Welcome to September Success, a month of inspirational weight loss success stories from real women like you who achieved amazing real weight loss success.
My first guest is the beautiful Meghan Joy Yancy, who lost 45 pounds in 10 months as a busy mom of five children whom she home-schools. When she’s not mom-ing hard, she is the leader of the Today Tribe, which supports moms from all walks of life to “Live the Extraordinary Ordinary Life” they were meant to lead.
We met at a Twins Cities Collective Blogger Breakfast. Since then, we’ve been Facebook friends.
Who is Meghan? She is a multi-talented, multi-passionate purveyor of essential oils, a leader of a joyful movement, and creator of the brilliant mantra, “Live your extraordinary ordinary life today.”
Meghan is an amazing person.
Listen to the interview, and read highlights below.
Jennifer E-G: I was really struck by your weight loss success story. You were very open and honest, and the way you share your story really touched me. One thing you just posted about some of your experiences with being your heaviest weight and being your lowest weight. I was just really struck by the change in how joyful you were in the process.
Meghan Joy Y: Yeah. Thank you. It’s been quite the journey and one that I never really thought I would be on. But it’s taught me a lot.
[00:02:30] Jennifer E-G: My mantra is helping moms find body bliss, which can be a joyful process. Because I think we share a lot of passion around bliss and joy. It’s a similar concept, which I feel that a lot of moms have a tough time with. Either we’re so busy taking care of our family, our spouses, our careers, our aging parents.
We have so many balls we’re trying to juggle right now that it’s difficult for us to focus on being present, being joyful, and finding the bliss in everyday moments. I really connected with your message around being joyful.
Meghan Joy Y: Yeah. Thank you. I totally agree with that because I think we just live in such a fast-paced world and we just forget to stop and smell the roses more often.
Jennifer E-G: Well, we all need to smell those roses because they’re out there and they’re worth smelling. But I’m really excited to dive into this interview with you and to learn a little bit more about how you were able to lose 45 pounds.
[00:03:30] Now I just want to throw it out there that as a health coach, I personally don’t endorse any products.
I was really struck by the fact that you seem to agree with me with there are ways you can do it naturally without having to focus on any particular types of pills or supplements or that sort of thing. I would like to ask first of all-
Question 1: What triggered you to lose weight?
[00:04:00] Meghan Joy Y: Well, it’s a funny story. I didn’t really realize my weight gain. You just slowly begin buying bigger and bigger clothes. It’s not like one day you wake up and you’ve gained 50 pounds. It’s just a very slow fade into that.
I had come to this point where I was pretty uncomfortable just living life. I was uncomfortable. Not that I didn’t love who I was. But you’re not comfortable in your own skin when you’re not living your healthiest.
I can fully admit I brought myself to that point where I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t exercising. I was eating horribly.
I have some very wonderful men in my life- my dad and my husband. They’re very honest men. I really, really appreciate that with them. It had just come to a point and my dad … I think it was maybe Christmas or something. He just said, “Hey, Meghan, things are getting a little out of control. You’re not taking care of yourself, and you’re getting kind of big.”
A lot of people were like, “Wow, someone said that to you.” But I can’t thank my dad enough for being honest with me and letting me look myself in the mirror and seeing what I was doing to myself. The same with my husband.
[00:05:30] He said, “Hey, Meghan, there’s something that might a little off right now. You could be living a healthier life.” I really appreciated their honesty because it helped catapult me into a healthy lifestyle that’s lifelong. It might have been harsh. It might have been hard at the time, but it was for my good.
Jennifer E-G: Wow. That is something I can honestly say that I’ve never heard before. Both your dad and your husband basically called you out and said, “What’s going on here?”
Meghan Joy Y: Pretty much. Yep.
Jennifer E-G: You were able to take that with a gain of salt and not throw it back in their face and say, “Oh, YOU need to change.” Right? When they first told you this, were you taken aback a little bit?
Meghan Joy Y: You know what, I think probably day one I probably could have accepted hurt from it and made that choice to sulk in it. Then I think I was like, “You know what? They’re right.” I need to have vitality and health and be able to run with my kids. I want that for myself.
