After Years of Being ‘Emotionally Exhausted,’ Tara Finally Found Weight-Loss Success

“I have struggled with my weight much of my adult life| but it really got out of hand after experiencing a string of three very difficult years|” says Tara| who had to deal with several tragic events in those three years| during which she got divorced| was hospitalized after a car accident| lost her home in a fire| and cared for her son| who had survived a shooting. “In the years after this| I was stuck on survive and neglected myself|” Tara told us. “I sought comfort through food and did not exercise because I was emotionally exhausted working full time| being a single mom| and dealing with the aftermath of the shooting and other events.” After moving to Denver and losing 16 pounds from her new active lifestyle| Tara soon had to move back home to Wisconsin to help care for her ailing dad. What happened next is a testament to her willpower| determination| and hard work.

Tara: Before

POPSUGAR Fitness: What made you decide to start?Tara Tuchel: When I came back to Wisconsin| I fell into my old habits for several months but became very inspired watching Lisa Rambo’s weight-loss journey on The Biggest Loser. I have known Lisa since she was in kindergarten because she was a good friend of my little sister. I heard that Lisa would be starting boot camps in my hometown at the gym that I was a member of (but didn’t use). I remember messaging Lisa and asking her to meet with me so I could ask her some questions. We met at the local coffee shop . . . I told her I was scared to commit and spend the money and fail. She said| “I will be here to help you through it.” I came up with a variety of other excuses| but Lisa talked me through them and convinced me I could do this. I decided to go ahead and join boot camp. It was October of 2013. I was 233 pounds.

PS: What’s your favorite way to work out?TT: I love variety| so I am always mixing it up| but I love my cardio kickboxing class at the gym.

Tara: Before

PS: What’s your weekly exercise schedule?TT: I do cardio five to six times per week and strength training three times per week.

PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?TT: I usually meet my workout buddy so we can encourage each other| and I also switch things up quite a bit: indoor cardio classes| mountain biking outdoors| stairs workouts. I always have goals that I work toward: run a 5K| 10-miler| or mountain bike race.

Tara: After

PS: How much weight have you lost?TT: I am now down 72 pounds from my highest weight [249 pounds]| and I continue to track my food| exercise six times per week| and I am working toward my final goal: losing another 20 or so pounds.

PS: What was the first big difference| other than the number on the scale| that really made you feel proud and excited?TT: When I first could fit in “regular” clothes vs. plus-size clothing| when people started to notice and make comments| when I ran the Be the Match 5K for my dad and PR’ed [finished with a personal record] with a time under 30 minutes.

Tara: After

PS: What’s a typical day of meals and snacks?TT: Egg whites and gluten-free rolled oats for breakfast| apple and almonds for morning snack| four ounces chicken| one cup of asparagus| and three ounces sweet potatoes for lunch| protein bar or shake for afternoon snack| chicken or fish and brown rice for dinner. Lots of water.

PS: What’s the range of calories you eat per day?TT: 1|300-1|600 calories per day because I am still losing weight.

PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?TT: Cooked chicken| brown rice| Greek yogurt| spinach| almonds.

PS: How do you strategize for meals out?TT: I look ahead on the menu and try to make a plan for a healthy choice unless it’s a “cheat meal.”

Tara: After

PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?TT: The best advice I would give is to:

Stop making excuses and just jump in.Find someone who has what you want and do what they do.Find a reliable workout buddy.Track your food.Find new hobbies that involve exercise.Set goals.

If you need any more inspiration to start your own journey| Tara adds| “In October 2013| I ‘ran/walked’ a 5K and my time was 59 minutes. This past summer my PR time for a 5K was 27:48. I ran several races in 2014| including a 10-mile race. I also bought a mountain bike and started riding on off-road single-track trails. I participated in my first mountain-bike race (the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival) in Cable| WI. I also finished three obstacle mud runs. Such amazing accomplishments that I never thought I would do! I’m so excited for 2015 and even more excited that I got my life back.” Congratulations| Tara!

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