As anyone who has made the life-changing decision to do something about their obesity knows, it usually takes an eye-opening experience to enact change. For some, it's receiving test results from a physician that serves as a wake-up call, and for others, an upcoming event, such as a wedding or reunion, is enough to motivate a transformation.
For Elizabeth Hronek Atkins, now 28, it was the combination of the inability to keep up with her young daughter and a desire to look better. "I couldn't participate in all the activities that I wanted to, I was struggling to keep up with my daughter and do all the things she wanted to, and I didn't like the way I looked," she reveals.
It seems Elizabeth had taken the slogan of her birthplace--Everything's bigger in Texas--to heart. And stomach. And hips. And thighs. She had been overweight since age 8, when her pediatrician told her mother to take her to Weight Watchers. So when Elizabeth's eye-opening moment hit, around age 25, when she'd reached her all-time high of 265 pounds, she had her work cut out for her: a lifetime of bad habits to break.
"Initially, I just changed my diet," she says. "I cut out carbs and focused on lean proteins and veggies."
Though she remembers the first week--cutting out sugars and carbs--as the toughest, her will remained strong. Within a few weeks, Elizabeth noticed she had more energy, and wasn't as hungry or craving bad foods. And this success was all she needed to jump-start a chain reaction of positive changes.
"Then, I started cardio, and eventually added in resistance training," she explains of her multi-phase approach to taking control of her health. "At one point, I hit a plateau and got really frustrated. So I decided to join a gym so I'd have access to more equipment.
At first, I was my own trainer. But eventually, I enlisted the help of a trainer."
Now, however, Elizabeth has taken back the reigns on her workout regimen. "I've obtained my certification for personal training," she says. "So I do my own research now and like to experiment with all type of exercises." Her husband has been a personal trainer for five years as well.
Elizabeth discovered that once she got started down the path toward a fitter figure, and had lost her first 100 pounds, her goals shifted. In fact, her passion for working out has become much more than a hobby--it's well on its way toward becoming a profession. While currently working as a personal trainer and for a well-known soda manufacturer, she's also competing in bodybuilding.
"I plan to continue competing in the figure division of the NPC, and plan on becoming pro as soon as possible," Elizabeth says. "I will continue to improve my physique along the way.
Of course, she isn't just relying on diet and exercise to help make this dream come true--Elizabeth credits her now competition-worthy physique to the use of supplements.
"I didn't use any supplements initially, until I started my pre-competition diet," she says. "I use ProSource BCAAs, L-glutamine, and L-carnitine, plus Supreme Protein premium protein powder and protein bars. I use all of them daily with the exception of L-carnitine. They have helped me recover quicker and give me more energy. The protein shakes and protein bars were really helpful after workouts for me to feed my muscles before my next meal. I absolutely love the Supreme Protein powder--I use it to with other meals, not just shakes. My favorite flavor of the Supreme Protein bars is the Chocolate Caramel Cookie Crunch!"
This five-foot-seven wife and mother, who resides in Winston-Salem, N.C., now weighs 127 pounds. And her diet has shifted a bit since she first cut out carbs. "As I started to prepare for competitions, I added in more healthy carbs," Elizabeth says. "I usually eat six meals a day and now measure out all of my proteins as I prepare for my next competition. The foods I rely most on are oat bran and sweet potatoes ... they keep me going."
For Elizabeth, her weight-loss journey has truly been a life-changing transformation. She can now do all the things with her family she never could have before and has even discovered a passion for a career in an industry she never thought possible.
"I love cooking, health and fitness, bodybuilding, soccer, swimming, and doing things with my family," she says. "I hope to be a huge name in the health and fitness industry with training and figure competing."