Lifestyle Prior To Change
What was your lifestyle prior to your transformation?
I had absolutely no knowledge on nutrition or fitness. I lost my brother Larry at age 49 due to a heart virus. He did not have a good nutrition program and feel that his poor eating habits attributed to his demise. I have three children who needed a mom and realized that was my moment. I was over 80 lbs. overweight and realized I didn’t need to make a change rather I HAD to, for ME and my children. I never walked into a gym until I was 47 years old. I had a lot to learn and was determined and not giving up.
What was your low point or turning point?
My low point was losing my brother and realizing that I could be next if I don’t embrace a healthy lifestyle. We were only three years apart. Knowing well the pain caused by leaving so many family and friends behind when a life is lost prematurely, I was forced to take a hard look at myself, realizing that I wasn’t in the best physical shape I could be. I couldn’t stand the thought of my children having to cope with my life being cut short.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
I feel that my weight was a huge challenge and visually seeing myself struggling was hard. I have been overweight my entire life, and I know how it was growing up the fat girl in high school, never selected for any teams and not being able to wear in fashions was a wall in my mind that needed to come down. I had to realize that the fear of success was my goal and the fear of failure had to take a back seat.
Can you tell us about your transformation timeline:
- Transformation Start: January 2004.
- Milestone: June, 2004 = 53 lbs. down.
- Milestone: December, 2004 = 29 lbs. down.
- Transformation End: Still going at it, it will never end!
Sandi's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
When I take on a task I give it 100% and this was no different. I had a goal in mind and with my brother’s presence always in my heart, I set out to break the walls and conquer what was preventing me from achieving that. I did plyometric training and incorporated a little bit of cardio in the beginning. Cardio was the hardest, being so large and having horrible memories of growing up hating to run because it took so much out of me. I finally got the cardio down and found the balance, as people have to incorporate weights and cardio for a good balance.
Please add a workout that worked best for you:
- Monday - Biceps and Triceps. 3 x 12 on all, usually I use 15-20 lb dumbbells.
- Tuesday - Cardio. 7 miles – 1 hour 2 minutes (now).
- Wednesday - Chest and Back. 3 x 12-15 – I use a 30 lb. kettlebell and on some reps of push-ups I have a 20 lb plate on my back.
- Thursday - Cardio. 6-7 miles.
- Friday - Legs. 3 x 12-15 – using 15 lb weights on step-ups, 25 to 30 lb on barbell.
- Saturday - Cardio. 5-6 miles.
- Sunday - Rest and recover.
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
Cardio was a cement wall, as I never felt comfortable running with life long memories of not being able to run. I would admire those who could run and during the later part of my transformation I was bound and determined to be a runner. Summer of 2010 I decided I have procrastinated long enough. I bought a Nike+ Sportsband hit the road and each run, gained more and more distance and better time. I was diligent to make sure I had the proper shoes, insoles, hydration and mindset to do this as my personal goal was to run a half. Long story short, I can run a half on my cardio days, entered a local marathon and received my first medal – a gold with a blue ribbon, I placed first.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Being serious about the hour or so that I devote to this and clearing my mind of all distractions.
- Being consistent in training, eating, sleep and vitamins. People need to understand spending an hour hitting the gym and then going to the Taco truck for lunch is not considered serious.
- I am not on a diet. This is a lifestyle change that I am dedicated to 24-7, all year long. There are days that I may not be as diligent, but that is what tomorrow is for. I do not deprive myself, I enjoy feeling good both inside and out.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
I am still on the same training schedule; I almost feel that my body is so accustomed to this I feel off if I miss a day or two. I continue to challenge myself be it with weights or cardio. I am very focused when I am training as I take this seriously and pay attention to form. I am always looking at magazines, websites, etc. for idea to incorporate to my routines.
Sandi's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
I did a lot of research prior, as I knew this was not a short term diet I needed, this was a total lifestyle change. First I cut out anything white in my diet (flour, sugar, salt) and replaced that with whole grains and wheat. I eliminated all sugar free sodas and caffeine. I de-toxed by body basically and replaced my eating with a very clean and healthy diet.
Portion control was something I had to learn, it might be healthy but how much is healthy? I learned the concept that portions are as big as the palm of your hand or a tennis ball. I eat small meals throughout the day and drink LOTS of water, so that I don’t feel any hunger pains. I eat three small meals and two to three snacks, such as handful or raw unsalted almonds, banana, veggies or dark fruit.
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
Again PORTION control is so important. My diet is basically the same:
- Breakfast – Cup of Fiber One cereal, 1/2c blueberries mixed in – cup of skim milk, vitamins.
