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This week the Stronger U Member Spotlight is shining down on Kelsey O’Dea Thielen, who was coached by Coach Bonnie Klauber.

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

Kelsey O’Dea Thielen

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’m 31, born and raised in Tulsa, OK but currently living in Fort Worth, TX. I am married and have two kids, a 3-year-old daughter, and a 1-year-old son. I’m a stay at home mom, so most of my days are filled with chasing after them, they’re wild but great. When I have a spare moment, I really enjoy reading, traveling, and hosting dinner parties with friends and family. I’m also pretty competitive and love a good card or board game.

What led you to join Stronger U?

My mom started the year before and was doing an amazing job. She had mentioned the program, but it had been a busy year for me full of having a baby and moving out of state. My husband had a new position and was working long hours, and I really was just trying to keep sane at home in a new place with the kids. I definitely wasn’t paying attention to myself or my well being. When I saw my mom over Christmas, I realized I was incredibly proud and a little jealous of how awesome she looked and felt. I also realized I deserved to feel that way too. I decided I wanted one thing that was just for me, that I could do for myself amidst all the other craziness. I decided to try a round as an early birthday present to myself, and see what happened—best gift ever!

What dieting experience have you had previous to Stronger U? Was there a reason you were or were not successful? Why did you stop?

I have tried many diets, which I stuck to for approximately a month before craving whatever I had cut out, getting frustrated and saying good riddance. I enjoy food, enjoy cooking, and couldn’t/didn’t want to sustain cutting entire food groups. I felt very limited and it became unsustainable after a while.

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?

Stronger U is so much more than a diet. It’s not a “quick fix”, it takes some time but is far more sustainable in the long run. It’s been an entire lifestyle change for me, and I honestly haven’t felt like I’ve been dieting. It truly made me aware of what I was eating and why. I loved that nothing was off limits, I just had to fit it into my day, and quickly learned what was worth spending my macros on and what wasn’t. I found a much better balance between things I loved that were a bit of an indulgence, and also realized it’s ok for food to simply be fuel for our body. And having a coach to touch base with weekly, and whenever a question popped up was reassuring as well as kept me accountable. I’m pretty Type-A so knowing I was logging and reporting things to someone motivated me to be on point most days.

Can you give some insight on your eating habits BEFORE joining Stronger U?

I honestly didn’t think I was eating that poorly. I had treats but I wasn’t digging into ice cream and cookies every day. But I was oblivious to labels and portions. I am also home all day with kids and mindless snacking was kind of my thing. I would snack because it was there, or finish my toddler’s food because I didn’t want to throw it away. And I could find almost any excuse for a nightly glass of wine or one or two small pieces of candy (snack size made it ok, right?!)

Now that you’ve joined Stronger U, how have your eating habits changed?

For the first time, I truly became aware of what I was eating and why. I started looking at labels—my salad dressings and ketchup were unknowingly killing my “numbers”. I saw that portions actually do matter—even on things like fruit and avocado and other things I had grouped into the “healthy = unlimited” category. Blueberries are great, but you don’t need the whole carton. Avocado and nuts are awesome, but not with reckless abandon.

If you exercise or train for a sport, what does a typical week look like? Did Stronger U have any impact in your decision to start exercising or training for a sport?

I tried to make a conscious effort to be active, somehow, every day. This consisted mainly of neighborhood walks pushing a big stroller, I would do anything from 1-3 miles. I would try and do that at least 3-4 days a week. Now that I feel better than I ever have my husband and I are tossing around the idea of some fun 5ks, and I’ve dabbled a little with yoga and some home workouts for toning.

How much weight did you lose with Stronger U?

32 lbs

How did your waist measurements change with Stronger U?

6.5 inches, I also saw inches drop off from my hips, legs, and bust.

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

I used to live in leggings year round, and this summer I comfortably wore shorts and tanks daily. That was huge for me. Running around with my kiddos became much easier as well. And my wedding rings became so loose I had to buy sizing bands to keep them on!

Has your change in body weight or composition improved other areas of your life? If so, explain what areas and how.

It’s hard to think of where it hasn’t improved things. I did this for me, but it has also made me a better mother, wife, and friend in many ways. I’m more energetic and am up for more activities with my kids. My husband has always been athletic and it’s been fun to get our entire family outside and moving more now. I feel like I’m just running at a stronger level physically and mentally, for myself and those around me.

Are there any tips or advice you’d give to new members of Stronger U to help them succeed early on?

Track and plan. Plan and track. Be honest with both as best you can. And weigh as much as you can, don’t assume a measuring cup or label is accurate. I wasn’t perfect, but I tried to always have my next day planned before I went to bed and almost always stuck to that plan. If I knew I would be most likely in a car running errands or on a play date, I planned my snack to be something that traveled well. I kept rice cakes and small protein shakes in my purse whenever I left the house in case something changed last minute. If I knew we were going out to dinner and I may not be able to log things exactly, I ate a little lighter on my carbs and fat for breakfast and lunch. A little planning and awareness can go quite a long way. And it does get easier, things that seem cumbersome the first month become second nature before too long, so stick with it!

If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what would you tell them?

Just do it. It’s an investment in yourself, and you’re worth it. I’m all for complementary health/fitness plans but I truly now believe it has to start with our nutrition. Stronger U helped simplify what I thought was more complicated. It gave me the tools and knowledge to execute a plan on my own terms, a coach that was incredibly supportive and a great guide whenever I had questions or frustrations, and a community that was consistently positive and helpful the entire time. I think it’s a killer combination, and yours for the taking if you’re willing to put in the time and work.

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