What a Difference 110 Pounds Makes

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

All of my life I’ve been a social creature. I could adapt to almost any environment that I was placed in. I joined the US Navy at age 27, and went to language school in Monterey, California, nearly a decade older than most of my peers. But, I adapted, developed an amazing group of friends, and learned a foreign language.

I was stationed in Seoul, South Korea, and even there I was able to find a niche and thrive. Granted, I was with the military (where there is always a sense of community) but it was not within that community that I found my footing. It was with a group of ex-pats who all played soccer. We were a family, albeit dysfunctional, and we always had each other’s backs.

About six months after moving to Seoul, I broke my ankle, and put on some weight. One of my teammates and I decided to do Body for Life together. During this 12 week program, I lost over 40 pounds and was in the best shape of my life. I learned then, that my body was capable of doing great things.

Felicia goalie

I have never been the “skinny” girl – but I was definitely fit! This was 2003.

As with any “diet,” it did not last. A broken heart, a move back to the states, and an uncertain future all contributed to my gaining weight. I was able to stay within standards of the military, but after a few deployments to Afghanistan, and the decision to move on from the military, I really started to gain weight.

In 2008, honorably discharged from a nearly 10-year stint in the Navy, I decided I needed another change in environment, and found myself in Huntsville, Alabama. I had no friends, no family, nothing here, but it just seemed to be a good place for me to go. The cost of living was low, and I had a great opportunity with my company. It took about six months for me to realize that my ability to socially integrate anywhere was not working here. And I sunk into a depression.

There were so many factors at play. I had just moved. I had just ended a 10-year fast paced work life (where you are essentially issued friends and a network). My future was uncertain, and then I suffered a compound fracture of my wrist. When I started taking anti-depressants, I really started to put on the weight. When I first started seeing my therapist in 2009, I weighed around 280 pounds, and at the end of 2012, I weighed 314 pounds.

I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to stop taking the meds, and he didn’t disagree with this, but I am pretty certain he was a little worried. I don’t think that the medications were hurting, but I also don’t think they were helping. I was numb, I felt nothing, and my desire for change and a healthy life were not forthcoming.

So, I decided to sell my house, as I realized that living alone at that time was not a prudent choice for me. I rented a small in-law apartment from a co-worker, and decided to look into bariatric surgery. My insurance fully covered it if I met certain requirements, one of which was a recorded BMI over 40 for at least one-year. Check! I had to meet with a nutritionist once a month for six consecutive months. Check! I had to consult with a general physician and attempt weight loss. Check! Then a date would be set, and I opted for the sleeve, which is removing 80% of your stomach.

I had to spend a month on the road for work, and when I got back to Alabama, the first thing I did was call the nutritionist and start the process. In April 2013 I received an email from a friend with details about The Biggest Loser Casting Call. I decided why not…

I had started to make tiny changes in my diet. Nothing drastic, but adding a protein shake once a week instead of a trip to McDonald’s. And I started to make tiny changes to my habits, again nothing drastic, but I parked at the absolute furthest spot from my office building forcing me to walk an additional 40 yards to and from my car.

Biggest Loser AuditionThis was one of the outfits I considered for the auditions – it was summarily vetoed on account of the tie-dye and polka dot combination. I realize now, looking back – I intentionally would dress like this to draw attention away from the weight. People would notice the outrageous clothing combinations, and comment before they could say anything about my size. Of course, now, I have zero clothes that fit, and no sense of style or how to wear clothes for my new body – I am trying a different avenues to remedy this, but ultimately need a total makeover!

I got to the auditions after careful consideration of my outfit, and sat down, and was asked, “Why Biggest Loser?” I honestly had not thought about it until that very moment. Sure, I want to be on TV, sure I wanted the benefit of the trainers, nutritionists, medical staff, sure, I want to do nothing but focus on my weight loss for however long I lasted on the show… but really, “Why?” I stated the following: I am motivated, I am ready for this. I miss the freedoms of not carrying over 300 pounds. I miss being able to play soccer without fear of getting hurt. I want the accountability. I want America to watch me and say, “You will not fail today!” I want 25 million people to stand behind me and tell me that I can do this, because I am not sure if I can.

I walked out, and my friend asked me how I did. I said, “I don’t think I was traumatic enough…” and sure enough, I didn’t get a call back.

In all honesty, I was not that confident that I was motivated and ready. It just seemed like the right thing to say. I was scared. I was nearing another birthday and I didn’t want it to be another birthday with a dim outlook for my future. I was fortunate in that I was a “healthy fat person.” I didn’t have blood pressure issues that warranted weight loss and I didn’t suffer diabetes or any other obesity related ailments. I was just overweight—overweight and more self-conscious than ever. Overweight and alone. Overweight and lived for eating fast food, sugar and grains; my favorite was the McGriddle, which combined all three.

I went home and started to put together a video for submission, but my dog was acting pretty needy, and work was busy, and there were just a lot of excuses. So, I didn’t make the video. But I thought a lot about my response. After my initial post about going to the auditions, two friends from high school approached me about Isagenix. I was willing to try anything. There was a lot of outward concern also about my desire to have surgery.

Felicia before

Every picture I took I would make faces – again – to mock the size – to beat people to the punch – there was never “Gee Felicia, you have really let yourself go” because it was always “Gee Felicia do you ever just take a normal picture?”

When I was in the military, there was a family that adopted me on holidays. We clicked so well, that it continued on through the years, and I genuinely love them. There were two sides of the argument there. Husband: If she was dying of heart disease and open heart surgery could help, would you argue against it? Wife: I just think that she could lose weight without invasive surgery. Both are right. But, just “losing weight” is a daunting task. And for someone who is independent, with nothing but a dog by her side, there was no one that I thought would be able to hold me to my goals. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. So I went back to thinking about my response to The Biggest Loser.

Accountability… So, I may not have America, but I have 500 people on Facebook that in some way, shape, or form over the course of my life have had an influence, and they can still…

So, I reached out on FB – I decided that I would be shameless, fearless, and put it all out there. It is not like I could “hide” the fact that I weighed over 300 pounds. Right? It is not like I didn’t know I was ‘fat,’ even though most people in my life were all very kind, there was no denying that I could stand to lose a few pounds.

