Tracey Wilson has worked her butt off and as a result dropped an astonishing 100 pounds. The journey wasn’t a straight line, she suffered her share of ups and downs. In the process she’s discovered her passion and the warrior inside her. Now she has the chance to be on the cover of Fitness Magazine with your help. Click Here to vote her onto the cover, then check out her story and photos below.
Tell me about your background. Where are you from, what did you study, and what do you do?
I am 31 and came to New York City from Florida after graduating from Syracuse University with a Theatre Degree in 2001. After graduating and moving to New York, I pursued a career in acting and became a waitress at a wonderful little Swedish restaurant called Ulrika’s. In 2002, i dropped a significant amount of weight (30 pounds off of a 240 pounds frame) and i loved working out so much and the feeling that it gave me that i got my personal training certification. Since then i have been training off and on plus teaching group classes. Seems like i would be in awesome shape just being in a fitness environment but i talked a great game but never followed my own advice. I remained mainly in the restaurant industry and acting until about 4 years ago when i realized that my passion for acting had waned and the choice that i made being a restaurant general manager was something that was not fulfilling and the extreme stress was causing me to lose that drive that i always thought was inherent in myself. Therefore, In the beginning of 2008, I decided to make a significant career switch and go into fitness and personal training full time. But still i was not everything i wanted to be and had gained about 20 pounds of the weight i had taken off so long ago.
What was your lifestyle like before you made the change?
I have never necessarily been an unhealthy person per se, but i know that i used food as a huge comfort. I started this weight loss journey at a 240 pounds and a size 18-20 which is really a guess because i was too embarrassed to shop for women’s clothing and always wore men’s extra large clothing to hide my size. Like most people who struggle with weight, i have no idea how my weight came on so fast. But it started in high school and let’s be honest I was inactive could power through a couple of bags of chips, wash it down with a soda and then eat a full meal (recipe for disaster!!!). But i still couldnt admit to myself that i had caused this weight gain, I made choices and now i had to deal with those choices. I have basically been struggling with my weight since I was 17, I am now 31 and I am literally in the shape I have dreamed about for so long. Where was my ah-ha moment way back when……Well, I had just graduated high school and moved to New York and hellllloooo subway stairs. Those stairs were a beast to me, I would be huffing and puffing up one flight of stairs at 21 years old! That is when i decided to make a change and joined LA weight Loss (a diet program) and lost 30 pounds just by changing the way i ate. After i added in exercise my body started shaping up a little bit more and more until I was down to 170 pounds! Woo-hoo! I did it or so i had thought. Everything for me was a quick fix, I stopped maintaining my diet but still worked out some but the weight crept back on. It is the most depressing thing to go lose 60 pounds and just gain it all back. I was unhappy with myself which basically made me unhappy with life overall. So needless to say, over the last almost 15 years i have gone up and down on the scale countless numbers of times and have now settled my weight at a happy 145! But i didnt even understand anything until about a year ago. Hey some of us are late bloomers and i was one of them! No i didnt find a magic pill or some super diet, I worked hard and ate right plain and simple. This past October i competed in my first figure competition at a super lean 130 pounds in NYC with the help of my awesome nutritionist Colette Nelson and i am going for my second and third this upcoming summer. I never ever in my life would have imagined that i could get up on a stage in front of 100s of people in a teeny, tiny bikini but i did and it felt marvelous! This past December i was in Reebox fitness video and now i feel like nothing can really stop me. The journey is continuing and i see nothing but positivity in the road ahead.
What made you want to lose weight? What were the feelings and factors that drove you?
At 21 I felt like i was 61. I had no energy, a horrible self image and was depressed. Every time i took a step i could feel my whole body quake from the extra fat mass and if you have never felt what that is like let me just say it is not a good feeling. I remember the exact moment that i knew i had to lose some weight, I was walking up the stairs from the G Line in Fort Greene in about December of 2001. i was sweating horribly, I was out of breath, and i had to stop at the top of the stairs to gulp the air that my lungs were screaming for. That was it I told myself I am too young to be feeling so absolutely out of shape, so i joined LA weight loss in January of 2002 and received some guidance on my eating habits. This began my crazy twisted road of a love, hate relationship with food. There is absolutely so much to tell, at one time i completely gave up and even went into plus size modeling determined to be ok with how large i was but that obviously didnt work. I just felt out of place in the world, I knew in the back of my mind that this was not me but it took a long time for me to realize that i was a better more fabulous person then i ever thought.
