Top of the Months Transformation: Lisa Muller


I present to you my inspirational Mother as my first Top Transformation of the Month! Warning: this post will leave you extremely motivated, wow-ed, and maybe even a little emotional! What my Mother has accomplished is outstanding, and just as she says in the end of her interview, I can’t imagine doing this without my mother and father by my side. I also wish her parents were here to see the look in their eyes at how beautiful and impressive their daughter is. That’s why I want to share her story with you all. She deserves one GIANT pat on the back, as I have finally gotten Lisa Muller to share her guts and glory! Lisa also wants to warn everyone that she is not a writer. The spelling mistakes and weird made up grammar rules you see in my posts? Well, yeah, I got it from my Mama. Lisa wants to give a shoutout to Blake and her husband, and my father, Richard, for always being by her side. As many of you know, my mother and I went through this together, but the men in our family were with us too! Before you read, let me summarize Lisa’s weight loss. With 282 as her heaviest, Lisa went from 282 to 167 in ONE YEAR! She now weighs in at about 162.

“I never weigh myself, I don’t like the number. I go by how my clothes fit and how I generally feel. That’s all. I’ve always wanted to write and get my story out there, for me, for whoever, and I thank you for letting me. There’s so much more I can write, like when I write to Jillian Michaels to let her know about my journey, and she comes back and offers me a week at the biggest loser ranch! I probably will never write her, but I thought about it! :)”

