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This week, the Stronger U Member Spotlight is shining down on Elizabeth Martin. Congrats, Elizabeth! We’re so proud of you!

What’s your name? (First and last names, pretty please)

Elizabeth Martin

Who was your Coach? 

DeeDee Ballesteros

If there was one thing you could say to your Coach, what would it be?

THANK YOU!! Thank you for always being a source of encouragement. You know I am always incredibly hard on myself, so you never add to that. You always remain positive and help me take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and you continually remind me that my “failures” are just steps towards growing and changing and improving. You’re the best! 

Tell us a little about you. Where are you from? Are you a parent? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Hi! I’m a married mom of 2 (a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl) from Argyle, TX (a small town in DFW). I am a former band director and current bookkeeper for my husband’s electrical contracting company as well as a local non-profit. I am a runner and recently started strength training, which I have fallen in love with. I love reading, traveling with my family, and volunteering! 

What was the moment that made you decide to join Stronger U?

I joined Stronger U at the end of December 2018 (official start date was January 2, 2019) after seeing my younger sister (hey Kathleen!) have great success with Stronger U. I reached my heaviest non-pregnant weight in 2018 and I was miserable. Nothing fit, and I was tired continually going up in clothing sizes. I was tired all the time. I finally had enough and signing up with Stronger U is the best decision I have ever made for my health and wellness. 

Is there anyone from the SU community you would like to shout out?

My coach, DeeDee Ballesteros, for always being incredible. My sister, Kathleen Cook, who introduced me to Stronger U and endured my endless questions at the beginning. And Elizabeth Castellan Orea, who I have never met or talked to but posted her journey frequently when I first joined. Seeing someone who looked like me when she started and ended where I was hoping to end up eventually was really inspiring. I try to post my journey in the group when I can so that I can pay it forward and encourage someone else who may just be starting their journey. 

What dieting experience did you have previous to Stronger U? 

I’ve tried weight watchers a few times and always had success with it. I would always lose the weight I wanted to lose. The issue for me has always been maintaining, which is why Stronger U was so appealing to me. I knew I could focus and lose the weight, but what I really needed help with was learning how to maintain that loss after I reached my goal! I’ve tried Paleo/Whole 30 or Atkins/Keto, but by “try” I mean I lasted like a day, maybe. Anything too restrictive left me feeling deprived. Take all my carbs and I will revolt. Tell me I can’t have a cookie and I’ll show you just how many I can eat (I’m such a toddler sometimes…). 

What were your eating habits like before joining Stronger U? Did you prep your meals? Did you eat out regularly? Did you think you were already eating healthy and in moderation?

My eating habits were terrible and moderation did not exist. It was a lot of eating out and mostly fast food at least 2x a day. I literally ate Whataburger every.single.day. and would order 2 large fries (I love their fries). During my practice week, it was shocking when I entered my typical meal from Whataburger. I mean, I knew it would be a lot but I also had no idea. When I saw the macros and calories (I think my typical meal was something like 1200 calories) I realized just how much I needed to adjust and change course. I would say I was easily consuming 3000+ calories/day before Stronger U. 

Why do you think Stronger U worked so well for you compared to other programs or diets?

The accountability and encouragement of a coach was for sure a game-changer. I needed a third party to look at the data and encourage me. In general, I’m hard on myself with everything and have a tendency for perfection. It’s easy for me to fall into the all-or-nothing mindset. So having a coach I could reach out to when I’m feeling like I want to eat all the things was so incredibly helpful. And it took that weight off my friends and family. My husband was no longer then one tasked with “don’t let me eat any _____” – which let’s be honest, never worked and would result in me being angry with him when he really wouldn’t let me have the cookie or ice cream! I also love the education that comes through the emails when you first sign up – and if you aren’t reading the emails, read them. I feel dumb saying it now, but I really didn’t know most of the info shared about carbs/fat/protein. It seems so basic now, but I had 0 nutrition education so that information is great to have.

What was the biggest challenge or change when you first started with Stronger U?

