Meghan Smith, a 38 year old full time RN in Mississauga, and a Part Time College Nursing Professor has been on the journey of her life. Her fitness/weight loss journey is a combination of determination, commitment and personal strength and we implore you to take 5 minutes and read her story. The most recent chapter in her story is a true ‘show stopper’. Read her story. Be inspired. Share her story!

Q. What was your highest weight?

285 lbs – I may have been higher, but that is the number the scale shot back at me before I made the decision to lose the weight.

Q. Is this the first time you have gone through a weight loss journey?

No, I have done various weight loss programs over the last 13 years. In 2007, I lost 50 lbs with Weight Watchers, which I main

tained for approximately 1 year. Then in 2015, I joined Towne Fitness, lost 62 lbs, and ran a Half Marathon in 2016 (something I never thought I was capable of!) and maintained that weight loss for just over a year. Over the next 4 years, I would attempt to get back to the gym and try to lose weight, but I couldn’t quite get myself together enough to commit.

Q. How has your job affected your lifestyle choices?

Shift work brings with it unique challenges when it comes to eating and sleeping. Often, I would forego meal prep, thinking it was easier to just buy something at work – which lead to less than healthy meal choices, or drinking countless cups of coffee (hello nightshift saviour) instead of feeling my body with actual food. Sleeping odd hours also led to unconventional eating times and craving high sugar foods to give me the boost of energy I needed to get through my shift.

Q. What was the biggest motivating factor to make a change to your lifestyle?

I didn’t want to become a statistic. I didn’t want to leave my children without a mother. Heart disease and diabetes run in my family, and I knew that if I continued on the path I was on, I was likely going to be diagnosed with both. Also, I was short of breath just walking up the stairs in my house. I’m 38, that shouldn’t be happening at my age.

Q. Did your weight gain cause additional health problems for you? Describe

Thankfully, I was not diagnosed with any health conditions. However, I know my doctor was watching my A1C value as I was close to being pre-diabetic only a year ago. I also experienced recurrent back, neck and knee issues. My body would just throb after a busy shift, it hurt to walk anywhere.
Q. What was the pivotal moment/lightbulb moment that set you on this path?

Over Christmas in 2019, I remember feeling so bloated, so fatigued, so awful. I had gained so much weight that bending over to tie my shoes caused me pain and shortness of breath. I remember texting with a friend from work, telling her just how horrible I felt, and that I knew I needed to do something. I knew if I didn’t do something to lose some weight, I was heading down a very dangerous path.

Q. How did you lose the weight?

Initially, I started going back to the gym, just 3 days a week. I remember messaging a friend from the gym, asking her if I could join her one morning because I wasn’t sure that I could walk back through the doors on my own. Then I promised myself that I would go two times a week – just 30 minutes. By the middle of January, I was going 3 days a week with a very good friend of mine – we held each other accountable. I also started tracking my food. Everything I ate was written down.

At the end of February, after much research and conversation with doctors and nurses who were involved with the lifestyle, I adopted a ketogenic lifestyle. I spent so much time focusing on what I SHOULDN’T eat when I wanted to lose weight previously, this time, I wanted to focus on those things that I could eat that my body responded well to, and not eat those food that my body doesn’t tolerate. Listening to my body in terms of the foods that fuel it has been key in my ability to sustain this lifestyle for the past 7 months. While this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, it’s a perfect fit for my life and I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on anything.

Q. Do you have a good support group

Oh my gosh! My support group is AMAZING!! I routinely work out with 3 other women from the gym, not every day is easy, but the four of us constantly push and motivate each other every time we work out. We celebrate our individual successes – whether it’s hitting those box jumps, or an increase in speed for our sprints, and we build each other up on our bad days. The support I have received not only from these ladies, but from my colleagues, family and Towne Fitness has been so crucial in my journey. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without each and every one of them. I don’t have the words to truly describe just how much the support I’ve received means to me.

Q. Tell me about your exercise routine/program

COVID put life on hold. I was worried that my not being able to work out at the gym would undo all the progress I had made at the time. So, I made my nutrition my focus. Once the gym was able to open, I was there the first day! It felt like coming home. At first, I focused more on strength training, more recently, I have started running again. A typical workout for me is at least 20 minutes of cardio, followed by a circuit workout that involves strength, cardio and core work.

Q. What advice would you give to someone else that may be in the same place you were 8 months ago?

The advice I would give to someone who is where I was 8 months ago would be to keep it simple. You don’t need all the things – new shoes, new clothes, organic food, etc. Focus on one thing, focus on what you have around you. A lifestyle change is easier and more meaningful when it’s not complicated. Go for a walk in the morning or after dinner; instead of having 2 helpings of something, have 1; use what you have at home before you go and buy all the things. Weight loss, and the overall lifestyle change doesn’t

have to be complicated. Also, make sure whatever changes you make are sustainable with your lifestyle. I cannot commit to going to the gym 5 days a week, but I can usually commit to 3. Part of this journey is learning what your limitations and boundaries are and maintaining them. I’m not an expert on weight loss, I’ve just learned by trial and error what works for me, and what works within my boundaries.

If there is one ‘thing’ I have learned through multiple weight loss attempts, it is not a linear process. There are ups and downs. Good days and bad days. My success is not determined by a number on the scale (although it is amazing to see that I’m down 80 lbs from January). I have bad days; I have days where I eat things that may be classified as “not healthy”, but what I’ve really tried to do this time around is give myself grace. I am not perfect, I’m human. I have a demanding career, I’m raising a family, and I’m trying to become a better version of myself – I’m going to have days where I can’t do it all. So, I give myself grace, I eat mozzarella sticks, I lay in bed, I feel all the feelings, and then I start over again the next day. If there is one thing I think we need to do is give ourselves more grace. 2020 has been unpredictable to say the least, now more than ever, we need to give ourselves grace and space to feel our feelings in which ever way we choose.