Before and After: Kelsey’s Aha Moment Began in the Weight Room

Think you’re going to bulk up if you start lifting weights? Our next Before & After story will change your mind. It comes courtesy of fitness coach Kelsey Byers| who blogs at Good Morning Fitness and is part of our POPSUGAR Select Fitness program. Read her weight-loss success story and get her tips for sculpting your dream body below!

Kelsey: Before

POPSUGAR Fitness: What made you decide to start?Kelsey Byers: I gained 50 pounds in college by adopting unhealthy habits. For example| eating fast food| drinking alcohol| and skipping workouts. I went from a size four to a size 14 in a matter of just two years. I was miserable with my body and felt ashamed that I had let myself go. The thought of being in a swimsuit made me cringe. I must have taken 20 “before” photos but never quite made the decision to make a change.

When finally| I overheard someone refer to me as a “whale” and that pretty much did it. That was the last straw. I am actually very grateful for that “reality check.” Yes| it was mean| but it ignited that fire of motivation.

From that point on| I decided to make a lifestyle change for me and only me. I knew I would never stick with a diet| so I started making small changes like going out to eat less| cooking meals at home| and committing to the gym three workouts a week.

PS: What’s your favorite way to work out?KB: My boyfriend at the time| now husband| encouraged me to start lifting weights versus being a cardio-bunny. I was afraid of bulking up but he explained that women don’t produce enough testosterone to bulk up like a bodybuilder and explained that muscle would tone my body. Boy| was he right! I lift as heavy as I can and built my dream body!

PS: What’s your weekly exercise schedule?KB: I have a 1-year-old daughter now| so I stick to short and sweet 30-minute workouts usually around her nap time. If I do make it to the gym| I stick to about 45-minute sessions. Usually 25 minutes of lifting weights and 20 minutes of cardio.

Kelsey: After

PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?KB: You have to keep your body guessing. I try to change my workouts up at least once every two weeks or so. One week I might lift heavier with lower sets and repetitions| the following week I might lower the weight and increase my sets and reps. For example| the first week I might do three sets of eight with heavier weights. The following week I might lower the weight and do four sets of 15. Workout classes are always fun if you have access to them. I created a free pregnancy and postpregnancy workout program| and it’s available on my blog.

PS: How much weight have you lost?KB: I lost 50 pounds after college and fit back in my size-four jeans! I gained only 30 pounds with my pregnancy and was back in my prepregnancy jeans in a few months. I also trained through 40 weeks of pregnancy. A healthy lifestyle is a true commitment to your health| but you’re worth it.

Kelsey: After

PS: What was the first big difference| other than the number on the scale| that really made you feel proud and excited?KB: I didn’t rely on the scale too much or obsess about it. The scale doesn’t know if you’re replacing fat with muscle. I focused on taking progress pictures once a month| along with measurements. Those pictures motivated me when nothing else would. I think I felt most proud when I was invited to shoot for Oxygen magazine’s fat-loss cover. That was a dream come true and an honor to reach others with my story.

PS: How do you track your weight loss?KB: At first I took progress pictures and measurements| but these days I like to have my body fat measured by a nutritionist. That way I can tell if I’ve gained muscle and lost fat. It’s such a rewarding process.

PS: What’s a typical day of meals and snacks?KB: I eat every three hours| at least five meals a day.

Breakfast: five scrambled egg whites with salsa| 1/2 cup oatmeal with cinnamon| cup of coffeeSnack: meal-replacement shakeLunch: five-ounce grilled chicken| five-ounce sweet potato| steamed veggiesSnack: meal-replacement shakeDinner: five-ounce lean steak| baked potato| steamed veggiesSnack: optional ¡ª scrambled eggs with whole-wheat cinnamon toast

PS: What’s the range of calories you eat per day?KB: I eat between 1|800-2|000 calories per day. The best way I’ve found to calculate your calories is this:Goal weight x 10 = a number. Then add 300 to 400 more calories for training. For example| 140 pounds x 10 = 1|400 + 400 = 1|800 daily calories

PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?KB: Baby spinach| egg whites| whole-wheat bread| salsa| chicken| extra-lean turkey| meal-replacement shake.

PS: How do you strategize for meals out?KB: My husband and I plan one “treat” meal a week. Since we work in the fitness industry| we like to be able to indulge but also stick with our fitness goals. If it’s my treat meal| I eat whatever I want for that meal. If we are going out to eat and I’m sticking to a healthy menu that evening| I typically order grilled chicken with no butter and no oil. Also| a plain baked sweet potato with grilled asparagus. Most restaurants will accommodate you. You can also look at the menu online ahead of time. That helps me plan.

PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?KB: I like to tell people it took me two months before I saw a big difference with eating healthily. Most people don’t realize that nutrition makes up 80 percent of our results and exercise is 20 percent. With that being said| it’s not necessary to become a slave to the gym; just focus on your nutrition first and foremost. You can’t outtrain a bad diet. Commit to a lifestyle change versus a “diet.” That word just means temporary. Healthy is a lifelong commitment and possible for anyone. If I can do it| so can you!

Do you have an inspiring Before & After story to share? Message us on Facebook| and give us a few details of your journey. We might even profile you on the site| like Kelsey!