A healthy success story that leads to hiking Machu Picchu

Karen-and-TJI joined my first weight-loss group when I was in the fifth grade. I have struggled with my weight my entire life. When I got into college the combination of dorm food, lack of exercise, and working led to a very rapid weight gain. By the time I graduated from college I was almost 320 pounds. My very first year of teaching I had a classroom on the second floor of an elementary school. I would purposely make sure that I didn’t have to walk up and down the stairs to the office more than once per day because it was so difficult and so painful. Going to work was really the only activity that I did during the day. I would usually get fast food on the way home and stay inside my apartment until the next day.

One day my mom convinced me to go to a weight watchers meeting with her. I started eating better and lost about 50 pounds in the first six months and was very excited. I still wasn’t doing very much exercise because it was really difficult. And I wasn’t ready to face going to the gym at my size at the time. At this point my weight-loss begin to stall,. I knew I needed to put more exercise into my routine. I joined a local gym and started working out and slowly more weight came off.

At the time, I thought that once I had lost enough weight it would become easier to lose the rest of the weight. I had the idea that after losing 100 pounds I would always want to make the right choices and I would always want to work out. I have since learned that that is not the case. After years and years of losing 10 pounds, then gaining back 15 pounds, I got frustrated and started to lose my confidence. At that time, I was lucky enough to cross paths with TJ Hiker, who was the hiking manager at a weight-loss resort. I had never hiked before. In fact, I had never really been a fan of nature at all. On my first hike, I cried, got sick, and was thoroughly embarrassed at my level of fitness. But I came back the next day and did a little better. I realized that I should feel proud of trying something new and not feel embarrassed because I wasn’t perfect at doing it

I chose to go back to the same resort year after year to continue to improve my hiking skill. I loved being out on the trails and felt so good after every hike.

Karen-EatonThe weight slowly started to come off and then I hit a plateau and I struggled to get below a certain weight. I tried working out more, but continued to get frustrated when the scale wouldn’t move. I decided that I needed to do something really different to try to motivate myself.. A friend had told me about an eating program called the Whole30. The basic idea of the 30 day challenge is to eat to clean, whole foods with a focus on fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and eggs. Do not eat anything processed for thirty days. After thirty days, slowly introduce certain foods back in and see how your body responds. I was nervous to start because food has always been such an issue for me. I would eat take-out at least four nights a week. The nights I did eat in mostly consisted of reheating something that was already cooked. I completed the 30 day challenge and felt so good and so powerful that I decided to try another 30 days. Somewhere in that second 30 day trial, I lost count of the days. I was cooking at home every night. I was eating more food than I ever had my entire life of counting calories and measuring portions. I had so much energy to go out and do the things that I loved. I felt amazing. The idea of eating whole foods is no longer a 30 day challenge, but now how I choose to eat. I still have days where I think it would be nice to eat a cupcake. The difference now is that I know the amazing way my body feels is way better than the cupcake will ever taste.

I have now completed a year of clean eating and I have never felt better. Feeling in control of the food that I eat has allowed me to do more active things than I ever thought I was capable. For my vacations, I choose to go hiking with my friends. I’m excited to go places I’ve never gone before and to do things that once were only a dream. At this point, I have lost 145 pounds. While that number holds a lot of meaning for me, my success has truly become more about the things that I can do and not just about the number on the scale. I love that I can now spend a day hiking with my friends and still have energy left at the end of the day. I have met some of the most amazing people through my hiking trips that I have taken. Had I not become more healthy, I may not have had the good fortune to hike the trails with them. I have learned so much about myself and how strong I really am! This June, I will be doing my first hike outside of the country, when I will be joining TJ and Tami on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!