Heather Nieman, 33, Stay-at-Home Mom, Orlando, Florida

How much weight have you lost? 70 pounds

Tell us what the “old you” used to be like. I think the two words that sum it up best are “frustrated” and “discouraged”. I felt older than my age because my knees were starting to hurt when I climbed the stairs in our house. I hated spending money on clothes, because having to look at the size tag every time I wore them or washed them or folded them made me sad. I knew I wasn’t healthy, and I was angry with myself for letting it go so far. Plus, having an autoimmune disease with side effects like “weight gain” staring me in the face, I was scared that I might never get back to a healthy weight again.

What prompted your weight loss? When I got on the scale at my endocrinologist’s office and they had to move that big clunky bar over from 200 to 220 before they could get an accurate weight. I thought, “oh heck no…this stops now!”

How did you lose the weight? At first, it was watching my calories and taking up running. I dropped about 38 lbs over eight months, which was good, but I wanted more. In January of 2017, I went all in with the Exact Formula for Weight Loss, stopped lurking in the Hottie Body Fitness Challenge group and got to work with strength training and adding new types of my cardio to the running. After that, I lost the other 32 lbs in less than five months!! For me the Exact Formula was really the key, I had gone about it all wrong for months!

How long did it take? A little over a year, total.

What was the hardest part? At first, the portion control seemed hard because I was eating a lot of high-calorie junk foods. Entering those into My Fitness Pal was such an eye-opener! I’ve learned since then to love my veggies and get a lot more food for my caloric budget!

The most fun part of your wght loss? Fitting into a shirt my husband bought me that used to be ridiculously small on me. I almost cried (happy tears, of course)!

Most rewarding experience? Completing the Glass Slipper Challenge at the 2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Who/what inspires you when you feel like quitting? Anyone and everyone who has had life throw them a curveball and could have chosen to quit or take the easy road, but didn’t. The fighters, the overcomers, the people who push themselves to achieve their goals in spite of people telling them they can’t.

How has this weight loss changed your life? It’s definitely helped me to be a better mom and role model for my kids. It’s easier to keep up with them and play alongside them instead of having to just watch from the sidelines. It also kick-started a whole new way of looking at food and my overall health. I take much better care of myself now, for myself and for my kids.

Have any advice for others who’d like to lose weight? Don’t wait! Start today by making one healthy choice and then another and another. And listen to Fitz, no, don’t just listen…DO what Fitz says!

Your musthave fitness equipment: Good running sneakers and socks, a headband that doesn’t slip off my head and my phone/ear buds.

Favorite training song: I’m such a nerd, I usually listen to podcasts while I’m training!

Favorite healthy food: Pretty much any roasted veggie.

Favorite not-so-healthy food: Chocolate.

Funniest /weirdest/most awkward experience during your weight loss journey. Probably  when – back early in the journey – I bought a pair of leggings to run in and they wouldn’t stay up! So I’m out (like outside, you know, where other people are) on my first run in them and with every stride, they are slinking down lower and lower. Thankfully, I was wearing a long hoodie because if it had been just a smidge shorter, oh man, someone would have gotten an image that would haunt them to this day! I spent the majority of that run literally holding them up as I ran. So embarrassing.

Future goals: To run a sub-30 minute 5k and to run the Dopey Challenge during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in 2019.

Anything else you’d like to add? I used to feel guilty taking time for myself to go out for a run when I had “so much else that needed to get done.” I had to learn to look at that relatively short amount of time as an investment that would pay back with interest the amount of time a healthy, active lifestyle (versus an unhealthy, sedentary one) would allow me to have on this earth – and more than just time, the ability to get out and really enjoy it!