Michelle Chauvin, a 35-year old wife and mother of two, tried and tried to get motivated to change her body and unhealthy lifestyle. “It wasn’t until after I got married that I realized my weight had gotten out of control.” She struggled to have children due to PCOS, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and after a few rounds of fertility treatments, she was pregnant! However her weight packed on more than ever. “Three pregnancies, a miscarriage, and two cesareans sections later, my weight was at an all-time high of over 200 lbs.”
Michelle tried to lose the weight off and on over a few years, but doing it for the wrong reasons: “I thought it would be what my husband wanted, doing it to fit into a certain social criteria, doing it for my kids…I never stuck to it.” Then, about three years ago, it all changed. “I woke up one day and realized that I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. For so long, I had put myself at the bottom of a long list of priorities: wife, mother, and teacher. I had forgotten who I was as an individual. I was unhappy, tired, depressed, and irritable. I was always behind the camera to avoid being in any of the photos. I stopped caring about my appearance and wore clothes that were sloppy to hide what I hated so much about myself. I knew that if I wanted to stop this downward spiral, it was time to find ME again.”
Here’s Michelle’s story.
How did you reach your heaviest weight?
Falling in love. Haha! Working in a bakery, lots of eating out, and then fertility and pregnancy and a miscarriage. Those all took a toll on me mentally and physically, and I just gave up on myself.
At what point did you decide enough was enough?
When I put on a size 20 pants and could barely zip them. I refused to go wherever it was we were planning on going and just stayed in bed and cried instead. I dusted off my scale and got on it and saw it tipping above 240. That was my breaking point. I can now proudly say that I’ve cut that pant size in half and I’ve lost more than 70 pounds! I’ve learned that nothing tastes good enough to be that unhealthy.
What steps did you take to begin your transformation?
I started out really small, going to the gym at my local university a couple times a week, mostly riding the stationary bike or walking on the treadmill. Then, a friend of mine convinced me to try a spin class, and that’s where I really found my niche. The instructor was amazing, and the class was fun, upbeat, diverse and accepting. It was through that class that I learned more about changing my eating habits and found a passion for living a healthier lifestyle overall.
It sounds like that spin class was a game changer for you.
Yes! That free-style spin class is what really got me started and motivated. I added in kickboxing and a full body class and did those three things for about a year faithfully. Since then, I’ve sort of just changed things up every now and then–walking, jogging, spin class, dance classes, home workouts (I love my exercise ball and hand weights!), machines at the gym, circuits at the park. At this point, I just try to do something physical almost every day of the week. It keeps things interesting. But, I do believe that sticking to a routine or schedule is really the best way to go, especially in the beginning when you’re just getting into your journey.
Speaking of getting started, do you have any suggestions for aspiring transformers?
Set small goals and celebrate them. But not with food. I know a lot of people say to allow cheat meals or days. But, in the beginning, when I was really trying hard to break some pretty bad habits, one slip up was very detrimental to me. It was like one cheat meal created a domino effect of cheat days and then cheat weeks and so on. Then, it was the same as starting over every time. I came to realize it just wasn’t worth it.
What does your diet look like now?
I try to eat as clean as possible. Giving up most processed foods is really what helped me to lose the bulk of my weight. With PCOS comes metabolic issues and processed carbs are truly poison to me. I avoid them as much as possible. I rarely eat anything out of the pantry anymore. I have to change my diet up often like I do my exercise, but I always stick to low carb. That’s what really works for me. I’m currently sticking to a mostly keto-friendly diet and I find that I have a lot more energy and am toning up more than I ever have.
Did you have specific fitness goals at the beginning?
In the beginning, I wanted to be back in the “100 Club”, a club I hadn’t been in since right before I got married. It took me about 4 months to get there, and then the scale slowed down. After that, I set little goals of 5 pounds here and there.
When the scale slowed down, how did you feel?
I felt defeated. When the number on the scale didn’t go down, I’d get depressed and get off track. I still have a love/hate relationship with that scale! If I didn’t see immediate results, it often made me feel like I was just working so hard in vain. So I’d eat something terrible or skip working out and then feel even worse the next day.
How did you stay motivated?
Motivation came in so many forms for me but seeing progress has been the biggest factor: looser fitting clothes, smaller sizes, the number on the scale going down (even if it was slow sometimes), more energy, a happier me. I’ve also had several people who have helped me stick with it as well, from workout partners and fitness class instructors to friends and family encouraging me along the way. And music. Haha! Music is my therapy.
How has your transformation helped you grow?
I have gained so much confidence in myself. I love shopping for clothes now, and I wear clothes that fit my body. I take pride in the way I look and enjoy getting dressed and ready every day. I smile more and walk taller. I enjoy being in pictures. I’m not embarrassed to stand in front of my students and teach or speak in front of an audience of my peers. This has been so much more than a physical transformation for me. I feel like a completely new person, inside and out.
What are your future plans?
I’m still not where I want to be. I still feel like I have a long way to go. And it’s not easy. I fall off track a lot. My weight has fluctuated down from my lowest, up 10 pounds, and then back again several times. I’ve wanted to give up a hundred times and just accept that I’d be obese forever…and I have a couple times, for months at a time. But my future plans? To not ever go back. To keep working. To keep trying. To keep starting over when I have to. I want to always be able to remind myself that it’s so worth it. That I’m worth it.