Real-Life Health and Weight Loss

CATEGORIES: Health and Fitness, Sara

Note:  This post has been edited since publishing, and I apologize that I had to slap unsightly watermarks over most of the before and after photos.  It was brought to my attention that my personal photos were being used by others on websites with fake stories and names promoting weight loss products I absolutely don’t use.

trampolining sqOddly enough, considering I open up a certain portion of my life to millions of people on the internet on a regular basis, I’m actually a very private person.  It’s an interesting dynamic when your job requires you to stretch those boundaries.  Kate and I are both very hesitant to steer away from our comfort-zone of comfort-food because 1.  There are some things we just prefer to keep private, and 2.  We’ve found that the internet can be a cruel place, where good intentions are often skewed and hate loves to hide behind the anonymity of a screen name.  But sometimes we do go out on a limb and get personal.  And we’re always nervous about it.  We worried when we wrote about our tender feelings of motherhood, and the heartbreaking experiences we’ve both had with our own Mothers.  I know one of the hardest things Kate has done was share the horrific experience of coming moments away from losing a child in a near-drowning we both witnessed.  And then just last week I published something I’ve been working up the courage to write about for over a year now.

We’re always a little nervous to put stuff “out there,” but the more we do the more we realize one very important thing: everyone has a story.  Those 3 posts I just mentioned are 3 of the most highest-trafficked posts on our site.  Every one of them was flooded with comments and personal emails and we never know how therapeutic/inspiring/relatable they are until they are in fact “out there.”  When I started focusing on my own personal health and fitness a couple of years ago, I did it very quietly.  I’m not the type of person to post workout announcements on Facebook or shout from the rooftops that I lost ten pounds.  I did it for me.  And I did it privately.  Then just a couple of months ago I posted a photo on Instagram.  It was just a little peek at an object lesson I was using to teach my kids about goal-setting and New Year’s Resolutions.  It was this picture:

A Food Blogger's Real Life Weight Loss Story-2

The response to that photo was overwhelming.  I’d never had (or had since) a bigger response to a photo on Instagram.  You asked for more of this story, so I tested the waters with my recent post on fitness.  Again, I was amazed at the response and I loved hearing all of your stories.  So many of you have emailed me, and left comments, and communicated via social media, and one thing is clear.  My story is not unique!  So many of you can relate!  SO many of you communicated that you felt inspired and that alone was my goal.   There is so much false inspiration in the media when it comes to health and fitness.  You’ve probably all seen those before and after pictures taken by trainers on the very same day to demonstrate how easy it is to embellish those types of results.   So here’s what I want to say:  This is real life.  I’m a real person.  I’m probably a lot like you.  I’m going to tell you my story in hopes that many of you can relate and if anything- can be inspired that if I can do this, so can you.  Because one of the most satisfying feelings in the world is gaining control of something that has controlled you.

Weight Loss for Real Life from Our Best Bites 2
It all started in August of 2011.  I went on a family vacation and when I got home and unloaded the photos from my camera I was very concerned.  About my camera.  Surely there was something wrong.  Some sort of lens malfunction.  I was shocked to see myself.  Somehow it didn’t seem that bad when I looked in a mirror, but seeing photos, it really hit me.  I had gotten way off track.  (Every before photo in this post is from that trip.  While going through my photos I found many recent photos that seemed to mirror the poses in older photos so I grouped those together and I’ll scatter them in this post.)

Tips for weight loss in real life from Our Best Bites 2

I’d like to say it was baby weight- I had a one year old at the time.  But the truth is, I did a really good job getting a good chunk of that baby weight off in the first few months after having him.  Something had happened in the months since and I let things go.  I gained it all back and then some.    The moment I got home from that trip, I vowed to change things, and I did.  I joined a gym.  I started eating better.  Over the next few months I lost a little weight and was feeling much better but I had such a long way to go, and the thought was overwhelming.  I was running like crazy every day, but not really seeing any big changes so it just all felt like a waste of time and that was frustrating.  I was so sick of always being consumed with my weight. I didn’t want that to be something I stressed about day in and day out.  I’m a very type A kind of person (just ask my husband or my business partner).  I like to be in control of things.   I’m a very driven person and I’ve found success in almost every area of my life- except this one.  It drove me crazy that this owned me, and I wanted to change it but I had failed so many times that I didn’t have a lot of faith in myself.

About that same time I re-connected with an old friend on Facebook. I grew up with Paige, and vividly remembered her infectious smile.  This is the Paige I remembered, but I hadn’t seen her in over 10 years.

PaigeThe Paige I found on Facebook wasn’t the same person.  In fact, I double checked the name.  Was it really her?  What the heck happened?  Did she have surgery?  Go on some sort of juice diet?

Paige 2I clicked over to her blog, and was instantly drawn to her story because I could see from her photos that she didn’t just lose weight.  She was an athlete.  She was strong, she was toned, and she did it all the good ol’ fashioned way.  That was inspiring.  I read a post about her trainer and instantly recognized him.  He trained at my gym.  I saw him nearly every day.  After reading about Paige’s experiences, and how instrumental her trainer was, I decided to talk to him one day.  What I kind of assumed would be a quick chat, and maybe turn into a few sessions where he gave me some pointers, turned into something much, much bigger.

Sara and her TrainerI spent over and hour talking to Jacob that first time and realized that my problems were deeper than just the simple fact that I liked to bake cookies (and eat them.)  I needed to make some big changes.  Some big life changes.  I needed to get away from the idea of crash dieting and really learn how to manage my health for the long term.  I have been on a million diets.  I’ve done everything under the sun and I always end up right back where I started.  Every. Time.  I’ll find something that works for the short-term and once I lose a little bit of weight I get comfortable and let go again and then before I know it, I’m starting over.  I wanted this time to be different.  I didn’t want to quit.  But it also seemed like a really big goal.  We calculated numbers and got a realistic picture of what it would take and inside I wondered if I had it in me.  Sensing my hesitation, Jacob said very matter-of-factly, “Extraordinary things are only extraordinary because not very many people do them.  Just be one of the people that does it.  Finish it.”  When I left that meeting, I wrote down two words on a post-it note.  My goal.  He asked me what the one thing was that was most important to me; what did I really want to accomplish?

Finish it

I wanted to finish it for once.  Do it all the way.  Not do it a little bit and get comfy.  Go big or go home.  That was the moment it clicked in my head.  I was actually going to do this, no matter what it took.  I wasn’t just going to lose a little weight; I was going to get fit.  Get strong.  Now I sit here writing this post, one month away from my 35th birthday.  A thirty-something mother of 3 who cooks food for a living, and I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life.  It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t all that hard either.  It took a lot of dedication, focus, and hard work.  If you want to see big changes, you have to be willing to put in big effort.

Same Kid 18 months later 2

I’m not saying I’m perfect.  I still have work to do, and I’m constantly trying to push myself to get rid of the many, many things that jiggle (and shouldn’t).  I’d still like to lose a few more pounds and push down my body fat percentage by a little bit,  but I’m here.  I’m doing it.  I didn’t quit, I didn’t give up, and I’ve kept off the weight, and truly changed my lifestyle, which has made all the difference. I’m going to share a few of the most important things I’ve learned along the way, in hopes of inspiring someone else out there.  If you’re reading thinking you wish you could do this too- YOU CAN!  I may have had a trainer, but there was no top-secret diet, so never-before-seen workout program.  Everything I did, you can do too.  I promise.

Support Network

Even if you’re a private person like me, if you’re going to take on a big goal, and make big changes, you need the support of the people around you.  If no one else, your spouse or significant other.  The people closest to you can be your biggest support, or your greatest challenge.  I’ve seen enough weight-loss reality TV to know that when your spouse isn’t on board, it can be detrimental.  It doesn’t mean they have to completely change their lives like you’re changing yours.  At some point you have to be strong enough to make decisions for you, even if everyone around you is tempting you to do otherwise, but let them know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.  Let them know you need their support and encouragement.  My husband is without a doubt the most supportive, encouraging, motivating person in my life.  Morning HikeHe arranges his schedule so I can make sure to get my exercising in.  He passes up things he knows will tempt me when I’m trying to avoid them, and he tells me often how proud he is of my accomplishments.  I couldn’t have done this without him cheering me on, and making sacrifices to help me succeed.  The fun side-effect is that we’re now a much more active couple.  We still love to go out to eat and watch movies on dates, but now we also go hiking together, work out together, ski, snowshoe, backpack together.  We have so many active hobbies now and that has been awesome.

Start Small

If you’re starting from zero, don’t try to drastically change everything all at once.  I was notorious for this.  Out of the blue, I’d make a huge goal, “I’m gonna lose 30 lbs by my vacation in 8 weeks!”  “I’m going to workout for 2 hours every day!” “And eat no sugar!  And only salad!”  Sheesh.  No wonder that never lasted more than about 7 days.  When I first started training, my only responsibility was to exercise every day and eat about 1500 calories, keeping track of my food.  That made it easy.  I could manage that alone.  After a few weeks, when those things were habit, we added more.  Increasing the intensity of my workouts, focusing more on what I was eating, etc.  If you want long-term success, I suggest starting with a few basic things that you know you can manage.  It will help you develop good habits that you can actually stick with and make you feel successful.

Log your Food

When I had my first meeting with my trainer, I expected  long list of certain foods I was to eat and not eat.  Surely there was some top-secret miracle trainer diet that I would finally get to see.  Nope.  My only responsibility: log my food.  When it comes to nutrition people make it so much harder than it needs to be.  The math is simple.  Every day you burn a certain amount of calories, an you intake a certain number of calories.  If you eat about the same amount that you burn, you maintain your wait.  If you eat more than you burn, you gain weight.  If you eat less than you burn, you lose weight.  3500 calories = 1 pound.   If you want to lose 1 pound each week, you need to have a deficit of 3500 calories, or 500 calories per day.  Keep track of what you eat, religiously.  I use MyFitnessPal.   It makes it ridiculously easy to know where you stand.  You might feel frustrated that you don’t have a lot of time to exercise, or you don’t have a gym membership, or you simply don’t have the energy to work out as you’d like to.  The one thing you have 100% complete control over, is what you put into your body.  You control what you eat.  You can manage that.

My Fitness Pal App

End the mindless eating.  If you’re going to snack, don’t stick your hand in the bag of crackers and munch away.  Look at the serving size, count them out, and write it down.  Invest in a Food Scale. Be aware of portion sizes and know exactly what you’re putting into your body.  It takes effort sometimes to calculate the calories in a recipe and figure out the serving size, but take the time if you’re serious about weight loss.  You can still enjoy good, indulgent foods, if you can learn to do it in moderation.  My birthday last year was during a time where I was trying hard to lose weight.  Instead of a big cake and ice cream binge, I made mini Somoa Cheesecakes.  With all the good stuff: real butter, full-fat cream cheese, whipped cream, and creamy ganache.  They were perfectly delicious, fit into my daily calorie needs, and I invited over some friends so I wouldn’t have leftovers; it was perfect.

Birthday Cheesecake
Avoid Extremes.  I would say that any diet that completely eliminates any food group is one to stay away from.  Trust me: you don’t need to go crazy.  You don’t need to go on a no-sugar no-carb low calorie blitz or any other weird thing that promises you’ll lose 10 pounds that week.  Sure you might lose weight, but at what cost? (Including your sanity).  Focus on things that are long-lasting.  That’s why I finally, after all of these years, I feel like I have my nutrition in check.  Is it perfect?  No way.  I do stupid things and eat way too much all the time.  Just last Friday night I went out to an awesome restaurant and demolished a 16oz ribeye.  16 ounces.  Do you know how big that is?? (It tasted like heaven.  Amazing cow heaven.)  But I correct it.  I do better the next day.  I find that if I make good choices 80% of the time, and live actively, then that allows plenty of wiggle room to still eat things I love (like dessert.)  I’m going to dive further into nutrition on my post tomorrow on The Scoop (okay, not tomorrow because we’re having a technical issue with The Scoop- but soon!), so if you’re interested in this topic, check that out.

