Published July 24, 2013

Elizabeth Lost 115 Pounds...and She Eats Bread

by Helen M. Ryan
woman lost pounds

I am Facebook friends with Elizabeth Morrell, but I have never met her in real life even though she lives in the same small town as I. I've watched her life play out online, and admired her buffness from afar. One day Elizabeth suggested that we have a pool hangout at her house, to which I promptly replied, "No way, sister."

I didn't want to be near her almost perfect abs in a bathing suit

Then about a week ago I found out something that shocked me: Elizabeth used to weigh 115 pounds more than she does now. Looking at her trim, muscular body I would never in a million years have guessed that she has lost almost an entire person! I thought she was one of those 'always thin people,' who don't know how "the other half lives." Well, Elizabeth proved me wrong. She does know how the other half lives, and she remembers it clearly.

I interviewed Elizabeth about her weight loss and life and boy is she a delight. She's fun, entertaining, refreshing and honest. There's no way you can hate her. She has a great outlook on dieting and exercise, and loves food. She even eats the occasional bread. And no - Elizabeth has not had a tummy tuck (even though she has had a C-section that went hip bone to hip bone).

Download this mp3 to your audio player (or phone of choice), listen to it on your computer, or read the transcript below it. Elizabeth has a lot of inspiration to share. Onward, as I say.

Helen: Hi, this is Helen with Real World Weight Loss. I am here talking with Elizabeth Morrell, and Elizabeth is really unique, and I wanted to share her story. I know Elizabeth mostly from Facebook, and I always saw her as being, you know, super buff and super fit, and I didn't know uI didn't want to be near her almost perfect abs in a bathing suitntil recently that Elizabeth has lost a lot of weight.
So, I would paint faces on her. Just kidding, because I would be jealous about her abs, and I just found out she has lost an incredible amount of weight, so I wanted to share her story with you and learn more about her myself. So, hi, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Hi, Helen.
Helen: So, I just want to share a little bit about your story. First, I guess, if you wouldn't mind sharing with us how much weight you lost first of all so we can kind of get a general reference.
Elizabeth: Okay. I have lost over 115 pounds.
Helen: Wow.
Elizabeth: So, about a 122, actually.
Helen: Wow.
Elizabeth: Is what I have lost in total.
Helen: Wow, that's amazing. What did you start as, if you don't mind me asking?
Elizabeth: Well, I started at 247, is when I actually looked at the scale the first time, and that was the day of my surgery. And I had to have my gallbladder removed, and that was the beginning of my journey, actually.  So, 247 is what I saw for the first time, but I had already lost weight to have the surgery, so I really don't know what it was.
Helen: Right. I know, and I can relate to the fact that you don't weigh yourself anymore when you get to a certain point.
Elizabeth: Right, absolutely, so it was like, "Oh, I have no idea."
Helen: Now, I like the cartoon when you see the one where the lady is upside down and the scale is on her feet and they're in the air, that's how I would imagine weighing myself, because it's a lot more friendly. Wow, so 247? And, how long ago was that?
Elizabeth: It's been about eight years, I've been this size eight years now. It took me about two years to get to my goal weight or whatever over the 115. And then I just basically sculpted my body from that point on, you know what I mean? So, I never really lost any more weight.
Helen: Right.
Elizabeth:  My body just transformed into different shades and shapes, shall I say.
Helen: And that's what's so exciting, when you can really start seeing the changes, and tweak this and tweak that. When I look at your pictures, you look so buff. Usually you can tell. You can tell with me that I've lost weight. Usually, you can tell, but with you I can't tell.
Elizabeth: Oh, you can tell.
Helen: Well, I haven't looked that close, have I?
Elizabeth: You can tell. I tell people all the time. I lift up my arm and I have the skin under my arm, and they go, "Really?''. But, it's there. I have the skin under my arm and my thighs. And my thighs is the two areas that you can tell, but thank God it's not noticeable, I'm not the young chick anymore either, so it's just like, "Oh.'' They wouldn't tell that I lost over a hundred and something pounds from that.
Helen: I can see things on me, even when I was at my thinnest, I could still see it; nobody else would see it. But, as women, it bothers us.
Elizabeth: Absolutely.
Helen: Women are always so critical of themselves. Other people would kill to look like you, and then there's always that part where we're going, "Oh, my triceps aren't...
Elizabeth: Right.
Helen:  ...perfect." But, no, I understand, but you just look amazing, and I know it's not an easy journey, I can't even imagine how hard that was for you. So, you said you were having your gallbladder surgery. What was it about that that really kind of made you want to make a change?
Elizabeth: Well, I was on a high blood pressure pill, just a baby one, you know how they say...
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: They justify it as the smallest dose that you can take. I'm like, "Oh, okay.'' It did not bother me. I was like, "Well, I'm black. That's probably genetic. Yeah, I'll take it; it's not a big deal.''
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: So, I kind of swept that under the rug. However, when they said that I had to have my gall bladder removed, and it was misshaped from all of the kidney stones in it, it was actually deformed, basically. And they acted as if it was no big deal. The doctors were like, "Yeah, we're just going to take it out and remove it,'' and I'm like, "Wait, don't I need that?" "No, no, your body functions perfectly without it, it's just this,'' which, for me, I figured God gave it to me, I need it. He didn't put in extra parts, just in case you lose a screw. It's a back-up screw in there. No, I'm pretty sure I need it. And, I'm sure I can function without it, but what was it there for?
