Sara is our Grand Prize winner for the spring 2020 TrifectaME 90 Day Challenge! We caught up with Sara to see what made her successful and what successes she found in her own life.
Sara and her husband live with their family in rocky Ellsworth, Maine. She’s also the lead in a classic rock cover band. Her son just graduated from high school and her and her husband have adapted their tent company from catering weddings to helping schools and hospitals react to the Coronavirus pandemic.
It’s safe to say this has been a season of change.
A Choice for Change
Even prior to the pandemic though, Sara knew she needed change in her life. She was unhappy with her body but her body was just a symptom of mismanaged issues in Sara’s often stressful life. For Sara, eating was a way to cope, leaving issues unresolved and letting food make matters worse.
“Over the last few years, I just had some family and personal stress and other things, things that everybody goes through, but I just let myself get on the back burner pretty much and got back into some old habits and just gained weight and wasn't myself anymore.”
She’d always been athletic but was frustrated in her performance.
“I just got really tired of not being able to do everything. My knees hurt and I can't do all the moves and my cardio was terrible.”
Making the Most of It
In March when Coronavirus quarantines swept the country, Sara and her husband’s tent rental business took a shock. Suddenly a calendar of weddings and events was wiped clean. Instead of letting stress compound her problems, Sara looked at such an unusual time as an opportunity.
“When quarantine started, where live in Maine pretty much shut down and I couldn't go to work because we had no business. And that’s right when your challenge started.
“I said I can either be miserable during quarantine and stay home and eat my sorrows away or I can get my butt moving, take on this challenge and feel better at the end of it.”
Sara has done CrossFit for 3 years and loves it. Luckily her local gym offered home workouts for her to follow while they remained closed. She set up a home gym in her garage and got to work.
“I said I want to lose 50 pounds total, I'm going to give it all, I’m going to enter this 90 Day Challenge and see what I can do.”
"Portion control is a big one. You don't realize until you're shown. When I started getting the meals I was surprised they were so filling. But just seeing what an actual portion is is important."
See what Sara eats:
Breakfast: Eggs, lean meat, whole grain carbs.
Lunch: Trifecta Paleo Meal
Dinner Trifecta Paleo Meal
Breakfast: Protein shake and lean protein
Dinner: Fish or chicken with vegetables
"I haven't had a meal I don't like. It's made it so easy for me. I felt like I could be successful."
Making it Count
“The whole point system that Trifecta set up with it made it really fun so I wanted to get every last point I could."
“I’d never tracked anything. I've done Weight Watchers before and I've had My Fitness Pal and all those other things but I've never tracked anything for 90 days straight. I tracked 89 of 90 days and I don't know where that one day went. It really bothers me.
“I track every single day and every single thing even when it hurts. Just the visual of that at the end of your day really makes a big difference.”
Sara wasn’t just counting for the app. By practicing accountability and following her plan, Sara started seeing serious results faster than she imagined, losing weight and sculpting lean muscle.
“It actually amazed me how well counting the macros and staying under my calories worked. I always feel like I have enough food and like I'm not lacking anything and every single week there were successes.
“I've lost weight before in the past quite a few times but my body composition is so different this time because I'm getting like that protein that I'm supposed to have and I'm eating good food that's actually fueling my muscles and all these muscles are coming out.”
More than Muscle Deep
There were other things happening in Sara, hard to measure but noticeable nonetheless.
"I always try to be a positive person but when you don't feel good about yourself and you're not giving your body what it needs to feel good, that's going to come out somehow, you're going to reflect that on to other people."
Managing stress with food is common. So common you might do it regularly and never even know it. Until she started tracking her macros Sara hadn’t considered what role food was playing in her life.
“I didn't even realize it until I started this and realized that wasn't an option if I was going to be successful with this.”
Food had been suppressing her stress, not solving it. By unlocking the link between stress and food, Sara could actually work it out.
“The big one for me was just saying to myself that it's okay to feel these emotions and you don't have to eat them away. It's okay to be stressed. It's okay to be upset and emotional. It's okay to be tired. It's okay to give yourself that allowance.
“The stress goes away quicker and things subside quicker than if I used a crutch like eating to get through it and then at the end feeling worse."
“You suffer the next day for it too because then you don't feel as well and you probably didn't lose weight or your workouts are harder, it's still a snowball effect instead of just dealing with it in the moment to get through it.”
How a Habit Grows
By accepting stress and learning how to maneuver away from it Sara found new opportunities.
“Sometimes I would go exercise or go for a walk when I really wanted to eat and let myself feel those emotions and be stressed out and be emotional, that's okay. You don't have to eat them away and then feel worse after.”