Strength Train

I talked about this in my Fitness post, so I won’t repeat too much.  Dieting and cardio will only get you so far.  You will absolutely lose weight that way, but chances are good that you’ll end up in that state people lovingly refer to as “Skinny Fat”.  If you want to be fit, strong, and lean, you need to build muscle.  You’ll lose weight and inches faster, and burn more calories while you’re doing nothing!  The minute I started weight training, the weight melted off.

Results of 3 months of weight training at Our Best Bites 2

This was a big turning point for me, and I’d say it was key to why I had been unsuccessful with my weight loss and fitness so many times before, and why this time was different.  My trainer taught me to work out differently.  He taught me to be comfortable in the weight room.  To lift heavy.  As I did, I saw my body transform.  I saw definition in places I had never seen without flab (like that arm and shoulder below).

With Kids in Hawaii-2

When I first saw this picture (below, upper) from that infamous trip a few years ago, my first thought was,  “Sheesh.  I guess I don’t ever look at my back.  Does it seriously look like that??”

And then I had the exact same reaction when I saw the photos below it, snapped just a few days ago.  “I guess I don’t ever look at my back.  Does it seriously look like that??  Are those muscles?”

Trading out the Back Rolls from Our Best Bites 2

I can’t emphasize this enough.  The real key to my success when it comes to fitness is that I stopped exercising like a girl.  Don’t be scared of the weight room.  Get in there and lift.  If you can do 12-15 reps and not struggle by the last one, you can probably try something heavier.  Keep going until it’s really hard at the end.  Stay at that weight until you conquer it and then slowly increase.  Cardio is still important, and your diet is important.  It’s finding the balance of all 3 of those things that will give you the magic combination.

The Scale

I have such a love-hate relationship with my scale.  My trainer, on more than one occasion, has instructed me to hide it on the top shelf of my closet for a few weeks.  DO weigh yourself.  That’s important.  One of the reasons I got so far off track a few years ago was because I literally refused to weight myself.  I had absolutely no clue how much I weighed because I didn’t want to know!  Weighing yourself regularly will help you keep things in check.  That being said, DON’T be a slave to the scale.  It’s not the only indication of what’s going on.

special k scale(That’s a Special K Scale, I admit I kind of like those cheesy commercials.)

Just because the numbers aren’t moving, doesn’t mean that that you aren’t making progress.  One of the many reasons a trainer has been helpful to me is that I don’t just stand on a scale.  Every 3 weeks we do measurements, where we measure with a tape measure pinch the fat, etc.  Those numbers don’t lie!  Combined with the number on the scale, you can see exactly what’s happening, like last December, when I was depressed I only lost 1 pound all month, but after measurements I could see that I gained 3 pounds of solid muscle.  That explained why my weight didn’t change much, but my clothes fit better and I felt so great.  Try weighing yourself once a week, on the same day and stick to that.  And don’t freak out if you worked really hard and the scale doesn’t show it.  Over time, if you’re doing the right things, it will reflect that.

Live Actively

Without a doubt, the key to my success being long-lasting this time, is that I figured out a way to simply live a balanced life.  People are constantly asking how I stay fit when I’m obviously cooking lots of treats and indulging in good food often.  The key is balance and moderation.

Sara Hiking 2

When you live actively, there’s room in life for good food.  I love food. I always have and always will.   I don’t live life on a constant diet anymore.  I eat normal food, I just eat reasonable amounts of it.  And I live actively.  My entire family is more active now.  We love exploring the world around us, and getting in exercise while having fun together.

Wells Family

I have so much more energy for my kids now, and I enjoy opportunities to have fun while also being healthy.


I’ve taken up so many new hobbies with my stronger body.  My husband I love to ski, hike, play sports, backpack, and snow shoe.  The best exercise is the kind disguised as a hobby!


Don't give up

Don’t quit.  Don’t make excuses.  No if’s, and’s or but’s about it.

Weight Loss from Our Best Bites-2

See what I did there?  And yes, I did just post a close up of my butt on the internet.  There’s a first for everything.  Seriously though.  If you make a goal, follow through, but don’t let a bad day (or two, or three, or 10) make you quit.  If you feel lost right now, find yourself.  Out of control?  Get in control.  My entire journey has been 2 steps forward, one step back; the point is that you continue to move in the right direction.  I think that’s normal.  It’s impossible to be perfect, so don’t expect it of yourself.  If you get off track, get back on track.  You’re stronger than you think and you CAN do it!  Getting fit and learning to better live a healthy lifestyle has changed my life for the better, and not just in a physical sense.  Yes it’s nice to feel comfortable in my own skin, but it’s also very mentally and emotionally empowering to master something that’s been haunting you.  If you want to change, do it.  Be extraordinary.  Finish it.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below- I’ll do my best to keep on top of them and answer them all.  I also love hearing YOUR stories!  If you have any tips and advice of your own, please leave a comment and share.  There’s lots of people out there looking for inspiration!


  1. You are amazing. And so normal, which makes what you did seem so attainable. Oh, and pardon me, but you are also one hot mama. πŸ™‚

    1. Completely agree. Thank you for providing such an in-depth, inspirational story (you look great by the way)! I couldn’t agree more that the “secret” to lasting weight loss is simply a balanced life. You must develop habits that promote an overall healthy lifestyle. That’s the ONLY way to achieve permanent weight loss, and it’s fundamental to every truly successful weight loss strategy. In fact, check out the following article that does a wonderful job of explaining the key factors in an effective, long-term weight loss strategy:

  2. Awesome, awesome, awesome!! I lost 20 lbs. last year with exercise (albeit it Jillian Michaels DVDs at home, no gym). I’ve kept it off but struggle fitting exercise in to my day; I need to get back on that; you’re inspiring me to make it work again. Love the feeling it give me to feel healthy, just wish the excess skin I have around my abdomen would shrink like the fat did! LOL

  3. Thank you for the inspiration! I already use Fitness Pal but I think I’m not eating enough calories because I’m hungry sometimes after big work outs. Did Jacob give you tips on how to calculate the right target for calories daily? Any details on your food plan would be helpful – from a ‘real’ perspective πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    1. I’m looking for an answer to this question as well. Did Jacob give you guidelines on what your target calories intake should be? I’ll eat 2000 calories in a day but then burn 750-1000 calories in my workouts and my weight loss seems to stall I’m wondering if it’s from too few calories.

      1. I’m not a trainer Chad, but that’s exactly what was happening to me. As soon as I uped my calories I started losing weight. Before that I was so fixed on making sure I kept it at 1600 that I wasn’t giving my body enough fuel. It was going into starvation mode. I just try to follow the guideline of if I am hungry I eat something and I don’t make myself go hungry. So far it’s working and I lose an average of 2 pounds a week.

        1. That was happening to me, too. My trainer upped my daily calories and had me eat a high protein snack after work-outs. It’s been working pretty good for me.

  4. You are so inspiring! I am just four days into changing my lifestyle to lose the nagging baby weight (my youngest is a year and a half). Thank you for the motivation. I am also wondering how many days you do weight training vs. cardio and do you add in any yoga/Pilates as well? Thanks!

    1. I do weight training and cardio in all of my workouts (5 per week.) I warm up a little with abt 10 minutes of cardio and then do about 45 minutes of weight training. When I’m done, I finish with 20 minutes of cardio (usually running or stairs). I don’t do yoga or pilates, but if you love that stuff, go for it!

      1. Sara, You are my hero, Truly!! You give me hope and inspiration! Can you give me more details about what kind of exercises you do for your warm up and weight lifting! I would love as much information as you can give!!

        Again, thank you for sharing your story!

  5. Sara-you’re awesome! What an amazing change! You look beautiful and fit. I’m on a little fitness journey myself, but I’m annoyingly one of those people to whom everyone says, β€œYou don’t need to lose weight!”. They’re right I don’t, but everyone has their problems areas, that no one sees unless you’re in a swimsuit. Those parts you said jiggle, but shouldn’t. Yup, those are the ones I’m talking about! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not settling for mediocre.

    You are an inspiration!!!! =)

    1. Lauren, I used to be one of those people who wondered why the tiny fit girls complained about their weight. But I get it now. It doesn’t matter what size you are, all women have things they want to improve and that’s perfectly normal. Go get after it!

  6. I lost 35 pounds last year just by tracking diet and running – I am pregnant now, so not a time to be losing weight, but am so excited to start doing some light weight training along with the cardio I still do to help jump start the weight-loss process once my baby is born. Thank you for sharing! I can’t imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to share so much of yourself online, so thanks for being brave and inspiring all of your readers!

  7. Than you so much for sharing your story! I’m a little over halfway through my 80 lb. journey and this post was just the boost I needed! I sense a new hashtag trend coming on IG. πŸ™‚ #finishit (ummmmm maybe i should hyphenate it πŸ™‚

    1. Good for you Joanna! You’ll get there- Finish it! And oh my gosh yes- even when I was making that word graphic in my post, I tried about 12 different fonts because I only saw that one word jumping out at me, haha!

  8. Thank you for sharing your story! And thank you for emphasizing the importance of portion control verses completely cutting it out. I had lost 60 pounds and hadn’t cut anything out of my diet. Just portion control and exercise and that makes it so much easier. If I knew that I could still have that cookie (just not 5 or 6) I was so much better off!

  9. I love your comment that, “everyone has a story.” Isn’t that the truth. The internet has become a place to vent caustic judgments that one wouldn’t say in person. In Ender’s Game, Ender says something like, “Once you really know your enemy, you love him.” If only more of us took the time to really understand each other, and then to reach out with compassion. In any case, thanks for sharing part of your story. πŸ™‚

  10. I was the skinny out of shape mom who could hardly chase her kids down the driveway and could not lift them as they approached 20 pounds. I wanted to be able to lift 20 pounds and play tag with my kids. As I turned 40, I hired Aleah (if you are in Mobile, AL) and she has been the best investment. Trainers aren’t just for losing weight but for getting fit and in shape.

  11. You post is so inspiring!! When I was in my 30’s I went home to visit my family. My husband was in the military and so we did not see our family very often. Anyway, my father made a comment to me about my weight and I remember that a light bulb went off in my head and I told myself that I would NEVER go home again at that weight. I was determined and I lost 45 pounds that year. It wasn’t easy but used an online support group and followed a diet plan. I exercised every day. I went from 164 lbs to my lowest weight of 116 lbs. I did stabilize a little and hovered around 120 lbs. I loved the way I looked and I was able to keep the weight off for 8 years. Over time, it was harder for me to exercise like I was because I started to work full time. When I reached my 40’s I had gained some of the weight back, but not all. I was diagnosed with an under active thyroid and was prescribed medication. It is under control but I have gained back 20 lbs. I am not huge but I am still not at a weight I would like to be. I have tried to get myself back on track many times but I just keep reverting back because I get so frustrated! Thank you for reminding about some of the things that did work for me the first time. I am 44 years old and want this to be finished!!

  12. Thank you for these posts. They’re inspiring and just what I need. Do you have any at-home strength training exercises that you recommend? I’d like to lose about 15 pounds but find it difficult in the long winter with two small children at home.

    1. Leah, I just started doing Beachbody’s 21 day fix. Actually, I’m 3 days from being done with it. It includes 30 min videos that include strength training and cardio. They also provide a meal plan with small containers to help with portion size. I sound like a walking advertisement, but I always need a program to follow when I’m trying to reach a goal. I like the results I’ve seen so far and highly recommend to anyone trying to jumpstart their program. Plus, the price is right. I’ve paid quite a bit more for other Beachbody programs.

  13. I am your before photo! That is me. You have inspired me to give it another try. I read your first exercise post and started doing some weight training at the gym. I am going to early morning classes and stopping the mindless snacking. I have felt so discouraged in the past because even when I would lose weight, I could not maintain the low calorie intake long term. Thank you for sharing your story!

  14. Thank you so much for opening up and helping myself and others realize we can do this too πŸ™‚

  15. Thank you so much for another wonderful post. I’m down 75 now as of yesterday and I agree with the above poster about skin issues…but my trainer is helping me with that!!

    1. Ditto. You are stunning and such an inspiration. And “done”…I wish I wasn’t just beginning this journey. But your story gives me hope.