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: And once I started doing the research and realized that it is just basically like the trash can, you know what I mean? And it just put stuff that my body could not function, couldn't turn into usable waste for my body.  So, I ate tons and tons of fried food, and my body didn't know what to do with that fried food, so it just sat in my gall bladder. It took the protein, it took this, it took the carbs and all the other stuff, but it didn't know what to do with it. So, it's just a trash can, basically, things that couldn't filter through my body.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: And when I realized that I'm literally killing myself, and they have to remove a whole body part...
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: A whole body part from the way I'm eating.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: Ridiculous.
Helen: And that makes perfect sense. You see, I had mine removed, and they told me that was the biggest gall bladder they'd ever seen. However, I did not make the change that you made at the time, because I was perfectly good with getting rid of my gall bladder and continuing to eat. So I admire you. It's like diabetics who take insulin and continue to eat the sugary foods. It's denial.
Elizabeth: It's the exact same thing. But I think I would have done the same thing if because didn't they make you feel like it was like, "Oh, well, it just needs to be removed?" They didn't break it down and tell you what it was for, or why. At least, my doctor didn't.
Helen: No.
Elizabeth: I think if I would have just said, "Okay. Let's get it removed." I would not have made that change.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: But when I searched and realized, "I did that to myself? That's crazy." Like, "Wow."
Helen: And it's serious. Reading later, because sometimes, to put this delicately, after the gall bladder is removed, you have stomach issues for a while afterwards.
Elizabeth: Yes!
Helen: Nobody tells you that you're going to be running to the bathroom every time you eat fat.
Elizabeth: Every time you eat fat, because guess what, your trash can is gone.
Helen: Yep.
Elizabeth: Your trash can is gone. So, that's when I determined that, because we had to go over that three months, we couldn't eat rice, right, we had to keep that little cottage cheese stuff, we had to start all over. So, that is when I said, "Okay. I'm going to lose 100 pounds.''
Helen: Wow.
Elizabeth: "I'm going to do this." I got on the scale, and it was awkward because everybody is looking at me. And I'm 5'3", I say I'm 5'4", but everybody is looking at me, and I am 247 pounds. So, I kind of cracked a joke and said, "Hey, I'm going to lose a hundred pounds, ha ha ha ha ha ha.''
Helen: And nobody probably believed you, though, right?
Elizabeth: Right. They just kind of laughed, it was so awkward. Everybody is looking, so they kind of chuckled with me, it was the doctors and the nurses. It was not a big deal, like, "Ha ha.'' But I did. I took it from that moment on, when I got up in the hospital, I vowed that I would never eat that way again. And I haven't. I don't eat any fried food.
Helen: Wow.
Elizabeth: I don't eat anything carbonated, and I stay away from sauces. So, I made that vow to myself that I will change my eating habits.
Helen: Yeah, and change your eating habits and pretty much take back your life and save your life.
Elizabeth: Amen. Yes. And that's desert, the rest a little - of course I have.
Helen: Yes. We need those parts.
Elizabeth: Yeah, we do, we do. And I'm glad my body can function. But as you said, it still doesn't function the same without it. So, I'm blessed that I can still function, but that wasn't the way it was intended, so,that was something that I can do to kind of get it back the way he gave it to me. You know what I mean? Like, "Oh, my bad.'' You know, I had to take out some parts, but, you know. So, that was my turn in this whole journey, and I've always worked out, though. I've always worked out. I was a big chick in the gym, I would get up at 4:30 in the morning and be there at 5:00, and I worked out. And I was just a big girl. I was a size 24.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: But I couldn't control my eating.
Helen: And I see that a lot with people, and there have been times for me when I'm under stress, sometimes I'll still revert back to some of my habits. I've really been trying to reign that back in a little more. But, no, I've had some incredibly strong clients who are very overweight because it's the eating, and they can spin or they can lift weights like you haven't seen.
Elizabeth: Right.
Helen: And it's just that the food is. Now, when you first started, I know you've got that motivation, but after four or five days a lot of people tend to kind of go off track, or a week or two weeks. How did you stick to that commitment to yourself?
Elizabeth: Well, I went to therapy, because we all know food is emotional. You know what I mean, we're not eating a whole bucket of fried chicken because we're hungry.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: We're eating a whole bucket of fried chicken because we're sad, we're angry, we're depressed, we're happy, we're something else. There's some emotion tied to that.
So, I always encourage people who are fighting this to find out what's going on. Because, a lot of times, it's something emotionally we're going through. I am a food addict.
I know I am. That's my drug of choice. Just like you said, even on times when I'm angry or I'm sad or feel upset, I will eat. I know that's my drug of choice, like, "Oh, I just want this."
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: You know. And not that it would harm me, but I know in my mind it's the wrong thought.
Helen: Yeah, it's the wrong thought pattern and the funniest thing that I think we tend to do is that, especially before, like if I had a bad day, I would kind of eat to kind of show them, you know what I mean? To kind of punish them, I would eat. I would hurt myself, but it would just give me that little feeling of, "Well, now I'm going to eat this gallon of ice cream and you can't stop me."
