Her loss is her gain

Rachel Commerford has lost nearly 30 pounds in a few months’ time due to exercise and a focus on a healthy diet.

Rachel Commerford has lost a lot this year – nearly 30 pounds.

Last summer, Rachel and her family moved to Florida. Making that transition shined a light on something that had been bothering her for some time.

“I was just feeling blah all the time. Moving to Florida, I noticed that everybody is outside all the time. But every time I went outside, I was hot and miserable,” she said.

Rachel said she would stay active enough to keep from becoming obese, running once a week. But her downfall was food.

“I love food,” she said. “I love the taste of all food – and I love junk food.”

As she got older, though, it became painfully obvious that you can’t eat the way you used to in high school or even college.

Rachel and her husband would have seemingly endless discussions about how they needed to lose weight and eat healthier, but nothing seemed to change. By the time December rolled around, Rachel was tired of talking and ready to do something.

“I just got to a place where I was sick and tired of feeling horrible,” she said.

For Christmas, Rachel and her husband gave each other sessions at a local gym with a personal trainer. The trainer gave her good direction about the best exercises to do in combination with cardio workouts, like running.

“I had a conversation in December with my cousin about how she chooses to eat healthy and how it makes her feel better. It sparked something,” Rachel said.

As tax season took off, so did Rachel. She started exercising and running six times a week. Every day she made one healthy change to her eating habits.

“I don’t know where I got the motivation – I have no idea where it came from. It’s kind of odd,” she said.

But the dedication paid off.

By the first of July, Rachel lost 20 pounds. And she wasn’t done yet.

She and her husband launched into a 30-day program of healthy eating, called Whole30.

The program calls for the elimination of sugar, grains, dairy, legumes and alcohol from your diet for 30 days. At first, she said, it was almost like going through withdrawals.

“That first week, my body kind of went into a freak-out mode, like it was asking, where’s my energy source?” Rachel said.

But as she began fueling her body with healthy and natural foods, she found she had more energy, could exercise longer and could breathe better. Rachel said she noticed she was sleeping deeper at night, barely needed coffee to get going in the morning, and no longer had those afternoon crashes. She said she could see a difference in her skin tone and fingernails.

“It’s amazing what your body does when you start feeding it healthy foods,” Rachel said.

As she began to learn how to identify healthier foods and ingredients, she found new recipes and began blogging about her progress. She disciplined herself by rearranging her pantry, putting the “off-limits” foods on a bottom shelf out of view and replacing them with the healthier options.

By the time she completed the program Aug. 4, Rachel had dropped another 7 ½ pounds. She has begun the process of reintroducing some foods back in her diet, but is realizing that she no longer craves the same things.

“My body doesn’t react well to grains or dairy anymore, and now I don’t even desire sweets,” Rachel said.

While she is no longer strictly following the Whole30 diet, the new way of approaching food and meals has become a lifestyle for Rachel. Those “off-limits” foods? Still on the bottom shelf.

“The point is to reset your eating habits,” Rachel said. “You’re retraining your brain to crave healthier foods instead of junk food. You get rid of them and the body starts craving healthier items.”

Now Rachel has set another goal: to complete a half-marathon. She is planning to compete in one next summer, but may sign up for one earlier.

In the meantime, Rachel will continue to blog and post live videos of her recipes. She has also inspired a number of people to make healthy lifestyle changes and serves as a wellness coach for others.

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