‘I Did A 6-Week Max Fitness Challenge And Stuck To A Low-Carb Diet—And I Lost Half My Body Weight’

My name is Peggy Lindsay (@watchpeggyloseit), and I’m a 32-year-old preschool teacher and mother-of-two, living in Costa Mesa, California. After battling my weight for years, at 300 pounds, I committed to a fitness challenge and tweaked my diet. I’ve lost 160 pounds.

My weight has fluctuated my entire life. I've struggled with disordered eating that left me weighing as little as 100 pounds and as much as 300 pounds, and everything in between.

When I met my husband in 2013, I’d reached a healthy weight of about 140 pounds. We both gained 20 pounds of what I described as "relationship weight," and then I got pregnant with our first baby. I used my pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted (I was "eating for two!") and gained 70 pounds.

Eighteen months later, I got pregnant with baby number two and gained an additional 40 pounds. My daughter had health issues her first year of life, and the stress of that situation led to me gaining another 30 pounds.

I was eating McDonald's every day, sometimes twice a day, and a package of chocolate chip cookies every night. My entire body was in pain, my blood pressure was dangerously high, I couldn't sleep, and my relationship with my husband suffered due to my extreme lack of self-esteem. I was miserable in my body. By the summer of 2018, I was at my highest weight ever at 300 pounds.

My turning point came when I wasn't able to keep up with my two toddlers.

I was humiliated when my husband had to push me in a wheelchair when we went to Disneyland because my knees hurt so badly from walking. I had completely let myself go and couldn't handle taking care of my kids and myself. I’d never felt worse. And I was so afraid of the idea of dying from being overweight and leaving my kids without a mom.

An ad for a local gym came up on my Facebook timeline and advertised that it was a "gym for real women." I responded to the ad, but I wasn't entirely serious about committing since I was a busy mom with two young kids. When the owner of the gym called me and told me they had childcare available, I was out of excuses.

I decided to sign up for a 6-week fitness challenge at my gym.

In August 2018, I started my weight-loss journey with a six-week Max fitness challenge. It's a nationwide gym and program that combines group fitness with nutrition coaching and a financial incentive to help you get in the best shape of your life. The way it worked during my Max challenge: You paid $400 upfront, and if you lost 20 pounds or 5 percent of your body fat in the six-weeks period, you would get a full refund.

The gym only offered small group classes, which was fantastic for me because I really thrive in groups with the guidance of a trainer. I started working out five days a week. My first class ever was spin, and while I love spin now, the first time was rough. I was starting from ground zero and was completely out of shape. I was also the maximum weight limit for the bike, so that was scary and disheartening, but I got through it.

My weekly workout schedule included lots of variety.

  • Monday: Bootcamp
    • Tuesday: Yoga
      • Wednesday: TRX
        • Thursday: Yogalates
          • Friday: Bootcamp or Spin
            • Saturday: Family activity
              • Sunday: Rest

              Max Fitness also provided me with a meal plan from a registered dietitian and taught me about healthy portions.

              I committed to a high-protein, low-carb diet and completely cut out all processed foods, starchy carbs, fried foods, soda, and alcohol, and any artificial sugar. My diet consisted of egg whites, Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, fruit (mostly apples and berries), dark leafy greens, chicken, turkey, brown rice, black beans, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, almonds, peanut butter, avocado, protein shakes and bars, plus lots of hot sauce for flavor.

              In the first six weeks, I lost 24 pounds.

              I won my $400 back, too. By then, I had already fallen in love with the gym, so I immediately signed up for a membership. Once my mindset changed and I began seeing the weight come off, I knew I was finally headed in the right direction.

              I measured everything I ate on a food scale and stuck to my diet religiously. I learned to read every label while I was grocery shopping because there is hidden sugar in items you wouldn't think they’d add sugar to. I also always took the stairs instead of the elevator, stopped late-night snacking, and brought my own food with me to parties, gatherings, and even restaurants sometimes in order to stay on track.

              By March 2019, I’d lost 100 pounds. Then, I hit a weight-loss plateau and had to mix things up.

              I cut out more carbs and replaced them with healthy fats. I also started counting calories with MyFitnessPal and made sure I was drinking half of my weight in ounces of water every day. With these changes, I was able to lose an additional 60 pounds for a total of 160 pounds by November 2019.

              Now, I’ve switched from weight-loss mode to maintenance mode.

              I’ve added a lot more calories to my diet to maintain my weight, but I still eat a high-protein, low-carb diet because I love the way it makes my body feel. I never feel sluggish or bloated from what I eat, and I feel like I’m eating to fuel my body and treating it the way it deserves to be treated. I love filling up with organic whole foods.

              Here’s what I eat in a typical day now:

              • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with a pack of almonds and a ONE Bar (chocolate chip cookie dough is my favorite!).
                • Lunch: A salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, whatever veggies I have on hand, a hard-boiled egg, a sprinkle of feta cheese, and my favorite ranch dressing, Bolthouse Farms yogurt dressing, which has only 45 calories per serving. I'll alternate between that and a turkey wrap on a low-carb tortilla filled with veggies and avocado and an apple.
                  • Snacks: I always drink a Premier Protein Chocolate Shake. I’m big on snacks, and I typically have any of the following: hard-boiled eggs, Skinny Pop, almonds, apples and peanut butter, jerky, ONE bars, cottage cheese, or another Greek yogurt.
                    • Dinner: Usually, I’ll eat the same thing for dinner as I did for lunch or do a simple grilled chicken with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus. I also love mixing it up with a Trader Joe’s chicken patty cut up with cauliflower rice, guacamole, and hot sauce.
                      • Dessert: A no-sugar-added fudgsicle or chocolate pudding with sliced strawberries.

                      Looking back, I wish I would have known that weight loss doesn't have to be as complicated as I made it out to be.

                      Once I focused on being in a calorie deficit (where you’re taking in less calories than your body uses), I lost weight. I also wish I had known how great weightlifting is for weight loss. I always bought into the myth that weightlifting makes you bulky, but it's not true. It helps make you lean and toned and burns tons of calories.

                      When people ask me how I feel after losing 160 pounds, I always tell them I feel peace and joy. I feel like myself again, like the wife and mother I was always meant to be. I'm currently training for my first full marathon, and I'm loving how strong and healthy I feel. I'm thankful for the amazing support my friends and family have given me during this emotional journey.

                      My biggest piece of advice: consistency is key.

                      You're not going to see results overnight, but with hard work, you will be successful.

                      For me, the things that helped me stay on track were starting my Instagram to document my progress, accountability from other ladies at my gym, and weighing myself every day. I know frequent weigh-ins don't work for everyone, but they helped me.


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