Elizabeth: No. Exactly. I remember, I'm very rebellious. Going out to Chili's and everybody trying to eat, "Oh, I'm going to have a salad, I'm going to have this,'' I'm like, "I want a slab of ribs, and fries, and corn on the cob."
Helen: And awesome blossom onion rings.
Elizabeth: Right, right, right.
Helen: Twenty-two hundred calories, I think they are. Boy, are they delicious. I haven't had them in many years. So, you were able to reign it in. So, you went to counseling and it really helped? And so, did you go right away?
Elizabeth: Right. I did all that. Once I started, it was like six months, really, of me going to counseling, going to a nutritionist, trying to learn everything I can about food. I've been an athlete my whole life. My whole life. No one ever taught me the proper way to eat. Did they do that to you when you were growing up, Helen?
Helen: Oh no, I lived on buttermilk and rolls.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Nobody said, "Hey, you've got to have a protein, a carb, this is your starches, this is your fat.'' Like, "Huh?" And so, I wanted to be knowledgeable. I'm that type of person. I have to understand. I want to understand it. And so in the process of learning that, and once I got my food under control, everything fell into place. Because I've always worked out.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: So, once I got my food into check, it just melted away. It just transformed. And I did have tons and tons of skin. But I just kept working. And I was totally determined that once I get done I'm going to have to get my skin removed, and I'm going to do this, and I'm going to do that. But, you know what, I'm like, "Yeah, forget it."
Helen: So, you didn't have even a tummy tuck?
Elizabeth: No, I did not.
Helen: Wow. Because I have extra skin, a lot of skin, especially on the belly. I looked at your belly, I didn't see any. Then again, I didn't look that close, but that's really amazing, because the tummy is like the worst area. Because for a lot of us, I held my fat everywhere, I still do. It's gotten evenly distributed, but the biggest part where you can really see it is in the stomach, so I'm really impressed...
Elizabeth: Right.
Helen: - ...that you did not have a tummy tuck. That's my goal someday, but you look -
Elizabeth: Thank you.
Helen: Yeah, well, I'm jealous now.
Elizabeth: Don't be. You could do it. If I could do it, so can you.
Helen: I'm going to throw darts. Sorry, go ahead. I was kidding, I said, "I'm going to throw darts at your picture.''
Elizabeth: Oh, no. You know, I laugh. I look at it and I thank you very much for what you see, but I also see all the bad things, like, "Oh, my gosh, look at all the folds, look at this,'' and I had three kids, so I have the scars, and then my last one I had an emergency C-section, so I was gutted from hip bone to hip bone, basically. And that's the stuff I see. Like, "Oh, look at the scars! Oh, look at the skin on my arm. Do you see that?'' So, it's nice to hear that, I really appreciate that. It's been a very, very long and hard journey.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: And I wish I had this magic pill that everybody else claims to have. And I wish that we could go and do it. And that was another thing, too, that I went to my doctor, actually, and wanted to lose weight, and they put me on some sort of diet pill.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: And this was before my gall bladder surgery. Because I've done, of course, every diet in the world.
Helen: Mm-hm, grapefruit, everything.
Elizabeth: Everything, you name it. Everything I've done it, and gained my weight back, of course. And then trying to do the diet pills, it just made my heart go crazy.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: Like, my heart would just go. So, I went to the doctor and I said, "Look, I want to lose this weight, but every time I take the diet pills it makes my heart really crazy. I feel funny.'' And so he goes, "Oh, this is a prescription, the mildest one we have, take it for three days, off three days, on three days, and you'll see some results.'' I'm like, "Great." Guess what, Helen? I had a seizure.
Helen: Oh, no way.
Elizabeth: As a side effect of the drugs. So, I'm not going to be the one that takes pills. I'm like, "Oh no. I'm done." I can't even do that. When people ask, "What do you use for appetite suppressant,'' I eat every three hours, so I'm not really hungry. And it's crazy. I have this weird system and every shortcut I tried to take backfired.
Helen: Well, they do. Most shortcuts backfire. Even the ones, I know people who have had gastric bypass, and so many of them gain the weight back because they never fix the underlying problems.
Elizabeth: And you've got it. And, guess what? Our stomach stretches.
Helen: Yep.
Elizabeth: So, we're born with it the size we had now as a baby, so even when you have the surgery, it starts off small, but you'll be persistent, just as you were, and it stretches back to the point it was.
Helen: Yeah. And, it's such a hard thing. And, when you see the people who've made these big life changes, most people do it, who can make the change, like you did or I did, it's either a health issue or it's an emotional trauma that really shakes you up, and wakes you up. And I think food is such, especially for women, but also for some men, I think it's such a part of our lives, everywhere we go we have a party, we have food, food, food. I went to the movies yesterday, I had some popcorn, because everything revolves around food.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. And that was part of my marriage. I was in a horrible marriage. I've always been very active, my husband was a couch potato and ate horrible. And, if you can't beat them, join them, right?
Helen: Yeah, yep.
