When looking to lose weight, there are endless carb-reducing diets, workout classes,trainers, and expert-approved fitness books out there that can help you reach your goals. But mom-of-two Joanna Boyles is living proof that you don’t really need any of it. In fact, she was able to drop 45 pounds andscore an amazing six pack sans a gym membership or expensive spinning classes.
“I read a fitness article one time that made it sound like if you want to get results you have to have a top-of-the-line certified trainer and pay a little extra for the better gym,” she told Redbook. “I read that and thought, ‘that’s just dumb. watch me do it all by myself’…Now, I’m right where I want to be,” she says.
The struggle with Joanna’s weight really began when she put on 25 pounds after embracing a not-so-healthy college lifestyle: a.k.a. eating too many carbs via instant mac and cheese, skipping the gym for study sessions, and hitting up happy hour a few times a week with her friends.
After graduating, she continued to gain weight. Before she knew it, Joanna got married, pregnant, and put on another 25-30 pounds from yo-yo dieting and indulging in pasta, burgers, Hot Pockets, chocolate, and pizza every week. As a result, Joanna says she felt more sluggish and got sick with colds more often than ever before. Though she shed 20 pounds by the start of 2012 by going on 30-minute runs after her second pregnancy, she still wasn’t happy with her results.
“I always liked the really lean physique look and running and cardio didn’t give me that,” she says.
It wasn’t until 2013 that she picked up a fitness magazine and got truly inspired by the transformation articles.
“The stories were so cool and amazing. Afterwards, I went to bodybuilding.com and read even more,” she says. “So many women overcame such crazy obstacles that I found it so motivating and helpful. I thought, if they could do it with all the challenges, what was stopping me?“
Through further Internet research, Joanna learned the importance of eating a diet high in complex carbs and protein to get the arms, abs, and legs she wanted. So, for breakfast she started eating scrambled egg whites with a pinch of cheese, two pieces of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana slices on top; a salad with tuna, onions, carrots, and avocado for lunch; salmon, broccoli and quinoa for dinner; and protein bars in between.
For exercise, Joanna knew she couldn’t afford a gym or personal trainer, even though she had read online about incorporating both weight-training and cardio into your routine for a lean body. So, Joanna tracked down yard sales to pick up some dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands, and then copied a few simple movements she found online. That, combined with 30-minute runs a few times a week, really made a difference.
“I would do dumbbell flies in my living room, some simple squats, and step ups using the couch,” she explains. “I just used what I had available to me.”
But before she could really enjoy all her hard work paying off, Joanna says she had to overcome the biggest hurdle: herself.
There were times where I was like, ‘why am I even doing this?’ but deep down I knew I wanted to feel that energy again that I had in high school. I knew I was getting sick way more than I should have and that wasn’t who I am.
“There were times where I was like, why am I even doing this? But deep down I knew I wanted to feel that energy again that I had in high school. I knew I was getting sick way more than I should have and that wasn’t who I am. I thought, I’m a motivated, driven person and I want my kids to be that way too. I have to be a good example. I was really dissatisfied and wanted my kids to have a good role model to look up to, which kept me going.”
With the fitness stories and her five-year-old son, Tucker, and four-year-old daughter, Peyton, in mind, Joanna eventually got the hang of eating right and saying ‘no’ to her vices.
Her weight fluctuated from year-to-year, but since she started changing her diet and exercising at home nearly three years ago, Joanna has lost around 45 pounds. Now, she leads her own fitness class with a few friends at her local church, where she teaches other women how to do fat-burning interval training and exercise on a low budget. She also tries to squeeze in a workout here and there while her kids are off at preschool and kindergarten for valuable “me” time.
Joanna’s number one piece of advice? If food is now your mortal enemy, don’t automatically jump to calorie-counting or a fad diet: Instead, take it one veggie at a time and your palette, she says, will eventually adjust. As for cookies, chocolate, and pasta, she believes these are okay to have, so long as you focus on eating veggies, lean protein, and complex carbs 80 percent of the time.
“It had to be a change of mindset for me. You have to think, ‘will eating this really make me feel better? Is it worth it?’ If so, then go for it, but it’s learning to be honest with yourself that is the key.”