GUEST COLUMN: Losing weight doesn’t have to mean spending tons of money

These images show Nicole Strampel before and after she set out on a personal quest to lose more than 100 pounds without pills, surgery or fad diets. Submitted Photos

Nicole Strampel

This is my goal: lose 100-plus pounds and do it with no surgery, no pills, no fad diets and no gym membership or personal trainer.

And I’m getting close.

In July of 2016 I was shocked to see how I looked in a photo my sister had taken. I’d been avoiding mirrors, and the person I saw in the photo that day looked much different than the perception I had of my own body.

In my head, I was much smaller. In reality, my weight had reached an all-time high of 277.5 lbs.

My knees hurt. I had no energy and laboured climbing stairs. I was 32 years old.

At this pace, I thought, I won’t live to see my grandchildren, let alone play with them on the ground someday.

The first thing I did was attend a free “Healthy Weights” course at the Rapids Family Health Team on Pontiac Drive. I began to pay attention to the types of food I was consuming. The course encouraged us to add small amounts of activity to the day and building on that.

I started by walking with a friend twice a week. Our pace was slow, but it was a change from sitting on the couch. Over time, I built a small network of friends and we became motivation and accountability partners to each other.

We dubbed the 15th of each month “weigh day” and would share our weight and measurement changes. In the first six months I lost 25 lbs.!

In January of 2017 I added wearable technology. Tracking my distance, speed and heart rate was intriguing. I started walking five kilometres daily, with or without my walking buddy.

Before long, we had enough courage to sign up for a 10 km walk/race, and I came in first. In three months I’d lost another 25 lbs.!

I pushed through cases of strep throat and stomach flu and a child’s hospital stay, coming up with unique ways to achieve my step and calorie goals.

It sounds funny, but I celebrated my one-year anniversary by completing a sprint triathlon. If you had told me at the start of this journey I’d swim 400 metres, bike 18 km and then run/walk four km, I’d have thought, “So that’s how I’m going to die!”

As I write this, I have lost more than 95 lbs. I have seven more pounds to go to achieve my ultimate goal of losing 102.5 lbs. by July 15.

I have hit plateaus and failed at some short-term goals, but my big one is in sight, within grasp and pulling me forward.

I take pride in the fact I’ve made this lifestyle change without paying for a gym membership or personal trainer, without protein powders or weight loss pills, and without fad diets or surgery.

If you’ve reached a point where you’re ready to make a lifestyle change, I recommend setting short-term and long-term goals, and finding an accountability partner to help you on the journey.

You’ve got this!

Nicole Strampel is a Sarnia resident attempting to lose 102.5 lbs. in two years.