Weight Loss

How she did it: Eliminating processed foods

By: Janet Rowe

Photography by John Hryniuk Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photography by John Hryniuk

Weight Loss

How she did it: Eliminating processed foods

By: Janet Rowe
Naomi Mckay
Age: 39
Lost: 85 pounds
Occupation: Auto factory robotics operator and quality inspector in Windsor, Ont.
Time period: January to December 2010
Height: 5'7½"
Weight loss: 240 to 155 pounds
Pant size: From size 20 to size 8

Where she started
Naomi was raised a healthy eater; apples and raisins were typical family snacks. But at age 12, after she got her first job, delivering newspapers, Naomi began treating herself to fast food and ice cream. Her waistline expanded almost imperceptibly year by year. "I excused myself: ‘OK, I'm getting older. It's a natural part of life,'" she says. Though she knew she was overweight and suffering from heartburn, she didn't really see the need to change. That is, until a Facebook friend suggested doing a "Biggest Loser"–style contest. Everyone would pony up $40, and whoever lost the biggest percentage of their starting weight in six months would take the pot. "My competitive nature kicked in!" laughs Naomi.

How she did it
Having had a brief bout with bulimia as a teenager, Naomi knew she wanted to steer clear of quick-fix diets. She bought the "Biggest Loser" game for Wii, which includes a calorie-counting app and a point system for daily workouts. Naomi says launching into exercise was tough. "The first time I did a plank, I could barely hold it for 10 seconds." But her Facebook group kept her accountable. "When I was feeling discouraged, they would help pump me up," she says. She also found great motivation in real life. "I met one girl who had broken her foot and was in a wheelchair. She said she couldn't [exercise her] lower body, but she did everything she could on her upper body." Soon Naomi started to feel the joy of accomplishment, and the prize money was no longer her biggest incentive. She followed the Beachbody Ultimate Reset – a three-week diet regimen that eliminates all processed food. "When I started re­introducing foods, I learned I can't eat red meat, and I should stay away from most dairy."

And the contest?

"I won!"

Where she is now
Fast food is now a rare treat for Naomi, who eats 90 percent vegetarian meals with the occasional fish or poultry, and loves trying new whole foods, such as kale and melons. She works out five or six times a week, alternating between cardio, weights, yoga and kickboxing to prevent her body from plateauing. "If I don't want to end up at 240 pounds again, I'm going to have to live like this for the rest of my life," she says. "I'm OK with that. I'm a lot happier than I was." Part of that happiness comes from giving back, now that Naomi has joined Beachbody as a coach. "I have different challenge groups on Facebook, and I encourage people to exercise on a daily basis. They post their workouts and food; I give them suggestions on what they can do to work out more effectively," she says.

Lessons she learned
Getting motivated can take time. "You have to step out of your comfort zone," Naomi says. She acknowledges that that includes accepting setbacks. "At my lowest, I was down to 155 pounds. I did put a little bit back on. I'm human! The important thing is not to give up." Now, when she longs for ice cream, instead of buying a carton, she will go out and have one serving.

"Don't think you have to do it alone," she says. "There are tons of support groups on Facebook and there are places like Weight Watchers."  

Pro tips
Naomi took a great all-around approach. Not only did she address her food and lifestyle but she also set a goal with a realistic deadline to keep her motivated. Her choice of activities is also excellent. Weight training helps increase lean muscle mass and metabolism, allowing her body to more efficiently burn fat. Cardio strengthens her heart and variety keeps her enjoying her workouts.

To avoid plateauing, Naomi could shock her body every four to six weeks by lifting much heavier weights or significantly increasing the distance she runs for one week. She may also want to try a CrossFit class; the workouts are randomized to keep the body progressing. Plus, CrossFit has the benefit of a friendly and supportive community.
– Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg, athletic therapist and personal trainer

We have lots of helpful weight loss tips, including 6 great fitness apps.
This story was originally titled "Health Weigh Out" in the October 2013 issue.
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Weight Loss

How she did it: Eliminating processed foods