As a Personal Trainer and Specialist in Victoria BC, almost every day I see women give up on themselves, falling back into their negative beliefs about who they are and what they can achieve. I want to tell you that no matter what your weight loss goal is, it is entirely possible for you to turn this around, and this woman Denise Schreurs is living proof that a solid clean eating and exercise plan, combined with an infallible inner strength and determination can move mountains and create transformation.
Q: “Tell us about your story: how you gained the weight to how you lost it”
Denise: ” I Grew up in a small town called Powel River with never having a lot of food in the house. I never had snacks and this created an issue where I was afraid of being hungry. We would rarely have food in the house but when we did get it, we would eat it all really fast so that started my binging style.
I would actually get anxious and irritable and this would start a stress reaction. I was always a bigger girl as well. In grade 8, I was at 150lbs then graduated at 180lbs, then slowly crept up to 245lbs by the time I was 20 years old.
I put it on fast. I was miserable, I hated my life, but I told myself didn’t care. I defined myself as the “classic bigger boned” and I was never meant to be smaller or skinny and I could never lose weight.
I spent all time in library thinking “it’s ok I was fat and ugly because I was smart!” I was completely identified with academics and not my body. “It’s ok because I’m smart , I can be ugly”.
I was never educated about health or fitness in my town, most people didn’t care plus it cost money to do other activities, so I stuck to my books.
When I was up to 245lbs I would never allow anyone to weight me or take photos of me. Being a size 22, I couldn’t wear any clothes from any store. I always wore jackets and layers and I hated every minute of being around others and in public.
Q: “What was the lowest point in that experience: did you have a moment of insight where something shifted?”
Denise: “ I decided one new years eve. I started paying attention to what I ate a little bit more, I started doing cardio a little bit. I Got on the scale at someone’s house and to my surprise I was 222lbs!
I had lost 20lbs but hadn’t even realize that’s how big I was. This was the moment I realized I could!!!! I will never forget that movement in that bathroom. This was the moment I felt there was hope for me and it was entirely possible.
I started with just doing cardio. I would go to gym in the AM for 30 minutes, then in the eve I ran 6k. I wasn’t supposed to be running so I gave myself shin splints. I didn’t do it right and wouldn’t recommend this for anyone to do.
I watched that biggest loser show and only ever saw them do this, so I thought that’s what you had to do! I would read magazines and always saw “do cardio” so that’s what I did. I wish I had someone like a personal trainer to show me the way at an early stage so I didn’t have to make these mistakes.
I also started watching my food intake and what I put on my food. I got very, very restrictive! I was seeing so many results, it became an obsession! It was a big change from who I used to be.
It took a few years to loose the largest amount of the weight. After a year and a half I was almost there, then another year later I got down to 140lbs and have maintained it.
When I lost all the weight “still looked like shit” because of my skin. When you give your heart and soul to something like this and you still look like shit… All the suffering and discipline… Getting up at 5am every day, no junk food… It broke me.
So I gave up for a bit. I was an extra small and still hated the way I looked. I would think to myself “how skinny do you have to be before you start looking good?”
It wasn’t the fat, it was having nothing underneath to give structure, and I didn’t understand it was because I didn’t build up my muscles with weight lifting!”
I stayed in this state of limbo and weight for 5 years!!! I didn’t know that lifting weights would give me the results I wanted. The shape, composition, the definition.
Looking back I wish I did hire a personal trainer or coach instead of believing the common social norm that “girls go to cardio and play with 5lb weights and so dome Ab work and that’s what girls do.” This seems to be what the media programs us as women, to get a “feminine figure” and it’s so far from the truth.
Q: What were the most powerful things you did on a daily basis that allowed you to transform?
Denise: “ Consistency!!!!!!! Diet and exercise needs to be consistent. You cant show up this week and not show up next week. What you do this month is what you see next month!!! You have to be OK with busting your ass this month and not seeing it until next month!!
Be patient and be strategic!! I accepted I had to put in the work. I also accepted I had to leave some people behind who didn’t support my transformation.
You have to know that, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been friend, you may lose someone and you have to be OK with that. If you’re not willing to lose some of your friends or comfort zones, your not ready. This doesn’t make you bad or selfish- because they will take your success as their failure. I lost many of my friends. At first they told me I was so inspiring, but then they stopped inviting me places and we had nothing in common anymore. The more empowered I got, they more it scared them and they would subtly try and put me down and kill my personal belief I could do it.
