Dannielle's Journey From a XXXL to a Size Small

An unhealthy diet took a toll on Dannielle's life in ways that she could never have imagined. Her weight spiralled out of control during her first pregnancy. She was inflicted with a host of health problems — from hypothyroidism to gestational diabetes — and ended up hospitalized. "[When I was] 34 weeks pregnant, I needed an emergency c-section and my son was taken to the NICU," she recalled. "I was extremely obese at that point. In fact, I'm pretty sure that by medical standards, I was considered morbidly obese. It made me feel horrible that my son was born premature because of my health issues." After her first son was released from the hospital, Dannielle led an overwhelmingly sedentary lifestyle. She could barely walk for a quarter of a mile without needing to stop for a break. "It was a good day if I got over 1000 steps," she remembered. "A typical day for me pre & post pregnancy would consist of about 2000 calories worth of Mountain dew or some other soda, and then 2000-3000 calories worth of food." This was how Dannielle gained so much weight prior to her first pregnancy.

After the birth of her second son, Dannielle knew that she needed to make a transformation. She was looking for new ways to exercise at home, and downloaded PumpUp to boost her health and fitness progress. "I've been on [the app] for about 42 weeks now," she shared. "PumpUp not only provided what I was looking for, but it offered a supportive community as well." She started off by calorie-counting with MyFitnessPal and used a FitBit to track her physical activity. Compared to before, Dannielle now makes far more conscious and balanced choices related to her diet. "The meals that other [members] post gives me ideas and [recipes] to try, which is great," she expressed. "It's also one of the many reasons why I love this app."

Though it may seem like an extreme measure, Dannielle weighs all of her meals and snacks — including single-serve packages. Healthy eating has been the key to her success. "I've frequently found that [the single-serve packs] weigh more than they should, which translates into more calories," she explained. "One my favorite 100-calorie snack packs of almonds typically contains around 150 calories worth of almonds." When Dannielle chooses to indulge, she balances the rest of her meals out with plenty of nutrient-rich choices. "I honestly don't think that I would be able to avoid [indulging] for the rest of my life. I'm only 25," she admitted. "I don't eat [all my processed food cravings] in the same day and I make sure to get all the nutrients my bodies need. The PumpUp community provides me ideas for [that]."

With the help of PumpUp and other fitness apps, Dannielle was able to fully commit to a more active lifestyle. She visits the gym at least 5-6 times a week—alternating between strength training, cardio, and core exercises. In comparison to taking just 1,000 steps a day, Dannielle now strives for 10,000. "3 days out of the week, I'll do 'Ice Cream Fitness 5x5'...It's a lifting program designed to build strength,"she offered. "The other 2-3 days, I'll do cardio and maybe ab work.  I occasionally do workouts from the PumpUp workout generator if I miss the gym or if I'm looking for a little something extra. A few months after joining PumpUp, I started running. At first it was a struggle to run for more than 30 seconds, but now I can run a 5K!" Dannielle's small lifestyle changes contributed to her dramatic transformation. "I've gone from a US size 20 at my heaviest, to a US 15/16 when I joined PumpUp, to a US 6/7 now," she said gleefully. "My tops have gone from a 2-3 XL to a medium Juniors/small women's. I've signed up to do a 5K Color Spray run this September!"

How Dannielle deals with cravings

"Even though I count calories and in general make better choices, I still will still eat chocolate (instead of the whole bar, I might break off a little bit or have 1 square of the more expensive dark chocolate or eat a skinny cow bar), ice cream (stick to a single serving or choose frozen greek yogurt instead), pizza (either a homemade personal size pizza or 2-4 slices of one from a restaurant instead of eating a whole large pizza by myself), etc. If I'm craving some sort of candy or something of that nature, I prefer to walk to Walmart (2 miles) or Walgreens (1 mile) to get it. A lot of times, I end up getting to the store and I decide that I really didn't want it after all. "

Dannielle's best advice for other PumpUp members

Everyone slips up from time to time. Try not to beat yourself up over little slip ups. Falling down is normal, but getting right back up is what makes normal become extraordinary.Find things that you enjoy doing. If you don't like running, don't force yourself too. You could dance or even just walk. If you're not happy with the activity, it will be harder for you to stick to it long term. Something you enjoy will be harder to give up on. Don't starve yourself. An active body needs fuel. Depriving it of the fuel it needs will only have negative consequences. Don't try and change everything all at once. Make small changes overtime so that you don't overwhelm yourself.

Dannielle's favorite ways to stay active

My all-time favorite workout these days is the Ice Cream Fitness 5x5. To just stay active in general, I do a lot of walking (parking further away from the store or even walking to the store).

Find Dannielle on PumpUp @shadow2soul and cheer her on! Have questions for Dannielle about her transformation? Share them in the comments below!