For those of us who have tried every celeb-endorsed fitness regimen, diet and health trend under the sun, it often feels like there's just nothing out there that works.
But when one Massachusetts woman felt hopeless, she took matters into her own hands and developed a personalized plan from scratch. This plan is one which she credits with helping her lose 95 pounds in just over one year.
Charlene Bazarian is a mother of three who had been struggling with accumulating a few pounds "here and there" for years. At her heaviest weight of 208 pounds, Bazarian had a lightbulb moment.
"One day, I had treated myself to a day of beauty at the spa and was mortified when I had to return to the desk and ask the unsympathetic receptionist (who appeared to weigh 89 pounds) if they had a larger robe, as the 'one-size-fits-all' robe was lying," she tells PopCulture.com.
This incident was a huge wake-up call for Bazarian and was a moment she returned to time and time again throughout her weight loss journey when she needed motivation.
Armed with this goal in mind, Bazarian made some major shifts to her daily routine right away. "I found weight training like some people find religion, it was that life changing for me," Bazarian says, echoing the sentiment of many women before her. "As a woman, I think I was always predisposed to thinking of cardio as exercise, but the real changes happened when I started resistance training."
Her path to resistance training began with at-home DVDs, including Cathe Friedrich and Gilad from Bodies in Motion. But to accommodate all these new workouts, she had to radically shift her schedule.
"I wake up early so that I can get my 'insurance' workout in before the world starts to steal my day," Bazarian says — something she wouldn't have done in the past. "Remind yourself [that] you're no busier than a fit person," she says. "We're all busy."
For others struggling with the same issues, Bazarian has some advice: "Make your workouts like brushing your teeth, something you just do without question."
Bazarian also had to make some serious adjustments to her relationship with food, too. "The biggest change I made to my diet was to try my best to eliminate added refined sugar and starchy carbs from my diet," she says. "As a general rule, unless it was cauliflower or a White Chocolate Luna bar, if it was white, I tried to avoid it." This meant that Bazarian's love of pasta and Golden Oreos had to take a backseat to healthier choices.
But while she "never thought I'd be someone who would enjoy sushi, kale or many other healthy choices," Bazarian found that eating healthy didn't feel like the deprivation she thought it would. "I realized that I could only deal with how my body responded to the foods I ate and that you can't have a 'deserve/deprive' way of looking at things."
So what does she eat now? Bazarian admits that there's a lot of protein in her new diet (all the better to fuel her workouts). "Breakfast almost every day for me is a Luna Bar and coffee. Other breakfast choices can be scrambled eggs with wilted spinach or Stack'd Nutrition Protein Pancakes," she says.
"Around 10 a.m. I will have a Burton Nutrition Get Fit Protein Shake. At noon, I typically will have a salad with grilled chicken or tuna, or oatmeal with fresh berries, almonds and some Get Fit Protein Powder Mixed in, or sometimes I'll have a wrap sandwich with turkey and spinach or peanut butter and I toss in fresh blueberries instead of jam or jelly," Bazarian says.
Her dinner options follow suit with a giant-sized salad and a side of high-protein options like chicken or fish.
Just a reminder to shop the outside aisles of the supermarket as it is where the least processed foods are. There's also a great time of year to shop the rainbow! #healthychoices #healthyfood #healthylifestyle #fitnessblogger #wholefoods #athleta #diet #food #foodshopping #shoptherainbow #avoidprocessedfoods #fbjfit #sweatpink photo by @theashleyrichardson
Of course, Bazarian has guilty pleasures like any of us, but she tries to be mindful and make healthy swaps to avoid undoing all her hard work. "I give myself three pounds of wiggle room," she says. "When I'm in my weight range, I choose 'worth it' extras or treats: maybe a glass or two of FitVine wine, or some Riceworks and my somewhat-famous homemade guacamole, or some air popped popcorn."
But despite giving up daily indulgences, Bazarian says she's not missing much. "Eating clean, healthy and nutritious foods is not depriving myself. I'm 'deprived' of not feeling sluggish and bloated by passing up some processed, sugar and fat filled foods," she says.
Bazarian's journey has become a source of inspiration for many, first just among her friend group, and now on a larger scale.
"As [my friends] began losing weight, several of their friends started messaging me as well, and I created a Facebook page dedicated to giving diet and fitness tips, sharing healthy recipes, and [creating] overall fitness inspiration."
Bazarian's Facebook page has now launched a new project, a blog which she calls FBJFit. And there's been a side benefit of sharing her journey, too— extra motivation to keep at it. "I know my journey has encouraged a lot of people, so that I try to live up to it by continuing to make the right choices," she says.