[00:06:30] Obviously, other people have seen the pit I’ve dug myself into. If they can love me enough to make me aware of that, and I know it deep down, I think it’s time for a change.
Jennifer E-G: I love that because it takes a lot of grace to step back and say, “These men in my life who I very much respect and admire are not being critical of me. But they’re concerned about me.” It’s really hard to accept that and to hear that without feeling defensive.
Would you say that your husband and your dad are themselves quite healthy in their attitudes and their eating?
[00:07:30] Meghan Joy Y: Yeah. They’ve also gone through their own journey to health and wellness. They definitely try to lead a lifestyle of making sure they exercise everyday making healthy eating choices more often than not. They definitely have their own journey in that as well.
Question 2: What led to your weight struggles?
Jennifer E-G: Another thing that I talk about with my health coaching clients is understanding what built the momentum for us to become our heaviest, most uncomfortable weight. It takes a lot of introspection to examine that more deeply. For you personally, why do you feel that you fell into the pit, as you describe it, that you were in?
Meghan Joy Y: I don’t want to blame it on pregnancy. But I allowed pregnancy to be my crutch that, “I’m pregnant. I can eat for two. I can do whatever I want and eat as much as I want.” I feel like our culture says that you should be eating two, so you should be eating double the portions.
[00:08:30] But our portions, as maybe some people know, is already pretty out of alignment in the United States. I really did eat double portions. You don’t actually need that when you’re pregnant. I’d have a gallon of ice cream every couple of days. I’d finish that, top that thing off really easily.
I gained 40 pounds my first pregnancy, and I only lost maybe 20 of those pounds. Then seven months later, I got pregnant again and gained another 40. I really had just topped off and allowed myself to spiral out of control. Then you just stay in that place if you choose to.
I’m not blaming it on pregnancy, but I allowed myself to make unhealthy decisions because of my pregnancy.
Jennifer E-G: I’m sure you’re not alone in that. All of us go through a lot of physical and mental changes when we go through pregnancy. I only have two kids. I know you have five kids. How many years have you spent being pregnant or nursing your babies?
Meghan Joy Y: Nine years we’re going on now. My kids are eight, seven, five, three and 19 months.
[00:10:30] Jennifer E-G: Hearing about that and the very close age gap of your children, it seems that blaming it on your pregnancy or not is a legitimate thing. You spent a lot of time being pregnant. There are challenges there. You don’t get a lot of sleep. You don’t get a lot of time for yourself. You’re busy taking care of the children. It’s a very difficult thing to reflect on, how you take care of yourself.
Question 3: How did you lose all of that weight?
Meghan Joy Y: It is, and I lost it in 10 months. It was after I had my third child, I knew that I needed to make … I didn’t want to diet. I didn’t just want to lose the weight. But I wanted to completely change my lifestyle habits.
I’m pretty self-motivated. I was at the end of my rope. It was at that desperation point where I knew that I needed to make a lifelong change. I did a couple of things.
- I began a workout routine just from home. I would pop-up YouTube videos and just choose my routine for the day.
- I’d created my own Tabata, like the HIIT workout. I created my own little workouts. Then I would just write it on a piece of paper and hang it on my wall and set the timer on my phone. I worked out with the kids.
- I would run every day. When my husband got home from work, I would go for maybe a one to three mile run. I’d get back and get dinner ready while my husband went for a run. Then he came back home and we would all sit down to dinner together.
[00:12:30] I made running quite a priority. I used MyFitnessPal app to keep track of everything I was eating and to watch my calorie count every day. That was just how I was able to measure what I was eating.
Because I just would have no idea how much I was actually taking in each day and that my body didn’t actually need that. I was able to very strategically choose the healthy foods that I needed to give my body the nutrients it needed.
I always like to tell people this because you see these really cool Pinterest boards and fitness inspiration and all these women who are super-fit. I would always look at them and be like, “I’m not that woman. That’s not me. I don’t look like her.”