I posted this:

“Friends…I have decided that my dream of Biggest Loser is officially over – However, the goal was not to be on the show, but it was to be able to be in a situation with a personal trainer, no distractions and only gym for 10 hours a day, a nutritionist to help make meals, and the support and accountability to all of America. So, since that dream is dead…here is my new plan – I am still planning on going through the motions toward surgery – I am still watching what I eat and starting to exercise little by little – Amy and Kymberly are talking to me about Isagenix (still waiting to see how the shakes are), and I am going to start a blog. I will be calling it “From Fat to Fab!” And my goal is by my 43rd birthday (July 1, 2014) I will weigh at least 100 pounds less than I do today – to be healthy and be working toward running in a marathon – stay tuned for details of the blog! And please help me – if you see me doing something I shouldn’t or need a little motivation – just a subtle nudge here and there.”

I started the blog the same day (fleepyear.com).

What happened next was nothing short of amazing…

The outpouring of support and help that I received flooded me with emotion and drive. My former teammate that I did Body for Life with posted:

“I’ve seen u do it before. So you know it’s not impossible. Let me know if I can help. I’m happy to be support on your accountability team.”

And so many more comments that pushed me in the right direction.

Two weeks after I posted my Facebook status, I posted that I was going to start shopping for a gym. A girl I played soccer with over a decade ago sent me a private message encouraging me to try CrossFit.

I googled it.

I laughed.

I wrote back, “Thanks, but not so much.”

She pressed.

I considered the fact that I had been willing to dump over $500 into Isagenix without blinking an eye, and that I might as well go and talk to these people.

I was desperate. Someone could have approached me and said, “Listen, if you chant every morning while wearing polka dots and flowers, you will lose weight.” I would have done just that.

I walked into the CrossFit box and felt terrified. But, after a few minutes, I felt that this was just what I needed, and the attitude of the head coach was unbelievable. He was positive without setting me up for failure. He was realistic and explained what I needed to do to be successful. And that was listen to the coaches, listen to my body, and not be in a hurry…

So, I signed up for CrossFit.

Before I go into the next chapter, I need to make mention of a few milestones that occurred along the way. There were these small little occurrences of friendship through my time in Alabama that for whatever reason, mostly because of my own insecurities, I never put much stock into them. I assumed that these people were being friendly for the sake of professionalism and kindness, but not that I had anything to really offer them. One of these friendships is a man named Wes. Wes was that guy in the office that is Chris Traeger (ref: Parks and Rec). We worked on a project together, and once day he came in to my office looking for me and found nothing but a half eaten Egg McMuffin. He snapped a picture and that was the image that showed up whenever I texted or called. When I say he was Chris Traeger, I mean he would come into my office and mid conversation would just start doing squats. Most of the time I felt an overwhelming urge to punch him, but he came from a place of good. I was in charge of diversity and inclusion in my office, and he approached me wanting to get more involved. I teamed him up with another of these “friends” to do a Biggest Loser sort of challenge within the office.

The competitive side of me forced me to talk to Wes about my diet. He mentioned paleo then, and I giggled, and it was another “friend” that suggested that Atkins would be more my style, since I had zero desire to do any sort of activity beyond switching the channels on the TV. All was going well, until I ended up spending a month in Colorado Springs living out of a hotel. I had lost about 20 pounds, but it quickly came back when I would eat anything and everything I could and sit at my desk for 15 hours straight.

Then I met Jon, who was crazy, and did this thing called CrossFit and ate “Paleo.” He was not very strict, but tried to stick to the principles of it. I worked with Jon on another project immediately following the one in Colorado, where I learned a little more about his lifestyle. I still thought he was crazy.

So, here I was, about a month into my “journey” (I really hate that word), with no real direction, failed at Isagenix, and was just starting at CrossFit. I was not really following any sort of diet or meal plan. I was watching what I was eating, but still eating grains, sugar, legumes, and dairy.

The girl that told me to start CF is a coach at a box in Lexington, KY, and quite accomplished I might add. When I played soccer with her, she was a doe-eyed, sweet 17 year old, hanging toe to toe with a group of dirty old has-beens, never was, and social alcoholics. We were not a soccer club; we were a drinking club with a soccer problem.

Kelli had gone on, went to college, gotten her masters in nutrition, and was now coaching full time at CrossFit. Another friend of mine from my military days had just started coaching, and her and her husband had just opened a box.

I started a conversation with the two of them on Facebook, and on a daily basis went to my “secret” coaches for tips, tricks, and advice.

At first it was all about CrossFit.

Then, I had heard enough about paleo that I decided to start to research it. This was a week prior to my 42nd birthday. I had mentioned it in passing to a couple of people, and on my birthday, was given three paleo cookbooks.

After receiving the paleo cookbook gifts, I did more digging. I was led to Mark’s Daily Apple, Paleohacks, and Nom Nom Paleo – and I was off and running. On a daily basis I was consulting these websites and my secret coaches and now nutritionist on Facebook.

I was focused, determined, and positively neurotic.

And it happened… magic… over the course of the year, I literally shed over 100 pounds, gained strength, and so much more.

Felicia before/after

I could tell you all about my blood pressure and cholesterol and scale and inches, but the two most important things I gained were my confidence and friendships. I don’t hide in pictures anymore. I don’t only post pictures of my dog on FB, although I do shamelessly post pictures of my food.

I once loved to cook for people and for myself. But over the course of the weight gain period, this became too labor intensive and too depressing. Now, with my new lifestyle, I have no problem spending eight hours in the kitchen laboring over Mexican beef or Kahlua pork. I love discovering new recipes and tweaking them to my palette.

And what I also love about this is how easy it has become to sustain. I can count on both hands the number of “cheat” meals I have had over the past year. There is no shortage of information, knowledge, and people willing and able to share.

Make no mistake about it; the magic was the result of hard work and putting in time in the kitchen and gym. I tell people now, it is not just calories in and calories out, and it is what kind of calories in and what kind of calories out. Is CrossFit high-risk? Sure, but so is driving, and so is sitting for prolonged periods of time, and so is breathing in some parts of the world. I never stopped listening to my coaches, and the more I did it, the more in touch I got with my body. I knew when a pain was more than just, “Hey, you are sore…” but I also learned through research that there were foods that I could eat post workout that would lessen the soreness and pain.

On days when I would lift heavy, I would add a sweet potato or plantain. On days when it was more cardio intensive, I could add more fruit. I bought a pig from a local farmer, and truly looked at everything that I did as an investment in myself. I was worth it.

