Who: Martha Neovard
Occupation: Stay-at-home mother and birth doula
City: Regina, Sask.
By The Numbers: 276 pounds at my heaviest, currently at 204 pounds, for a total weight loss of 72 pounds.
The Weight Gain: I was quite fit as a teenager, but in 2008, I developed health issues and a gastric condition called gastroparesis. After initially losing a lot of weight from the gastro disease, I started to gain weight quickly and had a hard time losing it.
I became pregnant with my first daughter in November 2009, and didn’t lose all of the baby weight. I then had two more daughters: one in 2012 and the other in 2014. All were born via cesarean.
I had three cesareans in four and a half years and it took a big toll on my body. My last cesarean reopened at the incision site and took 12 weeks postpartum to heal again. My pelvic floor and core were a mess, and I ended up going to physiotherapy to repair some of the damage done.
I attempted low-carb, paleo and primal diets and tried to find the things that triggered my gastroparesis. By tweaking what I was eating, I lost a lot of the weight even before I joined a gym.
"The scale really didn’t change a lot, but my body did. I became leaner and stronger and started to drop sizes."
Final Straw: I spent a lot of time hating my body, thinking it was broken and not liking what I saw in the mirror.
In 2015, I discovered the body acceptance movement. I thanked my body for the ways it was strong and wanted to make it stronger. I found when I started to love my body I wanted to nourish it with good food and help it become more graceful, strong and powerful.
At first, I didn’t believe I deserved to feel good before and I had only looked at losing weight to feel more accepted and to please others. But once I accepted my body completely as it was, I was able to find the courage and fortitude to change it and give it good things.
Story continues below.
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The Plan of Attack: I started the GoodLife Fitness personal training program in April of 2016.
Over the year, the scale really didn’t change a lot, but my body did. I became leaner and stronger and started to drop sizes. I knew I was building a lot of muscle, so I wasn’t too bothered by the lack of change on the scale. By August 2016, I had gone from a size 22 pant to a size 13/14, and from a size 20 dress to a size 12.
The Exercise Factor: Before joining the gym, I was very weak. I couldn’t even lift two pounds with the overhead press. I can now lift 75 pounds with it. I also could not run for any length of time and I got out of breath and dizzy easily. I have much more endurance and strength now.
Currently I do a lifting program of heavy weight lifting three days a week, and then high-intensity interval training two days a week, with two rest days.
Each lifting session is roughly an hour long, and my high intensity interval training is two 15-minute sets with five minutes of each being at high intensity.
"Go to the gym and eat nourishing food out of self-love, not because someone else says you should look a certain way."
The Food Element: My eating didn’t change a lot. I introduced more protein into my diet to build muscle. I also learned that my body needed certain foods to fuel it for strength training.
Sometimes, it was hard to find the right balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
I try to ensure I am eating enough to power my body and also the right kinds of foods.
The Current Day-to-Day: I get up in the morning and get my kids ready. I take my daughter to school and then head to the gym for an hour five days a week. It is a fantastic way to start my day and gives me so much energy for the rest of the day.
I’m still working on building strength and muscle and losing fat. It’s an everyday thing that I do for myself.
My advice? Go to the gym and eat nourishing food out of self-love, not because someone else says you should look a certain way. Your body is amazing and can do really awesome things. You are beautiful!
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Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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