  16. Way to go, Sara! You look healthy, fit, strong and happy. Loved this post! Thanks for going out on a limb and sharing your story! I’ve been a blog reader from the very beginning and have loved seeing bits of your healthy transformation! So grateful for a ” how to/ story that isn’t pounds related. So many ladies need to seriously smash the scale and just learn to love being active, eating healthy.

  17. I’ve been thinking about your last post a bunch. Thank you!! I needed this. I’ve lost 35 lbs since having my baby but I want to be stronger. Thanks for there inspiration!

    1. So, since this post and using My Fitness Pal, I have lost 6 more lbs! In less than 4 weeks! Thank you for giving me the encouragement and push to start tracking my calories. I’ve been eating a lot of new things and I get excited about it. I also eat some sugar stuff too, I keep it real and track. Thank you thank you thank you!

  18. Yay! You’re a champ!!! πŸ™‚ Since you’re into backpacking, I have one suggestion for an AMAZING destination- Havasu Falls (AKA Havasupai). Google it. The pictures are gorgeous, but they still don’t do the place justice. It’s an intense hike, but it’s worth it! It’s basically an oasis in the Grand Canyon, and it’s probably the most beautiful place I’ve been to in the US. I highly recommend it πŸ™‚

    1. Yes! Havasupai is beyond gorgeous and a great adventure. One of my all time favorite vacations. However, it’s not for little kids.

      1. Ahh!!! SO jealous! I want to go again so bad!!! You will love it.

        And yeah, Carrie’s right. It’s not really catered toward bringing young kids because it’s 10 miles in, but also because the first mile-ish is basically straight down into the canyon on switch backs, so it has to be done on foot. The rest of the way isn’t paved or anything either– it’s rocky most of the way (if I remember right), and the last mile or two is on a “dirt” road that goes through the little town that the natives live in. It’s really fine though and more like sand than dirt.

        It’s probably a place you’d want to go with just you and your hubby til your kids are older and could hike the whole way themselves. (Side note: you can pay extra to pack in your stuff on mules, so that will help if you want to go when your kids are older but still too small to hike all their stuff in by themselves. I think I’ve even seen some people riding the mules the whole way in, but that’s no fun :)and I’m sure it costs a lot, too.)

  19. Thanks for the great post. I have lost 30 lbs over the last 7 months and feel so much better. After reading your post I realized the word for my condition: “skinny fat”. It is the perfect description. This post is motivating me to get fit. I am super busy, like you, but I know I can fit in workouts if I make it a priority. Thanks for the motivation!!

  20. Hello! Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are such an inspiration. I have two daughters (my youngest is six weeks) and I’m just starting to get back into exercising. I don’t have a gym anywhere close to where I live so I can’t get into a weight room. Do you have any recommendations for strength training at home. DVDs, Youtube channels, etc.? Can it be done without a lot of equipment? And what are your thoughts on protein powder? It seems like everyone is taking it these days, but it is so expensive! Thanks again and I can’t wait to see your future posts on the topic. You truly give me the confidence that I can get my body back into shape.

    1. Check out my post tomorrow- I’ll address protein powder. As for home workouts, there is so much you can do from home! I put my favorite at home work-out in my Fitness post I also like Jillian Michael’s DVD’s (Check out her 30 day shred, it’s very doable and a good workout that doesn’t take a ton of time.)

      1. Thank you so much for replying! Oh man, Jillian scares me. I’ve got her no more trouble zones and I’ve never been more sore in my life. I’ll have to get 30 day shred though. It’s time to step things up! Okay, off to check out your other post. Thank you!

  21. You truly are inspiring. I’d love to hear what weight exercises you do…I imagine you do arms one day, back another, etc. What you do on those days…Or maybe I just need a fantastic trainer.

  22. just starting my journey of health and well being. started boot camp with a very dynamic trainer. your words of wisdom are great and will keep me thinking and moving. thank you so much for sharing this post and the past posts about fitness and weight loss. and the before and after pictures really hit home. good for you for sticking with it and ‘finish it’ will be on my fridge. will let you know how it goes.

    1. I am in Ogden as well and would like to know where to go to get training similar to what Sara is doing, but I’m not sure where to look locally. It seems like there are so many options that it gets overwhelming, especially for a “cardio girl” that is intimidated by the weight room. πŸ™‚

  23. You have kept me so motivated this year. Thank you! My fourth baby is 5 months old and getting out of the house to exercise is erratic at best. So lately, I have been waking up with my baby (who usually likes to greet the day at 6 a.m. after trying to greet it frequently through the night) and put on my exercise clothes. Then I don’t let myself get on regular clothes until I have done some exercises. Even when there is not a stretch where I can sit and do a video, I squeeze in some squats, crunches and planks in between our morning routine (usually with the 2 year old as a partner). I can then change and take my kids to school and start my day. Then, Saturdays are adventure days with the family. Slinging around my 20 pound baby for sure makes me feel the burn… It may not be the big fitness jump start I would like to do, but days with full nights of sleep and having my body all to myself (aka not nursing) are in my future!

    1. I don’t usually read the comments on posts but I’m so glad I did! I’ve got 3 and the youngest is 3 months and not sleeping through the night yet either. I use to be in the weight room constantly and now I’m wondering how in the world I’ll get any exercise in! I’m so glad I read your comments as it’s given me an idea of how I can squeeze it in too. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  24. What a great and inspiring post! I too am adding weight training to my routine. Question, do you work different muscles groups on different days? (I saw you answered a comment that you do weights 5 days a week) I get so confused on whether a person should do weights back to back days.

    Keep up the great work, love these posts!

    1. Yes, different muscle groups on different days. I do legs one day, then back and shoulders, biceps/triceps, etc. That way the tired muscles get a break when you’re working the others πŸ˜‰

  25. Wow, I saw your first post on this topic a few weeks ago, and it was so inspiring. I feel like your story is my life! I’ve had the same problems with weight gain, and now my child is one years old, and I am living in hiding from all forms of paparazzi, lest I see a picture of myself, and have to admit that I am a whale! I am even more inspired by your second post, and it came at the perfect time, since last night I vowed to “FINISH IT”, and get moving. I’m so sick of quitting! Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  26. Wow! Love it. It’s great to see other moms trying to find the balance. Thanks for sharing! Keep the healthy recipes coming!

  27. This post is so inspiring to me. I’m going to bookmark it so I can come back and read it when I’m floundering. Running while overweight gave me plantar fasciitis, and it’s been such a struggle to find an alternate exercise activity I enjoy that is easy to fit in my schedule. I’m going to start lifting weights at home today!

    Thank you for sharing your journey!

  28. I know these posts take a ton of time and it would be WAY too much to put it all in one post, but they are so good that I find it hard to be patient for the next one. It’s kind of like knowing I have to wait until next January for Downton Abbey. I’m so glad you did one today and I know there’s another one coming tomorrow. You are giving great information and great motivation. Thank you!

  29. You’ve truly worked so hard and been very disciplined! I was truly amazed at your 90 day picture. I mean, that’s what – 3 months? I think people think of weight loss as something that takes a whole year to do and this is such a great story!

  30. My question is how often do you eat dessert when you are trying to lose weight? And I’m not talking skinny cow stuff, I’m talking the real homemade goodness that’s made you famous….

  31. Love this post! Just had my 3rd baby and I really want to tackle my health before it gets out of control. Thanks for sharing, I know exactly how hard it is to open up about something so personal!You look fabulous!

  32. I just wanted to thank you for sharing something so personal and with such detail and positivity. I have been trying to share this same concept (controlling how much of something you eat and strength training) with my family and they don’t get it really. I am excited to share this with them. Thank you for sharing such a personal journey with the world!

  33. I’ve loved reading these posts. Your approach is practical and realistic, and one I’ve really come to believe in. I would love to incorporate more weight-lifting into my workouts, using heavier weights (those 3 lbs. ones aren’t cutting it), but I think I have to wait for that until after I have this baby I’m currently gestating. I’m just not sure where to start without the help of a trainer, which I won’t be able to afford for many years. Any ideas?

  34. Thanks for sharing! I’ve only ever done the cardio before and couldn’t get any weight off–I’ll definitely try the weight training!

  35. I’m curious how you use My Fitness Pal. I love the concept of the app, but in practice, I found it wasn’t very useful because we eat mostly whole foods and I’m an intuitive cook. Most of our food doesn’t have a scannable bar code, and after two nights of putting in every single dang ingredient used in our dinner, I was ready to pull my hair out! How do you do it?

    1. You’ve got to bust out the food scale! It definitely takes patience, as I mentioned in the post- but if you really want to know how many calories you’re taking in, you’ve got to keep track of your recipes. When I make things I like, I write them down- and save them as recipes in the app. That way I can repeat things and already have the info. I also sometimes just do a good job of keeping track during the day and then by the time I get to dinner I’ve very good at estimating a meal based off of what I have left in my calorie bank, so I just eyeball it.

  36. Thank you for having the courage to share. I wouldn’t have been able to do that. But you are an inspiration. I am 35 & I am pregnant with my 9th child. I don’t like to weigh myself, look in the mirror, take pictures, or look at pictures of myself. I’m trying to nurse a baby, nurture a baby inside. And trying to not gain to much weight. I’m at least 50# overweight. Though at my smallest I would be a size 10 & for me that would be miraculous. You make it seem almost attainable to me and yet mostly it feels to me likes it not. Thank you for sharing though because no matter what I’m able to accomplish as long as I’m trying I will at least be healthier than I am now.

  37. Thank you for your post! There is a lot of stuff posted about weight loss and work outs that makes my head spin. Everyone is “sharing” something on facebook these days and it has left me almost angry that there is so much junk out there that people are buying in to. I see probably 10 posts a day about some amazing ab workout or some juice diet or some fat loss smoothie that all promise to be the amazing weight loss secret you’ve been looking for. It baffles me! I am in a place where you were about 18 months ago and I know what I need to do and I know how to do it, I just need to DO IT. I have done it before but the last two years have been a very emotional two years and put me in that dark place again Thanks for your post…it is a reminder of how simple it really is and that it doesn’t happen over night and that is why it works! I wish everyone (of my facebook/pinterest friends who overshares everything they read!) would read this!

  38. I just want to say thank you so much for this post and the fitness post a few weeks ago. They could not have been more perfectly timed for me. I’m the type of person who falls into the ‘skinny fat’ category. I’m thin (about a size 2) but I’m not healthy. I eat too much and never exercise. Well, I should say used to. A day or two before your fitness post my husband and I had a serious discussion about when we wanted to start having kids and I realized that if I wanted to have a baby in the next year or two, I needed to get my body in better shape. That really got me started. Then I checked this blog and what do you know? A whole article about fitness! You’ve really helped me solidify my resolve and given me lots of good pointers. Thank you so much!

  39. Like you, I’m in the food biz as a dessert table stylist and have been following your blog for a few years. Thanks to your last, inspiring post, I found a personal trainer and started with her today! Thanks for doing a follow up, I hope you keep them coming. You are a terrific writer, love that you are so real! Congrats on this wonderful achievement of leading a healthier lifestyle and for sharing with all of us. πŸ™‚

  40. I love every recipe I’ve tried from your site. And I love these posts as well. Thank you for being so real with us and sharing your story! I had a baby 10 months ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long) and have just been struggling with my weight every since. The only gym membership that fits in my budget right now is in a super sketchy part of town, and since I would have to go early morning/late night so that my hubby can watch said 10 month old, that’s not really somewhere I’m comfortable going. This post (and your last one) gives me the motivation I think I need to really start something, and work towards finishing it. My goal for 2014 is to Finish What I’ve Started, mostly relating to crafts/projects that are sitting half done, but I think I need to add a health part too. Thank you so much!