Elizabeth: That's what I did, I just sat around and ate, it was, just stuffed my emotion. Food is so emotional. We tie everything in, and it makes other people nervous when you make that change, because they like that Elizabeth who went to Church's Chicken with them every day.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: They're not necessarily liking the Elizabeth that says, "Nah, I don't want to go to Church's Chicken." 'That makes them uncomfortable, because then they may think that you expect that from them as well.
Helen: Yeah. No, they don't like that change in you.
Elizabeth: No, they don't like that.
Helen: You have to discover new friends. You still have your old friends, but you start to do more with people who think more like-minded, like you.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. And you said it right on. Either you can fit in or not, because I'm not going to make you change how you eat, so please don't try to change the way that I would like to eat. But, that's one of the things that I learned to in therapy, and I would love to share because I think that was one of the main things that helped me.
I know for the first three months, though, Helen, when I made this decision to change my life, I kind of hid out. I kind of was like in rehab, you know what I mean? I couldn't go to any parties because I wasn't strong enough not to eat. When my kids and my family ate dinner, I would go upstairs and cry. And it's not necessarily the food that I was missing. It's just everybody sounded like they were having so much fun downstairs. I wasn't even strong enough to sit there and not even eat the food. It was like, "How weak am I? I can't even be with my family." And so, it was like three months of, I consider it, rehab.
Helen: Yeah, but that's really smart because you need to do that, because at some point I tell people, at some point a cookie becomes a cookie, but when you're in that phase, a cookie becomes a tray of cookies. And you have to get through that phase to where you can get control of yourself. If that's what you have to do, that's what you have to do.
Elizabeth: Mm-hm. And that is what I had to do. I was like a hermit. I couldn't go to any lunches, any functions. I couldn't because I know I'm an addict, so, taking me to a party and giving me, like you say, a cookie, that was like having my first drink as if I was an alcoholic.
Helen: Exactly.
Elizabeth: You know, and it's going to start, it's going to start, and I couldn't control myself to stop, which is sad to say. But I couldn't, I would eat it until it's gone.
Helen: Well, so many people are like that, and you said exactly what I've written about before, is that you would never take an alcoholic out and say, "Here, just one drink won't hurt you.''
Elizabeth: Right. No, you are absolutely right.
Helen: "Here, just have a little bit. Just taste this it won't hurt you. It won't hurt you."
Elizabeth: It won't hurt you.
Helen: Sometimes it will hurt you. Maybe eight years later, it won't hurt you, but right there where you're on that cusp, one cookie can lead to a one-week eating binge.
Elizabeth: That's right, absolutely. You are right. And what I learned in therapy, which was like a life saver to me, so feel free to use it, it says, "I know I used to, but I don't anymore."
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: Simple. It is so simple. That little phrase stops it. Because if, "You're used to eating my cake. You're used to eating my cake. Why don't you want my cake? You have my cake." And you would just say, "No thank you." "Well, why? Have a piece." And then to stop it, I would say, "I know I used to, but I don't anymore.''
Helen: That's great.
Elizabeth: And it stopped them, because what can they say? Because you acknowledged yes, I used to, but I don't anymore. And I tell you, Helen, how much that saved me, because I felt so guilty, like, "Oh, okay, I did used to eat that. I did,'' and that was like, "Huh." That was the best phrase ever, and I used it for, I can't tell you how long I used it. And they use that actually in AA, I found out. That's an AA phrase.
Helen: Wow.
Elizabeth: Yeah, that, "I know I used to, but I don't anymore." And it generally stops them, because they can't keep going on after that.
Helen: No. That's a great secret weapon, because it is hard. I think that's the hardest thing for most people is that there's so much societal pressure to eat, eat, snack, snack, do just this, just that, and I think people do not respect food addiction like they do drug addiction or alcohol addiction. They don't understand that it is a bigger problem.
Elizabeth: And I used to cry, and I used to say, "I wish I was just an alcoholic.'' Because you can stay away from liquor. You don't have to go to the bar. But, guess what, I'm going to have to eat.
Helen: Yep.
Elizabeth: So, that drug is going to always be around, you just have to learn to, like you said, make it just food, and not your drug.
Helen: And it's sad, because it's hard. People think they're weak and they don't realize they have a problem. They're not weak; they have a problem.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. It's a problem. You got it. And that was the thing: I kept beating myself up. "What is wrong with me? Why? Why? Why?'' And it's an addiction, it's just as if it was alcohol, just as if it was crack, or cocaine, whatever. It's the exact same. But, people don't acknowledge that. And then they brush it away. Like, "Oh, well, it is what it is, I'm not going to worry about it. I still look good.''
Helen: Yeah. No, I know people like that as well.
Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah. It's like, "I still look good, it doesn't matter.'' I know I did that, but once I changed my thought process as well. I didn't want to lose weight so I can be fine for the this, or I want to lose weight so I can look good in my dress, or I want to lose weight to go to the beach. I would lose weight for that event and then gain it back after the event. So, when I chained it to my health, I never gained the weight back.
Helen: And that's exactly what I focus on, as well, you've got to do it for health. You've got to focus on yourself and your life and not how you look, because how you look is not a strong enough motivator.
Elizabeth: No, it's not, because guess what, I just bought better clothes. And I'll do my hair really, really nice, and I'm going to get big hoop earrings, and look at all this other stuff, but don't look at me. So, I try to explain the outside of you is just a reflection of the inside of you. So, if you're eating well, and exercising and taking care of your insides, that will totally reflect on your outside. So, I say my body is just a side effect, a good side effect, but a side effect of the way I eat.