Needless to say, the surgery never happened… in July, literally two weeks after the decision was made by the birthday gods for me to be paleo, I was no longer eligible by BMI standards. I had lost too much weight.

For me, after about six months of consciously thinking about everything that I did as, “This is a choice that I have to make,” it became second nature.

Felicia's journey

My views on cheat meals… well, I looked at paleo like a husband. It is not like after you get married you say to your spouse, “Okay, it has been three months, time for a cheat!” You make a commitment, to yourself, your body, and to your will power. I will “cheat” when there is no option, a work function, or I don’t want to be “that person” who is super difficult to invite places. It is not hard to stay on course, but there are times when I have admittedly taken the easy route and just eaten the pizza – guilt free – worry free – and happily. I do make painstaking efforts to always be prepared, but no one is perfect… Right?

Before/after

One year to the date – same shirt, same hoodie, same glasses.

Felicia's primal transformation

I am not stopping, it is not like I hit the year mark and said, “Okay, goal achieved, time to hit the ice cream truck!” Instead, I look back at my year and think, how can I help others achieve this?

So, the running joke with a friend is “body by bacon” – she told me at some point that I could not sustain weight loss and eat bacon every day of my life. I begged to differ. So, there has been some nights where it is well past my bedtime, and I realize, “I have not had my daily Vitamin Bcn,” and will throw a few slices on the stove and enjoy… and then tell my friend, “Do your research… fat doesn’t make you fat!”

Nom Nom Paleo

I stalked this poor woman – asking for help on recipes, and telling her repeatedly that it was her food that inspired me to get back in the kitchen and start taking this nutrition thing seriously! In order to get this, I sent a pregnant mom of a toddler and busy career woman the book and forced her to go to a book signing in her neighborhood. No, that would not be inconvenient… Michelle needs to make a trip to Huntsville!

Whenever I start to doubt myself, wonder where the magic is, think it is not happening fast enough, I look at the pictures of a year ago, and realize that with determination, discipline, bravery, courage, willpower, and above all, friends… you can do anything! My advice to the world… believe that you are worth it; the investment in yourself is not just about the money spent, it is the time put in. The information is there, and it takes trial and error to find the right combination for “magic.” It is okay to stumble, and even fall down; I have been known in some WODs to fall down hundreds of times, (it is called a burpee), but you get back up.

I have had a few friends reach out to me over the year to ask me what my secret is, and for help. And it usually brings a tear to my eye. I never set out to be inspiring. When one of my colleagues at work called me and said, “Thanks to you, I have lost over 50 pounds,” I was overwhelmed. I may have provided the proof that it can work, but I didn’t tell my colleague what to eat and how. I didn’t tell the girl I once coached soccer with, who has grown up and had babies, specifically what to eat—I pointed her in the direction of the same websites that I went to, and offered an ear whenever she needed. I didn’t tell the girl that I did CrossFit with to show up on a consistent basis and eat clean, but I did tell her that she was transforming before my eyes, just as I was to her. There are sources of inspiration all around; it is just a matter of choosing to see them.

In April of 2013, I weighed 314 pounds. I was wearing a size 24 pant, and a 26/28 top. I only shopped at Lane Bryant or online plus sized stores. I was far from confident and happy… Today, I weighed in at 210, and I own three pairs of pants that are size 12 and  one shirt with a collar that fits!

But more amazing, (yeah, I went there) is the fact that I have lost a total of 88.5”. That is 7’ 4.5”. To put this in perspective, Yao Ming is 7’ 6” (Shaquille O’Neal is only 7’ 1″). I have nearly lost Yao Mong, a 2 month old horse, and an ostrich egg. But what I have gained…

Felicia

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123 thoughts on “What a Difference 110 Pounds Makes”

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  1. Congratulations Felicia! You’re determination is inspiring! No more Yao Ming – woooo! I’m going to refer everyone to your vitamin bcn anecdote every time anybody doubts it.

    1. I was recently traveling for work and in the Colorado Springs airport was a t-shirt Body By Bacon – I was with the friend who said I could not eat bacon every day – needless to say I bought a t-shirt in an airport for the first time in my life! Thank you!

      1. I am heading down to the Colorado Springs airport right now!!! Love it!!

  2. Felicia,

    That is just amazing! Well done, lady. My favorite part: that the two best things you’ve gained are confidence and friendships.

    Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story!

  3. Thanks for sharing that amazing story! You look great and you absolutely are inspiring 🙂

  4. GOOSEBUMPS, that’s what I’ve got. You have an amazing story! Wow! I love it 🙂 Thanks for helping my Friday start great!!!

    1. Agree! Your story nearly brings tears to my eyes. Congratulations. You are truly an inspiration.

  5. Great success story! Congrats Felicia!

    I think my favorite part is the husband reference in terms of cheating, it really is amazing the things we’ll do to ourselves but not to others. I like the way you put it into perspective!

  6. Wow! Felicia great story. Good job on seeing it through. I love hearing how it’s so much more than the numbers on a scale!

  7. Super story Felicia – excellent job. Congrats from across the Atlantic (Ireland).
    This is an inspiring story and one that resonates with all of us. You need to get this personal story out there. I think it could help many many people.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  8. Wow , I loved your comparison of marriage and cheat meals. I’ve been spending way too much time in the land of 20%. I’ve got lots of excuses, really lame ones, but you snapped me right back into reality, I’ve been cheating on myself! That’s it I deserve better I leaving …. Leaving the land of 20%

    Thank you Felicia!

  9. I have tears TEARS on my checks right now and goosebumps all over my arms. You are a ROCKSTAR! I’m in awe and while I’ve made the same pledge (to hit a weight goal by my 43rd birthday) I won’t make it to my goal. I can’t seem to stay on track. When stress gets too high, I turn right back to the sugar.

    You are truly motivating. So proud of what you’ve accomplished!!!

    1. You can do it – I found comfort in the littlest things for stress and comfort food – apples dipped in honey – not ideal, but so much better than a cupcake – berry smoothies with coconut milk, chia seeds – I was fearless – Even if you don’t make the goal – you are working toward it – I was allowed a lot of freedoms with work and flexibility in my life. Stay with it! It is worth it!