  41. Thank you for having the courage to share your story. It helps me see that I’m on the right track and while there is always room for improvement there are a lot of things I’m doing right πŸ™‚

  42. Thanks so much for this. I have always been iffy about personal trainers – they are expensive (‘specailly here in La-La land where people look good for a living) and I didn’t really see the point. I am glad that yours has been such a practical, motivating guide for you! I love that the “at-home/travel workout” you posted previously doesn’t require any equipment (note to self: look up mountain climbers and frog jumps). Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  43. This post really had me in tears. I’ve struggled with weight my whole life, and it’s something I’ve never had control of. I’m a complete emotional eater, and my emotions have tacked on a little over 100lbs. in the past 8 years. I’m turning 28 next month, and I’m currently taking blood pressure meds and have chronic chest pains that my doctors can’t explain. Which I know it’s all due to my weight, but nobody wants to say anything about it to my face. I’ve been ready for a change, and your post has really put into perspective how I’ve been feeling. It’s time to finish it.

  44. You are incredibly inspiring and I’m so grateful to you for sharing. Thank you for your positivity and courage!

  45. This is the best post on health and fitness I’ve read in a long time! You have worked/are working so hard and you look amazing. Thanks for opening yourself up to us, and giving the motivation and straight talk I needed today!

  46. Wow! You look GREAT! This is a really inspiring story and is so motivating. I sent an e-mail asking about this but it was kinda lengthy (and I didn’t intend it to be lol..) but I’ve always been about the size you are now. Until about 6 months ago due to various big life changing events. So, I started doing resistance training the beginning of January and about a week ago was really bummed to see instead of losing a couple pounds that needed to come off to make my clothes fit like they should again, I saw I gained 10 pounds. Any suggestions? I’m thinking when I started all this, I started eating more, too without realizing it but I’m really not sure. Any help would be great πŸ™‚

  47. Wow! I’m so proud of you and I don’t even know you. Proud of you for doing the hard work and proud of you for having the courage to share it with us, the ones who could use inspiration.

    I read this post while eating a ridiculously unhealthy dessert. I’ve lost about 32 pounds and am just having a rough week. This has encouraged me to keep going, to move forward, to get to where I want to be. Nice job! Keep it up!

  48. Thank you very much for sharing your story! Last week I felt so inspired, I began waking up early to walk. After I kick this cold I plan on getting back out there and adding the gym to my daily routine too. I am looking forward to your nutrition post- keep the good advice coming! Thank you for inspiring me!!

  49. This is fantastic Sara. You look fabulous. Beautiful inside and out!!!
    PS, I have lost 8 pounds, 7 to go!!

  50. I have never posted on here other to enter for a give away :0) but I have to say that you are an inspiration! I have been on this yo-yo for a while now and after reading this you have given me just that little bit of a push that I needed right now. I feel better about what I am doing to get started. I am always start and stopping because I try to do too much to fast. Knowing that tracking my food and just getting out and walking every day to start off with is okay. As long as I bump it up soon. Thank you for writing this and sharing. Something I really needed today and even better, I know I can still make all your yummy foods and not feel guilty about it. :0)

  51. I am writing this comment with tears streaming down my face. I am in the place you were 2 years ago. I have been over weight my entire life. I have done all sorts of different diets and fads but I have never been able to finish. I have been trying to figure out where to go from here. Your two posts have inspired me like nothing else has! I don’t want to lose weight just to lose weight because it will never happen. I want to change the way I live. Thank you so much for this post, words truly cannot express how much it has helped me and will continue to help me.

  52. Reading this was amazing. When you described how you were feeling 18 months ago made me realize that’s where I am right now. I’m glad it can be done. Now I just need to find time or maybe I need to start making my older kids babysit. πŸ™‚

  53. You are SO brave for sharing this and SO amazing for sticking with something so life changing. I also loved your practical approach, the whole no-this or no-that extreme diets make me nuts! Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on your amazing progress πŸ™‚

  54. I loved reading this. I have lost 45 pounds in 11 months. I am hoping to lose 10 more pounds to get to my goal weight. I have been stuck at the same weight for a week now because I’m just not very motivated. This post made me get motivated again. I’m going to lose that last 10 pounds!!! Alright I’m off to go work out now that I’m motivated again. Thank you so much you are a huge inspiration!!!

  55. Sara- I did the exact same thing 5 years ago. I was overweight and lost 50lbs by counting calories and exercising. Would it be possible for you and Kate to start to include the calories per portion for the recipes you have? That would be amazing!! You did great! I used to say it was the hardest thing I had ever done and I still believe it! I know what you went through, you did it! Congrats!!

  56. Can I ask how much your trainer cost? I know nothing about which weights to use and when, etc, etc, etc and I would love to hire a trainer, but worry about the added money to my budget…

  57. You have no idea how much I needed this. I have been trying to lose weight and was doing really well until about a month ago, when I started to let things slip a little bit and now I feel like I am back to where I started with my eating. This post was just what I needed to kick myself in the rear and get going again. Thank you, thank you!!

  58. Thanks for your post. And congrats to you! That is amazing and so inspiring. Getting a trainer and joining a gym isn’t doable right now, but I’d love to know any exercise tips (especially weight training ideas) to do at home and how often you do it. Thanks!

  59. I really, really appreciate your posts on this stuff and I hope you continue to do this. It provides so much inspiration to me!!! I love all of your posts but lately, these are the ones that are making me think and give me ideas about how I can amp up my own program. I look forward to them and I’m glad you’ll post twice on it this week. Can you please consider using T/Th for these kinds of posts on a weekly basis?

  60. I have been reading your blog for so long and love love your recipes and personalities.

    I think b/c I started reading your blog as a FOOD blog, it seems more REAL to hear your weight loss struggling and triumphs. It is so nice to see you, the before and after pix and it seems so REAL vs someone whom started a fitness blog.
    I will probably go back and read this last post over and over. I read it thinking “Is this ME writing this?” The trying every diet under the sun, being frustrated that nothing really has helped, too much cardio etc….. I now KNOW and have realized that I have GOT to lift weights. I have a trainer, I see him 2 times a week but I think I’m not losing weight b/c my food is not changing. So now between the trainer and lifting weights, I need to watch my food closer and I will hopefully see results.

    Can you post an idea of what a typical week of fitness looks like for you?

    thanks so much and congrats, I can’t wait to be as proud of myself as you are of yourself!!

  61. Thank you! I needed to read this just as much as your last post about the issue. I have become friends with Kate, as she is the flip side of the coin in life for me. Since my son Miles passed away and I was suddenly pregnant, grieving and depressed the weight of not only life but my body has just been compounding. That in itself hasn’t helped my already down mental state. In the last week I too have looked at myself and realized that as I thought I was hiding this extra weight, I’m really not. I’ve since gotten a gym membership and been hitting the gym each morning. It’s the little things that are big deals. I use to be so active, but I just can’t pull myself together to do the same things or even in the same way I use to. I was active with Miles, so each activity is so emotional for me. I’ve been running for years. But since having my third baby and again with all that life has handed me my body is not letting go of an ounce. So I’m going to start incorporating strength training into my routine! Thank you! I use to wake up early before the kids woke up each morning, but I haven’t done it in almost 18 months now. Well this last week I have, and you know what I feel great taking that time for me. I’ve decided that the day is going to start whether or not I greet it, so this past week I have greeted it every single morning. It feels so wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story. You have inspired me just when I really needed it. Andrae

  62. I am so happy for your success and thank you so much for this post. Thank you for opening your life to us and providing me with much needed inspiration, knowledge, and motivation. I love your blog and my family and I love your recipes but I am loving and truly grateful for this series that you have been doing. You ladies are the best, thank you! Oh and if by some miracle you know of any awesome trainers in Madison, Alabama I would love to have their names. πŸ™‚

  63. This really is a perfect post. Thanks for everything you said. I’ve been working really hard to lose weight and be healthy and attain goals that I never thought possible and I appreciate the “finish it” perspective so so much.

  64. You are in a position to do so much good in the world, because of all you’ve already done. Thanks for having the courage to do it.

  65. I love that you are willing to share your journey. I think so many of us are done with the up and down weight. I want a healthy and fit life. I would love the suggestion you gave, but would you be willing to be more specific? How many days do you exercise? How you divide your weight training? How heavy you lifted in the beginning on certain exercises and how heavy are you lifting now? What cardio do you do and for how long? How many calories to you aim to burn in a workout….or do you even monitor your calories burned? What does a typical day of eating look like? If you can’t tell….I’m Type A too. Thanks in advance.

    1. Haha, yes, you sound like me! I’ll have to go into more detail in a separate post, but I change things often and that’s key. I do things for a little while, and then when I start to get comfy there, I switch things up.

  66. That is awesome! You are so real and such an inspiration! I lost 40 lbs about 3 years ago and have kept it off by being active with my kids and cooking healthier for my family. We are all in it together and it is so exciting to see that my kids are getting how much better life is when you are active and healthy!

  67. You are my hero Sara! Wow your 90 day picture is awe inspiring. Thank you for proving that Moms can do it and look great when they are done πŸ™‚ I think a support system really helps and props to your man as well for being so supportive. Keep inspiring πŸ™‚

  68. Ask Jacob if he knows anyone in New Jersey?! lol I read your story on “The Scoop” yesterday and was so inspired I have been asking around for PT recs, but nothing yet! I am looking to tone and I LOVED when you mentioned stepping away from the cardio. I want to try resistance training now!

    Thank you for putting your story out there and it was one of the most inspiring stories I’ve read!

  69. You look terrific!!! I would never have dreamed you had struggled with weight. It is such a battle.

  70. That was awesomely inspiring. I confronted my addiction to food in August 2013. By November I lost 42 pounds through counting calories – on fitness pal and strength training. Since November – I’ve gained back 10 pounds, feel awful and way out of control. I stopped tracking my food and started feeling really sorry for myself. I’ve got so far to go (at least another 100 pounds). Did you ever feel that way? What got you through? (p.s. – my post-it note says “Sidewinder 2014” – it’s the name of the rollercoaster that I couldn’t ride on our family vacation: too fat. NEVER AGAIN will that happen to me!)

    1. I love your inspiration note! Stick with it! I can totally relate. Last summer I totally got off track after a month of vacationing and gained 10lbs myself. After working so hard to get those pounds off the first time, that was really discouraging! Don’t let that stop you. Choose now to turn right around and get back on track. I have some other homework for you too. Go read my friend Paige’s blog. She lost over 130lbs and she has SUCH good advice and motivation on there. She is very open and honest with both her struggles and her triumphs and I think you’ll really be inspired there. Check it out!

  71. This post just about made me cry…in a good way! I’m the girl in the before pics. Three kids in 6 years has taken its toll and I have some major work ahead of me. I have wanted to get started, but I feel all alone doing it – time to man up and make the changes for me thanks!

  72. I am a newlywed college student who can’t afford a trainer:( I am dying to lift weights but I have no idea where to start. Do you know of any weight training schedules online that people like me can use?

    1. I don’t off the top of my head, but I bet you could easily find something on YouTube. I’ll poke around. Another great option is to grab a friend that’s comfortable in the weight room and have them show you around. Also, many gyms will offer a complimentary training session or something similar. Take advantage and have someone show you the ropes!

    2. As a fellow newlywed college student I have discovered that at my university’s gym they have free trainers who can help. You can either register for one or go and ask whoever is on duty. I would ask around. Also, many seniors who are recreational management, sports training, physical therapy etc majors know a lot on the subject and would probably be happy to help for free or minimal cost.

      1. I would suggest signing up for Sure, the name sounds nothing like what you want to do, but it’s not just for bodybuilders. They have a ton of free programs on there with workout schedules and diet plans. They even have videos of each exercise so you can see how to do it properly. Currently, I’m enrolled in Jamie Easton’s Live Fit program, which is 12 weeks long. I’ve only done 1 week so far, but I like that there’s a schedule there for me to follow and I already know how to do most of the exercises.

  73. I love these posts. Since this is a bit of a series, any chance you can address for those of us who are clueless how to calculate nutritional info? I have played around with My Fitness Pal, but by the time I entered in all of the ingredients for a meal, I was often so frustrated that I would give up!

  74. I’ve only read part of this so far, because I keep tearing up. All I can say is I am finding this very inspirational and am hoping that after I read the post in its entirety I am able to push myself onto the right path that I KNOW I NEED TO BE ON. Thanks for sharing. Maybe it’s time for me to take MY Day 1 picture. πŸ™‚ And by the way, not only do you look GREAT, but you look SO HAPPY! Congratulations – hard work really does pay off!

