This week our Member Spotlight is Stronger U superstar Barbara Richardson. Check out Barbara’s story and all of the changes she’s experienced below.
What’s your name? (First and last names, pretty please)
Tell us a little about you in 5 sentences or less. Where are you from? Are you a parent? What are your hobbies? Anything unique about your life that you want to share?
I currently live in Alabama and am relocating to Orlando in a few weeks. I’m 50 years old, single, no kiddos and would love to get a puppy when I’m settled in my new location. When I’m not working, I keep busy with volunteer work, attending concerts and performances of all types, WODing with my fitfam at Iron Tribe Fitness, and spending time with my family.
What led you to join Stronger U?
I had been trying to lose weight off and on for 25 years. I’d tried a bunch of things previously. The science behind macro-counting led me to the flexible dieting lifestyle. The results I saw SU clients achieving and the responsiveness to my inquiry led me to choose SU over the other coaching companies.
What dieting experience have you had previous to Stronger U? Was there a reason you were or were not successful? Why did you stop?
How much time you got? Haha!
Weight Watchers (three times), The Diet Center, Jenny Craig, Atkins (2 times), Medifast (3 times), juicing, The Abs Diet, various cleanses, a couple different detox diets, a different online coaching outfit, Whole 30 (3 times), general Paleo, the Wheat Belly Diet, the Schwarzbein Principle, Wahls Protocol, The Biggest Loser, South Beach Diet, Ideal Protein, Dukan Diet, and I could name a few more if I could be bothered to go dig out the books.
None of these were successful because they were too restrictive and/ or they didn’t offer the solid accountability SU offers. I’d start, fall off, and then go back to my old habits; I didn’t have a sustainable plan to follow or anyone to help me stay on track.
It’s clear Stronger U worked for you. Why do you think Stronger U worked so well when other programs or diets may have not?
1) The science made sense to me: Calories In vs Calories out determines weight loss, mind the macros to maximize health and happiness and hotness. 🙂
2) The flexibility made it doable. I can eat whatever I want. I’ve found that over time I’ve begun to eat predominately whole, nutritionally dense foods. The best part is that I’ve come to that decision on my own naturally…it wasn’t mandated by the program or my coach. And because those changes are my decision, I see the value in eating that way and I find it easy to do.
3) Having a coach keeps me from second-guessing myself and keeps me accountable. I’m more likely to keep promises I make to him than to myself. I guess that’s how accountability works.
4) The community keeps me inspired and shows me what’s possible for a regular person like me. I wouldn’t have thought the community aspect would ever have become as important as it has. It’s definitely a game-changer for me.
Can you give some insight into your eating habits BEFORE joining Stronger U?
I know that some folks believed they were eating well pre-SU and then their eyes were opened.
I knew that my regular eating pattern wasn’t healthy. Pre-SU, I alternated between eating whatever I wanted, then getting disgusted with myself, and then dieting to “rein it in”.
“Whatever I wanted” was usually pizza, Ben and Jerry’s, sweet cereal, vending machine lunches, fancy dinners (I’m a foodie at heart), fruit, pancakes/waffles with butter, syrup and thick cut bacon, Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts, and assorted fast food to round it out. Then I’d diet to regain a semblance of control; rinse; repeat.
Now that you’ve joined Stronger U, how have your eating habits changed?
Normally I eat about 80% lean protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and a few select grains, all with lots of herbs, spices and sauces to keep it interesting. I eat about 2-4lbs of fruits and vegetables a day! That’s probably more than the last three years combined! The other 20% is dairy and treats.
I’ve had a period of a few months where I struggled to keep on track. I also took a couple of planned breaks from tracking. In those non-tracking times, I’ve gone back to “eating whatever I want”. What I’ve discovered from these experiences is that eating with abandon isn’t what I want after all. I feel sluggish, remorseful, and strangely my hunger is never abated. I am always happy to return to being in control and hitting my numbers. I’m now practicing on incorporating a bit of a treat here and there and keeping it within my numbers.
If you exercise or train for a sport, what does a typical week look like? Did Stronger U have any impact on your decision to start exercising or training for a sport?
I’m a member of Iron Tribe Fitness, which is similar to CrossFit. I was an ITF athlete prior to joining SU. Since starting SU, my performance at IFT has increased exponentially. I couldn’t air squat to depth when I started SU. Now I can squat 145#. I’ve put 50lbs on my Deadlift. I finished a Tough Mudder. And recently I ran a sub-8 minute mile, and I’m not even a runner. WHAT?! I also started lifting weights and saw amazing changes in my physique.
Has your change in body weight or composition improved other areas of your life? If so, explain what areas and how.
Yes, many of the improvements are in the way I see myself and in the way others see me:
– I’m more confident now. I feel less self-conscious, and more “like a regular person”.
– People treat me differently. I’m less invisible; people look me in the eye.
– I don’t get the look of dread when someone realizes I’m their seat-mate on the airplane.
– I can pack for a weekend in a carry-on because size 4 clothes are much smaller than size 18 clothes! Save $50 round trip on luggage fees. Never expected that one.
– I’m using the success I’ve enjoyed and the skills I’ve learned here to take control of my finances and improve my work productivity.
– I don’t hide when it’s time to take pictures with friends and family.
– People have legit called me “tiny” which I get a kick out of. I’m developing a new self-image. I now recognize the slim me as the “real” me. I don’t identify with the previous Barbara anymore.
And the best is that my progress has inspired some of my friends and family to take charge of their nutrition and they are enjoying awesome results.
Are there any tips or advice you’d give to new members of Stronger U to help them succeed early on?
Jump in with both feet. Give this program a concerted effort, at least for the first 12 weeks. Establish winning habits in the beginning; later you can relax. Be meticulous with weighing and MFP food entries. Be honest about your progress. Learn how to ask for and receive help from your coach and from the group. <—I honestly think this is the skill that can make or break you in this program, and it’s not even a nutrition-related skill! Give yourself a chance to see what this program can do. I’m confident that if you follow the plan as laid out by your coach, your success is assured.
If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what would you tell them?
Hurry! Get in here already!