  10. You look beautiful, Felicia! I loved hearing about your process and how your success didn’t come all at once-very realistic.

  11. Felicia, your story is truly inspiring to me! Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. This sentence/viewpoint —- I looked at everything that I did as an investment in myself. I was worth it.

    Is LIFE CHANGING! Thank you Felicia! You’re awesome – Grok on!!!

  13. I read these every week. Today, I *cried.* I never comment, barely even read the comments, but…today. This woman is different.

    Felicia, you are amazing.

    1. thank you – if it makes you feel better – this has all brought tears to my eyes all morning – good happy emotional tears!

  14. absolutely amazing! thank you for sharing. and i know the nom nom kahlua recipe you are talking about…yummmm

  15. Felicia, you’re not only inspiring but seriously FUN– & you have quite a way with words & imagery too. I can certainly see why others are drawn to you & your story, & why they want to follow you.

    Huge congratulations & here’s to your continued success!

  16. Your whole story is inspiring, but your analogy of not cheating on a spouse was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I was on the straight and narrow for 8 months and felt better than ever, and while I live an 80/20 life at the moment, I am painfully aware that my 20% is actually an cop-out and I need to stay faithful. Thanks for sharing.

    You look amazing, and I hope you write back in another year so we can see how far you continue to go!

  17. Felicia – that’s a great journey you shared with us. It shows there can be a lot of ups and downs, false hopes and starts, but when finally meets Mark’s site, all the pieces seem to fall into place. Make no mistake, like you said, it still takes a lot of hard work and diligence, but if the choice is important enough, it’s sustainable. Thanks again for the inspiration and serving our country!

  18. Well done Felicia, you tell a great story and you are a great story. Some of those lines are going to be on post-it’s around me – the cheating, investment, vitamin bc – brilliant and inspirational!

  19. What a fantastic, inspiring story Felicia! Thank you so much for sharing.

  20. I LOVE your story! And thank you for posting all the pictures. You look so beautiful and healthy!

  21. So proud of you Felicia. I knew that you’ve always had it in you to accomplish anything you wanted. Proud to see how far you’ve come, and how happy you are. Stay strong, and stay the course.You’ll be back tending the goal sooner than you think;-) The Duck Man is smiling:-)

    1. <3 you!!!! thanks to you and Ed I can safely say I blocked a flying worm! Not many people get to put that on their resumes! Miss you tons!

  22. I’ve never commented on here before, but your story has compelled me. You had me cracking up (love Chris Traeger!), gave me goosebumps, and made me cry (in a good way :). The people in your life are lucky to have you- you are inspirational and beautiful. I hope you are filled with pride for all you’ve accomplished and the motivation you are undoubtedly providing to countless others.

    1. There is a Chris Traeger in every office in America. My Chris Traeger, which I failed to mention, ended up doing CrossFit with me. He checks on me, and keeps me motivated… And i have come to learn and appreciate that his friendship is genuine- I have a War Bar in my office now, and my former office mate also started CrossFit, and the three of us may, on occasion done OHS or good mornings with the war bar. Maybe I am becoming Chris Traeger? I think I am more Leslie Knope though… She is a personal hero of mine!

  23. You are a beautiful person Felicia! Thank you for speaking to even the hard things, like loneliness and insecurity, and being so brave as to share your story in such a deep way… You are truly an inspiration to myself and so many! Keep rock in it lady!!

  24. Oh Felicia….what an “amazing journey.” (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

    Love your sense of humor and I can guess your friends love you lots. I love you lots and I don’t even know you.

    I’m positive your story will inspire many more as it gets passed around. Thanks so much for sharing.

    BTW if you are still interested in being on TV, would you be interested in sharing your story on Joy’s Fit Club on the Today show? She keeps parading out people who have lost weight on low fat diets. I would love to see at least one of our tribe featured although I don’t know if she would be willing to go there. Maybe just send her this story as is.

    1. I would love to tell the world “fat doesn’t make you fat!” And chomp on some bacon while doing it – (nitrate free uncured bacon of course!) I will send her the story! And maybe even add some butter to my coffee!

      Thank you so much – I am very loved by the most amazing group of friends anyone could ever ask for!!! Truly –

  25. This might be one of the greatest things I have read. My journey has been slower going than yours but the things you are saying ring true for me (insulin resistance is not helping me). I too have bacon nearly every day (unless I don’t want to eat it). You are a huge inspiration and just freaking AWESOME. Way to go.

    I was wondering what your strength training is like. I am making it my goal to be able to do a real pull-up without any assistance from the stupid machine (no matter how long it takes) and although my assistance is decreasing it feels like it is going slow. Any tips for us weaklings? 🙂 Again. Thanks so much for sharing this. You are such a rock star.

    1. I follow the programming at CrossFit Huntsville. Our head coach is incredible (will be going to the games) – for a while I was doing additional oly lifting classes on weekends – I am without a pull-up – I can do them one at a time, kipping with ONE band. I am close, but I think it is more technique and fear that is holding me back. If you have not looked in to CrossFit in your area, you may want to, most boxes set up their programming for certain strength escalation. Some will also offer special classes on the more core moves – There have been a few pull-up workshops at my box, but I have yet to go to any – in the beginning I didn’t want to take the spot of a person who was closer than I was, and the last one I was in Colorado.

  26. Felicia, Keep going girl and show others what “CAN” be done! Thanks for sharing. Tom

  27. Felicia, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story–beautifully told, with sincerity and wit. You’ve given me renewed inspiration to cut out the sweet snacks (my sneaky weakness) and you have me interested in checking out Crossfit!

  28. Yours is my favorite Friday story in years. Love your writing AND your spirit.

    1. +1 and I love your same shirt, same hoodie, same glasses… no funny face in the after pic too 😀 CONGRATS.

  29. Smart and funny story. You’re a great writer and I can see why you have loads of friends.

    You look incredible.

    One of my friends did just go through with the gastric bypass surgery. You want to say there is another way but she has been vegetarian/vegan for years and refused to “compromise her principles”. So surgery it was.

    I like your way better!