Give me a brief summary of yourself and your journey.  
My name is Lisa Muller. I grew up in New Jersey in a big Italian family, where food was EVERYTHING.  Got married in 1987 weighing 142 lbs.
As the years went by I kept putting on weight.  My mom passed away in 2004, I weighed 240 lbs.  In that next year I had the audacity to gain 25 lbs.  So I was 265 lbs, and not happy at all.  Everything was an effort.  I knew I had to loose weight, but loosing 100 lbs seemed insurmountable, and losing 60 wasn’t enough.  I had, in my closet, size 18, through (in the summer of 2009, my weight had soared to 282 at 5’7) size 26 and xxxl (which were tight).  That summer (2009) my husband kept talking about us getting “The Biggest Loser 30 Jump Start” ,loose 20 lbs in 30 days, and I kept putting him off. In August of 2009 we took my son to college, my daughter was an upcoming senior, and that September I bought the book.  It was 30 days of three meals and snacks…AND recipes.  I closed the book, and said “Nah, I’m not making all this stuff”.  My husband said “lets just do it for the 30 days and see…” and with his persistence, and my kicking and screaming, we started in October.  We holed ourselves in for one month, ,started walking, did not drink, go out to dinner, even go to our mother-in-law or sister-in-laws.  I was at the grocery store at least 4 times a week, bitching and moaning, but following the plan.  I’m so sorry I didn’t document my weekly struggle, yet weight loss   After the 30 days, we both lost 20 lbs and for me (as well as my husband)it was like a switch.  I started going to the gym and doing a cardio machine for 15 minutes, did some hand weights and sit ups,  Mid November I started going to a core conditioning class every tues/thurs, was doing some sort of exercise 4-5 days a week.  For the next few months we did not go out to dinner, order out, or drink.  In February I started running on the treadmill, then started with a mile outside.  In September of 2010 I had lost 115 and my husband lost 60.
What were your goals?
My goal, at first, was to just get thru the 30 days.  After that, my goal was to loose 100 lbs and get to a size 14 (I thought being a 12 might be to hard to maintain).  I remember my girlfriend, Kim, asking me, at around -50, what was it for me that got me going.   And truly I couldn’t answer, it was just timing.  I think when you’re ready, you’re ready.  I would watch biggest loser and be so emotional, but I would also sit there with a bowl of  ice cream and melted peanut butter, thinking “oh sure, they get to go away, be on the ranch, and have great trainers, doctors, etc.”  During this year, my mindset (that I’d had for so many years) just vanished.  I grew up an athlete, and as this weight loss was happening, it was such an empowering feeling.  Little by little I was feeling like Lisa.  I’ve been playing tennis since I was 10,and still played at 282 lbs.  Was even playing softball.  But, like a past Weight Watchers instructor always used to end a meeting “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”,that couldn’t be more true.
Top Right: September 2009, Bottom Left: September 2010 <– can you say WOW?
When did you decide to change your life and what motivated you the most?
As my weight grew, I had a beautiful young daughter, who from first grade on, just kept gaining more weight.  By high school she was 262 lbs.  And I thought how could I be this, why can’t I be a good role model for my daughter, who is getting heavier and heavier.  One would’ve thought that that would’ve been my motivation.  You all know her story, but in October of 10th grade, she just made up her mind and started watching her weight.  The strength she had, which I’ve realized more and more, esp thru my weight loss, that she showed was mountainous.  When all these girls did was get together and eat, Stefani just said “No”, even when her friends, who couldn’t really understand, would say “just eat it”, she did not.  The strength…she was my motivation, albeit, a few years later.
What is the best advice you can give to those who have similar goals (or personal goals in general) in mind?
