Christina Baird knew she had gotten over a big hurdle when a total stranger recently came up to her at the southeastern Iowa clothing store where she works, and asked her for weight loss advice. The woman simply admired Baird’s physique.
“What, me?” Baird thought? “She’s asking me for advice?” And then she looked in the mirror. She had been overweight for so long that her mental image of herself hadn’t yet caught up with the fit, healthy person she’s become.
In fact, since she joined her local YMCA and began using MyFitnessPal in October 2015, Baird is down 112 pounds and in the best shape of her life. It’s a far cry from when she started at age 30 when, after four pregnancies, she weighed 262 pounds and could no longer reach down and tie her shoes.
Her weight had bounced around since the birth of her fourth child, but it remained firmly in the realm of morbid obesity: between 220 and 262 pounds. That’s a lot to carry on a petite 5-foot-2 frame. Luckily, Baird had always been interested in health and fitness, which gave her a jump-start when she decided to get serious about pursuing her wellness dream of losing weight and reclaiming her health.
“I come from a long line of morbidly obese family members,” she explains. “Most of them died before age 70, and I simply wanted to break that cycle for myself and my kids.” When Baird’s doctor recommended MyFitnessPal a few years before, she had downloaded the app and played around with it, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2015 that something clicked. That’s when she immersed herself in the community and began to become encouraged by her small successes.
One of her favorite parts is seeing her weight estimate in five weeks if she stays on track, and she deeply appreciates the support of her fellow app users cheering her on. “I love being able to see how my macros line up,” she says, “and I’ve met some of my closest friends there.”
The other game-changer for Baird, in addition to tracking her calories and exercise, was becoming a serious weightlifter. “There is something so empowering about lifting heavy weights, being able to walk into a gym and know what all the machines do,” she adds.
As she began to shed pounds, Baird’s earliest boosts to her self-image were being able to shop the “skinny” sizes in the store, easily reaching down to tie her shoes and lifting heavier weights each week. Before she knew it, she had exceeded her goal of achieving a normal weight and had turned into a bonafide bodybuilder and someone who made her health a top priority every day.
There were challenges along the way, of course. She tried Weight Watchers, several calorie-counting apps and different programs, but the community aspect of MFP, as well as Instagram, gives her strength in the form of a support network cheering her on.
Baird admits she has plateaued at several points along the way and, at one juncture, she had to “break up with my scale.” “I realized,” she continues, “that I had been giving and pushing and the scale just wouldn’t budge, so it had to go! Now, I don’t worry so much about those numbers, but more about the numbers at the end of my barbell.”
Next up for Baird is skin removal and training for her first 10K. “I’m doing things today I never would have imagined possible,” she says, “and the best part is when my kids tell me how proud they are of me. I love knowing that my choices today are shaping not only my future, but the future of kids and grandkids as well.”
Kim Westerman is a freelance travel, food, coffee and wine writer and a longtime writing teacher with an interest in mindfulness and contemplative studies. She lives with her wife and two young children in Berkeley, California.