- Lunch – Grilled chicken breast salad with lots of different veggies is one of my favorites, vinaigrette dressing (2 tablespoons), or I might splurge on a Subway veggie sandwich on wheat (bread hollowed out), mustard only and lots of great veggies. I also make soups that I microwave (chicken with brown rice and lots of veggies – I feel the more colorful the better). I tend to prepare all my own food as I am very strict on sodium intake as it makes me feel very bloated and many food incorporate more sodium that we need.
- Dinner – Grilled salmon and green veggies or grilled chicken breast and veggie.
- Snack (pick one) – Handful raw almonds, 100 calorie yogurt, dark red apple, kale chips (bake kale in over, light olive oil and bake). I do not eat after 7PM and get at least 8 hours of sleep.
- Protein shake - After workouts. Whey protein, three ice cubes and skim milk in blender.
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I learned NOT to be afraid to eat after losing all my weight for fear of gaining. In order to do this successfully you can’t just exercise and drink protein shakes or starve yourself and get caught up in the latest and greatest diet fad or pill. You have to fuel your body with the proper food in order to get definition and get the results you want to see from all your hard work. If you are out with friends, I learned that is was OK to ask the wait staff for your food to be prepared without salt and butter and that it was OK to ask.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Having faith in yourself that you CAN do this.
- Read, read, read. I always try and learn something new each day and even after 7 years, I am still a work in progress and eager to learn every day. I love attending the Fitness Expos, not only do I get to see many old friends, but I gain so much knowledge and get new inspiring ideas!
- Don’t be hard on yourself if you have an off day, that is why there is a tomorrow. You get to start fresh each and every day.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
No, and I still don’t because I look at it this way. I ate like crud the first half of my life, I know what a pizza, hot flaming Cheetos or chocolate cake tastes like. My second half is going to be different. I have absolutely no problem passing these up. It is not about willpower, more that I have a mindset that processed, fatty foods full of sugar don’t belong in my body. Even after all these years, I don’t miss the junk food. My only treat that I do allow myself is a daily sugarless Red Bull.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
I am on the excessive side, but this all works for me:
- Women’s multivitamin
- Fish Oil
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Ester C
- 3x Glusotememe
- Calcium every day.
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Remember how LONG it took you to get to where you are, it is not going to come off overnight. Like anything else in life, losing weight takes effort. No magic pill will make you lose weight. I also learned that exercise was only part of a fine tuned combination of many things. It takes more than just exercise to achieve success. You have to have a clean diet, good sleeping habits and drink lots of water.
- Keep in mind that hour or so you spend at the gym is only a small part of the equation. What is more important is what you do outside the gym, the choices you make and the path you follow.
- This is not a competition. This is for you, and there is no need to lift heavier that you feel comfortable and risk injury. Take your time and fine tune what works best for YOU.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
Truly wanting to live a healthy lifestyle is all about dedication and keeping yourself motivated. You have to really want it. Other can wish give you all kinds of encouragement, and want you to live a healthy life but you have to want it more.
More From Sandi Holder
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
I love inspiring others, sharing my long path to where I am and really getting through to others that this does ot come easy, I have to work at this each and every day just like they do. I have met the most incredible people because of my love of fitness and knowing that I have helped others change their life is truly the most rewarding gift I could ever receive.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
Me. I am my own worst critic, but as I shared, this is about gaining years to spend with my children and grandchildren. I want to set the bar high for them, so they have an example of how a healthy lifestyle is so critical in everyday life. Childhood obesity is the highest we have ever seen, and I love reaching out to mid 20 year olds who have a hard time keeping up with me, that they need to do this now and not wait until you might lose a brother or sister in your late 40’s to realize how important eating and fitness is in your life.
Anything else you would like to share?
In the end, it is my sincere hope that my story inspires others and helps them realize that healthy living not only brings personal happiness but an overall pride in your body that perpetuates the desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined I would be submitting a story a fitness site, but I am living proof of a dream that has become a reality as the result of a lot of hard work, inspiration, and love. Winning the lottery sometimes comes in ways we don't expect. For me, going from a size 14 to a size 0, and reaping all of the lifelong benefits that come with this achievement, has been the greatest "jackpot" of all.
It is one thing to be proud of one's own accomplishments, but far more than that, it is my hope that seeing my story and photos could change another person's life. This experience has left such a positive, lasting impact on my life, knowing that I've helped give someone else the push they need in the right direction in taking charge of their health would be the biggest accomplishment of all.
How can people contact you?