  75. Sara, I’ve never commented on a blog before, but I want you to know how inspirational I found your story… for a different reason than others who have commented. I am 36 and have struggled with anorexia for years and after many years of hard work am solidly on my journey to recovery. Your words about food, control, etc. echo my feelings through the years. While we are on a different journeys, your post is a reminder that the path is essentially the same. Pay attention to solid nutrition, log what you eat, embrace a strong body. Finish the journey and never, ever give up. One bad day doesn’t equal failure.
    On a side note, cooking blogs, such as yours, have been a big part of my recovery as I learn to find enjoyment in food again. Thank you.

    1. Rebecca, you’re so right. I think the core of most food issues, whether you’re eating too much, or not enough, stems from the same place. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, that means a lot to me! I’m so glad our recipes are helping you a little on your journey as well. Stick with it!

  76. Thank you for pointing out that not eatinga fix group won’t help. I’ve lost weight before (after the birth of children…) and the only way I could do it was by working out and watching how much I ate! Cutting out carbs does NOT work over time! Thanks for sharing your story.

  77. Sara—AMEN. I graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s in Dietetics and I am currently in the end of my Dietetic Internship. It is so discouraging trying to teach people about health and nutrition when there is so much crap going around about what’s healthy (and ALL the fad diets…). Thank you SO much for this post. Everything you said is right on par with what we try to teach people about losing weight the right way and being healthy. You are such an inspiration to so many people. I am going to post this on my facebook and pintrest, because EVERYONE needs to read your story and your personal advice. I am such a fan of you and Kate and what you are doing. I’ve made almost everything on your site (and love everything), I basically only cook using your recipes because I have confidence that they will turn out. Every time. I love your life stories, especially those mentioned in this post, because I’ve learned that when we open ourselves up and show the not-so-pretty things about our lives, we become more human; and it allows others to love us and understand us more. You are fabulous! Keep us the good work!

  78. Sara, you’re a rock star! I feel so blessed to know you and be a recipient of all the goodness you’re sharing with the world. You are brave to share a piece of your personal life, so kudos for that. I am lucky enough to have a pretty good metabolism that helps keep me small(ish), but I use that as an excuse too often. I need to work out to tone by body, get stronger and be healthy! I keep telling my husband that we need to book another tropical vacation to get me back on track. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for being an inspiration. You are a beautiful person!

  79. Congratulations and you look great! I lost 50 lbs last year and need to get past the skinny fat stage myself. I run 3x every week and want to think that the cardio is enough, but it’s really not cutting it. I want to be that fit gal with some lean muscle! So thanks for inspiring me to keep this moving forward and start weight training and finding a way to finish this for me. I hadn’t thought about a trainer and the idea does kind of scare me (cost and not sure I want someone pushing me!!!), but I can at least look in to it. Thanks again for the inspiration and for making the change to a healthier life.

  80. I am so in awe of someone who works, lives and eats great food and can still get fit and lose weight. I have struggled with weight all my life. I am now 60 and have started taking control in this last year. I have not lost as much as you and I have a lot more to lose than you and don’t have a goal in mind other to keep going, which is a great one for me.

    Many Many heart felt thanks for sharing your journey. Erica

  81. Wonderful post! Thank you. I’ve had six kids and getting in shape afterward each kid gets harder and haharder

    1. I wasn’t finished. LOL! Anyway. I’ve never had a gym membership and have done every thing at t home I have done jillian michaels DVDs but the one I’m totally loving right now is Completely free and their workouts are the bomb! They have 100s of videos and you can choose what you want to workout. Its great!

  82. So amazing and inspirational! You look fabulous!! I have loved reading about your fitness journey. I too have been a work in progress for the past year and I love seeing the results, I’m not there yet but its happening. Thanks for being so positive and sharing your story with us. P.s. where is that ivory lace dress your wearing from? I absolutely love it! πŸ™‚

  83. Hi sara! You are such an inspiration to me! I have 5 kids and have been 25 lbs over weight for a couple years now. I’m going to finish it this time! Question: do you log your workouts on my fitness pal and then eat the extra calories? Or do you not log workouts and only eat your allotted calories for the day? (when you were trying to lose weight) I love your site and even looked for the mini Samoa cheesecakes, did I miss that? THANKS for posting!

    1. No, I never did post the cheesecake recipe. I’ll have to see if I can dig it up! And no- I never log my exercise. I feel like there’s not really a way for that to be super accurate, so I don’t want to eat more thinking I burned more than I did. I stick to a reasonable calorie count and just consider exercise “extra”

  84. This is going to be another EPIC post and you are completely correct: When we open up and share personally, it can be scary…but it can also be a blessing to ourselves and others. Thank you for blessing us all!

  85. Sara, seriously you are an inspiration! Thanks so much for sharing your story. You are gorgeous inside and out. Now, about those delicious Samoa cheesecakes. . . do you have that recipe already on the blog?! That sounds like a perfect birthday treat!

    1. Those are seriously my favorites. I have 3 pairs and wear them almost every day! I can’t find a link, but they’re from the Gap, and called “Premium Skinny Ankle”. I bought them at a Gap Outlet last year.

  86. You are such a brave, courageous person for making your most private struggles public. What an inspiration to me and many many others!! I know I’ll refer back to it often. Now I need an inspirational pep talk on how to get my laundry done and folded. It. Never. Gets. Done.

  87. Thanks so much for this post. I’ve lost 18 pounds since the beginning of January, but I still have a lot to go. Your post was a great inspiration to me and I’m putting “Finish It!” On my fridge tonight.

  88. What I’d love is for you guys to put calorie counts out for your recipes. I have your books and I would love love love it if I could pull them out and know what it would be when I’m trying to count calories! Good job, you look great!

  89. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I grew up overweight and finally discovered diet and exercise in college. I lost a lot of weight, but in the last few years it has been creeping back and I’ve been really depressed about it lately. Hearing your story gives me hope!

  90. Amazing. You already taught me how to make meals for my fAmily. Literally. I seriously couldn’t figure out how to cook a meal until I made every meal you and Kate posted. And now you share this amazing experience with all of us … LOVe the “extraordinary” Quote!! You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing the efforts of the day to day. There are so many bits and pieces and I’m so impressed with how you’ve put it all together πŸ™‚ thank You for sharing!! πŸ™‚

  91. Such an inspiring post! Thank you!
    Are there any cookbooks (besides OBB) that you would recommend to those of us trying to lose weight and stay fit?

    1. Check out the Cooking Light cook books, those are some of my favorites because like here on OBB, they don’t focus on “diet food” or weird substitutions, just good food in reasonable amounts.

  92. So, this totally made me tear up at the end. I’ve been kind of stuck for a while and I need to finish it–badly. Thank you for putting it all out there! <3

  93. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so grateful to read the message about eating real food and enjoying food is not a bad/evil thing. I have been feeling guilty and down on myself for not eating as “clean” as others around me. But that is never going to be me I love all foods equally fruits, vegetables, breads, meats, and desserts. When a diet tells me I can’t have a certain food, I obsess over it. In the end I just want it more. You have given me new insight and hope. I can change and have a healthy relationship with food and myself.

  94. You have NO idea how many people you are helping by posting your personal fitness. Thank you so very much. It is a huge help to me! Hugs!!!

  95. Sara, you are such a great motivator! I’ve struggled with weight my ENTIRE life! I’ve always been the one others make fun of. I’m also the one who is terrified to have a trainer! I’ve seen some of the things they have people do and due to my low self-esteem I can’t handle embarrassing myself like that! It’s the whole comfort zone thing! But hearing others stories gives me a nudge to move out of it! I would love to ask you some questions through email if you have time!

  96. Thank you for your post. It takes a lot to open up like that share your experiences. I’ve battled with my weight for all my life. I didn’t start eating healthy and exercising until I got “knocked up” πŸ˜‰ 5 months ago. After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I now realize that being healthy is my number one priority. Eating healthy, being active and really listening to your body is something that I plan to keep with me even after the baby is born. I was out of control pre-pregnancy. I ate everything in front of me and I didn’t even make the connection of what that meant in the future. You’re totally right, gaining control and actually finishing it is key. Again, thanks for sharing your story. You look fit, healthy, and happy!

  97. You look stunning, and I love your simple, honest approach! I need to start strength training (I’d definitely fall into “skinny fat” and it’s not a great way to feel) and the energy you have with and for your kids is inspiring to me to get active for myself AND for my family! I also love food and know I would never stick to any kind of elimination diet, and I hate listening to people who are in love with them – how bad can real food, in moderation, be?!
    Also, I have to mention how much I love what these photos show – in the pictures, no matter your size, your boys are just gazing at you adoringly, without a thought to outward appearance – beautiful!

  98. I saw your link on Lizzie’s Monarchs of Health page – you are SO inspiring!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re so lucky to have such support.
    I wish my husband would be healthy with me but it’s unfortunately one thing that we don’t have in common πŸ™

  99. Thank you so much for these posts. I am so inspired,. And you make it very easy for me to try to get over my insecurities and just go out there and do it. So please please keep these posts coming!!!! I want to look as amazing and strong as you!!!

  100. I really appreciated your taking time to share. I am skinny fit…I am 52 and look 38, I am lucky in many ways, but ending a 25 year marriage and navigating life with a sometimes struggling teenager has me on the brink of frail..I feel old, literally. My body hurts. No question my body took an enormous hit from the stress and we all know the mind-body connection. Luckily I have always made good food choices so that isn’t so much an’s fighting the fatigue of working all day and having the energy to eat vs. eat a bowl of Whole Foods
    Morning-O’s..which are, btw amazing. My recent epiphany of “what are you doing?” was realizing how much sugar I was ingesting daily in my beloved tea…sounds dumb, right..but I drink a lot of tea..then I started thinking…”wait a sec, this is a tsp (ok maybe a TAD more πŸ™‚ per cup…I drink maybe 5/day…day after day after day. Lightbulb went on…after 50 metabolism slows and I’m shoveling down tons of sugar. I guess what I’m saying is, I realize, like you, entire lifestyle changes had to happen…stop the heavy sugar (think stevia, which I used for a long time then just felt entitled and said, “if I can’t have my tea like I want, forget it,” or some other silly reason. I need to also be fit and strong and have energy…I look slender and have been very athletic in younger years so to feel frail and borderline immobile is awful and scary. It sneaks up on you and is very surprising when you’ve been fit like me. Not being independent and immobile is the thought that really inspires me to MOVE, I don’t want my two kids saddled with a needy mother because she let herself go. I love rebounding (fantastic for your health too — read up on it at Anyway, I’m not sure this was too coherent but I wanted to say thank you for sharing and taking the risk…it does take a village and I was encourged by your story …and your friend’s!! How fantastic! All the best to you and your family πŸ™‚
    ~ Melanie

  101. I needed this today. I am completely out of control, aware of it, and feeling pathetically unable to change it. But at the core of myself, I know I can do it. In the day to day, I just get distracted. This post is motivating me to remove some of the “extra” commitments from my life so that I can recommit to my health. Thank you.

    And congratulations!

  102. I love everything about this post. I used to believe forever that cardio was the only way to lose weight. My husband was always telling me to lift more weights but I thought I just didn’t have time to do both. I recently started to do more weights and way heavier with way less cardio and my body shape is changing! Thanks for reaffirming what I’m doing is the right way to go. You look amazing!

  103. I had weight issues for years and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 18 pounds in one month without much exercise and it’s been a life changer. I’m a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I’ve been doing then I’d be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at and I’ll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I’ve tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day.

  104. You know I have struggled with my weight for years but this past summer I decided enough was enough and then I injured my shoulder and knee. Out of the initial 23 lbs I lost I had gained back 10 lbs… until once again I said enough! I am 49 years old, I do NOT want to turn 50 looking and feeling like this. So I started small by making healthier choices in my food consumption, joining a few friends at church to workout, and to try and walk more. I also finally called the doctor about my shoulder, the prognosis… tendonitis in the rotator cuff. So I start physical therapy tomorrow. The next step, find a trainer because I need the accountability. I need someone to actually meet at the gym at a specific time. Thank you for sharing your story! You truly are an inspiration!!

