We caught up with our friend Paula Hjelle, single mother of two who’s seven months into a journey to lose 100 pounds. So far, she’s lost 50 pounds! Here are some updates and insights from the last seven months:
1. Paula, how have things changed for you physically since dropping 50 pounds?
I recently climbed 20 flights of stairs on the Stairmaster. I could hardly climb ten stairs before I started! I’m also doing sit-ups and push-ups, and will be competing in a mini triathlon at the YMCA in February. A triathlon was never on my radar six months ago! Overall, I have much more endurance and stamina. Getting my heart rate up takes work and I can feel myself getting stronger. I have muscle now, and my doctor said I have the blood pressure of an athlete!
2. What difficulties have you faced since we last talked?
I quit journaling because I thought I had a handle on things, but I need to go back because it keeps me accountable for everything I put in my mouth. Without journaling, it’s so easy to sneak things; it’s called “calorie creep”, and before you know it you’ve eaten a lot of extra calories.
About 10 pounds ago, I got really discouraged and went through a period where my diet and the exercise fell to the wayside. That was hard. People were trying to point out how far I’d come, but I felt like I was doing it alone. I was watching The Biggest Loser and Bob, one of the trainers, made a comment to moms that had an impact on me. He said moms are notorious for giving to everybody else and taking what’s left over. He said, “You need to get to a point where you realize you’re important enough for this to happen.” Bob’s advice was life-changing because I realized now I have to lose weight for me and not so much for my daughters. Ultimately, it is for them– but I have to do it for me first or it’s not going to work.
Finding a Support System
It’s hard to stay motivated unless you have a support system. I push myself a lot harder when I’m with other people. I know I would be down another 10 pounds if I consistently had support up until this point. I’m starting to develop some more relationships at the gym. Those friendships are so key because you know you’re all on the same page and have the best interest at heart for each other.
3. What motivates you to keep going?
A Little Bit of Friendly Competition
I find myself competing with people around me at the gym. If I’m in the weight area and there’s these big strong guys, or if someone is moving fast on the treadmill, I find myself trying to keep up. It helps me stay sharp.
Someone recently said I was unrecognizable from where I started. When I hear people say encouraging things and that they are praying for me, that’s huge. I’m also motivated for my girls so I can be the best that I can be for them.
Enjoying Exercise and “Killer” Workouts
My personal trainer has been a highlight these past few months. I like learning new exercises and training techniques and look forward to Tuesdays because I know she’s going to “kill” me. Why? Because when I’m finished I know I’ve done it and, no, it didn’t kill me. Some people think they can never exercise because it’s too hard; they think it will “kill” them, but it doesn’t. You may feel like you’re going to die or get sick, but once you’re done you can look back and see what you just did. That’s empowering.
Believing in Yourself
I’m starting to feel better about myself because I know I can do this. When I first started people were really excited when I lost two pounds, but I didn’t think that was much. Now I’m at 50 and I know those two-pounds add up. My trainer has me carry around the weight I’ve lost. I’m exhausted by the time I walk one lap around the track carrying two 25-pound weights. No wonder I was so tired before! My heart was working so hard!
4. Do you have any advice for our readers?
Staying the Course
There will be days when you think to yourself, “this isn’t worth it,” or “I can’t continue because it’s not yielding any results. I’m only losing a pound a week.” The first thing I would say is, you can’t give up. You just need to put one foot in front of the other, lift one weight at a time, climb one stair at a time–just keep pushing yourself because you will find that it turns into results. It takes time. But the more you keep doing it, the more you can gain in endurance and camaraderie with people around you, the healthier you’re going to be. Just keep going. Will you eat the wrong things? Yes. Will you have bad days? Yes. Will you crave things? Yes. But God’s mercies are new every morning. Especially if you’re journaling, you can make daily goals because every day is a new day regardless of how yesterday went.
Setting Reachable Goals
Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll see 100 pounds. It’s been seven months, and I’m down 50 pounds. That’s okay. I’m a whole lot lighter than I was, a whole lot healthier. I’ll get there eventually I hope. I’m also learning don’t set your expectations so high you know you’re not going to make it. When I look at my 50 pound weight loss and the 50 I have left to go, it’s overwhelming. But I can do two. I can do five. Ten. Then pretty soon, I’m 50 pounds down.
Paula’s soles may be bringing her closer to her goal one step at a time, but it’s clear that journey is touching many souls in the process. We hope you are as inspired as we are.