Helen: And that makes sense, because it puts it in better perspective for people, they start outside in rather than inside out.
Elizabeth: Correct, yes. And I don't focus on the outside anymore, I totally focus on the inside. And everybody has a different method that get them through, like a cheat day. And I did all that, I did it all. But I realized that my heart doesn't take a cheat day, my arteries aren't like, "I'm not doing it today,'' my heart and I, we just don't stop. It's a cheat day. They don't get cheat days. I feel that you should eat in moderation, and what you want, and move on, instead of saying, "I'm going to cheat for Friday.'' Whatever, it just didn't work for me.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: Because my cheat day ended up being a cheat weekend, and then a cheat weekend is a cheat week, and then I'm back in a month, and I'm back into my old habits.
Helen: That's exactly the problem. What I call relaxed eating, where you're just kind of relaxed, you don't over worry, but you take the pressure and power from food away.
Elizabeth: Right, and that's it. You know, I'm not as stringent on theweekends, it's like, whatever. But I'm very consistent on how I eat every day. But if it's something I want, I'll eat it.
Helen: Well, tell me a little bit about how you eat, because I think people will be curious as to what it is that you eat to maintain the weight now.
Elizabeth: I eat. Like, "Oh, my God." I eat every three to four hours like clockwork. I eat everything. I eat very clean, so the closest to the way that God gave it to me, is the way I eat it.
Helen: Okay.
Elizabeth: So, I don't eat anything fried, I don't drink anything carbonated, I don't do sauces, but everything else is good, you know what I mean? So, I eat a lot of salmon and chicken and I eat a lot of veggies. I also eat wheat pasta. I make my own thing. I just put olive oil on it, and cut up my veggies and tomatoes and a little lemon juice, boom, delicious. You'll have to come over; I'll make it for you one day.
Helen: Okay. I would love that.
Elizabeth: Yeah, and I just eat normal. I just eat clean and healthy.
Helen: And less.
Elizabeth: Of course.
Helen: And just consistently.
Elizabeth: Of course.
Helen: Yeah, the portion sizes. But your stomach shrinks after a while so you can't fit a lot in there anyway.
Elizabeth: Absolutely.
Helen: Every three or four hours is good. I try to eat every three hours, too, because I start to not feel good.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. If I'm four hours out, I'm fainting, I will tell you. At four hours out, I'm sitting down and I'm loopy, and my daughter is putting oatmeal in my mouth. They know, they know. And she's like, "You didn't have your protein. You didn't eat, huh?'' And I'm like, "No?'' But as soon as I get that food in my mouth, I'm good. I haven't done that in a long time, because every three hours, you can set your watch to my stomach. And, you do it, too, every three hours. And I still to this day eat on a medium sized plate.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: I don't eat off of big plates. And portion is very important, very, very important to it. You do the same thing, right?
Helen: Yes. I watch. I have to, because, I mean, I can eat, if I wanted to, I can eat a lot, but, in all reality, to be comfortable, I eat less and I eat more. I prefer for my body to eat less and eat more frequently because, for me, I need the constant fuel. The biggest mistake that I'll make, I'll eat breakfast really early, I'll train a client, I'll teach a class, and if I don't eat when I come home from spin, then all bets are off and I'm going for the Oreos.
Elizabeth: Yes. Absolutely.
Helen: And you can't do that, and I know better, and I usually try to have something as soon as I get home, because I'm starving already even though I'm not really starving, you know what I mean? So, if you don't plan like you plan, you're setting yourself up for failure.
Elizabeth: Yes, you are setting yourself up for failure. And it's not that we are so smart, we just learned that we have to plan. I am telling you, I have my clients write out their menu once a week, and then give it to me. And like I really check it? Not really. But because they put it in their mind already, what they have to do...they have a plan. They have a plan, and then preparing it is half the battle.
Helen: Like, you learn to eat before you go shopping, I mean, how many times in the past have we gone out hungry and we come home and we eat things in the car on the way home because we're dying?
Elizabeth: Yeah, absolutely. You're breaking open that pack while they're bagging it up.
Helen: Yeah, exactly, it barely hits the trunk.
Elizabeth: It's insane, it's like, "Woo-wee, I'm hungry.'' And it was so funny because I'm not a sweet girl. I don't particularly like sweets, I can pass those up, never been a problem for me.
Helen: Wow.
Elizabeth: I'm more of a meat and potatoes and salt. I'm a chip girl. They are like crack to me. They call my name. They'd be like, "Elizabeth...'' So, I have to stay away from them like the plague, because I still don't have control over chips. I don't. That's my downfall. And I had to learn that at parties, and that was another key thing when I came out, shall I say.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: I had to learn that the parties and lunches and dinners are about fellowship and friendship, not the food.
Helen: Yep.
Elizabeth: So, I had to realize, "Okay. I'm going to go there because I'm excited to see Jane, I'm excited to see Helen, I'm excited to see them." Not the first thing I used to ask, which is, "What are they having for food? What are you all cooking?" Because that was my main focus.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: And so, now I could care less about the food. I make sure I bring something that I can eat. But now my friends know, they all prepare for me.