    1. I think surgery is a very viable option for some people. I think that there are great risks and a lot of untold stories that need to be told. Removing part of your stomach or bypassing it or lapband, does not change he symptoms that made a person gain weight in the first place. Thee are circumstances where genetics and hormones play a factor, but if a person has the surgery and is not willing to change their relationship with food, I fear for the results. When I was headed toward surgery, I remember thinking to myself, that a lot of my habits are going to have to change, so why not start changing them now. When I played soccer, I would practice before a game, so why not practice eating right. I want to walk around life carrying a sign “results not typical” – when I say I was neurotic, I was horrible. It took a year for me to really get comfortable with the idea of NOT disrupting an entire event just for my dietary needs. Most of the people in my social circle now are paleo to a degree, so that has also helped. I wish your friend luck – I tell people who also ask about paleo “it is the exact opposite of a vegetarian, I am determined to eat all of the meat that they are not…” 🙂 this being said, the world needs everyone, vegetarians to not eat the meat, and primals to eat the whole carcass! Making bone broth now… 🙂

      1. You just reminded me I need to up the bone broth. That stuff is so healing for the gut! And my gut needs it.

        I think the thing which surprised me most about the surgery she was describing (she didn’t do the sleeve, she did the regular bypass) was finding out it really is meant to be sort of a jumpstart for the first 12-18 months. And then if you have not changed your habits by then you stand at real risk to regain a good portion or all of the weight. So like you said, why not start making the changes anyway….you are going to have to change no matter what you do.

  30. Gorgeous spirit and story! You are inspiring! Thank you for sharing with the rest of us.Sure would like to have an update in about a year, because you are going places, lady!

  31. So glad you didn’t do biggest loser and found paleo instead! Congratulations, what an amazing accomplishment. Wishing you the best!

  32. That’s beautiful, and you’re beautiful! Congratulations! I absolutely love the reference you make to eating paleo and comparing it to cheating on a husband. I feel like I needed to hear that.

    Any time we have a lot of burpees in a workout at CrossFit, my coach always yells, “A burpee is a metaphor for life! You’re going to fall, but you can always get yourself back up!” Annoying but true 🙂 You’ve certainly proven that you can get yourself back up!

    Thank you for being inspiring and keep at it!

    1. Up until penning this missive, I used to ask all of the time “If CrossFit is functional movements, what function will a burpee serve?” I moved in the middle of all of this and had to ‘clean’ a refrigerator to get it up a 1/2 flight of stairs, so I was thankful for all of the power cleans I had done to that point, but aside from college and falling down drunk, I could not figure out the function of a Burpee. It dawned on me as I wrote this – no, there are countless times when you need to be able to pick yourself up after falling…. thank you!

      1. Don’t let your goalie coach hear that, Flee! He’ll make you do a hundred…

        1. Or we can wait till it is pouring rain, have some unsuspecting kind hearted soul kneel down and force me to fly over him…. chances of a cleat mark from a brightly colored cleat on back of said kind soul – 100%!

  33. You are just wonderful, Felicia, such a great spirit! “Body by bacon” — love that! Last, but not least, thank you for your service to our country!

  34. So glad to have met and to workout with you daily at Crossfit Huntsville. I saw it happen before my eyes. Keep it up friend! We are all so proud of you.

    1. Big Love my friend!!!! you inspire as well!!! encourage!!! And help in so many ways!! the best thing I have gained was confidence and friends… this includes you Joe!

  35. Felicia, thank you so much for taking the time to write your story. It is so inspiring and encouraging to me…and obviously a lot of other folks as well! I have never posted a comment before – I read MDA daily, have done tons of research for the past 2 years. I know I feel tons better when I eat/behave primally, yet at 53 find it so difficult to sustain the effort of tearing down the effects of decades of erroneous CW teachings and poor eating choices. Your words have given me a renewal of hope. Perfection can be my enemy – you know, the “all or nothing” attitude. I tend to strive for “perfection” in turning my life around, and when I eventually fail at perfection, I take a nose dive for a period of time until I get tired of feeling like crap and start again…It’s a ridiculous cycle.
    Your story was just so….REAL, and honest, and not perfect – which by the way, is perfectly awesome! Thank you for your humble transparency. I will focus on one step at a time, one food choice at a time. And I will not give up 🙂

    1. Donna, I completely relate to this. I have lost (and then gained back) 150+ pounds twice in my life…actually, make that two-and-a-haf times because I am on the upward swing currently. Sixteen months ago, I was 100% compliant with paleo eating, yet unwise enough to stop the chronic cardio and follow the Primal Finess plan of slow movements/heavy lifting/occasional sprint/playtime. I weighed in at 147 pounds, but could not stop craving SAD foods (due to 2-3 hiours a day of stupid chronic cardio, I suspect). This morning I got on the scale and weighed in at 255.2 pounds. Yes, I gained 108.2 pounds in sixteen months because I gave in to my cravings and instead of just counting one inevitable cheat as a temporary slip up, Much like you, after the slip up, I decided I was a complete failure and said “forget it” and threw in the towel, starting this ridiculous downward spiral. I have gotten to the point that I feel (and look) so horrible that I am back on MDA trying to find my way again…when I stumbled across Felecia’s awesome story (and your completely relevant post)! You and Felecia are right…everything is a choice….and I have to start making better ones.

  36. I can see how you fit in to any and all social circles! This had me rolling. I especially liked the husband analogy: My views on cheat meals… well, I looked at paleo like a husband. It is not like after you get married you say to your spouse, “Okay, it has been three months, time for a cheat!”

    haha! What a great story, and congrats to you. You rock!

  37. Nice! I noticed you seem to break bones a lot. Me thinks you should have a bone density scan to see where your at. You may be in, or were in, a state of calcium breakdown. That said, you will want to focus on avoiding antinutrients and keep and eye on your acid ratios. Probably best to consult a nutritionist or health professional specializing in the paleo approach

    You’re an inspiration to me, as I am just starting my journey. (hate that word too)

    1. hmmmm…. Never thought about it being a bone density issue as much as a brain density issue – the broken ankle was at soccer without properly warming up, the broken wrist here was a result of trying to get to the office with black ice all over and slipping and falling weighing probably close to 300 pounds, and the others have all been sports related – but I do seem to have an above average number of breaks – I am going to check it out! Thank you!

  38. Felicia, you are amazing. I just loved your story as well as your writing style. You’ve reignited my inspiration. Thanks!

  39. O.K. You made a grown man get tears in his eyes. Beautiful story. Grokette on!

  40. Awesome mentality! I like your cheating analogy. You wouldn’t cheat on a husband once in a while, why would you cheat on your food if it’s important to you? You’ve done a fantastic job!

