05/06/2013 05:21 EDT

Weight Lost: How Fitness Instructor Sarah Rawlingson Lost 100 Pounds

Sarah Rawlingson

WHO: Sarah Rawlingson, elite drill instructor for Booty Camp Fitness

AGE: 29

CITY: Toronto

By The Numbers: 245 pounds at my heaviest, and currently 155, total weight loss 100 pounds (with a 10 pound weight gain)

The Weight Gain: When I was young, I was always heavy. I don't remember ever being a normal weight. My mother took me to a dietitian, but that did nothing.

The Final Straw: I was working as a community coordinator for a new home development. We had to have our picture taken for a community Christmas/holiday card. When the cards arrived to our office, I was mortified that I actually looked that heavy. I somehow always thought I was smaller and carried my weight well. I knew after seeing this picture that my eating habits and lifestyle habits had to change.

Ultimately I wanted to feel better about myself and look better in the beginning. But as I became more educated about healthy eating, it turned more into how to live healthy instead of being skinny. The goal to be thin was always there, but my mind shifted as I learned.

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The Plan Of Attack: I started by making small changes with my food. I would plan my meals, buy them, and make them at home. I started running, and bought a membership at a community centre close to work. I would workout before work every day. It took me about a year and a half to lose 100 pounds. In the first year, I lost 60 pounds.

The Food Element: I started eating lots of veggies, fruit, lean meat, whole grains, and drinking lots of water. I gave up fast food but I was over it anyway. The hardest adjustment was my routine. Getting into a routine of making the time to plan your meals, make food and plan your workouts was the hardest.

I never focused on calories and I didn't cut out food completely. I started out slow, and eventually cut all of the preservatives out of my diet. At first I treated my new healthy eating habits as a diet, but learned quickly that it was a way of life and this is how I should have been eating all this time.

The Exercise Factor: I joined a community centre along with a "biggest loser" challenge, and this got me moving and determined to keep going. Although I had been heavy all of my life, I was always somewhat active. Running on a treadmill, lifting weights and interval training was challenging considering I was 100 pounds overweight, but I would never stop, even if it was hard.

My ultimate fitness goal was to have a flat stomach and be able to confidently wear a bathing suit. I wasn't sure how much weight I was going to lose, so I just kept going until my body felt right.

The Current Day-To-Day: Currently I work during the day for Booty Camp Fitness as the licensee permit liaison, then I go to the gym for a workout, and then will head to either my Ajax or Whitby (Ont.) camps to instruct. During the week I try to do weight training, a little yoga, and pretty much anything challenging.

Today, I am most proud of the determination I had to get where I wanted to be. I have never been that determined in my life to do anything. Being healthy is easy, so try not to stress. Add in two new vegetables and fruits each week, and take your time with your exercise routine. You will know when your body is ready for another challenge.

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