Helen: Yeah. Now they know that you want something healthy, because it's hard, I mean, it's hard for everyone, because the pressure to eat. And I went out five days ago, six days ago for Mexican food, and I told myself I wasn't going to have any chips. After the first chip, that was the end of that, just like you. I'm a sweets girl. So, you and I, you could eat all my food, and I'll eat all the dessert, and then we'll be happy.
Elizabeth: That sounds like a plan. Good, because if I don't want to eat  it, I'm like, "Okay. I don't want that, but can I have your..."
Helen: I could live without food, and I could eat nothing but chips and ice cream and chocolate, and I would be in heaven. I'd also be dead. Well, I would literally be in heaven. I could pass up food until the cows come home.
Elizabeth: How funny.
Helen: But some people really like food, like you said, but I do like chips, and I like the salty things, I like the popcorn. And the first hand full of popcorn is just the disaster, then you can't stop.
Elizabeth: Right, right. And I can have popcorn without the butter. I can now do it, but remember in the beginning? And it's funny how now it's like,  "Oh.'' And it's just like drugs, and if people put it in that perspective, and the ones that pass, you see food as just food, just the fuel to feed your body.
When I was younger, my dad would say, "Big people, they live to eat.'' Right? Which is true. When I was big, I'd wake up and say, "Ooh, what am I going to have for breakfast? Oh, yeah."
And as I'm eating breakfast, "What am I going to have for lunch? I wonder if we're going to go to Popeye's today for lunch.'' And while I'm at lunch, I'm thinking, "Ooh, for dinner, I think I'm going to have this, and I'm thinking maybe we get some burritos or something,'' Constantly thinking of food all the time. I was totally thinking about the next meal. And not to discount all the stuff I'm having in between, to hold me over, having that bag of chips or that. But I changed that and I think that my food is what I need to live. So, I just eat to live. So, food is simply fuel for my body.
Helen: And that's how it should be, but all of us have gotten so away from that. Because it makes you feel good to eat that ice cream, but it doesn't make you feel good later. But, at the moment, especially as women, we give and we give and we give and we raise kids, and then that's our time for us, the bag of chips or the ice cream or it's that little feel good thing.
Elizabeth: Right. Yeah, that's exactly it.
Helen: So, what do you kind of do now? And then, I know you've got to get going. What do you kind of do now when you feel like you need to feel good. What do you do for you to nurture yourself, where you used to eat?
Elizabeth: Well, I do this. I make, we call them American pies. We take a potato, cut it up, like in strips like French fries, spray a little Pam on it, and I put my little sea salt on it and pepper and bake it until it's crisp. And then midway through when it's like nice and crisp I'll take it out and put a whole bunch of cheese on top, the low-fat cheese, and I'll put it back in there, and it's ooey and gooey and salty, and I feel like I'm doing something so sinful!
Helen: So awful! You are so bad. I'm going to tell on you.
Elizabeth: I'm just like, "Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I need!'' It makes me feel good, but my protein is my cheese, and my carb is my potato. Boop, done.
Helen: Well, I love that you're saying that because what I see with a lot of people who are in our situation, who used to be heavy and are now fitness  professionals. I see them so militant with everything. I mean, you even see it on their Facebook posts where they post things that are like, "There's no  this, and there's no that, and you can't cheat, you can't this, you've got to work out'.'
Elizabeth: You can't live like that.
Helen: And I look at them, and I think, "Don't you remember what it was like, "Don't you remember?" And how long is that going to last? And will you eventually fall off the wagon, or are you going to live your life militantly? And it's so good to hear you, as amazing as you look and the shape that you're in, that you still do things like this for yourself.
Elizabeth: Yeah, thank you. Because you can't. I'm all about real life. We have to make comments that say, "We live in this world.'' This is what I tell my clients. We cannot control this big, crazy world that we live in. We cannot. But, the one thing that we have control over, the one thing that you, me, her, him, we all have control over what we put in our mouths.
No one forces us, no one puts a gun to our head and says, "You eat that pizza.''
Nobody holds you down and shoves chips and salsa in your mouth. No one. You determine what you put in your mouth. So, I say it's nice to have a little control over your life.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: And you don't have to deprive yourself, because I eat very well. And my food is tastes very good, I eat very well, but it's what's in the norm. You know, moderation. And then people think I'm insane because I won't eat anything fried. They think I'm too strict because I don't eat anything carbonated, and I get that. I don't eat things with sauces. That's just me, that's my choice. I know that I had to get my gallbladder removed because I was eating that a lot.
Helen: And no, and that makes perfect sense, you have things that you won't eat and you have things that you will eat, and that's exactly how it needs to be, because that keeps you overall healthy. This is what I tell my clients, same thing like you, but what I say is, "I want chocolate, however, I don't  drink wine." So, if somebody wants to drink the wine, they give up the chocolate. I don't drink, but I eat chocolate instead. You have to pick one thing that's for you.
Elizabeth: One thing, that's right.
Helen: And not the fried things. So, you don't want the fried foods, but let's say you want something else, you want cheese. That's a balance. You sacrifice one thing for something else.
Elizabeth: That's it. That's exactly it.
Helen: And that's how you do it.