  41. Congrats Felicia! It’s pretty awesome that you changed your food habits so quickly. Most cannot go from McDonald’s straight into Paleo.

    P.s. Where did you study for the language program?

    1. Defense Language Institute in Monterey, and I did a year in Seoul at Yonsei University. I will say that for convenience purposes and maybe just to ease the transition I would drive through McD’s on the way to work and get “McPaleo” two round-eggs (the kind used in McMuffins) and 2 side orders of bacon. I am pretty certain that McDonald’s still managed to make a whole egg unhealthy – and I stopped after about a month or so, when I was turned on to the secret menu at Panera.

      1. Awesome. You certainly know your stuff. Congratulations on everything!

    2. Defense Language Institute in Monterey, and I did a year in Seoul at Yonsei University. I will say that for convenience purposes and maybe just to ease the transition I would drive through McD’s on the way to work and get “McPaleo” two round-eggs (the kind used in McMuffins) and 2 side orders of bacon. I am pretty certain that McDonald’s still managed to make a whole egg unhealthy – and I stopped after about a month or so, when I was turned on to the secret menu at Panera.

  42. This is a fabulous story. I do admire your jurney and am so releaved that surgery was not the way for you. So good you asked for help and that you were not afraid to ask. I have few dear friends that I hope ask for support one day. I have learned not to preach anymore, but your story reminded me that I need to commit – to myself…fully.
    Thank you and keep following your dreams ????

  43. “There are sources of inspiration all around; it is just a matter of choosing to see them.”

    Amazing

  44. Confession – every comment I read on here gets me a little teary eyed – thank you world… it is a really terrifying (beyond scary) thing to put yourself out there. I have these glimpses of humanity where my faith in mankind is restored and I know that we are mostly good, with sometimes bad choices…. reading people’s praises, support, stories, through mine, reminds me of the good in the world… So thank you fellow cave people!!! for EVERYTHING!!!

  45. Oh wow, Saturday morning here is Australia, and we wake up to the BEST stories and yours is no exception. Thank you so much for baring your soul to us, and sharing such a personal insight into the path you have travelled (see what I did there – not a “journey”)?

    Your writing is funny, engaging and inspiring. I too love your metaphor about cheating on a husband, also love your comment about CrossFit having risk, but so does driving or sitting for hours without moving. I find people frown and look at me and say “but isn’t eating all that fat/bacon bad for you”? I must remember to say this to them next time. Which risk is the greater, being a lazy slob, or a healthy eating mover? I know which one I will take.

    Your story shows me that healthy mind and healthy body go together and you have managed to bring both together in your life. Congratulations, I am sure you wonderful communication skills will inspire many others to follow!

    (We were a drinking club with a soccer problem – bahahahaha – still chuckling at that one!)

    1. thank you… so much – I will forever call this the “insightful path I have travelled!” as opposed to “journey” 🙂

  46. I relish Fridays for the treasures shared on MDA. Wonders never cease to appear and inspiring tales are told.I can hardly wait to see next year’s pictures!!! Loved the humour. Now! I need to find me a BBB t-shirt (Body By Bacon) 3);P

  47. Here I am, getting my butt back on the wagon after a couple months of poor food (and drink) choices and the soccer season looming once again… I go on MDA and BAM, here you are with your amazing and inspiring story. AND you’re a goalkeeper, like me. AND you have the best outlook and sense of humor about how you see yourself, it’s almost like I’m reading something that I would write myself. I rarely post photos of myself on FB, it’s usually my kids or fur-kids, or car, cleats, etc…

    This is the kick in the heiny that I needed. It’s hard to play soccer when you’re carrying 80+ extra pounds and 41 years old. Especially when you have to get up after falling down for that damn round thingy. Sure the extra weight helps when someone tries to charge the goalie, but I’d rather make up for that with sheer strength (started weight training again this week too).

    Thank you for your inspiring story, keep up the great work 🙂 and I really need to go buy more bacon now too… 🙂

    1. Yay!!!!! I love this comment!!! There is something special about the keeper, isn’t there… I mean, even Tim Howard is paleo!

  48. Felicia – so happy for you! Your warmth and authenticity just leap off the page. No wonder you have so many friends!! beautiful story.

  49. You’ve got to be the first one to ever make the husband/cheating analogy. That struck me the most, as it did with most others that read this. I’m a fellow Body for Lifer! I joined their forums a number of years ago to stay accountable to other challengers and THAT’S where I learned about Paleo–ironic, (and I thought they were crazy too, how could one NOT eat bread, weren’t we supposed to be eating wheat and barley and oatmeal 6 times a day? I would impatiently wait every 3 hours just so I had an excuse to eat toast again)

    . Been Primal for 2 years now but I still check in to the BFL forum because even though I no longer do that method, I’ve made strong friendships to fellow 12-week finishers. I just don’t talk about what I’m doing TOO much, luckily haven’t been ‘thrown out’ yet. Now I am picturing the white square BFL logo with red letters: “Bacon—for—LIFE”

  50. WOOOw!!!… Awesome Felicia… Totally Inspiring!!! Bacon on!..

  51. Wow, just wow! You should write a book, and if you do, I’ll be first in the queue to buy it 🙂

      1. wow… a book? seems daunting – but also fun – I guess if I could lose 100 pounds, I could write a book.

  52. Sorry to make a downer post, but your story is very meaningful to me, and I want to commit in public. I’m 58, 280 pounds (for 15+ years), pre-diabetic, mostly sedentary, and your metaphor of not cheating on a paleo husband hit me in the heart!

    For 6-7 years, I was a regular at the Y where I had been doing 2x/week water aerobics (including a mad sprint x 30 sec x 3 times) and lifting some “Body by Science” weights (LOVE Doug McGuff!). The weightlifting — which I had only added in the final year (of the 6-7) — had amazing effects and I loved it! (Startled my husband once on a Sunday by rejoicing: “Tomorrow is WEIGHTLIFTING DAY!! YAY!”) (Amazed both of us!)

