Health Female Adda
1 year ago
How I Went from 250 Pounds to a Bodybuilding Competitor

Angela Arnold success story
1/8 Photograph courtesy of Angela Arnold

Before: 250

After: 148

I’d always struggled with my weight growing up, but when I got pregnant at 19, I put on 70 pounds and couldn’t lose it. I didn’t want to wear shorts or tank tops, and I hated how I felt in my body.

Over the next few years, stress at work (I was in real estate during the 2008 market crash), another pregnancy, and a troubled marriage drove my stress through the roof, and my weight followed. 

Doctor's office
2/8 Shutterstock
The Changes

After years of feeling fatigued all the time, I went to the doctor for repeated bladder and kidney infections. He told me I was diabetic and that my poor health was taking years off my life. I was only 29! I had two children! At 250 pounds, I knew I had to make a change.

So I started walking around my neighborhood and downloaded the MyFitnessPal app to track my calories. 

Shrimp Tacos
3/8 Shutterstock
My Eating Plan

I started to clean up my diet by cutting out soda. I still ate fast food with my sons, but I chose healthier options, like grilled chicken sandwiches. I used MyFitnessPal to track my meals because I was still focusing on calories.

When I started focusing on lifting weights, I also started eating cleaner. In the past, if I ate fish, it was fried catfish. Now I was eating lean, high-protein fish. I still don’t love vegetables—but I kind of became obsessed with beets. 

Angela Arnold workout
4/8 Photograph courtesy of Angela Arnold
My Workouts

My brother lent me his P90X workout DVD, but it was way too hard for me, so a friend of mine let me borrow her Jillian Michaels’ 20-minute workout DVDs. At first, I could only get through the first three minutes. But the next day I could make it through six. I worked my way up until I could finish the whole workout easily. Once I mastered Jillian's workouts, I tackled P90X. After five months, I’d lost 35 pounds.

I kept working out at home and at my church's tiny gym until April 2014. By then I’d lost 100 pounds! Around that time, I took a workout class with fitness model and bodybuilder Ashley Horner and thought, "Damn, she looks so strong and amazing." I decided to train for a bodybuilding competition and started focusing my workouts on weight-lifting. I lost so much fat, now I wanted to gain muscle. 

(If you're ready to start your own transformation, check out Women's Health's Ignite routine created by Next Fitness Star Nikki Metzger.)

Angela Arnold and boyfriend
5/8 Photograph courtesy of Angela Arnold
Keeping Up With It

For me, one of the hardest things about getting fit was not knowing what I should eat or how to properly do the lifting moves I wanted to try. I didn’t even know what a hamstring was! I reached out to trainers and fitness Instagrammers for advice about nutrition and working out. (That’s how I met my now-boyfriend.)

The first few months were tough. My body was tired from my DVD workouts, and I gave up on my new healthy habits for a few weeks. During that time, I noticed that eating like crap made me feel worse. Thinking of my sons kept me going; I had to be healthy for them. 

Angela Arnold bodybuilding competition
6/8 Photograph courtesy of Angela Arnold
Getting to My Goal

After learning more about fitness and nutrition, I trained for months to take the stage at my first bodybuilding competition. That preparation involved tough workouts almost every day, and paying crazy-close attention to what I was eating.

When the day finally came, I couldn’t believe I was wearing this itty-bitty bikini after refusing to wear shorts a few years earlier. My confidence had completely turned around. Even though it was hard work, the experience was so inspiring and empowering that I’m training for another competition this year.

Angela Arnold and sons
7/8 Photograph courtesy of Angela Arnold / Instagram
The Reward

My knees used to buckle under my weight when I got out of bed in the morning. Now, I enjoy doing 5Ks and Color Runs with my boys.

My sons, who are 11 and 13, are always asking me to flex my muscles. My older son, who’s struggled with his own weight, exercises with me. Knowing that I’ve helped us become a healthier family is the greatest reward in the world. 

Angela Arnold and coach
8/8 Photograph courtesy of Angela Arnold / Instagram
Angela's Number One Tip

Surround yourself with people who share your goals. It’s hard to stay healthy if your friends always want to party and drink. Start talking to people at the gym; reach out to that fit gal you follow online! That's how I met my training coach, and she's been a huge motivator these past years!

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