How did you make such a major transformation? What did you do, eat, etc differently?
If i told you every single diet I have been on you would probably throw me into an insane asylum. I literally have tried everything, you name it i have done it. From doing the cardiac rehab diet to raw foods to not eating this and not eating that. Listen i am not perfect I still struggle with finding a complete balance in my diet. Being a big girl and then becoming thinner and fit, you may sometimes look at yourself and that body dysmorphic behavior can still come into play. But i have slowly realized what works for my body and what doesn’t. Do I avoid eating cookies, muffins, chips, cakes, huge sandwiches etc., absolutely. Why? Because of the old adage “a moment on the lips forever on the hips”! Whoever said that is a genius! Because it is true, but please do not get me wrong this girl can eat but i choose to view my food more as fuel and less as a source of comfort. Do i have cheat meals every once in a while, of course I do. But then those times when i eat food that i dont normally eat, I really enjoy it and savor it. I have people tell me all the time, “oh you are so disciplined”, damn straight I am because i know what it feels like to be the complete polar opposite if what I am now. I eat extremely clean during the week and most of the weekend (especially now that i am training for a figure competition on May 21st) and i do some form of exercise everyday. There really are no excuses anymore, with access to exercise ideas, fitness, proper nutrition so easily at your finger tips what have you got to lose to become what you have always dreamed of. So what do i eat everyday (let me tell you i am probably one of the laziest people in the world and what i eat can take about an hour to prepare for the week)…..I eat nothing extravagant, nothing that takes a million years to prepare. The secret is taking it back to the basics! Surprise! My menu consists of the following: steak, salmon, eggs, egg whites, lean fish, lean meats, all kinds of vegetables, avocado, coconut milks, protein shakes, any kind of spice and fiber (lots of fiber). Also i have a very strange obsession with mustard and pickles….Do i avoid starchy carbs, like potatoes, rices and pastas you bet but we all know that we should probably not be eating these things and if we do so they should be in super moderation. I eat at least five times a day and during competition season i limit my fruit intake to days when i do heavy weightlifting on my legs. DISCIPLINE AND DETERMINATION IS KEY!
Yet, i can go to any restaurant and order quite a lovely meal, the idea is the be inventive so you dont get bored. I can also make you a mean humongous plate of tilapia coconut milk curry for about 200 calories with no fat and no sugar! Tricks of the trade my friend and a little research goes a long way. And sometimes i do have cravings but then i curb them by doing a little internet research and seeing how i can make the clean version of chocolate muffins or pumpkin pie (and i have done both).
240 pounds and severe weight fluctuation
Body Fat 30%
BP – Extremely low which causes its own problems like vertigo and sudden bouts of passing out (all from carrying to much salt, who knew!)
RHR 80-85 bpm
Body fat 18-20%
Blood pressure stable at 90/60
RHR 51 bpm
What advice would you give to people who want to make a change in their lives like yours?
I think i can sum it up by saying that you can not change your life until you make the decision to do it yourself. And you can do it, try not to view yourself by what you believe other people are thinking but view yourself how you would like to be. Forget the sensationalized images of supermodels and actresses, what is your own personal ideal. Decide to make a complete change in your life and the pieces will fall into place. This is about you and nobody else, how do you feel and what will make you feel better and happier with yourself. The excuses about time and lack of this and that are really just that, excuses. i have made all of the excuses i can and just finally realized I am better and stronger than that. So its really about kicking that self-appreciation into high gear and doing something to change your overall body image, confidence and ultimately your life. And it can be overwhelming with thoughts of where to begin and if you need help get it, do some research on the internet, talk to professionals at a gym or talk to people like myself who have been there and know how difficult it can be. Also take it back to basics, you know that the more ingredients that are added into your everyday eating are recipe for disaster. Use food to fuel you to become a well-oiled calorie torching machine and exercise everyday even if it just a walk in the park. No more excuses, be the person you imagined yourself to be be when you were a child, where is that confident successful beautiful person you imagined. That person is there he or she just takes a little encouragement to come out.
PS. Before photos were after a 30 pound weightloss
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