  105. Thank you for your brave and inspiring post. I feel like I’m right on the brink of diving into to making some great life changes. I just bad my 3rd baby 3 months ago and prior to getting pregnant I was in great shape. I had some really good habits which helps me to recognize that I can get back there. Here’s my question though as I start to get back in it…how do you decide on a reasonable weight loss goal? I’d love to be 125 lbs. but is that realistic or will I be setting a goal for myself that I can’t ever reach? To follow your bravery…I’m about 5’5 and currently weigh 148 lbs. before getting pregnant I was always lingering around 130 lbs. any advice on how to set attainable goals?

    1. I’m not Sara and I’m not any sort of an expert, but this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Weight fluctuates, and is determined by a variety of factors – so pegging a particular number may not be the best way to go, especially since muscle weighs more than fat! Instead of focusing on pounds, try focusing on inches – e.g., you want to lose 4 inches from your waist or 2 inches from your thighs or whatever. A trainer (or your doctor) would probably be helpful in setting realistic numbers there. And you can also aim for a particular clothing size (in a particular brand, since we all know how they vary widely!) – if you wear a size 10 at the Gap now, maybe aim for a 6. Good luck!

  106. Sara, you look amazing! Congratulations! I think it’s absolutely fabulous that you posted this and there was nothing extreme about your exercise and nutrition plan. As a mom and dietitian I have told many people about these concepts but I never truly took them to heart until I found myself weighing more than I ever had and was very unhappy with my body. I too decided to change after seeing myself in a photo. It completely amazed me that everything I learned in school about weight loss and everything I would teach people (believe me I felt very hypocritical) works and as you see it working it becomes the motivation to keep going. Thank you again for sharing!

  107. You should be VERY proud of yourself & know that you sharing your story is a great inspiration to anyone wanting to lose weight. I joined Weight Watchers & Curves a couple years ago & have lost 100 lbs. I still have more to lose but its stories like yours that have kept me motivated. You have lost your weight the right way by changing your lifestyle. It takes good eating habits and exercise to be successful. You look great! If your anything like me what it has done for you mentally feels as good as what it has done physically. Congratulations!!!!

  108. You look great, healthy and fit. Way to go and what a journey! What a great husband too, great job having your back! So about that samoa cheesecake recipe….

  109. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve really needed a kick in the rear to get motivated, and this helped so much. I have a membership at the gym, but my husband travels a lot and I work full-time, and I have a six-year-old, so it is hard for me to get to the gym every day and I’ve been using that as an excuse. I pinned your at-home workout and plan to use that on the days I can’t go.

    Also, I know this has been mentioned before, but I would love to see more specifics about your actual workout. (And if my rear end looked like that in a pair of jeans, I would totally put a photo of it on my blog!!) Thanks again for the inspiration!!

  110. O my goodness! I just posted on my blog about my weight loss journey yesterday! I still have a long way to go but I will FINISH IT! I LOVED this post! Such a beautiful lady with a beautiful story! Thank you so very much for sharing! You have given me a new motivation! πŸ™‚

  111. Thanks for sharing your story! I look eerily similar to your before pictures now. I’m currently pregnant now with my 4th kid in just as many years, so I have a lot of baby weight compounded on top of each other! I just need the motivation to do something about it this summer once the baby gets here. I also need to fool myself into eating vegetables…and liking them.

  112. I think you are incredible and I’m so happy for you. I could relate to just about everything I read in your story.(except the finishing part) πŸ™‚ It’s been a hard thing to come to terms with. I don’t feel good about myself because I don’t look good–I’m out of shape.(I tell my husband all the time there’s 40 pounds of me he’s not sealed to.) Yet, I don’t like that my self esteem is connected to how I look. Aren’t I preaching to my kids all the time that it isn’t how people look–it’s what’s inside that counts?? Yet, what is on my outside right now is definitely defining how I feel about my inside. It’s tricky. However, I heard quote the other day that pretty much summed it up for me. “I workout to feel better and be healthier. The fact that I look better is just a side benefit.” (or something similar to that) So, I’m going to do the things you said to do. I’m going to believe in myself. I’m going to change my life. And I’m going to have my amazing “after picture”. I’m going to FINISH IT!!!!!

  113. Do you do any protein shakes or special foods are or post work out?
    Love this post! Thank you for the motivation!

  114. I can’t thank you enough for your inspiration. Every time I feel like quitting I’m reminded of your story. Please keep the inspiration that you are. It’s nice to hear that “I can!”

  115. Ok I can not believe how similar your story is to mine (and tons of other women out there too I’m sure!) This was such a great post. I was literally crying because it is so true and right now I share all of your old habits. This has truly inspired me. I just need to push hard like you did to get your amazing end results! Way to go. You look amazing and good job sticking with it. I can’t believe you are able to look that great and deal with a food blog every day. Bravo!

  116. Sorry to repost. I meant to comment on your more recent post.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t tell you how motivating it is to see real people accomplish what I have been trying to do my whole life. My biggest challenge that I’ve had with personal trainers is them giving me a strict diet plan to follow. The diet plan usually involves eating every few hours so that you can avoid putting your body in starvation mode and eating foods I don’t generally eat. It seriously stresses me out. I can, and do calorie count and exercise, but I’m just not losing weight. It sounds like you calorie count, but you don’t stick to a strict diet. How did you determine how many calories you could eat and still lose weight. I feel like I’m starving all the time and I’m grumpy, which isn’t fair to my poor family! Any advice?!

  117. The story of your weight GAIN is a lot like mine. I had my daughter in May 2010. After I had my baby I weighed 175. I worked my butt off to lose the weight. I ran like crazy. I eventually got down to 166 all because of running – but that was a year’s worth – maybe even more. I got tired and discouraged and decided, ‘well, this is it. It won’t get any better than this.’ Later I saw my fatness in pictures and I couldn’t believe it – just as you did – but instead of being more positive like you, I became even more discouraged – so much more that I gave into the weight. I decided, ‘whatever, if I’m never going to lose this weight, then I guess I’ll just enjoy the food I love. I was 185 December 2013 when my sister came to visit. She looked like your pictures and I wanted to cry – I did cry. I asked her what she did and she said, ‘I hate to run, I love weights.’ She referred me to a trainer on and I’ve been in and out of the gym, off and on the running trail, feeling hope, then losing it. Today I’m 190. I’m VERY discouraged. This post has given me another push to not give up, so THANK YOU! I’m going to the gym tomorrow and asking for my free trainer. It was offered, so why not take advantage, right? I’ve held back because of the shame and embarassment, but I need that coaching.

  118. Dang!! This is amazing. You look incredible and your story is so inspirational! I fall in to the skinny fat, and after reading this I have my alarm set to go to the early morning body pump class. I’ve been telling myself forever to get back into weight training and this is helping. You will help so many people through this. What a blessing. I’m keeping this page open on my phone to loo may often, in a non-creepy way :-), to help keep me motivated. Your arms/shoulders and back!!! Dang girl! I can’t wait to have definition like that. Here goes! Thank you!

  119. For what it’s worth, I talked to you in the bathroom at the TOFW in Harrisburg in 2012 and I thought you looked fantastic then. But, I COMPLETELY understand wanting to be healthy and strong! What a fantastic example!

  120. Very interesting “real wt loss”.The true info beats the mostly ads info every time.
    Thank you for sharing. PC

    1. Forgot to say….check out the friends blog listed on the 1st page. Paige went from over weight to slim & her story is also very interesting.I appreciate the time taken for sharing these true,inspiring life altering ways of living healthy. PatCe

  121. I’m so stinking tired! Just writing this posts makes me cry with fatigue but I need to start somewhere. I’m going to the dr this week for blood work up in hopes that there’s an answer to my extreme fatigue. I’m 50 plus and have been in bad shape my entire life. I like the start small idea. Just start and continue! Not go big all at once. I’m at the end of my rope and barely hanging on. This gives me hope. You are inspirational. Thanks!

  122. Thank you for this post. I just took my half empty jar of Nutella (that I was eating with a spoon), poured dish soap on it, and threw it out. This starts today.

  123. So awesome Sara! I was wondering if you know a good place to find strength training work out schedules. Like for, legs, back, arms, etc. I can’t afford a trainer but would love to have a good resource for weight training. Thanks!

  124. This is just the boost I needed! I started lifting almost 2 years ago. Lately I haven’t seen many changes and was getting discouraged. Your post has inspired me to step it up and “Finish It!” Thank you for sharing your story.

    I do have a question about logging food. It’s easy for me to log my food when I can scan in the barcode but typically I cook from scratch which makes logging my food a little more complex and time consuming. Any tips?

  125. This post hit home for me. I am continually trying to work at it. Last August I felt I needed to make a change but it has been super hard. Money is very tight for us so I can’t afford a gym and sometimes finding enough food to feed my family every two weeks is a struggle, especially super healthy stuff. We’ve done basic stuff and I’ve been able to find success in that. I’ve only lost 10 lbs but I’ve lost over 20 inches off my body which is a start. My family gave me some items for Christmas and my bday that I wanted so I could work out at home. But with winter illnesses and my 2 yr old breaking his leg it has been a roller coaster. I just try to remind myself each day to at least try to eat healthy and mind my portions so even if I can’t exercise the way I want I won’t be doing so much damage. It is hard but seeing your post gives me hope! Thank you for sharing your story!

  126. I was just coming on to get a recipe really quick (sweet potato chili!! Yum!) This is what I needed to hear. I almost cried reading this. I’m a Sarah, a size 12/14, a mom of 3 little boys blonde boys. I WANT to change. It’s so hard! You are such an inspiration. I need to have my hubby read this. It’s time to start! You look AWESOME!

  127. Thank you for your inspiration. I was needing to get excited about exercising and eating right again and reading this has done that for me. Thank you for being honest and open about your experience. It is hard but the impact is strong when open and honest feelings are expressed. Thank you for being YOU!

  128. I’m sure a bunch of people have already said this, but I felt like this was written just for me when I read this! It described me perfectly, always so consumed with my weight that I can’t let myself enjoy life like I should. We have 3 kids and haven’t had family pictures done since my second was 9 months old. She will be 5 in a couple of months. I keep putting it off because I hate the way I look in pictures. I have tried pretty much every diet out there and have been able to lose weight, but it just comes right back on when I stop doing it. This was just the wake up call I needed to stop trying to do a “quick-fix” and get control of my LIFE! Thank You!!
    Oh, and PS. Where did you get that darling blue and red striped skirt?? So cute!!

    1. You can do it Allie. I can totally relate to avoiding family pictures and that’s something I really regret. No matter what you look like, do it for your family and your kids!

      And the skirt if from Old Navy- I seriously have about 5 of them because they’re my favorite! So comfy. They come in tons of prints and solids. You can see some here.

      1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ One more question, when you first started how often did you work with your trainer?

  129. How long do you spend in the gym each day? 30 minutes, 1 hour? 3 hours ? I am in my 60’s and am just 3-5 lbs over what I was when I was 35- however I have developed a tummy ” bulge” in the past 5 yrs. I have been to 2 trainers who said it’s just a fact of life like flabby arms that comes from age and nothing will help. I’m curious to hear what your trainer says–and does he have experience with us older ones?

  130. Thank you for sharing! That takes guts! Ironically, shortly after having my first baby, I got in the best shape of my life. I had never been so thin and fit in my adult life. And I did it while my husband was in law school, and we were maxed out on stress. Like you, I had to make exercise happen in the insanely early hours of the morning, but that was my only window, and it became my outlet. I actually grew to look forward to it. I started trying new things like Spinning and machines I would have never touched at the gym before. What I loved most was the confidence and contentment I felt with how dedicated I was at doing something hard. The summer my husband was studying for the Bar Exam, I wanted to challenge myself, too, and do something with all the time he was gone studying, so I trained for my first half marathon. My little toddler was my running buddy, and we trained together with my running stroller! Fast forward almost seven years, and I have hit a slump. Over the past year, I’ve watched the scale creep up. Not drastically, but enough that my clothes aren’t fitting well, and I can see and feel the difference. I’ve been losing a little and gaining a little, but not getting on top of things. Your story has been one of the pieces that has motivated me to actually make the big changes I need to get back to where I’ve been. Thank you! Sorry for the monstrous comment. πŸ™‚ One of my favorite quotes from President Monson is, “Once excellence has been viewed, one will never be content with mediocrity.” Thanks for helping me want to get see excellence again!