The best advice…it is so individual.  I feel that I can’t say, “you can do it”, because that was said to me, and I couldn’t, or wouldn’t.  There was NO willpower, willpower was, as I’m heading to Dunkin Donuts “am I going to get 2 donuts or one sour cream donut, with my coffee”.  Because, even I knew that those sour cream donuts where high in everything,  And god for bid I decided to bring home a dozen for “my kids”, not good.  Or buy oreos (huge red light food)for “the kids”, only to find myself dunking 2 at a time into my milk or coffee (I’m from an Italian family from new jersey…we dunk everything).  I did this, really without knowing I was going to do this…to this extent.  Sure I’ve done other diets where I’ve lost 20, 30 even 40 lbs, only to gain it all back and then some,  My advice would be, DO NOT GIVE UP, STAY STRONG.  They say it takes 30 days to change a habit, well for me that’s the truth (I never even heard of that till well into my weight loss).  I think people give up too easily.  I remember watching biggest loser, watching those overweight people doing those exercises, and they give up, of course, when you’re 300 lbs, that stuff is hard.  And Jillian would say “work thru it…”,  I didn’t get that until, at 255 lbs , when I started going to the gym, I would do my 15 minutes on an elypical, but after 2 minutes I would be like “I can’t do another minute”, but I would push through it, and its so true.  PUSH THROUGH, GET PAST “IT”, WHATEVER THAT “IT” IS, DON’T GIVE UP SO SOON, PUSH YOURSELF, YOU’RE CAPABLE OF MORE THAN YOU KNOW, DON’T GIVE UP AS SOON AS YOU THINK YOU’VE HIT YOUR LIMIT, I want to scream to people to do it, don’t wait, it feels too good.
What do you think is the main reason why some people find it so hard to reach goals such as the one you achieved? 
You have to be prepared!!!!  Buy a lunch bag and keep it in your car with bars and 100 calorie packs, nuts.  Drink water…we know that water is good for you, but when you’re heavy, water is so filling.  Now, I will down a water from the gym to home (1-1/2 mile).  And sometimes, it triggers hunger…yup.  Plus if you’re “older” (I’m rounding 50, well, actually, right around the damn corner)its good for the skin, keep hydrated.  If you work…make your lunch!!  Bring a snack.  If it helps, follow a plan.  I truly liked that, it took the guess work out of what I’m going to eat for my meals and snack.
What (and who) helped you the most through the process of bettering yourself? 
Who helped me thru this…Rich, my favorite.  He saw the strength in me that I had lost so long ago,  I thank him for introducing me to this journey, and doing it together was amazing.  We have been together since we were 16 and 17, 33 years, and we are closer than ever.  My relationship with him and my kids has blossomed.  My daughter is a big crossfitter, and my son, as they say, has “drank the kool-ade” and is just as “big” of a crossfitter. (You’re still small, Blake. – Stef)  We’ve all taken on a healthier lifestyle.
How has your life changed since you reached your goals? 
How has my life changed.  I can’t begin to get that across,  Raising my kids, everything was a chore.  I rarely did laundry, if I forgot something upstairs, “oh well”, the stairs were a chore, Just handling everyday life was a chore, I remember thinking, when Lady Diana was killed, it hit me that if I died right at that time, I would die unhappy,  Yet…it took me YEARS to do anything about it.  I go up and down the stairs 5 times a day, I do laundry, This paragraph is so trivial.  My life has changed drastically, yet I’m not one to think I should’ve done this a long time ago,  I did it now, and I won’t look back.
What are you going to do (now that you’ve reached success) to maintain your progress?
So, September was my 3 year anniversary with the weight OFF.  I’ve never faltered, I will never go back to the way I used to eat (now I would’ve never said that thru my journey, wasn’t sure and strong enough),  I know the percentage of people who gain it back is high…nope, not me…I’m good.  And I am a solid size 12 (some 10’s)and I am not struggling to keep that size.  I run 4 times a week, take that core conditioning class (still-4 years later-its my constant)twice a week, I do an advanced kickboxing class Mondays. My kids try to convince me to crossfit, but two memberships is pricey!
I eat solid during the week, so the weekends I can drink my wine and not worry about going out to dinner if I do. I thought I loved food before…no…I love food more now (before I always felt like crap), not now.  My appetite is not small,  I am not one of those people who go out to dinner, only to bring 1/2 home,  Nope, I eat everything on my plate, just like my mom said…only wished my mom and dad could’ve been here to see this.
Yours Truly,

