"I had tried so many times in the past without much success, so I automatically counted myself out a lot. The first few months of my journey were really eye-opening that I could accomplish anything I really worked for, but I won't lie... those first few months were also very hard because I wanted to throw in the towel the second the scale didn't move."
Mother of two, 30-year-old Ashley Sim of Cleveland, Ohio is still working on her weight loss. In the last 20 months, she's moved the scale from 416 pounds to a current 225 pounds. Standing much taller now in her 5'10" stature, she still aims to lose another 40 pounds.
But how did the scale get that high, anyway? Ashley has always been on the heavier side from childhood through adolescence, but she admits to turning to food more than she should have. Her mom was an extraordinary cook who worked full-time, raising Ashley on her own, so the two of them really looked forward to sitting down at the dinner table together. As if she wanted to extend that happy moment into other parts of the day, Ashley would eat to console her anxieties. In high school, she remembers being taunted by her peers, even failing gym class three years in a row. Able to lose approximately 40 pounds with the Atkins diet as a teen, she gained it all back after a car accident left her rather sedentary.
She was 22 when she met her husband, and wore a a size 20/22. She settled into the relationship, steadily gaining more weight: size 26 before her first daughter was born; size 28 after her birth; size 30, sometimes 32 after her second was born.
"My second daughter was born with feeding issues and was colicky," Ashley said. "One day, following her nap, she woke up crying. She was upstairs in her crib. At the time I weighed a little under 400 pounds, and quite literally couldn't get my body up the stairs fast enough to get her. It became apparent to me that it didn't matter what method [of exercise] I was going to choose, I had to make a change because my children needed a mother who could care for them.
The next morning, I literally threw all the unhealthy food in our house into bags and drove it to be donated. I went home and downloaded a calorie-counting app, and just started calorie counting."
When you're overweight, your joints can stress pretty easily. Ashley turned to a recumbent bike to get her cardio training in, which is a favored choice by many personal trainers working with clients like Ashley. She lost 100 pounds! But things needed to change because her body required more fuel than she was allowing herself, and cardio workouts alone weren't cutting it.
She turned to the 21-Day Fix and Shakeology. She realized she was actually eating more, but losing more pounds and inches. Ashley also added 30 minutes of basic strength training to her routine, and she turned the corner.
"I have never been someone who is into exercise, so I gravitate toward basic, simple workouts," Ashley explained. "I'm also a work-from-home mother, so I don't have time to leave to go to the gym. My workout routine currently is total body strength training. I have also slowly taken up running as I've gotten stronger, and I try to run at least two to four days a week on my treadmill."
To target the excess skin she's developed during her weight loss, Ashley credits her strength training from the 21-Day Fix and PiYo programs to help her build muscle and tone her skin.
If you're sharing a household with other people and you go ahead and toss or donate a bunch of food, you can bet those other family members will be affected by your choices. That was definitely the case with Ashley's family. Her oldest daughter was considered overweight by the pediatrician, so Ashley worked hard to get her on track. She lost nearly 10 pounds, and the doc approves!
Her husband was a fair 80 pounds overweight. He began to tackle his personal weight loss journey in February of this year, and is already down 60 pounds.
"By me sticking to a healthy grocery list, incorporating more veggies and shying away from processed and/or packaged foods, my whole family has lost weight!" Ashley shared. "We're all healthier and happier."
It's Not Over, Yet
Ashley still aims to lose 40 pounds. At this point in the game, the weight becomes more stubborn and the pound-dropping might slow down. As a busy mom of two, Ashley knows her biggest obstacle with this weight loss has been recognizing and dodging the quick fixes. For example, as much as she wants to zoom through the drive-thru or toss in a microwave meal, she really tries hard to food prep, cook every night and limit her snacking. She clearly remembers the beginning of her weight loss routine being a tough adjustment and different from anything she had ever done. But it worked.
"I would tell someone wanting to embark on a health and fitness journey that 'you don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great,'" Ashley said. "In my opinion starting a journey is tough, and scary, but if you don't start it at all you won't know how much it could potentially change your life.
I feel like it's inevitable that your journey will change along the way, and maybe the path you start on isn't the path you maintain, but just start. The only way a change is going to occur is if you decide to make one!"
Ashley continues to drop the weight and maintain her healthy lifestyle, learning and teaching at the same time. She is now a health and fitness coach through Beachbody, and posts her day-to-day on her Instagram account, keeping it real.
>> If Ashley's story inspired you, check out more moms going through similar weight loss journeys here.