  131. I read this. I loved it. And I started crying. This is my story. Well, not yet, but seeing pictures, looking in the mirror and not feeling like it’s that bad but the pictures tell the truth. I read your blog regularly and have made dozens of your recipes. I’ve never been disappointed. You ladies are more than just food bloggers. You’re someone’s inspiration. You’re real women struggling with the same things that the rest of us are. And you are brave (and kind) to share it. Thank you!

  132. Thanks so much for sharing all of this! It’s coming at a time when I really need it. I have 2 boys (ages 4 and 2) and I have totally fallen off the exercise wagon. I used to be one of those people who worked out 5 times per week. Now I’m lucky if I get in once per week. I make excuses like I’m too tired or I don’t have time (I work full time) or I’ll do it tomorrow. Thanks to this post, I just downloaded My Fitness Pal and I’m started NOW. I’m not hugely overweight, but I’m definitely at one of the heaviest I’ve ever been. And it’s something that stresses me out everyday. You look fantastic, but the best thing about it is that you FEEL fantastic. I need that again!! So…thank you-thank you πŸ™‚

  133. I’m a registered dietitian and have cooked many of your recipes for years. I work full time, am a mom, and cook 7 nights a week, so I relate to the hectic schedules that you and your readers share. I exercise with cardio and weights 6 days a week, like you, and manage my weight, fitness, and energy level well that way.

    It’s so refreshing as a professional to hear someone share their story of success earned the old fashioned way with sensible food choices and plenty of activity! I get frustrated listening to clients and patients describe this diet, that supplement or drug, this or that surgery or other procedure when the plain, simple truth is right there in front of them. I often explain it this way when asked, “When you go shopping for shoes, do you buy every pair you like? Do you buy them even if they’re $500 a pair? No, because you’d be left with no money for your mortgage, food, or bills.” Food and lifestyle has to be the same way. Occasional splurges or indulgences are perfectly fine, but the bulk of our decision making about foods and activity have to be in the interest of health if we want to maintain a healthy body, just the way the bulk of our purchases have to be made in the interest of practicality if we want to maintain a healthy budget.

    And my only thought on the endless numbers of fad diets and pills, elixirs, and supplements that promise weight loss, “If that stuff worked, it would work!” Everyone would use it, have the promised results, and obesity would cease to exist.

    Anyway, congratulations on fighting the good fight, and embracing a healthy lifestyle. May your body reward you with decades of good health and well-being! You’ve earned it. πŸ™‚ And in sharing, you’ve inspired others in ways you may never know.

    1. Great point. The thing I struggle with the most is knowing how I should “budget” the daily meals. I think I mean beyond just the basics of use whole grains, more veggie….I think I am doing pretty good with all that, but I still struggle with how to get a meal (mainly lunch and breakfast) put together that use these right and fit into the right caloric range. Any tips anyone?

  134. I seriously feel like I scored a great giveaway from you! Thank you SO very much for the honest inspiration you are imparting to all of us. You are a great example to many. Thank You!!!!

  135. You are such an inspiration and idol to me!! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us all!! I myself am making BIG transformations, not to get skinner but to get fit and healthy!

  136. Thank you, thank you,thank you for making yourself vulnerable and sharing your story. Right now I am your “before” and just started using My Fitness Pal this week. This was the inspiration I needed to keep going. Praying I will “Finish It” this time. Your journey is truly inspiring and amazing!

  137. I’m fighting perimenopausal weight gain and am considering hiring a personal trainer after reading your inspirational post. I don’t know the first thing about working out with weights or what to look for in a trainer. How many days a week did you initially work with your trainer? What can I expect to pay per session for a qualified trainer?

    1. I would definitely ask around and see if you know anyone that can give a personal recommendation. The fees vary so much depending on the area you live, how many sessions you buy, etc. It can range anywhere from 35-85+ depending on different factors.

  138. This post seriously made me cry, but in a good way. Thank you for having the courage to post this, I needed the inspiration. You are amazing. Thank you.

  139. So amazing! I love that you still cook and eat real food, and dessert! Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

  140. Did you do any special exercise for abdominal mussel separation (not sure the technical term). I’ve had two kids and I get frustrated when I work out hard but can’t keep the stomach mussels from bulging out. I heard that was from mussel separation after having kids.

    1. I want to know more about this. I have the book and DVD about this Tupler thing. I wonder if it really works. I “kinda” do what it suggests. I think it helps a little. I’m sure it would be better if I actually did everything that it suggests.

  141. Sarah, I will add my voice and let you know what an inspiration you are! Thank you so much for sharing all of the pictures and details about your fitness journey. I have made better eating choices and exercised each day this week because of you πŸ™‚ I love the idea that we aim to be strong, not just skinny. After three kids, I weigh now what I did when I was first married 8 years ago, but I don’t have the same muscle tone and shape. I love doing all the outdoor things like you with my husband and kids– backpacking, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, etc.– but I have found those things to be so much more fun when I am more in shape. I also appreciated your thoughts about getting in shape before having another baby (yay for growing families!). I feel like I can be a better mom from pregnancy on when I am fit and strong and healthy! Thanks for all of the delicious, healthy recipes, too. You rock Sarah!

  142. In the beginning how often did you workout with your trainer? What about now?
    Than you so much for these posts – they were just the kick in the pant I needed to get strong and healthy. I want to finish it too!

  143. I have 4 kids, one of which has autism. I used food for so long as a reward for myself for just making it though the day. Last year I worked really hard and lost 50 pounds (although that got me down to a size 10, not a 2/4 like you). But I’ve let 15 pounds creep back on and I can’t get it off! I take 3 resistance training classes a week at my gym (but I don’t think I lift as heavy as you do) and then run 2 days a week. I’m so frustrated! Can you talk about your exercise routines? Do you use mostly weight machines or free weights? What does a general week look like? Also, I really struggle about 4 p.m. every day when my kids get home from school. I just want to eat to get through the stress of homework, activities, dinner preparations, and general craziness. How do you resist temptation during those tricky times of day? Lastly, do you still shoot for 1500 calories? When you said you started with 1500 calories a day and then looked at what you ate, what changes did you make to what you ate? Thank you so much for your posts, your honesty, and GREAT JOB!!!

  144. Sara – You look great! Thanks for the advice. I am trying to lose 10 pounds and I was instantly inspired by your post. I registered with MyFitnessPal right away. I really want to use their food diary system. I eat very few packaged foods, so it’s hard for me enter into the calories for a recipe. For example, if I am making a soup for dinner, do I need to add each ingredient individually (chicken, pasta, beans, tomatoes, etc…) and then divide that by the portion I actually ate? What’s the best way to do that? Thanks for your help.

    1. You need to click on “Create New Recipe”. I always label it as “serves 1”, which will give you the calories for the entire pot of soup. After you’re done cooking it, and you can measure exactly how much it makes, you can divide an amount per serving.

      1. I just wanted to add that sometimes when adding a whole recipe seems really daunting, I just make sure to at least add the stuff that really “counts” (i.e, if you’re making a soup loaded with veggies, just add any oil used to saute, the broth, and any meat or cheese you’ve used, and don’t bother adding all of the veggies). This helps to keep the calorie count, at least, up to date. I like to track the nutritional side of things too, so I try to add everything if possible…but sometimes it’s just not in the cards.

        1. Did you see that myfitnesspal now has a recipe importer where you just copy and paste the link for your recipe and it will tell you the nutritional information? Life changing!

  145. Sara! This is awesome! I was so happy to read that you did it the right way and not some appetite suppressant or a crazy cleanse that are such a fad lately. It is so refreshing to see living proof that the things we preach REALLY DO WORK! You have obviously inspired so many people. Great job! You look amazing! Maybe I’ll see you back in boot camp some day. πŸ™‚

  146. I love reading inspirational stories. Thanks for sharing. I shed 25 pounds 2 years ago and have kept it off with near daily cardio, but I’ve wanted to be stronger, I want more toning, and know I need more resistance training. I didn’t do it “the old fashioned way” and I don’t think there is just one right way to do it. What’s important is a lifestyle change. I didn’t work out much before, nor did I think too much about what I put in my mouth. Way to inspire!

  147. Ahhhhh! I love you for this — thank you! I would also love some examples of a day of eating, what a Tuesday of weights looks like, etc. You just LOOK healthy. And I love that I can trust you because I know you still love FOOD! I swear most of my fit friends do not. They seem to love protein powder and celery. πŸ™‚

  148. I was so excited to see that you posted your story. I had my 4th and final baby in January, and I have been looking forward to getting in shape. I started my pregnancy the heaviest of all of them thanks to bad habits and some fertility meds. I have really buckled down this last month and logged my good. I am slowly getting back to the gym, working around a nursing baby.
    Your posts have come at a great time… I had decided to start adding strength training to my workouts. I am feeling even more focused now. I know to focus on different muscles and give days to reciver… And I saw in previous comments that you do that. But do you have the body broke up into 5 or 6 groups, or just 2 or 3 and repeat them. Would you mind just giving a list if each group you work? Thanks

  149. I am so so proud of you, Sarah! How brave of you to share all these photos and to be totally honest about your struggle and your success.
    It is a lot of work to stay fit as we get older- no matter what size you are, but you make it look so fun. πŸ™‚

  150. I am down 85 lbs from my high. Running helped me lose, lifting changed my shape and helps me run faster.
    I used a trainer last summer and am so happy with the muscles I have built. I still run more than lift, but I know how to lift, how to fuel, how to listen to my body. You have inspired me to lift heavier and see what changes I can make. Congratulations!

  151. Thank you so much for sharing. I so needed to read this. I feel like I am the person you described in the beginning. I have lost hope in myself and feel like I’m failing at life and health. I thank you for having the courage to change and telling us about it and giving me hope. My goal is to finish it, and maybe someday I can share my story.

  152. Sara…you look amazing!!! Great job! It’s so fun to be a fit, active, confident momma. Way to go!

  153. I am SO proud of you! You look fantastic, Sarah, and I love that you are not telling people to try gimmick diets and products to achieve the results. Everyone I know seems to be on a fad diet and I think just good balanced nutrition with exercise is really the best form of fighting the weight.

    You look beautiful! xoxo

  154. I don’t ever really comment on blogs, although I do read yours. I was so inspired by your fitness post. I kept mulling it in my mind. Now my husband has banned me from gym memberships b’c I get one and then use it for a few weeks and then stop. While cleaning one day I found a coupon for a gym membership where if you paid up front for a full year, you could get unlimited basic gym membership, unlimited classes, unlimited tanning (I don’t do that though), unlimited guests (you can bring a guest FREE EVERY TIME YOU WORK OUT!!!!!!!!) and free babysitting. I knew I had to convince my hubby. And I did and we got a gym membership and when he is available he is my free guest and helps be my trainer.
    Thank you so much. I have lots of friends who post stuff on facebook about working out etc, but until I read your post I wasn’t thoroughly ready to commit head on. And then I was. So thank you. I now just need to work on not eating cookies for breakfast. πŸ˜‰ and other horrible eating habits that I have!

  155. Your story is amazing and fact that I see you at the gym everyday and know who you are, that you are a real person and not just a story I read on the internet makes it all the more better! Thank you for sharing, you totally inspire me! I feel like I have hit rut in my workouts and I haven’t been seeing any changes up or down. I need to change things up, reading your story will hopefully inspire me to push forward!

  156. You look amazing, I really appreciate you putting yourself out there to teach the rest of us how you did it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  157. Good Lord – It took me 5 minutes to scroll to the bottom of the comments, so unfortunately I’m afraid this post might not make the cut for a personal response… But I can always hope!

