How This Nova Scotia Woman Went From Avoiding The Beach To Competing In Figure Shows

"I couldn't walk around New York City on vacation without getting winded."

HuffPost Canada's Lost It series chronicles the stories of everyday Canadians who have struggled with their weight — and won. We talk to people about what they eat, how they exercise and generally, what their healthy lifestyle is to maintain their weight now that they've lost it.

You can read more stories from Lost It here.

Name: Dawn Tree

Occupation: Supervisor at a residential treatment facility

Age: 34

City: Truro, N.S.

Heaviest weight: 311 pounds

Current weight: 129 pounds

The story:

I got progressively bigger as I grew up. I was a typical "chubby" kid, but once I moved out and went to a private boarding school in Grade 12, then onto university, and subsequently my own apartment, my weight skyrocketed.

The final straw:

For me, it was more a collection of final straw moments, for example, I couldn't walk around New York City on vacation without getting winded, and I couldn't go to the beach with friends because I was too embarrassed (and I think people avoided inviting me because they knew).

Ultimately, I was having trouble conceiving and I knew it was because of my weight.

The plan of attack:

I started tracking my food intake and going to the gym. At first I could barely walk 15 minutes on a treadmill and do a light circuit of weights, but that is how it started.

Then I progressed to cutting fast food out (except for once a week), cut out a lot of starchy carbs, sweets, etc. I also started to count calories and add more physical challenges.

In the first year on my own I lost 151 pounds I then got pregnant and had my son, lost the baby weight, got pregnant again with my daughter, then had a terrible time trying to get back into shape.

Story continues below.

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In the fall of 2016 I researched various personal trainers in the province and found 360 Fit in Dartmouth, N.S., and contacted them. When I signed up I was 205 pounds and I was able to lose 89 pounds with them in under a year, and get myself in the condition of being able to compete in a figure show.

Why I share my story on social media:

When I had first started my journey, seeing before and after photos was incredibly motivating to see what was possible. I wanted to share my own progress with others in the hopes that maybe a few women like myself might get inspired to start their own journey or continue to stay motivated themselves.

What was the hardest adjustment?

Having to make "real food." When I was heavier, I used to make a lot of quick meals, chicken fingers, fries, fast food, etc. Making healthier food can take some time and planning.

The food element:

I cut out fast food and started eating more vegetables, fruit, lean protein, greek yogurt, etc.

At first I counted calories and tracked my progress through the Myfitnesspal app. Now I count my macros but still track through the app.

The exercise factor:

For years I did it on my own, but I kind of plateaued so I hired a trainer in 2016.

Before I started losing weight I had played some high school sports, volleyball, rugby, etc. After graduating my fitness was almost at a zero.

Currently I lift heavy weights and do lots of different conditioning. I'm also training for power lifting meets and a half marathon.

I love working out — it's therapeutic and I love chasing personal records. I love seeing my body change and adapt to the challenges I put it through.

How I stay motivated:

Knowing where I started and not wanting to ever go back there motivates me to keep going. My kids and my husband and my fit family motivate me every day.

"My coaches Bobby Peterson and Jeff Snow (pictured here) are largely responsible for my transformation to figure competitor. They even came to watch me on stage, they were so proud."
"My coaches Bobby Peterson and Jeff Snow (pictured here) are largely responsible for my transformation to figure competitor. They even came to watch me on stage, they were so proud."

The day-to-day:

I track my macros, go to the gym every day, and go to my coach for personal training once a week. I also run (especially now with running season coming up).

How I maintain my lifestyle:

Just being consistent, staying the course and not giving up. Continually setting new goals and challenging myself keeps me interested and motivated.

What I'm most proud of:

I'm most proud of getting myself to a place where I could have two healthy pregnancies and two healthy kids. I have even taken my kids to the gym and they are becoming very active and interested in healthy living themselves.

Final thoughts:

The best advice I can give is that one small change can make a big difference and not to give up. I read on Instagram yesterday that if you blew a tire on your car, you wouldn't throw the whole car out, you would fix the tire and keep moving.

I think health and wellness is a lifelong thing — no fad diet or exercise program will last forever, but keeping yourself on track will!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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