Real Women, Real Stories of Health and Healing: A Transformation to a Healthier Life

One Woman’s Story of Finding Real Beauty from the Inside Out.

Lisa Clary is someone we can all relate to. She’s a busy single mom with three children at home, working full time as a hairstylist and very used to putting others – especially her kids – first. So much so that she was neglecting herself and her health while struggling to overcome tremendous challenges that life had thrown her way. If that sounds familiar, then Lisa’s story is one you’re going to want to read. It will also be evident why I wanted to focus on her transformation to a healthier life as the first in my series on real women and real stories of health and healing. Lisa makes others feel beautiful every day, and in this Q&A, she tells us how she finally found the strength to do the same for herself – from the inside out.

Photos of Lisa Clary before and in the midst of her wellness journey

Peppermint Tea & Me: You have been on a journey to whole body wellness over the past few years. What were you and your life like before that point?

Lisa Clary: I struggled a lot with very low self-esteem. I’d had a very hard marriage. I was married for 20 years and didn’t have a lot of self-worth in who I was. I had been through a lot of mental abuse, so I had some weight gain. But I also went through some depression and lost a lot of weight by not eating. Once I recovered from that, I gained weight again because everybody was like ‘You need to eat, you need to eat.’

I turned to alcohol for a way to cope, so I was drinking pretty much every night for a while. I was so focused on trying to get my children out of a toxic life that I definitely wasn’t focused on me. I was trying to make sure that my kids were healing and growing.

PT&M: What made you want to turn things around?

LC: I started with my health. I’m a hairstylist, and I had done an updo about two years ago for one of my clients and she wanted a picture. I’d never done full body pictures because I wasn’t happy with myself. But I hadn’t realized how big and unhealthy I had gotten. When I saw the picture it really bothered me. I chose to start eating better first and then went to working out.

PT&M: When you say eating better, where did you start with that?

LC: I’ve always known how to eat healthy, but when you’re at work, it seems easier for your lunch hour to eat fast food or to just grab something quickly. When I started making the time to cook my meals at home, it became easy to bring leftovers with me to work. I also started drinking more water and took diet drinks out of my habit. In addition, I basically dropped drinking alcohol. I went from ‘I’m going to stop drinking every night,’ to drinking on the weekends, to not drinking at all. I gradually started that way.

After I got where I wanted to be with my weight but needed to go a little bit further, I switched over and kind of jumpstarted my eating again in a different way. Whereas when I started, I was eating balanced meals that included protein, vegetables, carbs, and backed off on sugar, I then jumped to keto. I focused on a healthier keto that wasn’t too high in fat because I can’t handle that in my stomach. But I did include meat, vegetables, dairy, eggs – that kind of thing. No carbs.

PT&M: Where did you start in working out? How did you begin fitting all of that in?

LC: I actually started getting up – and I’m not a morning person – but I started making myself get up three days a week at 6:00 a.m. I joined a program called 15-Day Fit Body Challenge, which is about a 15-30-minute workout every morning. I started out with three days a week in the morning doing those, and then I gradually started adding on a fourth day. When I felt like I needed a little bit more and wanted to increase my muscle mass, I went to 5-6 days a week. I was doing 3 days of cardio, and then 3 days of weights.

PT&M: Did you join a gym to do that?

LC: Everything was done at home. I started by buying weights a little bit at a time. I bought five and eight-pound weights to start off with. Everything I did, you can get on YouTube. With the 15-Day Fit Body Challenge – when I joined, it was sent to me by email each day with what each workout was. Then, I started adding weights a little bit at a time for what I enjoyed and what I wanted to try. And now, I also have kettlebells at my house.

Everything I’ve done, I’ve done at home until last year. Where I work, Body Balance Day Spa & Salon, the owners are also fitness trainers. They opened a gym called Body Balance Fitness, and she offered me the chance to do one day a week of group training with a personal trainer because she knew I wanted to be able to go a step further in my weight training. This trainer introduced me to bootcamp that was like $10 in a park one night a week for an hour. That was a big thing for me to step out of my comfort zone and to be able to do that in public in front of other people. That’s something totally different from working out at home, to stepping outside and doing what’s called HIIT workouts. These are high intensity workouts, so you’re doing burpees and pushups that I could only do on my knees at that time, and other stuff that you’ve never done before in front of a bunch of other people. That was a big step for me.

What I do now is workout four days a week with boot camp on three of those. I think it is important for women to know thereare bootcamps and classes that they can afford if they need guidance. The class I take is $8-$10 dollars.

PT&M: Did you have set goals to begin with?