    And then, my beloved husband suddenly died from a heat-stroke-related heart attack. (A fer-shure reason I HATE the South! He was only 60. And a thing that really grates: he had decided, just a week or so before he died, to actually go paleo! To quit the sodas and muffins and crap-food… {sigh}). I kept up the water aerobics (more as a social hour for me than a real workout, sprints notwithstanding), but dropped the weightlifting. I was terrified of hurting myself (well, that, and I was completely numb and disoriented in my life). I had been a kept wife who suddenly had to ‘pick up’ the manufacture and assembly and sale of the technical products that were now my income, instead of his. (And all the deskbound administrativia the company requires.) If I got hurt, if I sprained or broke a wrist, I would be unable to make products!

    This year, a new gym opened across the street from the Y and I switched over. (Just $20/mo instead of $58 at the Y!) The new gym’s water aerobics classes are not convenient (my excuse), so I blew them off — but I started up weightlifting and have mostly met my weekly ‘dates.’ Not having that scheduled movement-class means I spend nearly all of my time sitting… and then throw in some hard yardwork for a couple hours a couple times a week. (I’m in the South, and I hate Hate HATE the heat and humidity — so can’t/won’t be outside for long or at mid-day! It literally makes me sick.) I “was going to do” my own water-workout after my weightlifting, but I only did it the first two times I went and not since. Easy excuses, easy to talk myself out of it.

    Two days ago was the third anniversary of his death. Coming towards this anniversary, I decided to commit myself to a (real!) schedule.

    I have been telling myself I will start doing 20 minutes (my daily walking) on the elliptical treadmill I’ve had sitting around for years; and then build up to add my sprinting on it. (Can’t do it outdoors, just can’t. Did actually get ON the treadmill once this week, for a few but not 20 minutes.) I will limit myself to just two hours of computer-with-my-morning-coffee (I have 20 min. left {wink}) and then get my butt out of the seat and go … er … plant my butt in my seat in the workshop and do company work… oh well, it’s not a perfect plan yet. But then my dear friends had me over for dinner on the anniversary night: the (paleo) meal was great — the chocolate cake? Maybe not so much…

    Anyway — your ‘not cheating’ metaphor hit me in the heart, because we had gone through (and mostly recovered from) a time some years ago, where he “fell in love elsewhere,” so that REALLY connected! I know the ungodly pain of someone cheating — and that is what I have done *to my own body* lo, these many years!

    I announce right now that I am going to “marry” my body and my life! I am going to stick to (and refine and expand) my new schedule: both food and movement. No cheating, no letting it slide because I’m sad or overwhelmed or busy. I wouldn’t do it to Michael, so henceforward, I won’t do it to myself!

    Great point (and great job on yourself!) Felicia, thanks!

    1. I so want to see you succeed! and I know that you can! Go get a ring, a marriage certificate, something to remind you constantly of this commitment to yourself!!! We have never met, and this is just a glimpse into my heart and soul, as you just provided the same glimpse. But, I am a stubborn, hard headed, always need to be right, savant of sorts – so if I can embrace paleo and fitness, and all of it…I promise you can – regardless of geography, age, weight, injury – there is a “movement” that fits everyone. There is nutrition to fit everyone! Good luck!!! and thank YOU!!! and please keep us all posted. I have to say that the one thing that helped me the most was standing in the middle of the room and SCREAMING at the top of my lungs “I need help!”

      In a heart to heart with my mother on Christmas, she told me that a doctor that she worked with at one point told her “no one can lose 100 pounds on their own.” I believe that the doctor’s opinions, were that surgery, medication, etc. were needed, but I took that as “make sure you have a support network!” I told my mom “he is right, and I didn’t do this alone. I had so many people believing in me, when I didn’t believe in myself.”

      I cannot iterate enough the neurotic and compulsive behavior it took. At work one day I had to miss a CrossFit class because a colleague refused to stop and pick up continental breakfast for a meeting. I was later told that people were gravely concerned about his safety. The following day he wandered in my office to ask for help, and I casually stood up, grabbed my gym bag and walked out the door to go to CrossFit, thus, in my mind, punishing him for punishing me.

      I have become much more “balanced” and flexible in my approach to things, and part of that was settling in to the routine.

      Again, you CAN do this…I promise! Good luck, and thank you for sharing!!!!!

      F

    2. You’ve been through a massive loss and change in you life Elenor, and maybe now you’ve coming to the right time to grab life by the short and curlies and say ”let’s do this!’. Try reading Unsinkable by Sonia Ricotti for some extra help. Grok on.

  53. Felicia, this really made me smile. Thank you for the inpiring story.

  54. I know you’ve been here a while, but Welcome To Beautiful Alabama, anyway! Thank you for telling your wonderful story.

    I recommend this website: MinimalistBeautyDotCom, not only because she shows how to easily pull together a high-quality, inexpensive capsule-wardrobe that takes the stress out & puts the joy in dressing your beautiful body, she is also a proponent of healthy non-toxic hair and personal-care items and she shows you how to easily & inexpensively pull that together, too–love her, and love you too for the inspiration you have become in living a paleo life!

    1. Going now to the site…. Thank you!!!!!!!! It sounds perfect! I like stitch fix but it is kind of hard on the wallet- I would rather buy grass fed bacon!

  55. This is an awesome story Felicia! Thank you for sharing, and congratulations!

  56. Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it and your comments. What advice would you give about sugar cravings? You mentioned modifying McDonalds at the beginning but I wondered about stuff like ice cream and donuts (or maybe that wasn’t your thing)?
    Tim Howard is paleo? I discovered him with the World Cup and am now a big fan.

    1. I have a “salt tooth” – you could put a bag of potato chips and a bag of M&Ms in front of me and 9 times out of 10 I will take the chips. However, there were/are occasions when I crave something sweet.

      I believe in a well stocked kitchen, even before I went paleo. I had an ice cream maker, I got a zoku popsicle maker, and have every other possible gadget known to mankind.

      Nom Nom Paleo has a coconut milk ice cream and there are LOTS of recipes on here for “sweets” – also Nom Nom has a recipe for Chunky Monkey Ice Cream Bon Bons that I usually keep a container in my freezer for those cravings: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/54917164353/chunky-monkey-ice-cream-bon-bons

      She is kind of my go-to site for anything and everything that I may be craving.

      I also read something on-line once (and since it is on the Internet it has to be true) about what cravings really mean. So, I found that if I was craving something sweet it was usually something else lacking in my diet.

      I also found that dried fruit (no added sugar, sometimes harder to find, but Amazon has everything you could possibly ever need to be paleo and then some…I think they even have wolf urine, not for eating!)