Even at my fittest, I’m not gonna look like her because I have a completely different body shape. I’m 5’2″ and I can build some good muscle mass if actually try.
I printed out photos of moments in my life where I was at a healthy place. I posted those up around my house. I put them in my bathroom and on my fridge and in my fridge.
[00:13:30] I put little notes around as motivation.
Eat healthy. Make good choices. Go get your exercise.
I would post it all around the house. I had these reminders everywhere I went of my goal and that every single day, every step I took, was gonna help me get to my goal.
Those pictures of me hanging up was my motivation because I want to look like me. I don’t want to look like anybody else. I want to be the healthiest me for myself and for my family. All of that together and just actually really learning about good eating habits, doing the research and making those choices day-in and day-out, in 10 months I was able to lose 45 pounds and be at a really good, healthy place.
Jennifer E-G: That is totally beautiful and amazing, especially when you said, “Well, all these beautiful, super-abs and chiseled ladies on Fitspo and Pinterest aren’t me!
I know you’re active on social media so you probably got those things thrown in your face every day. You made a good point. You said, “I don’t want to look like those people. My body is not like those people. I want to look like me only better.”
That you followed-through with that, with the action of putting your favorite photos of yourself in strategic places in your house as reminders of recapturing what that felt like for you is a beautiful, beautiful technique and one that I think is quite unique.It's not about being super-fit. It's about being the best version of you that you possibly… Click To Tweet
[00:15:30] Jennifer E-G: You mentioned that you were using MyFitnessPal. I know that they’ve gone through some changes, so I don’t know if you’re still using it or not. But they allow you to plug-in certain targets. Were you focusing on anything like calories or macros or carbs? Or was there anything in particular you were trying to either limit or add more of?
Meghan Joy Y: I’m not an extraordinary food expert and fitness expert. For me I really needed to keep it simple. When I went on MyFitnessPal, and I logged-in and I created my goals. Okay. I want to be this weight in this amount of time.
You want to lose two pounds a week or one pound a week, this is your calorie intake for the day. Then I would just plug-in my foods and scan my barcodes, and I knew when I was at my goal for the day. Really, for me, keeping it simple was just calorie counting and burning more calories than I took in.
[00:16:30] Jennifer E-G: Okay. I’m really impressed with how you also created your own Tabata. By the way, I’m a bit fan of Tabata and HIIT. I usually use YouTube streaming workouts as well for myself because I don’t like the gym.
I connected with you very much on that aspect because I’m not a gym person. I get motivated by outdoor fitness or doing fitness at home so that really connected with me.
Is that something that you still use the same basic routine that you created? Or how do you make sure that you up-level yourself and you don’t stagnate with that?
Meghan Joy Y: Well, that’s the thing for me is, I can get in a great 30-minute workout right at home. Then I really did. I implemented working out into my entire days. When I had a dance party with the kids, which happens every single day, I do squats while I dance.
[00:17:30] When I’m cooking, I’ll do calf raises. I just implemented it into my every day because, honestly, if I were to go to the gym every day, that’s gonna be a four-hour endeavor.
Trying to get all of the kids ready, and out the door, and get to the gym, and put in the day care, and then go work out, and then pick them up. It’s just so much that I’m like, “I could just implement this throughout my day.” That’s really what’s worked well for my lifestyle right now. I pretty much am just still gonna do the same thing.
I would experiment with my workouts. Then I found what I really enjoyed. I have all my hand weights at home. I just created my own arm routine, and I go through it three times. I’ve just cultivated a system that works while I’m at home with a structured, “Here’s a 30 minute timeout. I can get a good workout in. Then I can just sprinkle in other exercises throughout my day.”
[00:18:30] Jennifer E-G: I love it. I love how you were very intentional about saying, “I don’t have four hours to cart my kids around to the gym. Much less if there was an issue and the daycare people are calling you and your workout is cut short.”
Meghan Joy Y: Oh, and that always happened. Every time.