LC: You have to kind of set some goals, so my goal was – ‘I want to be at 135. I’m ok, if I’m a size 10 because I was a 14,’ so I said, ‘135, I’m ok with that’ because it basically took me out of obesity because I was 170. That was my goal at first. Then I got to be a size 10 but I wasn’t at 135. That’s when I switched over because your body gets used to what you’re doing, and I decided to jumpstart it a little bit. That’s when I lost the rest of my weight. Which I’m still not that small – I’m at 131, but I’m a size 6. Part of that is the fact that I lift and when you lift, you usually gain weight.

PT&M: Once you lost the weight, were you happy with where you were?

LC: I basically started nitpicking a little bit more. I was happy with my weight. I was happy with what I was doing. People started saying ‘Oh my gosh Lisa, you look amazing,’ and I’m looking at myself going ‘but I could do this, but I could be better here.’ I decided to start journaling and writing down my self-worth, looking for ways to motivate myself, to see myself, as a better overall person for me. I would say ‘I’m doing this for me, and nobody else,’ but then I guess I really wasn’t doing it for me. If you don’t love who you are on the inside, it doesn’t matter if you’re a size 8 and look great. It’s a superficial thing.

I searched for ways to find more energy, and self-worth and love to be able to say that ‘I’m worthy to be who I am.’ Because I was always told through my ex-husband and through myself that I wasn’t. I couldn’t even be happy for myself, and I would think, ‘I couldn’t save my marriage so how am I worthy of being with anybody else?’ So journaling was a big thing. I would sit down on weekends by myself at a quiet spot and just write how I was feeling. If I was overthinking, or if I was being negative, I would stop and journal everything I was feeling, and then I’d try and go back and correct that. Also, having affirmations for myself, such as ‘I believe I’m always divinely guided,’ and ‘My energy is my most vital resource,’ helped me to try to see more of my worth, and it just helped me tremendously.

 PT&M: What are your health and wellness goals at this point?

LC: Now, I’m trying to maintain where I am in my weight but also have a balanced lifestyle. So, if I want a hamburger with fries, I can have a hamburger with fries. But I know the balance and the boundaries of what my body will allow me to do and what I feel comfortable doing. People will say ‘Oh, you’re so small, you can eat that piece of cake.’ But if it’s not something that I feel comfortable doing, then I don’t do it. If I know I’m going to beat myself up for having that piece of cake, then I’m just not going to have that piece of cake. So basically, just finding balance and staying fit and healthy.

I would also like to build more muscle. I enjoy working out, so I have goals for where I want my arms to be and I have goals for where I want my legs to be. Working out keeps me focused. It keeps me from being overwhelmed. I have a lot that goes on in my daily life with my children, plus working a full-time job, so working out helps to keep me from feeling overwhelmed and overstressed, and it helps to keep me focused and calm(er).

PT&M: You have been very public about your journey to wellness on social media. Why have you chosen to take that path?

LC: Starting off, I had taken a picture of me on a mountain. And it was a photo where I was like ‘Wow, I really have lost a lot of weight,’ so it was kind of a proud moment for me. I did post it, and I was just proud of it. But I got a lot of responses through Messenger saying, ‘Wow, what have you done? What are you doing? Can you help me? Can you give me ideas?’ Or I got people saying, ‘You really motivate me.’

Social media is the way we do things now. Everybody looks at it. I just feel like if I can help to motivate somebody, if they can look at it and go ‘Wow, if she can do that, then I can do that.’ And also, it helps to motivate me too, to keep moving forward in my self-worth, and where I want to be.

PT&M: What advice would you give to women who want to get healthier but feel like they don’t have time, don’t have the money or simply don’t know where to start?

LC: First off, do what you feel right doing. A little bit at a time. Even if it’s just, drink more water, or taking foods out gradually. Start taking your food to work. Get up a few minutes early to work out or do it at night after the kids have gone to sleep.

I feel like the biggest thing is you have to be able to look in the mirror and love what you see there. Because that’s where that transformation is really going to make a difference. If you don’t feel good about yourself, then you’re not going to be able to move forward in what you want to do. Don’t compare yourself to other women – don’t look at this person over here who’s lost this much weight and say ‘well, I’ve done that and I’m not there.’ My 131 is going to look totally different than someone who is 5’7’’. I’m going to build muscle different. I’m going to lose weight different than the person next to me. Everybody has their own journey. Don’t compare your journey with someone else’s. Focus on what you do and what you want. Look to other people for motivation and encouragement and lifting you up, not to compare. If you compare yourself with other people, that’s going to slow you down from where you want to be.

For more ideas on how to get started, be sure to sign up to receive my 5 Things You Can Do This Week to Live a Healthier Life (see sidebar) and check out the following posts:

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If you have a story of transformation to a healthier life, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Or, if you’re looking for additional resources, email me or write a note in the comments. We’re here to support and learn from each other.

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