From an overweight athlete to a running champ - a remarkable story of my best friend
Let me tell you about my incredible friend and her remarkable weight loss journey.
First, a little background.
My friend's name is Agata, and we've known each other since 2007. We meet in Scotland through our university and have kept in touch ever since.
Agata's main sport since she was a kid was volleyball. She played for Junior National Volleyball Team in Poland and when she moved to Scotland she played both for the university team and various local teams during her school years, and Scottish National Team after she graduated.
Although she would spent hours on the court or at the gym, somehow her weight went up year after year, reaching 176 lbs in September 2015.
That whole year was huge for Agata. She moved to a different city, got a new place, a new job, ended her career in volleyball and adopted a dog named Roger (that has been returned to the shelter 5 times before she got him).
Roger has been an extremely energetic dog and in order to keep him tired, and herself active, Agata embarked on a new journey exploring the sport of canicross, i.e. running with a dog.
Long story short she's lost 39 pounds in under 2 years without any diet fads or gimmicks, and best part, she's keeping the weight off.
She's also stronger, faster and have more energy than ever before.
How did she do it? Was it just the exercise change? Well let's explore a bit further.
1. What's your age, height and weight?
31, 5'9, 137 lbs.
2. How did your weekly training schedule look like back in September 2015?
2 x 2 hrs intensive volleyball training
2 x 1 hr weight lifting at the gym
1 x 2-3 hrs volleyball game at the weekend
plus I would walk around with my dog too
3. What’s your weekly workout routine right now?
3 x running with my dog (canicross max 6km/3.7mile)
1x bikejor (riding with a dog max 6km/3.7mile)
3-4 km bike riding on my own
1 x running on my own at an easy pace
a lot of walking at the beach or hills with dogs too
4. How did your diet look like in 2015?
I was eating and drinking everything and anything and didn't care when it was (night or morning, before training or after training).
I was eating out with friends a lot, consuming a lot of fast foods after training or games. Every lunch time at work I snacked on chips, chocolate or candy and drank soda.
5. How does your diet look like now?
My diet right now is a lot more planned. I think ahead about what kind of day I am going to have (work and training wise) and I will eat according to my energy needs.
I totally gave up on eating in restaurants or fast foods. I no longer want it or enjoy it. I also decided that alcohol doesn't help with weight loss and sports performance so I stopped drinking regularly and instead I have a pint once a month as a treat.
I started to eat more vegetables, fruits and meat. No pasta. No soda. Candy, chips and chocolate in moderation. I drink a ton of water.
On days when I don't feel like eating meat, my diet consists of mostly vegetables and rice.
Finally I start my days with a good breakfast that makes me full at least until lunch time: porridge or scrambled eggs work really well for me.
6. What do you think contributed to your weight gain despite all the exercise you did when you played volleyball?
I think I was totally eating incorrectly after and before my training sessions. My body didn't have the right combo of nutrients to perform at its best and the fat just decided to stick around.
7. What do you think contributed to your weight loss?
I think dropping the bad habits such as fast food after games, and replacing them with homemade meals such as salads, vegetables and cut fruit.
I think the whole planning and thinking about what I'm actually putting in my body made it easier to lose weight.
When I saw results, I started to enjoy the kitchen more and got creative with my meals.
8. What were the biggest changes in your diet that happened overtime?
I think the biggest changes were that I was drinking more water and started to enjoy snacking on vegetables. Also, slowly replacing bad habits with good habits. Now I make better choices automatically.
9. Any last tips?
Start slowly, be patient and be consistent. I changed my diet in small steps but I worked at it week after week.
I didn't throw my body into deep water with multiple changes or crazy restrictions. I did it gradually and my body didn't fight me as much along the way.
Also, it definitely helps to have support through the tough times (and there is going to be tough times) from your family and friends.
Don't give up. It's easier to give up than keep at it, but believe in the process and things will start to move down.
10. Any last thoughts?
I have managed to achieve this weight loss and I am looking at myself and thinking: Yes I am a champ! It was hard work but it was so worth it.
Agata currently lives in Edinburgh, works in Marketing and besides Roger, she now has another dog named Laferra (adopted from Greece). She's training Laferra (left) to run with her, just like Roger (right) does. They are a great team, getting faster each month and placing higher in the rankings.