I never really thought I would be someone who had a set of ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos to share. But here I am, with said set of photos, talking about my journey to health. For a number of reasons, college really wasn’t my favorite stage of life. Growing up I was a habitual early-riser who kept a full schedule of activities and had a gym in my basement. The college routine of late nights, a less than stellar diet and inconsistent exercise didn’t suit me. Sure, I knew a lot about fitness and nutrition, but I wasn’t really applying to my life or treating my body the way it deserved to be treated.

During my college ‘dieting years’ I tried to stick to no more than 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day, deriving most of my calories from whole grain carbs, animal proteins and a few fruits and veggies thrown in along the way. I was exercising, and even trained for a half marathon, but was inconsistent with trips to the gym and never bothered to weight train. Slowly, throughout college, my weight crept up to 160 pounds (I’m just shy of 5’10). Although I was by no means unhealthy, I didn’t feel like myself and wanted to make a change.

Shortly after college graduation and moving into my own apartment, I made a number of changes to positively impact my health and well-being. My sleep schedule became more regular, I renewed my love for and commitment to exercise (mainly in the form of cardio) and decided to give vegetarianism a try, forcing me to focus on building meals around more veggies, fruits and whole grains.

{Before: With my cousin, Curtis, in August 2007}
 {After: With Joey in March, 2011}
Within a few months, I started to see results. My vegetarian ‘experiment’ turned into a full-blown lifestyle, my energy levels increased and I started to see a few pounds disappear. Before long I realized not only was I consuming more fruits and veggies, I was eating more calories, too. Instead of eating according to calories, I had started to listen more to my body and what it needed to feel happy and satisfied. 

Most recently (about 6 months ago) I started to incorporate weight training into my fitness routine three to four days a week to build muscle, burn calories and tone my body. The difference I’ve noticed in my arms and abs in particular is amazing.  Between the weight training, vegetarianism, commitment to cardio and increased caloric consumption, the extra pounds fell of. It was as if my metabolism ‘light switch’ had been turned on. Today, I am no longer in the process of trying to lose weight now that my body has settled at my ‘happy weight’ of 145 pounds.

I am, by no means, an expert on the subjects of diet, nutrition and fitness, just someone who is passionate about the topics.  If you’re unsure of how much protein, calories and other nutrients you should be consuming, the USDA has a great website to guide your diet which can be found here.

Here’s to living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle!

Madison

             
                   

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  • http://llshots.wordpress.com/ llshots

    How tall is Joey? He must be super tall, considering how tall you are…

    You look beautiful in both photos – love how you can go darker and lighter with your hair.

  • Anonymous

    You are beautiful and I love your blog, but if you are implying that 160 pounds at 5'9″-5'10″ is heavy?, well that's just crazy.
    Just saying…

  • http://keepitsweetblog.com Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    You look gorgeous in both pictures! I love that you found a place where you treat your body well and are happy with your weight. So interesting that you now eat more calories and weigh less:-) Your body must have found its happy place.

  • http://theavidappetite.com Rachel @ The Avid Appetite

    Beautiful photos! You look very happy, which is all that matters :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17728289485178979972 Madison Mayberry

    llshots: Joey is actually pretty tall, around 6'3 or a bit taller! It is for sure handy that I never have to worry about how tall my heels are! :)

    Anonymous: I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. I am by no means saying that 160 pounds is unhealthy for someone who is my height, just that when I was at that weight, I wasn't living a lifestyle that was committed to health or fitness. For me, it felt like too much weight on my frame, but everyone has a different build and body type so weight really is relative.

  • http://husbandwifemodernlife.wordpress.com/ husbandwifemodernlife

    You look fantastic, my dear! Did you notice a change in your skin as well? It just glows! (Although it could have a little something to do with that whole engaged and blissfully happy thing ;-) )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04260182782784741554 Emily Malone

    beauuuuuuuuuuutiful in both photos!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16608772176428272352 Kim (Bowl of Fruit)

    I second it – beautiful in both photos! Thanks for the inspirational post. Trying to add exercise to my lifestyle for my wedding and it's always nice to see inspiration.