Allison Dunlap, 37, of Riverdale, is a registered nurse who decided to make positive changes in her life to keep up with her three young children. In order to do that she needed a healthy body. So in March 2011, tipping the scales at 340 pounds, she started making healthy decisions. Now at 170 pounds, she’s run triathlons with her kids and is feeling better than ever. This is her story.
What was your goal when you started your fitness journey?
My goal was to be able to play with my kids. Now that I’ve lost weight, I am more physically fit in ways that I didn’t even know was possible. I can actually play WITH my kids! In my new body, I can move in ways that I couldn’t even imagine before. When you are as out of shape as I used to be, you can’t even see how you are constantly settling for less and less.
How did you start your journey?
When I weighed 340 pounds, I found it easiest to start with something fun and tried The Biggest Loser game on the Wii. This progressed to a more typical workout routine that included strength training, mostly using my own body weight, and eventually to cardio. I started walking 5Ks and actually placed in my first official walking 5K. From there I starting wogging (walk/jogging) which somehow got me to triathlons! I completed two triathlons when I weighed 250 pounds and had a blast! My current workout routine includes long brisk walks outside three to four times a week with my husband and at least a 30-minute DVD workout in my living room mixing cardio and strength. My kiddos are a big part of that DVD workout. They keep me motivated, keep it fun by laughing and joking and most importantly counting down the time left on a move that I need to push through!
How is your current diet?
I have learned a lot about, and adjusted, my nutrition as I needed. I started by paying attention to serving size, which was eye-opening for me! Then I focused on what I was eating, learning about macronutrients and daily ratio goals, not worrying as much about calories. I used MyFitnessPal to help me track this. One big change I made was the commitment to no fast food. As a family, we decided that for every month we didn’t eat fast food we would reward ourselves with a non-food reward. The first month we went to the circus, then a movie, then a water park. At first, no fast food was HARD!!! But after a few months, and a few fun rewards, it was easier. Now, fast food isn’t even the idea of a craving.
How do you deal with days you don’t eat well?
It’s not cheating when you follow a healthy nutritional diet 80-85 percent of the time. Treating myself, or “cheating” doesn’t always mean eating something unhealthy. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE baked goods! And so, when I want something, I have it — but just that one, or part of that one, and then I move on. One trick I used in the past to help overcome food urges was dubbing Saturday as dessert Saturday. Want something sweet after dinner on Wednesday? Nope, because I’m going to treat myself to something extra special on Saturday and the wait will be worth it.
How is your support system?
I am part of a large women’s (or shall I say warrior goddess) group on Facebook. It is a great place to be able to lift up and support other women and be supported without negativity. There have been countless times where I didn’t feel like going out for my walk or run or whatever I was doing that day, so I grab my phone like so many of us do to pass the time on Facebook and right there is a picture or post in my group that inspires me to get up and get going! Also, I lived in Lansing my whole life until this past summer when I moved out into the country. Having virtual support living away from a city has been priceless in my journey towards health.