Elizabeth: Exactly. And it's for life, and we all know that in life we are faced with all kinds of challenges, and we have things that we can't control.
Helen: Yeah, yeah.
Elizabeth: But, like I said, and I think you said it best, just stay within the realms. No highs and no lows, just keep moderate. And we all fall. Just start over at that moment. Just start over. You're like, "Oh, my goodness, I shouldn't have eaten that bag of chips.'' I'm speaking from pure experience.
And as a matter of fact, just the other day, Tuesday, I did a photo shoot on Sunday, and I worked Saturday, so Sundays are my only days off, but I actually wound up working on Sunday. I was exhausted on Monday, I worked on Monday. On Tuesday, I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I feel so stressed, I feel so upset.'' I went and got Pringles.
Helen: Oh, wow.
Elizabeth: I ate the whole can.
Helen: But, in your defense, that's easy to do.
Elizabeth: I ate the whole can, and guess what? Oh, well.
Helen: Yep.
Elizabeth: Reset. It's over, you know what I mean? Ooh, I ate that whole can. I'm not going to kick myself, and beat myself up, and "How dare you?Oh, my God.'' Which I used to do, and now I was like, "Okay. I ate the whole can of Pringles, and guess what? Tomorrow's a new day.'' Reset right at that moment, instead of saying, I used to say, I'm going to start anew Monday.
Helen: Yeah, exactly.
Elizabeth: And Monday never came. "Oh, I'll just start on Monday.''
Helen: Yep.
Elizabeth: And so, it's okay. We're all humans, and it's okay.
Helen: And that's such a refreshing attitude, because I share that same attitude, but I see too much militant-ness. I can't even say the word, and this is why people have a hard time, because they look at people like us, the fitness professionals or everybody, and they think, "Well, I can't do that.''
Elizabeth: Right.
Helen: And, personally, I could not live with never having anything with wheat or gluten in it. I don't eat a lot breads anymore, I can't. I will take  whatever befalls me, just so if I go out I want some bread.
Elizabeth: Right.
Helen: You know?
Elizabeth: I mean, who declared bread as the devil? I don't know when that came up. Since when? You should see how when we go out to eat with friends, and they put the bread on the table, and everyone just sits there and looks at it. And then when I reach out and get in, they go, "You eat bread?'' Yeah. I'm like, "You don't?" I didn't know that was the forbidden food.
Helen: Well it is, it's like the same thing. Everyone has to have one thing. It's almost like, you know how there's always one group of people that's excluded, and it keeps changing throughout the years? The same thing goes for food. Now this food is bad, then next year, that food is bad. We have to have one bad thing in our life.
Elizabeth: That is true. And now, the bread is it. Stay away from it.
Helen: And I lost 82 pounds eating bread, and not a lot of bread, but I ate dairy and all the forbidden things, because dairy is apparently also the  devil. So, bread and milk. So, I'm going to go to hell with my bread and my dairy.
Elizabeth: And my dairy. And I'm going to look really good doing it, because I'm still amazing. I feel amazing, and that's it, I do, too. Like I said, there is nothing that I don't eat other than it's fried, and we really don't need fried. What is the body going to do with fried? It just can't. But I'm going to eat that chicken. Can you bake it? Can you grill it? Can you do something else to it? I'll eat that. I'll eat my bread, I'll eat wheat bread, I'll eat my cheese.
One of my favorite snacks in the world, I'll have a hard-boiled egg and I love my Baby Belle cheese and a banana. I don't understand how they can do that either. I have my Greek yogurt. There's nothing that I exclude from my diet, because when people say, "Well, I was with this trainer and they took me off of carbs.'' Really? Are you thinking, are you functioning? Because that's brain food; we need it. Is it the right carbs?
Helen: I don't think I could spin for five minutes if I didn't have carbs.
Elizabeth: I don't think I could lift my head. It's like, "I don't know what I'm going to do.'' We need it. Our body runs its best.
Helen: Yep. I think it was four years ago, I tried to do low-carb for two weeks, and I actually had a complete nervous breakdown. I started crying. I was completely not me, and I'm going to tell you, then finally I had a piece of whole wheat grain with peanut butter on it. Within 30 minutes, I felt like myself again. I mean, I was the devil at that point. I'm like, "Okay, this is not worth it.''
Elizabeth: Yeah, and then you're looking around at everyone like, "What's the problem? I'm okay. What's going on?'' And they're all afraid of you. Nobody wants to come in. And you're like, "Hi,'' and they're like "Uh, mom?''
Helen: And now that I'm entering into menopause, I should cut out carbs and I really will have. Can you imagine no carbs and menopause? That would be fabulous.
Elizabeth: You would just need to be under a rock.
Helen: I would need to be alone, a hermit.
Elizabeth: Yeah, because that's it. You cannot be around people. But you're the truth, it's all in moderation, and some people do it, and hats off, it's just I have to live in a world that's realistic for me.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: And that's why it's successful for me. And everybody needs to choose what works for them.
Helen: Yeah, exactly. That is exactly the way, and that's how people are going to be successful.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. I really am a true believer that we all can achieve it. It's society in itself that has made us want more food and has made us say that, "Oh, I can afford it. I'm going to get the biggest and the best burger, with all the extra this and the extra that,'' and they make the food that's  unhealthy so inexpensive, and they make the food that's healthy for us expensive. It's a very different to make the choices that we make.
