Juggling three kids, a job, school and a household is a challenge for any woman, but Amy McKenzie isn't just any woman. The 36-year-old out of Reading, Ohio, ignited her weight loss journey while she was in a damp, dark corner of depression. Amy lives with fibromyalgia, arthritis, Hashimoto's disease and gout. The pain, medications and overwhelming emotions that tagged along with these diagnoses really weighed her down to the point where the weight became her reality.
"I was very unhappy with my life. I felt like my family would be better off without me around. I couldn't be a good mom or wife because most days just getting out of bed was difficult. I was fed up with feeling the way I did. The thought of working out was intimidating because just moving hurt. Sometimes I hurt even when I did nothing at all."
How could someone in her position run a 5K or an 8K obstacle course, a half-marathon? Amy found a way to shed the oppressive layers and push herself into doing all three of those things and more. Now, she's ready to let you in on her weight loss secrets and how she sharpened her edge.
>> Get motivated: 'Tis the Season for 5Ks: How to Train
Amy went in for testing for Multiple Sclerosis and the results were inconclusive. "I was sick and tired of being sick and tired," Amy admitted. "I couldn't enjoy time with my husband and children because I was always tired and in pain. I thought maybe the doctors were right."
Instead of letting these medical issues dictate her future, Amy took the reigns and set a weight loss goal for herself: 50 pounds down. She wanted to lose that weight before she graduated from Cincinnati Christian University in May 2014, and gave herself one year to do it.
It was a slow start, but a start nonetheless. Amy couldn't just jump into any workout program or exercise routine without being very cautious of her nagging symptoms. She took her first step, literally, with Leslie Sansone DVDs at home, working her way up to three-mile workouts. She got hungry for more and invested in Beachbody workouts at home, signed up for her first 5K, then a 10K and supplied her body with Shakeology. Eventually she tapped into P90X, Les Mills Body Combat™, T25 and more (like these seven at-home beginner DVDs), using a heart rate monitor to learn her body.
Her transformation hit a turning point when she began to recognize her body's enemies. "Food is my nemesis," she admitted. "We need food to live, but if we don’t eat the right foods, it can make us feel like we're dying or sometimes lead us to an early grave. That may sound extreme, but it’s true." Becoming aware of that and realizing how strong her body could be when fueled properly, Amy was determined to resist the cravings and never look back.
>> Lock and load: 10 Healthy Snacks to Keep Near Your Desk
The Final Score
Amy's original goal was 50 pounds in 12 months, but she ended up losing that before she graduated (summa cum laude, we might add), and upped the goal to 70 pounds! Of course, she reached it. She's maintained that number for a year now, weighing around 143 pounds at her 5'6" stature.
"It's been a fight lately to maintain since my thyroid levels are low," explained Amy, "but I'm continuing to fight back and I'm increasing my running mileage so hopefully it will get easier."
That same thyroid problem also happened to be the reason her first MS test results came back as inconclusive. She went back for another test and there were no signs of MS!
Now, the alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m. so Amy can get the kids off to school as she gets ready for work. Breakfast usually consists of eggs whites and veggies, followed by a mid-morning banana and some Shakeology. Her go-to snack is veggies with hummus, and her dinner plate is often a bowl full of salad with beans, meat and veggies (check out Skinny Mom's salad recipe page here). Depending on her husband's schedule, she'll work out once he's home for the day or in the morning before he sets off. "Before bedtime I will pack up my snacks for the next day so that I’m ready to get out the door," shared Amy, "and won’t be tempted to eat anything unhealthy that next day."
In 2015, Amy has completed the Heart Mini Marathon, the Half Pig Marathon and her first Battlefrog run — an 8K course with 45 obstacles — as well as a 4K extreme run through local campgrounds. Her proudest moment this year was coming in fourth place for the Ultimate Transformation Grand Prize for the Beachbody® Challenge.
The Last Note
"Being a mom is challenging and draining," Amy said. "We give and give to our children, to our spouses, our community, our workplaces, but we rarely take time to give ourselves what we need. We are so focused on caring for others that we often forget or run out of time to take care of ourselves. If you are tired, rest. If you know you need to get a workout done, do it. The laundry will be there later. I would tell other moms: 'You're just as important as those you care for.' This realization changed my life!"