    This blog post was so very meaningful to me today. My family of four just returned from a wonderful trip to San Francisco. It was beautiful, great weather, and glorious blue skies. We spent most of the trip outside with great vistas for family photos. I love to take pictures, and I love my dear little family (2 boys and a husband) so, so much. I never want to forget any details of great times like this. BUT THERE WAS ONE BIG PROBLEM…

    I AM FAT. WHEN I LOOK AT MYSELF IT DISGUSTS ME. I am not a vain person, I promise. I went on this trip without a haircut or highlight, because I just didn’t have the time or money – and mostly because it just wasn’t that important to me. The camera went with us everywhere and I took tons of picture. But only ONE with me in it. At the base of the Golden Gate Bridge we took a family photo, just so that I could prove that I was there. And when I looked at it later, I nearly cried.

    Just last night I told my husband that I disgust myself. When I see myself in the mirror, all I can see is rolls of gross, gluttonous fat. Fat arms, fat waist, fat back, and a couple of double chins. I am not ugly, I know that. But what I see is someone who has always put everyone else first, who feels absolutely out of control of my body, and totally intimidated by weight-loss.

    In my whole life (42 years) I have always had “baby fat”. I never lost it as a child, and have carried it for years. I have added to it, and lost from it a few times, but never for long. The only times I’ve lost significant weight were during my pregnancies because I was so sick, and a few serious illnesses that lasted months at a time. I hate to be sick, so that’s no way to lose weight.

    So here I am. I am slated to participate in a big fundraising effort this summer in my community. It will involve many dinners and parties and balls. I will have to dress up and try to look decent. AND I AM TERRIFIED! Then, I have a two week vacation to the beach in July. Once again, I will be the big, fat, ugly duckling of my family. I’ll be trying to avoid the camera again, and in my head hearing those voices of what I assume people are thinking about me. (total strangers: thinking, WHY does she let herself get like that? Why can’t she just control herself? Why would anyone WANT to be that fat…)

    All told, if I lost 30 pounds, I’d look good. It’s not a huge goal, but it feels insurmountable. And like you, Sara, I am type “A”. If I can’t be successful, why even try?

    But you inspired me today. I am going to try. again. with God’ help. And I may have to reread your blog over and over to be inspired…

    So thank you. Thank you.

    1. Best of luck to you and just remember with God’s help, all things are possible. He will be there to help you as you pray for help and strength.

    2. You have taken the 1st step–admitting that you need to change and wanting to do that. There are different types of exercise programs on TV. Weights can be cans. Stretch with a broom, etc. swing with the kids, play kickball, run bases, there are many different ways to exercise. You can do it! Good luck!

  158. I was drinking a can of PEPSI as I read your story:/ Thanks for sharing. I feel completely inspired. Gold’s Gym here I come!!

  159. I love your post! Thank you for sharing it with us. My husband and I have been trying to change our lifestyle too. We are in our mid-40’s and still have young kids at home, a Senior in high school and a 21 year old. We use My Fitness Pal and love it! We want to be healthy and strong so that we can continue to raise our children and enjoy our grandchildren. We eat healthier, exercise, and feel better. Thank you for the great tips! We will FINISH IT. πŸ™‚

  160. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Personally, I’ve got a solid 50 pounds to lose. You’re before/after pictures are very inspiring, because when I look at myself, I think “I could never get small again.” but seeing that it can be done makes me want to work.

    I love your cookbooks/recipes, they are always my go-to for anything. Have you guys thought about doing a “healthy” or “skinny” cookbook? I would buy that one, too, for sure!!

  161. Thank you for the inspiration! Back in 2010 I lost 60 lbs and felt the best I ever have. Then I had my 4th baby in 2012 and have not been able to get back where I was. I have attempted several times to get back to calorie counting and being more healthy, but my motivation doesn’t seem to last long. Your last several posts have been just what I have needed! Your before and after shots were inspiring to me! I went to the grocery store this morning and stocked up on everything I needed for your lunch for 1 recipes and I am committing myself to “Finish It” this time. Thank you so much again and please keep the inspiration and recipes coming!

  162. Thank you for sharing! I think you look great. I just started using My Fitness Pal two days ago and I was amazed at how much I was eating without realizing it… thank you for the inspiration to do better.

  163. I have been doing the things you have just described and want to thank you for sharing your experience. It validates what I am doing and gives me motivation to keep going. I think it can feel selfish at times to take time for my own fitness while my home and kids need me, but I know my family needs me to be healthy and set the example. Thank you so much for sharing.

  164. Hi there! Dunno if you’re still reading comments since it’s been several days and there are now hundreds of comments, but I wanted to thank you for these awesome posts and ask a question.

    You have totally inspired me! I bought workout clothes and am going to sign up for a gym on Monday. I’m actually really excited. I have about 20 lbs to lose and the toning up that a person who has never exercised regularly in her life would need! Haha! Thank you for sharing all this! I can’t wait for your nutrition post!!

    So my question is about food tracking. I’ve been doing it for about a week. It’s helping a TON because while I eat pretty healthfully, I was paying zero attention to portions and since I’m nursing, I’ve been hungry and really was going crazy with my intake (way, way in excess of the 300-500 cals burned breastfeeding). However. I just wondered. Am I going to have to do this the rest of my life? Or like 6 days a week minus a cheat day for the rest of my life? It’s so hard to measure and portion everything out and limit every serving!!!! It’s definitely valuable of course. I just wanna know, straight up. If I want control of my weight, are food tracking and calorie counting my life now??

    1. I think you need to be aware of portion control and food portions for the rest of your life, yes. How you do that is completely up to you. I’ve found the more/longer I take the time to actual measure and count, the more I naturally do it. I can estimate a serving size extremely well now, without having to weigh and measure everything, but everyone is different. There certainly comes a point of maintenance where you can relax a little. Stick with it!

  165. Wow – what an inspirational story! So motivating, thank you for sharing! I was wondering if you (or your trainer) would be able to recommend a weight training workout at home (a DVD?). I have 4 little ones and a deploy-able hubby, so gym time is few and far between. I would love some suggestions πŸ™‚ Thanks again for posting this!

  166. This is such an inspiring story!!! I relate so much to how you said you felt before your journey began – like you and I have visited and you wrote down what I said! These are such practical tips and I am going to finish!!

  167. Thank you for sharing your tips. I found this through Pinterest. I am 27 and have always been overweight/obese. I had back surgery on August (was told it was not due to my weight). Since then I have been doing physical therapy (until the end of Dec) and lost 50 pounds by PT and just not eating until I was hungry. I do not often feel “hungry” so I have begun eating differently and joined the Y. I have been doing water fitness and weight training. My goal is for water aerobics three times per week and two days of weight training (using the Y’s computerized personal training program). I only got one day of weight training on this week, but I am still going strong for next week.

    Thank you for your inspiration. I still have a long way to go and a lot of weight to lose but I am excited about the journey I am currently on. Thanks for sharing your story.

  168. Thank you so much for this post. Three years ago I was asked by a friend to be a ‘guinea pig’ while she studied for her personal trainer certification. I stuck with it for 18 months and although I never enjoyed working out, I did like the results – slowly but surely my body was changing and I could do push ups! Me! Then we moved. I made excuses as to why I couldn’t work out, our eating habits changed and the pounds have slowly crept back. A visit to the doctors office to ensure my vaccinations are up to date for my nursing class led to a revelation. My cholesterol is up. Not enough to worry about, but if I don’t do something about it now, it will become a problem. We went over the importance of diet and I blew off the exercise – with two children, a house, and schoolwork, I just don’t have the time. Four days ago I was on Pinterest and found your story. I read it, got up, got changed, and for the first time in almost a year got on the eliptical. For the last four days I have made time for me, without feeling guilty about it. Thank you for giving me the inspiration to do something about my weight. Between you and my bloodwork results, I actually want to make changes and regain the body that I was working towards before we moved.

  169. Thank you. I’m working on my own journey. I’ve been overweight most of my adult life, I’m now 51. I want to get and stay fit. Your story is very inspring and helps me keep going. I am going to FINSISH THIS!

  170. Congratulations on your hard work! You look great and I love that you shared your story to inspire others to a healthier lifestyle. I am a fitness instructor and I don’t eat perfectly 100% of the time either – moderation is so key to happiness! I am going to share your post.

  171. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a motivating and encouraging story. I learned quite a few things from this and so thank you for the tips and knowledge!
    Have a great day!

  172. I LOVE your story!! I’m turning 40 the end of May and my family is going to Hawaii in August. I’m determined to not give up this time. I’ve been telling myself I’m going to be 40 and fabulous not 40 and fat. Hahaha. I’m currently a size 12/14 and have just started weights. I’ve been using my fitness pal for a while and I’ve already lost 20 lbs. My question if its not too personal is how much weight did you have to lose to go from your picture of size 12/14 to the picture of you as size 2/4? I just put my scale on top of the closet because of my hate hate…I mean love hate relationship with it but I would like a gauge as to how much weight I still have to go. I would LOVE to be a size 2/4 however that seems like a very daunting task right now. I’m going to aim for size 6/8 and then take it from there. Like I said if it’s not too personal, I was just wondering how much weight you had actually lost from your 12/14 to 2/4?

  173. i read your last post, and believe me, i was inspired! i had started working out
    /dieting a couple weeks prior and your story really got me going. So things were going great for both my husband and i, and this past week we took off on our yearly winter vacation with some family to hang out in the snow. this year i decided to be active and snowboard vs sitting in lodge, aaaannnnddddd… broke my wrist. now what. im totally discouraged. i dont want to be a debbie downer,but my motivation is gone-zo. this post gave me a great lift, but any suggestions on exercising minus 1 wrist? besides say, running, all my workouts are out the window….

    and truly,thanks for your story!


  174. Thank you!
    I’m just working to get back into a strong, healthy shape after baby #2. I really appreciate your focus on being “fit” as opposed to “skinny.” I want to focus on being healthy for my babies more than anything!

  175. First – what a great post. Thank you for being honest and real and accessible! I too love food, and believe that in moderation and with some thought before hand you can eat great food and still be healthy!
    Second – totally off topic – I LOVE your brown boots in the pict with you in a white dress…. I have been search for eons it seems and can’t find any. But you seem to have found a great pair – can I ask where you got them!?

    Thank you again for you post – I think it’s just awesome!

    1. Oh my gosh, I literally hunted down a complete stranger in public to ask about her boots because I have been searching for the perfect pair for sooo long. And these are IT. They are Steve Madden “Rocket”. I wish I could remember where I bought them too, because they were half off at some random little on-line boutique!

      1. You are Awesome!! Thank you for the response… I am going to start looking for some boots!

  176. Thinness does not equal fitness. Thanks to great genes my 6ft frame helps me hide my weight better. But I am so weak. It’s hard to exercise with 3 little ones 5 and under but I want to be stronger and healthier for them and for me. Each time I get ready to dive into getting healthier fitness wise I find out we have a new baby on the way which is great for our family but not so great for that goal. Any suggestions or resources for that? Obviously if all I can eat is subway or Taco Bell or otter pops that’s what has to happen. But fitness wise I just don’t feel like I can really take on anything without worryin I will hurt the little peanut or myself. Plus I am wiped out all the time. Suggestions? Resources? I just want to be able to Ritter be there physically for my kids. Again it’s about fitness not thinness.

    1. As long as you’re healthy to start with, you can certainly exercise during your entire pregnancy. Don’t let that slow you down (besides the obvious way in which it does, lol). That baby is safe in there!

  177. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I have two kids, 3 and 1, and my husband is super busy in his 3rd year of law school. I feel over the last few months I have been sliding downward as far as my overall health goes. I snack like a monster, barely drink any water, and stay up way to late (enjoying the quiet of a sleeping house). I have lost almost all of my baby weight but I feel fatter than ever; probably because my body fat composes more of a percentage of my body than it should. I am a perfectionist and want fast results, but reading this has reminded me that I need to just chill out about my approach. It really is about moderation in eating, strength training, staying hydrated, getting rest, and managing stress. Its not gonna be easy, but I am finally ready to full on commit to this. Thanks so much for having the courage to share!

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