      There are “substitutes” that are not fake sugar: agave nectar, honey, grade-a and grade-b maple syrup (learned the difference is one is for cooking and one is for consuming on items), and coconut sugar.

      Nothing is really a substitute for gluten/wheat when it comes to baking and baked goods. When I first started, I was sort of obsessed with finding a “paleo pancake” recipe, but everything fell short. So, I gave up. I would on occasion do the banana and egg thing, but I got to the point where I just didn’t miss it –

      I think we have become so used to certain textures in our mouth to represent specific foods that when you try to modify them to something else, you feel cheated and disappointed. Instead of a donut, try a pineapple ring (same shape!) Get a zoku, and make fruit based popsicles. I also discovered the joys of gelatin. and in my mind I was adding protein to things.

      Also, whatever you are craving, just go to google and type it in and add the word “paleo” there are probably at least a hundred variations out there. Read through the recipes to see what appeals to you most.

  57. You may not have set out to be an inspiration but you sure are! I’m so happy for you! And you have the CUTEST clothes!

  58. Go Felicia! Sending some continued encouragement your way from down the road in Athens, AL. We definitely need Michelle to visit HSV.

  59. I see a book in your future! I enjoyed your writing! Keep up the amazing success and keep writing!!

  60. Love, love, love your story and all your insights into your motivations etc. Am toying with idea of Crossfit because I haven’t found any other way that appeals to ‘lift heavy’. You’ve inspired me to give it another crack.

  61. I really appreciate your take on those days where it just isn’t possible to eat Paleo. I personally follow the Anthony Bourdain “Grandmother” rule when I’m at other people’s houses/functions. I do my best when I’m at home, and I don’t look at one slip up as an “aw, to hell with it.” I work with Africans, and seriously turning down food is a BIIIIIG no-no. I eat it, I enjoy it, I get back to work. So refreshing in a world full of purists arguing over whether this or that thing is “truly” paleo.

  62. I don’t know what just happened. I never tear up when I read these things(but sometimes a whispered WOW comes out of my mouth) and both of those things just happened!? Great story, very inspiring, GOOD to hear you were able to make this kind of progress in the South, too!

    Keep up the fantastic work. And you’ve reminded me to get more bacon.

  63. Felicia: You have no idea how much I needed to read this. I’m trying not to get emotional when I say, simply, thank you. Thank you for writing this post. You have no idea how similar we are except I got the surgery (lapband) and I’ll save you the suspense — it still didn’t work. So now I’m doing it the right way and it’s hard and slow going and overwhelming, and that’s just a little bit of why I really needed to read your post.

    So, thank you. And I hope you keep up with the blog posts because I’ll be reading every one of them.

  64. Felicia, you are AWESOME!! I am 41 years old and have lost (and then gained back) 150+ pounds twice in my life…actually, make that two-and-a-haf times because I am currently on the upward swing (again). Sixteen months ago, I was 100% compliant with paleo eating, yet unwise enough to stop the chronic cardio and follow the Primal Finess plan. I weighed in at 147 pounds, but could not stop craving SAD foods (due to 2-3 hours a day of stupid chronic cardio, I suspect). This morning, after feeling worse than I have in years, and just plain TIRED of having to buy pants with no button/zippers (elastc waist only!), I got on the scale and weighed in at 255.2 pounds. Yes, apparently I’ve gained 108.2 pounds in sixteen months. I was so neurotic about my diet and exercise regimen that instead of allowing myself the inevitable occasional cheat (or just the temporarily imperfect paleo substitute at a work/family function), I decided after a 2 week vacation filled with SAD foods that I was a complete failure and said “forget it” to the whole lifestyle. I was so “all or nothing” that it was either “be 100% paleo” or “forget it.” Maybe part of it was going so long (18 months) without allowing myself a single cheat or a single off-day for exercise that I burned myself out on both…creating this ridiculous cycle of excellence and defeat. I went from 2-3 hours a day of exercise to absolutey NONE. I have gotten to the point that I feel (and look) so horrible that I found myself back on MDA this morning trying to find my way again…when I stumbled across your story! I don’t find it coincience that I found you today! You are SO right…everything is a choice….and I have to start making better ones. Congratulations for doing what I want SO BADLY to do….lose the weight and keep it off…and be happy/confident in the presence of others. I hide from my family and friends because I am so embarrassed of showing them how I’ve gained this weight back. My FB profile picture is one of me a year ago, healthy and vbrant, not the sick, overweight person I am currently. I am hiding from the world whenever possible, and am embarrassed every single day at work because I see the same people who watched me lose 150+ and then watched me put almost all of it back on. I look to you as proof that I can do this. Thank you for your story! Congratulations!

    1. Hang in there, Heather. I can see why you would feel discouraged but you can do it. The great news is you’ve done it before, you know what the problem is, and you know how to fix it! Nothing is all or nothing. Perfection is for tyrants. Don’t be a tyrant to yourself. Let go of judgement and look at yourself with the kindly regard you would a friend. When you cheat, shrug and then get back up on the primal bandwagon. There’s no shame in that. We all cheat from time to time. I have some epic cheats on occasion, especially on vacation. Then, I go right back to primal life. At least with primal/paleo you can enjoy delicious food and fat and less hunger. Eat too much one day? Skip a meal the next. I’ve lost 90 lbs but I still struggle to lose the last 10-15 lbs. I think you are probably right about the chronic cardio and your other self assessments but, again, you also sound like you know exactly how to fix that now. So, go for it, lady! I hope to read your story next year! I am absolutely confident (as a formerly very overweight, food-obsessed, couch potato) that you can do this especially since you have the primal blueprint and the MDA community here. Not to mention the amazing Felicia who has shown that it CAN be done!

        1. Yay! The other good news is, at our age, time FLIES! You’ll be zipping up some sexy jeans in no time, lady. Reading your original comment again, it hit me that if I did 2-3 hours of cardio a day, I’d be ravenous and craving sugar, too. I do two 40 minute HIIT sessions a week (15 minutes of which is warm up and cool down, so only 20 minutes or so of insanity.) and two resistance training a week plus one whatever I feel like (boot camp, yoga, light cardio, 10 minutes of tabata). It works! You don’t need hours and hours of exercise to burn fat and get shredded (not to mention functional strength).