Before: 330 pounds
After: 143 pounds
It took 41-year-old Tami Shumate 2 years to undo 20 years of weight gain and learn to love her body. She had put on more than 70 pounds while pregnant with her first son and got heavier with every child, giving birth to three boys in 4 years. To prepare for a family reunion in 2007, she had reached her goal of losing 50 pounds—but she still weighed 280 pounds. “I’m not sure why I stopped there,” she says.
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The Turning Point
Tami and her son, Jake, were at home in Covington, WA, watching Michelle Aguilar win season six of The Biggest Loser. “She looked so fabulous,” Tami says. “I thought, I could do that.”
Tami may not have had Jillian or Bob, but she had Jake. Not wanting to join the bevy of New Year’s resolution gym-goers, the mother and son duo started their fitness plan on December 29, 2008. On their first trip to the gym, she walked slowly for 67 minutes on the treadmill. It was all uphill from there. She would come home from the scrapbook store where she works, and 15-year-old Jake would be raring to go. They started exercising together 5 days a week.
Right from the start, she alternated between cardio and strength-training, trying out different machines. Then she signed up for group classes, which she loved because the instructor kept her moving for an hour, telling her exactly what to do. Soon she made friends at the gym and found people to exercise with when Jake was busy.
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A reformed “junk food junkie,” Tami struggled to enjoy healthy food. She reduced her diet to 1,200 calories, but she wasn’t filling up on anything nutritious. Now, she can’t get enough chicken, tuna, egg whites, fruits, and vegetables. When she leaves the house at 9 a.m., she takes all her meals and snacks with her because she typically doesn’t return for another 12 hours. She tries to eat every 2 to 3 hours and plans ahead for any indulgences. For instance, she ate cake at Jake’s 18th birthday celebration last week but compensated for it with extra cardio.
Now she teaches strength-training, cycling, and boot camp classes 4 nights a week. If she has the night off, she usually meets a girlfriend for a run. (As Jake has gotten older, his schedule doesn’t allow him to regularly work out with his mom.)
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Jake was a huge cheerleader for Tami. Though most teenage boys wouldn’t be caught dead in the gym with their mom, Jake didn’t mind. He jogged on the treadmill next to her and spotted her as she lifted weights in the weight room filled with beefy men. (He has since shot up 6 inches to reach 6'1" and dropped 55 pounds to 200 pounds.) Tami says those memories from her early weight loss days make her feel “warm and fuzzy,” ultimately strengthening her relationship with her son. “He’s become such a good friend,” she says.
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Every day she is ecstatic to wake up and live her life—she never thought she could be this happy. She also loves it when her students tell her what a great workout they had. That makes up for all the glares she receives during class, she says.
Don’t be self-conscious. “It was hard to go to the gym being so overweight and feeling like people were staring at me. I had to get over that. They needed to respect the fact that I was there.”
Be selfish. “Women and mothers need to know it’s okay to put themselves first, even if others may not approve of the time you give yourself trying to get healthy.”
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