Also weight lifting was the best thing I discovered. I met my fiance Andrew and he inspired me to try lifting weights and showed me proper form. Before him I was cardio bunny!
I decided to commit once again but was terrified to let myself down again after giving my heart to the weight loss. The first thing we trained together was back and I was stronger then I thought I was! I needed someone to support me and all it took was one day, one session, then I realized “oh I can do this.”
You think your may be weak, or be embarrassed because everyone will be staring at you, but its enjoyable and no-ones gonna stare at you!
I’ve now been lifting for 8 months and my skin is tighter, I have less back pain, my shape has completely transformed, and everything is lifted! Also, my Face looks quite different. Proper eight training changes your whole composition and muscle density to support a very feminine figure! For any woman who wants to really change the shape and tone of their body, as well as get rid of “muffin top” you have to start lifting.
Q: What were the most challenging aspects that you had to face? How did you overcome them? What was the internal dialogue that you shifted?
Denise: the most challenging thing of all was the peer pressure! I found that people who didn’t want me to change would think I had an eating disorder because I was losing weight. Or when it comes to weight lifting, some people will hate on my sport or say women who lift look manly. I decided I have to be able to hear all this and just let it roll off my back.
To anyone struggling with a change like this, draw your strength from inside, or your trainer, don’t let people stomp on your dreams. I decided to “be independent of the good opinion of others” as what other people think of me is none of my business.
Q: Where did your motivation and inspiration come from?
Denise: Myself!! I knew there was something better for me and a better life and I wanted something better for myself! Now my fiancé Andrew motivates me. I knew and accepted that I deserved better”
Q: How did your mindset change?
Denise: I Went from absolutely not caring to “I can do this”. Once you have that initial success then you start to believe then maybe there is a chance. Go form there to get more results and every step of the way tell yourself “I can absolutely do this”
Q: How do you see yourself now? What keeps you motivated?:
Denise: “I’m still making changes for sure! The more I lift the more details I find in my musculature and the stronger I get, the more inspired I feel! It’s these small, consistent improvements that keep me moving forward”
Q: What would you say to someone suffering like you did?
Denise: “ Believe in yourself- If you can’t believe in yourself then use my example or borrow the belief of someone who sees your potential, like your personal trainer, coach or partner.
View yourself through their eyes until you can see it yourself! Remember “what the mind can believe, the body can achieve!” If I could go back I would have believed in myself sooner. I would have taken care of this years ago.. and the time will pass fast the more you put it off.
The years will go by whether or not you do something about it. Ask yourself where do you want to be in 5 years from now?” The days will come just as fast whether or not you bust your ass or sit on your ass. Why not make the most of theses years!
Q: What are some powerful steps they could take and start today?:
Denise: Get some expert help! Diet help, fitness help, training help, don’t just run on the treadmill. Work with someone who knows what they’re doing! Have that person to correct your form so you won’t hurt yourself and wont waste your time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be stubborn like me. Take a 6-year journey and condense it, I wish I did!
Q: What do you still struggle with and what are your strategies around the challenges?
Denise: “I still struggle with my identity and have to remind myself I’m not the fat girl anymore!
Its one thing to know it mentally but its another thing to rewrite the whole program. I still don’t like wear shorts very much, or go to the beach” it takes time but it will come. I still feel shy and think I’m not attractive” and that will change but its still hard.
Sometimes I need to cry and I just need to release. I grieve my old self and allow myself to experience the emotions to heal. Some days you get down on yourself and that’s when old photos are good and last months results are good!! I personally need to have those reminders of how far I’ve come and I can find gratitude !
Q: What is the most important thing you have found in your life, in yourself, in this journey?:
Denise: “ I can do anything. I’m stronger than I ever imagined I could be. There’s a strength in everyone and it is the most challenging part of our lives that reveal to us our inner warrior. You’ve gotta awaken it!
Even if you’ve been told your ugly and fat your whole life, it doesn’t have to be like this. I am worth the investment, YOU are worth it, everyone is.
Please leave a comment before to share your thoughts with Denise and this community.
Love and Gratitude
Jannine Murray, Health And Fitness Specialist
” Be Inspired, Get Results”