These opportunities turned into patterns and patterns into habits. Over the course of 90 days, Sara was creating a lifestyle.
"I want this to deem how I live everyday."
“I really feel like the 90 day challenge was perfect because it really gave me a chance to actually change habits. 30 days is great. You can change things and execute on them.
“But I really feel like that full 90 days gave me what I needed to just say, ‘Oh, wow. I feel so good doing this.'"
90 Day Runway
“My relationship with food now is it's just food now I'm using it because I'll be more mindful of when I'm hungry and when I'm not and not just eat it because it's there. Food needs to be my fuel, not my comfort.
“I feel like I can just be a normal human and eat everything if I do want to as long as my macros are where I need them to be successful long-term.
“I don't have all those demons creeping in every day that wanted me to go backwards."
“It's changing your habits and it really does take about 90 days.”
The Grand Prize
During the 90 Day Challenge Sara lost over 30 pounds and reshaped her body composition. She won the challenge for her discipline, sharing her journey online and her incredible transformation. But Sara’s greatest victory is noticed closer to home.
My husband is always my biggest fan. He would support me no matter what I wanted to do.
He’s so proud of me he could scream and he just said, ‘You know, it's just been so cool to watch you because you're just so much more positive.’
“It’s been a ton of changes. I feel just like a different person.”
“The success when you're trying so hard and doing your best, that's the icing on the cake because that gives you a more positive outlook and gives you that forward momentum.
This Time's Different
This isn't like other diets. For Sara, this is a lifestyle.
“Following the macros and staying within the amount of protein and fat and carbs I need and to stay in my calorie deficit, it makes it where it's not short-term anymore. I can see myself doing this forever.”
“So many diets are so short term. You'll get all those initial losses and you'll go six months even a year until you say, well, I can't do that forever. Because there's always restrictions and I don't have restrictions. The only restrictions I have are the ones I give myself.”
Rules of the Road
Accountability is key according to Sara. Be honest with yourself and let the app tell the truth.
“Take pictures of yourself. I know some people say you shouldn't weigh yourself everyday. I did. Not to beat myself up, but it really really helped me say accountable and to see what works and what doesn't work.
“The tracking part of it is so important. Even when I didn't eat the right thing I still tracked it and so I can see it and know what I was getting into and that made a huge difference. It kept me from eating what I shouldn't have because you’ve got to keep it real. Not tracking something doesn't mean it didn't happen.”
The Inspiration of Failure
Dieting can feel isolating and impossible. For Sara, sharing the experience of the challenge with others was a way to stay motivated but also stay realistic. Sometimes witnessing shared struggle can be more inspiring than watching others win.
“Of course, you don't want people to struggle but it just made it so much more real and it always seemed to come at the right time."
“Seeing people's struggles, some days was exactly what I needed, because sometimes you feel like you're all alone doing this type of stuff. There's no one in my family that was doing it. Sometimes it felt like I was alone and unless you have weight to lose it feels like no one understands.
“Having that community of people that are like, ‘Oh no, this been a really horrible week and I didn't get to work out and there's been all this family stuff and I’m stressed out.’ It always seemed to come at the right time. It was super important. Everyone else is still pushing. I can do this too.
“And then seeing the successes helps push me to keep just keep going like, we can do this!”
Scared to commit? Sara says the 90 days goes faster than you’d think and more importantly, it’s happening no matter what you choose to do during it.
“To look at my before photo and remember how miserable I was, it doesn't seem like that long ago. When I started I thought I had so far to go and wondered how I was ever going to make it 90 days. I was already defeating myself just from the start. And then it was over in a blink of an eye.
“If I hadn’t started I’d be the person I was in that photo and I would have gone the whole summer feeling that way. But once you start it goes so fast. Stay consistent and do your best and you will see those successes.”
A New Challenge
Set free to be her best self, Sara is not taking the fall challenge lying down and is setting new goals to conquer herself.
I don't want to put a limit as to what I want the next challenge. I just wanted to be that I just push myself as far as I can. I lost thirty pounds on the first challenge and I have some more to lose but I also I'm just really trying to bring out those muscles.
I'm excited to cheer everybody else on!
Sara's 4 Steps to Success
1. Consistent Tracking
"I track everything I eat and drink everyday. Even if it is not on plan i can look back and see what works and what doesn’t."
2. Be patient
"The first month of the challenge I didn’t lose a lot of weight because my body was adjusting to the new lifestyle. I stayed consistent with my macros and working out and the weight loss came."
3. Find time to workout
"Even if just 10 min a day. It is so good for the brain and body, and as I have lost weight my body has become stronger and my joints ache less."
4. Drink water
"Getting your ounces in water makes a huge difference in my skin and in weight loss."