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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