Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki

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.Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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!Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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.Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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.Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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.Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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.Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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.  Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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.Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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.Health Feature: Meghan Siwecki | Life Healthfully Lived

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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!

If you or someone you know wants to be featured in one of my transformation posts, let me know!  You can contact me on my Facebook page, Twitter, or email me at lifehealthfullylived@gmail.com!

Change When You Don’t Want To

HaveChange When You Don't Want To | Life Healthfully Lived you ever faced a situation where you KNOW that you have to change something in order to get where you want to be, but you just can’t muster up the willpower to make the change?

Sure you do.

I would say that most of the time when you are faced with a problem or something that you need to overcome, you have a fairly good idea what needs to be done to address those issues.  But there is a factor of fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of being uncomfortable, fear of a different routine, fear of a million different things.Change When You Don't Want To | Life Healthfully Lived

Or maybe there is a factor of laziness.  Knowing that the change you need to make takes a lot of work and you just don’t want to put in the hours or manpower.

Perhaps there is a factor of the impossible.  There is no way you can make the change because to you it is utterly impossible.  You can’t see a way around it, so why even try?Change When You Don't Want To | Life Healthfully Lived

I’ve been there plenty of times.  I’ve been afraid of making a change, don’t want to make a change, and felt like change is absolutely impossible.  I’ve been stubborn and stuck to my trusty routine and done nothing.  And you know what that got me?

Nowhere.

Sure, change is painful, difficult, and scary.  But change also is wonderful, enlivening, and moves you forward.  If you want to be or do something different, if you want to reach your goals, you’re going to have to change.  My high school band director used to tell us all the time, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  That has always stuck with me.Change When You Don't Want To | Life Healthfully Lived

So how do you change when you don’t want to?  Here are a few things that I do when I know that I need to change but it isn’t coming easy.

Figure out why

Why don’t I want to change?  Once I know the motive for staying where I am, then I can come up with a plan to counteract that motive.  Most often for me, it’s the fact that I’ve become comfortable with where I am.

Make a list of ideas

I love lists.  They keep me organized, help to see what I still have to do and what I’ve already finished.  Once you’ve figured out your why, make a list of a few things that you can do to change your habits or routine to start moving in a different direction.

Choose one

Pick one thing to work on, just one.  You don’t have to take on the whole list.  That can be a little daunting.  Choose a small change that you can make and work on that until it becomes your new habit, then move on to the next thing on your list.

Don’t beat yourself up

You’re going to fail at some point.  That sounds harsh, but it’s completely realistic and totally alright.  We all fail and if we were perfect, life wouldn’t be any fun at all.  The important thing to remember when you do fail is to not beat yourself up.  You are trying and that is the most you can ask of yourself.  Trying and failing is better than never doing anything at all.  Pick yourself up and get right back at it.Change When You Don't Want To | Life Healthfully Lived

Taking that first step and admitting that you have to change is a difficult one.  It can take you awhile to get to that point, but the important thing is that you get to that point.  Writing this post is just as much for me as it is for you.  Sometimes I need a little push in the right direction to start making the changes in my life that I know will lead me to my goals.

Yup, change is scary and trust me I resist it as much as the next person.  But when it comes to my health and happiness as well as yours, isn’t being a little scared yet still taking that leap of faith worth it in the end?

I think so.Change When You Don't Want To | Life Healthfully Lived

Health Feature: Jamika Edwards

It’s that time of the month on my blog!  Time to feature someone who has totally turned their health around.  I love these posts because the people in them are real people have done simple things to make themselves better.  They have put in the work and deserve to be recognized for the transformation they have undergone.  You can read about Jim and Alexander here.
September Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully LivedThis month it’s all about Jamika.  Jamika and I lived in the same dorm back at NIU, good old Neptune North.  While we didn’t hang out much, I always remember her with a smile on her face and usually singing!  She was just a person who exuded happiness and it usually was contagious.  Over the years, we obviously went out separate ways but Facebook meant that I could see what she was up to and boy was she up to a lot!September Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully Lived

She really turned her health around and all her hard work was showing.  I love that she didn’t do anything crazy, just started to move in ways that she enjoyed and eat food that was better for her health.  And her results speak for themselves!

Name and Age:

Jamika Edwards 26September Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully Lived

What did you weigh before and how much weight have you lost?

I started at 333 lbs and have lost 125 1lbs

What made you want to turn your health around?

Honestly, it was a spiritual thing. I wanted to strive to be more more like God and I felt that becoming more disciplined in my health was a good start.

What did a typical day look like before you changed?

MySeptember Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully Lived days were pretty standard just with a lack of intentionally working out. I also made a lot more unhealthy food choices. I ate chips usually every day.

What was your goal when you first started?

My initial goal was to just get below 300lbs.

What did you do to change your diet and lifestyle?

In college, one of my friends became my personal trainer and accountability for my eating changes. I initially cut all processed sugars and bread out of my diet and I just grew from there.September Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully Lived

What does a typical day look like now?

At night, I usually pack/plan my 3 meals for the coming day. I tend to take stairs more than elevators and I work out/dance for about 2hrs 4 times a week.

Who has been your biggest support?

My mom and my friends have been my biggest support.

What was the hardest thing to change?
September Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully LivedThe hardest thing to change is planning all of my meals and not being able to eat what everyone else does.

Who or what is your motivation?

GodSeptember Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully Lived is my first motivator and my second is the thought of my family to come: husband (She got engaged over Labor Day weekend!) and children.

How do you stay motivated every day?

Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated but I always go back to my original inspiration, God, and I keep pushing.

What is your biggest struggle now?

MySeptember Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully Lived biggest struggle now is not becoming complacent in my progress and not eating sweets lol (cookies are my nemesis)

What are your goals now?
My goals now are to tone up and gain  more definition

What is your advice to those who are just starting to lose weight?

My advice is to embrace your personal journey and not base your success off of someone else. I also encourage individuals to have a goal and inspiration that goes beyond outside affirmations. Having at least one person that you can be 100% transparent with is essential because there will be many times of feeling defeated but that person should remind you that you are notSeptember Health Feature: Jamika Edwards | Life Healthfully Lived.

I love that she told someone her goals and had them keep her accountable.  It can be so easy to fall off the wagon if you try to do this alone.  I also like that meal prep is a big part of her routine.  If you just take a few minutes to plan out your day before hand you have a better chance of succeeding.  See?  Simple things that lead to big results.  Thank you Jamika for sharing your story and keep up the awesome work!

Have you or someone you know turned their health around?  Send me an email at lifehealthfullylived@gmail.com and they could be in my next health feature!

Have a great Monday everyone!