The Six Random Pieces of Advice – Food, Gains & Life

I have been writing a post on productivity for awhile now, and can’t seem to complete that and my homework all at the same time… multitasking schoolwork is not my strong point. So, today, I started rambling on in my post on productivity and came up with this. It didn’t go a long with my point of focus for my future post, so I figured it deserves it’s own.

The Six Random Pieces of Advice from a 21-Year-Old Crossfit Chick

1. The better you eat, the better you’ll feel. How many times have you crushed that pizza and felt like absolute shit after it? And how many times have you felt like shit after eating a salad? Okay, so you all know how I feel about salad, but it is a good reference to a healthy combination of food. A healthy salad, stuffed with vegetables and chicken, can do no harm. A pizza, with sausage & pepperoni & bacon & yes, vegetables, will still send you right into hibernation stage. A nap will most likely occur. Your homework will be put off, and so will your workout. One dominos pizza & cheesy bread later and all of a sudden my life sucks, im so fat, I wish I didn’t do that, I have no friends, pizza is my boyfriend/girlfriend. And those are just some of the negative thoughts caused by overeating or binging on greasy food. Don’t act like you’ve never experienced that. Food makes you happy for a moment, then all of a sudden it plants you at the bottom of a black hole, that you eventually crave a few days later. Some people ask how I’m so “stable” all the time. I laugh because if they were in my head they’d realize I don’t always “have it all together”. But I do pride myself on my positivity, motivation & stable thoughts. I can thank food for that. No, not dominos. Chicken, beef, vegetables, fruits & other healthy carbs. Thank you for making me feel the best I can every day.
2. Fuel your body to fuel your workouts. Over the summer I experienced a serious change in my diet. Not only was I gluten & dairy free, but I learned to eat the right foods to fuel my workouts and inevitably make “gains”. Before I started to eat for performance, I typically ate around 1,500-1,800 calories a day. I tried to keep my caloric intake towards the lower end of that spectrum, and never even thought twice about upping my calories. The second I told one of my Crossfit trainers how much I typically ate, he responded with, “That’s rabbit food”. Over the summer I was eating 2400-2600 calories on high activity days, and about 2000 on low activity days. I didn’t gain a pound of fat, which went down 2%. Keep in mind, I wasn’t exactly eating for weightloss. I was eating to build muscle, which will lead to fat loss. Every meal had large servings of protein, veggies, and a healthy fat or carb. On heavy deadlift or squat days, I ate more carbs and red meat post wod. I brought a container or 4 oz ground turkey meat and 4 oz sweet potato to eat DIRECTLY after my workout. I used to love my pre-workout carbs. Banana’s with peanut butter on a piece of toast was my go-to. I started concentrating on eating almost no carbs before my workouts. My trainer explained to me that if you load yourself with carbs, the only thing your body will burn during your workouts is those carbs. By not eating carbs before a workout, your body becomes more efficient in burning fat throughout and after your workout. My pre-workout meal would typically be chicken/beef & avocado. I stopped eating nut butter and lara bars. With all the food I was eating, I was constantly energized. I never had headaches, I could make it through the day without a nap, and the groggy feeling during wods was very rare.
3. Making gains is not a bad thing, ladies. It’s kinda fun for me to say “make gains” because typically you use the word gain by saying “I don’t want to gain weight”. I had to put that statement out of my head, because I sure as hell did gain “weight” this summer, or muscle mass. My muscles grew, which inevitably replaced fat with muscle. Muscles appeared that I didn’t even knew existed. Yes, my back broadened, and my thighs became large and in charge, in the healthiest most satisfying way possible. I formed a great starting point for myself and my body. I was focusing strictly on strength, and I saw some serious improvements in that as well as performance. I’m currently focusing on endurance. Maintaining my strength while adding some cardio back in. I do not have a naturally lean, athletic build. Therefore; the cardio is helping to shape me. And no, I’m still not looking at the scale. What girls need to do is stop looking at the scale. Start measuring, start eating productively, and thinking positively. You don’t have to give up the sacred elliptical all together, if it’s what you like, continue to use it. Just add some weights in there. The more muscle you have, the more fat you lose, how much clearer does it have to be? Once I lose fat, replace it with muscle, I will become a better crossfitter instead of just being “really strong”…
4. Don’t be afraid of being powerful. …Which is what girls are typically afraid of…being strong. Yeah, it’s fun to be cutesy and flirtatious and innocent but who says you can’t be girly and be strong as F$%#. Do you know how empowering it is, as a women, to be able to lift really heavy shit and throw it back down? That satisfying & strong scream from the bottom to the top of your squat is enough adrenaline to last you the week, and the look on guys faces when they see you whipping out pull up after pull up? (Pull Ups…I’ve yet to perfect you, so maybe I’ll experience this one day). The more powerful state the body is in, the more powerful the mind is. That’s what gets girls in trouble, their mind. We are CRAZY. Girls are crazy, and we can thank our wandering minds for that. Let your body overpower your mind, and you will see results.
5. Listen to your trainers. There are so many times when I get to the gym and I just want to “take it easy”. I lower my weight on the barbell, and my mind is typically wandering elsewhere. Everybody has those days, but a good trainer knows the difference between needing a rest day and being lazy. I am so guilty of this. There have been many times that I’ve either underestimated myself or was feeling lazy and put less weight on my bar. After reflecting on these times, it’s a very good feeling when your trainer comes over and either tells you to put more weight on, or puts it on themselves. It feels good because it’s a sign that they see your potential and they know you can do better even if you don’t believe so. This is one out of a million ways that every trainer has inspired me. Make your trainers your best friend, tell them your worries and doubts because they will help you overcome them. Tell them your goals because they will be on your ass about completing them. In the end, there is only so much that the trainers can do. You have to be as dedicated to bettering yourself as they are to helping you.
6. Relax. This is advice that took me a long time to take. Don’t stress that you didn’t have time to get a workout in, if it’s actually a priority, you’ll make sure to get it in tomorrow. Don’t stress that you ate something a little unhealthy one night with your friends. You know how to eat healthy, you’re just living. Live in the moment. If you sit in your house and wait for results they won’t happen. The more you stress about losing weight, the less likely you’ll be able to lose weight. Don’t even think about losing weight…think about your workouts and your goals and the weight will come off naturally. Relax and take it day by day. Know when to say no to a cookie, and know when to let yourself eat something you typically don’t eat. Go out with friends and find adventure. It burns way more calories than sitting on the couch waiting for your next meal. And lastly, surround yourself with people that believe in your goals, not people that will roll their eyes at the sound of your drive. <– Watch this.