About a week ago, I saw a post by Amber Tegeler on Facebook. She and her husband Jason had been members at the gym several years ago, but hadn’t been for quite awhile. Both had struggled with their weight for years.
That was why seeing her recent picture was a nice surprise. Often, when people stop coming, I lose touch with them, and don’t know how they’re doing, although I wonder from time-to-time.
I had to do a double take when I saw the picture associated with her name, because it wasn’t the person I remembered. In her case, the recent transformation was so remarkable that even her close friends couldn’t recognize her from her picture.
Like everyone else, I was amazed, and I wondered what she had been doing that made such a dramatic change possible. So it was my good fortune to run into her and Jason at Walmart the other day. Here’s how the conversation went:
TD: Look at you. You’re wearing workout clothing! Jason, you’ve got on UnderArmor, and Amber, you’re wearing tight leggings!
Amber (laughing): Yeah, I wouldn’t be caught dead in these before.
TD: How much weight have you guys lost?
Jason: It’s over 100 lbs.
TD: I know you’d tried losing weight before. What got you started this time?
Amber: This is going to sound silly, but one day, I was thinking about funerals and I started thinking “What if I were gone?” I was thinking it would take like 30 people to carry me.
TD: So you really tapped into the emotion of it. That’s what it takes, having an emotional reason that’s big enough.
Amber: One time, we went to Lincoln Trail. We went with one of my friends and they were so active. It was so embarrassing. I couldn’t even do the stairs.
TD: But now you went back and did it.
Amber: We went back and I ran part of it, even the stairs.
TD: Were you an athlete back when you were in school?
Amber: I was active in track when I was younger. I wanted to be able to run again.
TD: Well you’ve definitely found your inner athlete again. She was locked up inside you. So what was different this time around?
Amber: I was tired of it. You have to be ready to do it.
TD: How did you do it? What exactly did you do?
Amber: Nothing special, really. None of that stuff you hear about. I just started eating better, and we started walking. At first we walked two miles, and worked up from there. I got MyFitnessPal and started tracking my food. A measuring food scale. I have the Jawbone watch and we use “Map My Walk.”
TD: So the technology helps keep you motivated.
Amber: Oh yes.
Jason: We used the “Couch to 5K” app too.
TD: Did you do this with a group?
Jason: No, we just did it by ourselves, together.
Amber: The first time we tried the “Couch to 5K”, that first 60 sec run, it about killed me.
TD: When did you get on board with her?
Jason: Right away.
TD: So you’re doing it together.
TD: What changes did you make in your diet?
Amber: Before this, my diet was pretty much chocolate and Coke. I just went cold turkey and gave them up.
TD: Was it tough making the changes?
Amber: The first week, I went through withdrawals, almost like you see with drug addictions. It was tough. I was shaking, felt horrible. After a week, I got a little energy back, and after that I was fine.
Tom: Jason, when did you know she was serious and committed this time?
Jason: When she went through the caffeine and sugar withdrawals, I knew it was real.
Amber: He says, “really after a couple of months of you actually going out in the cold weather to walk around the cemetery.”
TD: But now look at you. You’re sharing your pictures on Facebook.
Amber: I want to inspire others. I want them to hold me accountable. I want to keep what I’ve worked hard for. Here I am on day 408…
TD: Wait a minute. That’s how serious you are. You actually know what day this is of your weight loss journey?
Amber: Yeah. I tell people by the time I’m 40, I want to be 40, fit, and fabulous. I’m only 39, so I have a little time left. I’d like to lose about 15 more pounds.
TD: Did you keep your old clothes?
Amber: I never got rid of my fat clothes until about the 8th month. Then I finally did it.
TD: You let them go.
TD: What would you tell people who are wanting to do what you’ve done?
Amber: Get MyFitnessPal; get a food scale. Keep trying. I want to let people know if I can do it, they can do it too.
The reason I wanted to tell their story, was threefold. First, it was amazingly simple, yet amazingly dramatic. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Put another way, the results speak for themselves.
Second, they pretty much take away your excuses. If you’ve tried and failed, try again. Amber did. If you can’t get to the gym, or just can’t afford it, it doesn’t matter. You can do it at home. Amber did. And so can you.
Finally, they did it together. Once Amber caught fire, there was big buy-in from Jason. They walked together, and ate better together. The point is, they did it together, and it shows.
That’s exactly how I found them, walking past the Valentine’s Day aisle in Walmart, in their workout gear. Both 100 lbs lighter. Together. Awesome.