpee. When I did my first real burpee I had tears in my eyes because I knew that I was finally getting to where I need to be physically. Even though burpees suck sometimes, there is nothing like the feeling of actually doing 10 in a row when 10 years ago I couldn’t even kick my feet back and hold myself up.
Emotionally I can walk with my head held high and be proud of who I am and who I have become. When people look at me and say you’re beautiful I actually believe them now because I feel beautiful. It has taken me years to get to this point, but it is something that’s worth waiting for.
What is your advice to those who are just starting to lose weight?
If you are just starting your journey, don’t give up! There are days when you are going to want to sit and eat your food of guilty pleasure; whether it’s ice cream, a cheeseburger, or chocolate, but don’t give up! Each day is its own adventure, take it one day at a time. Encourage yourself by rewarding yourself with certain things you have wanted when you reach milestones. Be proud of making the change and altering your lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you only did 5 jumping jacks or ran 2 blocks; at least you aren’t sitting on the couch eating chips. This is about YOUR body and well being. Always believe in yourself. Have faith.
I love that Meghan kept at her health and fitness even when she wanted to give up. She knew it was hard, but still worth it. I also like how she kept changing things when she got bored. That helped her stick with her fitness routine and keep up her good eating habits. Thank you so much, Meghan, for sharing your story and keep up the amazing work!