family at dinner table with woman laughing

This week our Stronger U Member Spotlight is featuring Holly McGonigal, who worked with Coach Syndi Acampora to lose over 50lbs! Congrats, Holly!

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

Holly McGonigal

Who was your Coach? 

Syndi Acampora

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

You Rock!  Thank you for always being so encouraging. You always felt like one of my biggest fans!  I love that you taught me to reflect on my weeks and think of how I could make small improvements, to help my future success.  I couldn’t have done this without you!

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

I live in Mansfield Texas and am happily married with 3 amazing boys: 1, 7 and 13!  I love spending time with my family – you can usually find us at a baseball field or the pool (hello TX summer!)  Between working full time and getting the kiddos to their activities, I don’t have much free time, BUT I would love to start riding again. I really miss having a horse and being around them.

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

I was pregnant when I first learned of SU, but after I lost my pregnancy weight and then gained it all back, THAT is when I decided enough was enough and I needed to do this. I needed to be healthier, happier and more confident for our boys.  I needed support and accountability, and I thought SU would provide exactly that.

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

Keziah Farrar and Ashley Russell!  I first learned of SU when Keziah shared her progress on Facebook.  These ladies always checked in on me and cheered me on!

What dieting experience did you have previous to Stronger U? 

Well, if we’re going to go way back… I’ve done some calorie counting, “clean” eating, Low carb, the HCG diet, and a weight loss clinic.  Oh, cabbage soup for a week? Ya, I did that too. Safe to say that I’ve tried all kinds of different approaches and never found one that quite worked for me.

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?

I’ve had some experience in the past with counting calories/macros and prepping meals.  However, the few years leading up to SU, I was eating out a lot, snacking mindlessly, having a few drinks a week and just overeating in general. I didn’t think that I was eating poorly or anything, but I wasn’t near as mindful of the things I ate and how I acted around food like I’ve been since starting with SU.

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

Stronger U is something that works in “real life.”  Nothing is off-limits, so I never felt deprived. Whether I was going to a restaurant, baseball tournament or out of town – I could use what I had learned to plan for those situations.

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

In the beginning, I think the biggest challenge was putting a stop to the BLTs (bites, licks, tastes) and mindless snacking at night.

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

Carbs in general. I think people have been most shocked over the amount of carbs I can still eat while losing weight.

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 usually cook lean ground beef and chicken for the week.  By having my protein ready to go, I can easily throw together different meals for my family and myself…a simple carb/protein/veggie meal or tacos, salads, pizza, spaghetti, etc.  We went 7 weeks with only a microwave; during a kitchen remodel. I got hooked on Costco’s Chicken Tikka Masala with steamed broccoli and jasmine rice. I also love making pizzas with Joseph’s pita or lavash.  I always make sure to keep easy to grab on the go items like Greek yogurt, jerky, string cheese and tuna for when schedules get crazy.

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?

Yes! I am actually joining the gym again, today!  I’m ready to start putting on some muscle!

How much weight did you lose with Stronger U?

I lost 55 pounds

How did your waist measurements change with Stronger U? 

I lost 9″ in my waist

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

  • Fitting into my old clothes – and needing to buy new ones!
  • Going on vacations and maintaining while enjoying myself
  • I have more energy and feel better overall

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

I feel much more confident.  I’m not avoiding certain situations that I used to, because of how I look or feel.  I have more energy and have been able to be more active with our 3 very active boys- they are my biggest fans!

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?

Trust your coach, be consistent and keep your foods simple while you’re learning.  Don’t trust all of the MFP entries – check them against the label or the USDA database.

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

First off, don’t wait!  This has been the best decision.  Be open to making changes to your current eating habits/lifestyle.  You will learn that you can still eat the things you love, you might just have to tweak them a bit.  Communicate well with your coach. Ditch your excuses!


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