family at dinner table with woman laughing

This week the Stronger U Member Spotlight is highlighting Kelly Steffen. Congrats, Kelly!


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

Kelly Steffen

Who was your Coach? 

Maggie Watson

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

Maggie, thank you so much for all of your help and encouragement in this process.  Your patience and positivity allowed me to succeed.

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 Sioux Falls, SD and am a native South Dakotan.  I am married with four awesome kids. My husband, Patrick, is a marathon runner and keeps our household in order.  My children are Cohen (10), Finnian (8), Alodie (7) and Merritt (22 months). I am a busy cardiologist and I love to read (but rarely take time to do it) and traveling.

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

My baby was coming up on one year old and I was so sick of being overweight and uncomfortable in my skin. I made a New Years resolution to do something to lose weight.  My original goal was to get to a normal BMI. As a cardiologist, I counsel people every day on risk factors for heart disease with obesity being one of the biggest ones.  I felt like such a hypocrite telling people that they needed to lose weight while I was sitting across from them with an obese BMI.

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

Everyone within the community has been so encouraging.  It is almost like a family.

What dieting experience did you have previous to Stronger U? 

I had done Weight Watchers in the past with marginal success.  I had lost about 25 pounds a few years ago by calorie restriction and exercise.  After having my last baby, I needed something to help jump start my weight loss and had no idea how much it would impact 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?

When I was “behaving” I ate really pretty well, but still ate too much. But, I often made excuses that I was too busy and would eat whatever was in the physician’s lounge, which was usually not healthy.  Portion sizes were my biggest downfall though.

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

I think the best part of Stronger U is the accountability and encouragement of a coach.  In the past when I was dieting, I would start very eager and would lose weight. Those first 10 pounds would just fall off.  But then I would hit a stall and restrict more and get more frustrated that I wasn’t seeing results. With this program, if I hit a stall or had some frustration, I had a coach who was in my ear.  She was encouraging me to follow the plan and trust the process. She required me to open my eyes and dig down deep to see why I wasn’t succeeding.   

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

I was baffled by how much protein I was expected to eat.  I had never eaten that much protein in my life. I was also amazed by the number of carbs in fruit. In the past, when I did Weight Watchers, the fruit was “free”.  I would eat fruit with every meal. My daily snacks were grapes or apples. I ate 2 cups of berries and half a cup of pineapple with lunch every day. I had to completely change my mindset. 

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

When I first discussed this program with Maggie, I told her that there was one non-negotiable–coffee creamer.  The Coffeemate kind with all the chemicals and sugar…it makes me happy:)

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 eat the same thing for breakfast every day–1 egg with 3 egg whites, fat-free cheese, mushrooms, onions, and green pepper.  For lunch, I currently have three soups that I have put into freezer bags with similar macros. I take one out of the freezer each morning for lunch and then I eat whatever my husband is making our family for dinner.  Thankfully, he is mindful of his eating and he makes relatively healthy dishes. I then use single macro foods to fill in the blanks. Deli turkey or shrimp for protein, an apple for carbs or half an avocado for fats. I also try to plan a Built Bar into every day as a treat. I meal prep every couple of weeks for lunches. 

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 exercise out of necessity, not because I really like it:) I did run a half marathon a few years ago, just to prove that I could do it.  I have cut more than 2 mins/mile off of my average pace!! I never dreamed I could average a 9-9:30 pace. I now am trying to do a little more strength training to help with all the flab.  I have a peloton tread and bike and they give me a much better chance of getting a workout in since they are right in my house. No excuses!

How much weight did you lose with Stronger U?

about 70 pounds

How did your waist measurements change with Stronger U? 

down 13 inches!

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

going from a size 16 to a size 6/8, shopping in stores and knowing they will have my size and all of the compliments I have received from patients and friends 

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

I feel better about myself, have more energy and am setting an example for my kids and my patients.  I have had many patients tell me how inspiring my story is.

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. Plan, plan, plan!
  2. Listen to your coach and rely on their expertise.
  3. Don’t make excuses and look deep into yourself to learn what you need to change to succeed.

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

Have an open mind and be willing to change your mindset.  Also, it is okay to be hungry–you are not going to die!

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