The biggest challenge for me was entering all my frequent dinner recipes in the beginning, and not really knowing how much room to leave in planning. Now that they’re all entered and I rotate through the same things, it’s incredibly easy to plan and takes very little time. But I remember that being challenging for my first few weeks. I think the other challenge was just overcoming my own mind sometimes. In the beginning, it was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of change that needed to happen. Later in my journey, it was when I would hit certain weight goals and felt comfortable or like “I could be happy here…”. Just being able to mentally push through the comfort to keep going towards the next goal was challenging at times. 

What was something you regularly ate while on Stronger U that people wouldn’t expect you to eat on a diet?

Ice cream. Legit, Blue Bell ice cream (Cookie Two Step is the best). If you don’t have Blue Bell in your area, I feel so sad for you! I ate a big ol’ bowl of ice cream every single day this summer! 

What does your typical week of eating look like? How many days a week do you meal prep? Do you have certain meals you make most often?

I sit down every weekend and look at my calendar for the week and plan my meals for the entire week. I then order my groceries online. I don’t do big meal prep, but I have my plan in place. I keep my breakfast and lunch super basic and consistent. I cook 3 different dinners a week and then eat the leftovers other days. We generally eat out 1-2x/week. During a cut, I stick to a few basic meals and hardly ever change things up. In maintenance, I have more flexibility. 

If you exercise or train for a sport, did Stronger U have any impact on your training? Or did Stronger U have an impact on your decision to start exercising or training for a sport?

I’ve shaved 3 minutes off my mile running pace! I’ve gone from a 12’30” mile to a 9’30” mile. I also started strength training with a trainer in May 2019 and Stronger U had a major impact on that decision. I’m so happy I stepped outside my comfort zone and went for it! 

How much weight did you lose with Stronger U?

36 pounds and counting! 

How did your waist measurements change with Stronger U? 

I’ve lost 10 inches so far 🙂 

What were 3 major non-scale victories you experienced with Stronger U?

  1. I love myself. I still have imperfections and things about my body that I want to change, but I can look in the mirror and love what I see. From someone who felt miserable about herself when she started this program, this is everything 
  2. I went from a size 16 to a size 8, and an XL to M (sometimes small!)
  3. I have the confidence to wear and try new things that I did not have 10 months ago

Outside of the scale, inches, and previously mentioned NSV’s, how has your life improved thanks to your time with Stronger U?

I have way more energy now and don’t feel the afternoon slump! 

What are 3 tips, based on your experience, that you’d give to new members of Stronger U to help them see success early on?

  1. Go all in. That doesn’t mean be perfect all the time, but be 100% committed to growing and improving. 2. Keep things simple: 3-3-3 (read your manual), rotating meals, eating the same thing for breakfast/lunch/dinner, etc. The fewer variables, the easier it is to track and the less time you will spend planning.
  2. Reach out to your coach. Going out to eat? Going out of town? Feeling stressed/sad and want to grab a cookie? Want to celebrate a win? Reach out to your coach. They are there for you and want to help you. Utilize their expertise and allow them into your life so that they can help you in the moment. Sometimes just the act of texting my coach, even knowing I wouldn’t hear back from her right away (we have a 2 hour time difference between us), was enough to keep me from reaching for that unplanned treat.
  3. Take the pictures. It may be hard at first (I certainly didn’t want to take mine and it’s still hard to share my 1st-week picture), but you will be so glad you did in the long run. 

If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what advice would you give them before beginning their journey?

Signing up for Stronger U is kind of like having a baby – if you’re waiting for the “right” moment, you’ll never feel ready. Sometimes you just have to do it. There’s always going to be some big life event – whether it’s a birthday or a trip, etc. You’ll probably never find 12 weeks where you have absolutely nothing. So don’t wait for life to slow down to sign up. Just do it. Make the commitment to bettering your health. And by working the program through big life changes or exciting events, you’ll be better off in the long run because you will truly be able to learn the tools needed to make this program work for life. And don’t worry about perfection. Not one single person on this program has been perfect, including me. You don’t need to be perfect to see results. Be consistent and open to change and you will see results.

(This past November we had a great moment with Elizabeth, getting to hang out with her at Disney World!)

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