Helen: It's like when you go out in the store and you get three of, let's just say, three chocolate bars. You buy two, get one free, but you never see buy two packs of strawberries, get a blueberry free. You know what I mean?
Elizabeth: Thank you.
Helen: You never see that.
Elizabeth: Thank you. I tell them that. So, at Walgreens, my kids don't come into Walgreens with me anymore, because they always say, "Would you like a Snickers? If we don't ask if you want a Snickers or one of these candies, you get it free.'' I said, "Do not ask me, 'Do I want a Snickers?'How about asking me do I want a banana?'' Do you ask me whether I want an orange?"
And I try to go in there and not say anything, I know they're going to ask because that's their job, but it triggers me every time, because we are set up. That is one of the things, too, that I had a problem with, was Subway.
Helen: Yeah.
Elizabeth: I'm going to Subway because I'm trying to lose weight. We in our human nature, we can say one no. We can get that one no out. No! But then they ask us again. And I think they've been trained to do that. Have you noticed at Subway?
Helen: Yes.
Elizabeth: You go and I want my over-roasted chicken, and they go, "Okay, would you like extra meat?'' "No.'' That's my one no, right? "Would you like bacon on that?'' "Uh,'' I'm falling. Then, "No.'' "Okay, what kind of bread do you want?'' "Oh, yes, I want my wheat bread.'' "Okay, good,'' and they're cutting the bread, and if you just said you wanted extra bacon, or extra chicken, by this time I've given in. "Okay. Go ahead.''
Well, I had to learn that no, no, no. And I would get so upset with them. "Did you say...'' "No, I said no, I don't want extra meat. Why do you keep  asking? I don't want extra meat.'' "Okay, ma'am.'' Okay, thank you. Then we go to the veggies, I say, "You never ask me if I want extra veggies.'' And then they laugh.
But I'm like, even Subway, I came here because I want to be healthier, I came here because I'm trying to make a better choice, and if you keep asking me over and over, "Do you want bacon? Do you want this on it?'' I already said no once. And I really believe that they are trained to do that.
If you notice, they ask you and you say no, they get the bread and they come back and say, "Did you want that...'' and I say, "No! I don't want it.'' So, nobody ever asks me, do you want two strawberries and a blueberry.
Helen: "Would you like two bags of spinach with that?'' Buy one bag, get one free, who's going to say yes? How about some kale? "Yes, I would like extra kale please."
Elizabeth: Yeah, right. And, I say I'm going to write in, because I say, Nestle is their sponsor, because I actually ask. They sponsor that at Walgreens where they ask, and they get bonuses. It's like, stop it. Ask me if I want a hair bow, anything, anything, other than that. I said, "You wouldn't ask me if I want cigarettes. 'Do you want a free pack of cigarettes with that?'''
Helen: I should go with you, and I should point out, I should go, "Does she look like she eats Snickers?'' Then I say, "But I'll take it, I'll take it, give it to me. I'll take it.'' I'll fight you for that Snickers bar.
Elizabeth: It's a funny thing, and my poor kids, my poor kids, because they go, "Oh, Ma, they're just doing their job.'' And I know. I know. But, I'm trying to do my job, too. And let's fight obesity together.
Helen: And that makes sense, because if you don't look out for people and we don't look out for people, nobody else is going to.
Elizabeth: Nobody. Yeah, right. Nobody. Because nobody was there with me, saying, "Elizabeth. Come on, girl.''
Helen: All they would say was, "Should you really be eating that?'' How helpful is that? Now you've just set me off, and I'm going to go eat five of these because you just told me not to.
Elizabeth: That's why I'm getting, "Oh, you're right, I didn't want a half a thing of ribs, I want the whole full slab!''
Helen: You and I have to hang out. We would have so much fun together.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. Let's set it up, babe.
Helen: Well, I appreciate your time and your insight, because these are exactly the kind of things that people need to hear, that they're not alone, that the way we think is the way a lot of people think. And if there's hope for us, there's hope for everybody else.
Elizabeth: Amen.
Helen: Because neither you nor I thought we would be in the fitness business.
Elizabeth: Right, and now modeling, can you believe that? I'm now a model. Actually people pay. That's funny.
Helen: Isn't that cool?
Elizabeth: It's cool. It's just amazing, I feel completely blessed.
Helen: Well, that's how dreams come true, because you made a change and one change led to another, which led to another, which led to another.
Elizabeth: Which you never thought about.
Helen: No. Never.
Elizabeth: Who knew?
Helen: I should call this post, "Who knew?''
Elizabeth: Who knew? I think you're right. Who knew? Because that's not what we planned.
Helen: No, but things happen, good and bad, depending on the kind of energy you put out and the kind of effort you put out.
Elizabeth: Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you very, very much, I really appreciate it. And keep up all the good work, you are such an inspiration to me.
Helen: Oh, thank you. And now you are an inspiration to me. Now that I know more about you, I'm not jealous anymore.
Elizabeth: Don't be, darling. Don't be. Take care.
Helen: Thank you. You too. Okay.
Elizabeth: Bye.
Helen: Bye.