82 Pounds Lost: With One Negative Comment, Cherie Starts Positive Changes

Name: Cherie Hart Steffen

Age: 35
Location: Mebane, North Carolina
Before: 230lbs
After: 148lbs

What was the “turning point” that prompted you to lose weight?  An embarrassingly hurtful comment from my teacher was the catalyst. He called me “Precious”— as in the fat black girl from the movie. I also promised my mother while she was on her deathbed in June 2009 that I would lose weight. But the teacher’s comment sparked me into action.

When did you start trying to lose weight?  I started in January 2010. The very day my teacher called me Precious, I came home from class and walked on my treadmill. There was no looking back after that.

How did you get started?  I started by making small changes. I’m a creature of habit and don’t respond well to big, immediate changes! I started walking on my treadmill about four times a week. Also, I made changes in my diet. I began eating grilled foods instead of fried, drinking water instead of soda, measuring foods/paying attention to portions instead of eating with wild abandon.

What was your biggest challenge?  My biggest challenge was making myself go from a cardio queen to an iron maiden. My workouts were cardio-centered throughout most of my transformation journey. I knew I needed to incorporate strength training but couldn’t get myself to stick with it. Finally, almost three years into my journey, in December 2012, I joined a gym and began lifting weights. So happy I overcame that challenge! It’s been very worth it.

Were there any times when you wanted to quit or give up? How did you stay motivated?  I never wanted to give up. I stayed motivated by remembering the embarrassment I felt at that exact moment in the hallway when my teacher called me Precious. I NEVER wanted to feel like that again. That, my mother’s promise, and my “before” picture have been my constant motivation.

If you reached a weight loss plateau, how did you break out of the rut?  I usually tweak my meals or workouts. That gets me back on the ball!

What’s your current exercise routine?  I go to the gym after work Monday through Thursday to lift weights. I rotate body parts worked, i.e., chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, legs, glutes, etc. I also do cardio on the Arc Trainer after my lifting sessions. Saturday and Sunday I mix up a lot — either both weights and cardio, or just cardio. Friday is my day off.

What’s your daily diet look like?
Breakfast may be eggs, protein waffle or oatmeal with added protein powder with a whey protein shake. Fruit, maybe an apple, and almonds (I count out 20 and put them in a little baggie) is a mid-morning snack. Lunch is grilled chicken (or fish or lean beef), broccoli (or some green vegetable) and brown rice or quinoa. As a mid-afternoon snack I have plain Greek yogurt with wild blueberries I add to it. Usually I’ll have a whey protein shake before and after my gym workout. Dinner is more chicken, fish or lean beef and vegetables and one more protein shake (casein protein) before bed.

What’s your favorite healthy snack/meal?  I love seared scallops and steamed spinach — that is a definite favorite!

Do you have specific suggestions for avoiding temptations?  Find healthier versions of the non-healthy foods. Keep healthy snacks on hand and in your fridge and cupboards. If you don’t buy the non-healthy foods, you won’t have them in your house to tempt you!

What’s your life like after weight loss?  I’m much more self-confident. I have a can-do attitude. I believe I can do what I set my mind to now. Also, clothes shopping is finally a complete joy now!

If you have any suggestions to others what would they be?  YOU have to make the decision that getting healthy, losing the weight and making this a life change is MORE IMPORTANT to you than being unhealthy, continuing to be overweight and staying the same.

I wish I could do it for you, but I can’t. No one could do it for me either. Until there was something that sparked within me that said, “Okay, I’m ready now let’s do this. I’m all in,” nothing was going to change. You’ll know when you’re ready because nothing will get in your way. Not chocolate cake, a buffet, laziness, sleepiness, a holiday, chores — nothing.

If it helps you to make a vision board of quotes, mantras, pictures of clothes you want to wear, the body you want to have, go for it. Do it. I personally had to keep staring at the “Before” picture of myself and look at it often — it helped! But along with this vision board, set clear, specific goals on there and work toward them. Don’t just say, I want to wear a size 10 again someday. Make it attainable, but set a time/date to work toward.##


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