“I felt horrible. You don’t want to be overweight and you know people look at you. It makes you feel bad. Then you get into this rut: ‘I’m already fat. I might as well have this extra doughnut. I feel yucky. I’m overweight. Why should I care?’”
Photo courtesy of RealAge.com
In September 2007, Lori Mueller found the reason.
The 45-year-old mother of two from Waukesha County improved her diet; started to exercise; lost more than 100 pounds; and this month, became a national role model with her story on the health and wellness website RealAge.
For people like her former self, obese and seemingly trapped in an unhealthy lifestyle, Mueller is an example of success.
In an interview, the Vernon volunteer firefighter described herself as an active teen who weighed 125 pounds when she graduated from Arrowhead High School in 1984. Service in the Army Reserve kept her physically fit at the start of her adult life, but Mueller's motivation to stay fit faded.
She ate fattening meals and sugary snacks from the vending machines at work, exercised little and came to accept the 100 pounds she added over roughly 15 years.
Mueller reached a turning point on a family trip to Peninsula State Park, in Door County. Struggling to join her husband and children on a climb to the top of the Eagle Tower, the effort left Mueller “completely out of breath.”
“This is not who I want to be,” she thought. “I want to enjoy the outdoors and have fun with my family.”
First steps: “I sat down one day and decided I needed to figure out how to eat and what I need to eat.”
After her research, Mueller replaced starchy pastas with whole grains. No more fast-food dinners. She snacked on fruit instead of bear claws.
“I always ate. I always made sure that I had breakfast, which I hadn’t done before. Eating more times during the day. I always had my breakfast, snack, lunch, snack dinner. The hardest thing was giving up that snack at night.”
By the numbers: Before starting to make her lifestyle change, Mueller kept track of everything she ate and tallied roughly 4,000 calories a day. She cut that down to 2,500 initially, and reduced the amount by 100 every couple weeks until she reached 1,200 calories per day.
Exercise: At 225 pounds, Mueller was embarrassed about her body, which limited some of her workout options.
“I didn’t want people looking at me. That was a big issue. I didn’t want to go outside and have people look at me while I was trying to exercise or walk.”
She discovered the Leslie Sansone Walk at Home workouts and devoted one hour a day, every day, to exercising with the instructional videos.
“You walk in place like you’re marching – front to back – knee lifts to the sides, constantly moving. You can intensify how you do your moves. Now, I’ve added the kettle bells, moved into strength training.”
The pay off: Mueller hit her goal weight of 110 pounds on Oct. 1, 2008, roughly eight months after she started her diet and one year after her Peninsula Park epiphany. She has kept her weight between 110 and 120 pounds and enjoys the benefits of an improved lifestyle.
“We recently started going kayaking. I would never even have attempted to get into a kayak. Now, during the summer, we do a lot of hiking. We purposely go to campgrounds where we can hike. The fun stuff you wanted to do that I could never do before.”
Lori Mueller shows off the trim version of herself.
Photo courtesy of RealAge.com