I’m my own success story.
This is the story of how I went from a 245lb unhealthy and miserable college student to a 170lb happy, healthy 34-year-old athlete.
I went from 245lbs in college (circa 2008 when I finally weighed myself) to as low as 155lbs doing lots of cardio (circa 2016) to a comfortable, healthy, and athletic 170lbs give or take a few pounds at present.
The most common question I get from people who “knew me back then” is “How did you lose the weight?”
The short answer?
I decided to.
The much longer answer?
I spent years experimenting with diets, avoiding carbs and weights, finding carbs and weights, and falling in love with teaching barre and coaching women. I also found self-acceptance and a lot of love for my “tree trunk legs” (a friend’s mom said that to me once) and the reflection I see in the mirror.
A lot of people know me as a barre instructor. It did start with barre. I went to a free barre class with some Junior League friends at the local gym, loved it, and took a friend’s invitation to attend a Pure Barre class with her. After a year of going to 5+ barre classes a week, I decided I wanted to teach. I wrestled with that realization as I didn’t think I was lean enough or pretty enough to join a Pure Barre team. I didn’t even broach the topic with my studio.
How convenient that one of my now best friends, Hanna, opened a barre studio right next to my office exactly at the same time my Pure Barre contract expired. (Life is full of kismet if you only look for it). She hired me on the spot (almost) and off I went, falling in love with teaching women in a fitness environment.
Barre was my gateway drug. I started learning more about the body. I knew I needed to add “something” to my barre routine, so I started going to the gym at lunch and following Emily Skye’s workout programs.
Hi, I’m Sarah and I spent 2+ years overtraining.
But that’s another post.
I found The Gym in Charlottesville through a friend and that place changed everything. Funny enough, it’s tagline is, in fact, “change everything.”
A big warehouse-like room, full of barbells and equipment in varying states of wear and tear, and a lot of men who were very big and often bearded. And then there was me, 5’2” Sarah who had never touched a barbell before, right in the middle of them.
It took exactly one visit to get me hooked.
The Gym is a Westside Barbell gym which made it unique. Justin, the owner, is one of the best guys around, not to mention a fantastic coach. He pushed me. It was common for him to walk up to me, not say a word, take the weights out of my hand and change them to something heavier and say “start over.” The board might save 5 sets, but if Justin didn’t think I worked hard enough? I was doing more until I was at what *he* deemed working weight, not what *I* deemed working weight.
I got very strong, very fast.
And I loved it.
Something about wrapping my hands around a barbell felt natural. It inspired me. I liked being pushed out of my comfort zone. I liked being challenged. I liked having a coach that knew just how much to push me.
I started to learn everything I could about women and strength training. I quickly confirmed that “women get bulky” was a lie. I found power in doing things I didn’t believe I could do. One of my favorite days in the gym to date is the day Justin forced me to jump onto a 20” box. I flat out refused. We had one of our classic standoffs. He told me I was being ridiculous, I told him he was being ridiculous. But he’s a lot bigger than me and so we struck a deal. He would stand in front of the box and catch me if I fell.
I didn’t fall.
Hi, I’m Sarah. I love box jumps now.
Justin was also willing to share his knowledge. I followed him around, listened in on his coaching techniques, particularly how he worked with new clients and clients with limited mobility. He was my informal mentor in the strength training space. When I had to tell him I was moving to Chapel Hill, I cried. That gym and its members were my family. I still drop in whenever I’m home. It’s still like coming home.
As I got stronger, I got leaner. I looked in the mirror and thought “damn, girl.” For the first time ever, I loved what was looking back at me. Those “tree trunk legs” were made for strength and they were finally getting their chance to shine. As I’ve transitioned into weightlifting, I love my body even more. It’s made for this sport.
But then I stopped seeing body composition changes. The scale wasn’t moving, I didn’t feel fueled, the list went on. I realized through a coach of my own that I was under eating. I had dieted for years without a break and with the help of my coach, I learned about reverse dieting and the benefits of flexible dieting (macro tracking). Suddenly, the body composition changes returned, I dropped a weight class, and I’ve got energy for days.
All because I was EATING.
It became my mission to show women that they, too, could be strong. They could eat food to fuel their body and performance. I wanted to show them that it was not only okay to be strong, but healthy to be strong – and to eat to support their lifestyles. It didn’t have to be dieting and cardio all the time.
I got my personal training certification and then my Precision Nutrition certification. I started coaching women using my own experience as my foundation. I’ve worked with several women now to help them reach goals ranging from losing fat to gaining muscle. We’ve dialed in nutrition using science, education, and mindset. My clients reach their goals, but they also change their mindset, their approach to food, and maintain their results because they know what to do.
I’m my own success story.
And now I use my experience to help others reach their goals.
Learn about my 1:1 coaching (price goes up May 1)!