Jennifer E-G: Oh, it always happens. Right? As soon as you get a good sweat going on, that’s when you get a phone call. You made it work with your current lifestyle, with your current situation. Being at home was more convenient for you so you made it work. I saw your photos. You’ve got some really good muscles, girl.
Meghan Joy Y: Thank you. I try.
Jennifer E-G: Whatever you’re doing, it’s working. You’re building muscle tone. You’re doing your cardio through running. You have a really all-inclusive program. You created it, so it probably has a stronger connection to you because it’s YOUR program. It’s not you took what someone else told you to do. You created it yourself. You’ve flexed it and you adapted it according to what you needed, when you needed it.
Meghan Joy Y: Absolutely. Just with my personality, if I’m not enjoying it, I don’t want to do it.
Not to say I can’t challenge myself and try new things. If I just hate what I’m doing, then I’m not gonna be able to sustain that. I’ve really been able to find exercises I enjoy and routines that I like and my playlist while I run so that I am having a good time while I workout.
[00:20:30] Jennifer E-G: I love how you said, “If you’re not enjoying it, you’re not gonna do it.” That’s the secret sauce of any successful lifestyle change. I think you did a beautiful way of transitioning it and transforming it into a, “This is for me, and I’m worth it. This is how it’s gonna work for me.”
Question 4: What were your personal, biggest milestones you had as you were losing the weight?
Meghan Joy Y: Oh, man. There are probably a couple. First, it would be able to shop and be in the dressing room and really, really like what I saw in there, when I was dressing.
[00:21:30] Another one would be … I don’t want this to be graphic. But when I didn’t have tummy flap, the baby flap pouring over my jeans … and when I could wear jeans again … that was a really fun moment for me.
Jennifer E-G: Yeah. No more tummy.
Meghan Joy Y: Yes. I think another one would be probably when I would beat my husband in our time for running a mile. I think I got to 6:59 one time when I did a mile.
I was so pumped-up because I beat his record!
But now he smokes me. But I think we would compete to see who could run the fastest mile. That was always fun beating new records of how fast I could do a mile.
[00:22:30] Jennifer E-G: Woo hoo! Those are wonderful milestones. That’s one thing that a lot of women are … especially as we move to more of an online shopping world and community … a lot of women don’t feel like they take the time to try-on clothes in the dressing room and really enjoy the results of how beautiful they look in the mirror and that sort of thing. We just buy our pants and our shirts online, and we call it a day. Right?
Meghan Joy Y: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Jennifer E-G: It fits or it doesn’t fit. There is an experience in that. That involves some fun and being with your girlfriends or even just by yourself and having some quiet time. That’s a really good moment to enjoy.
Meghan Joy Y: Yeah. I totally agree. When you reach that like not being skinny, not being thin, but just being healthy and comfortable in your own skin. That’s where the magic happens.
Question 5: Can you share a story of one of your setbacks and how you talked yourself through that to motivate yourself again?
Meghan Joy Y: Yeah. It was probably close to four or five years ago that I had my initial weight loss. Not like a pregnancy is a setback. But when you work your butt off to lose a ton of weight and then you just gain 30 more each pregnancy. I’ve had two more pregnancies since then. It’s like in a way I gained all this weight back. Each time, it feels like I’m starting back at square one and I have to lose another 30, 35 pounds. That is a little mentally like, “Can I go over this mountain again?”
It’s just a choice. I have to make the choice that I’m gonna do it. That I’m going to make the good healthy eating choices. I’m going to get my exercise in. I’m going to be active. The process might look different each time, just as it does at different seasons of life.
But I try to imagine my goals, pursue my goals, and it’s a daily process and choice. I just have to overcome the, “Oh my goodness. This is gonna take so long again.”
But it’s totally worth it. Totally worth it. Every baby is totally worth it.
I don’t want to call a pregnancy a setback. But you have a lot more weight to lose again.
It’s a mind thing where I have to purpose that I’m gonna do that for myself and my kids and get back to that same healthy place.
[00:25:30] Jennifer E-G: I appreciate that you don’t consider pregnancy a setback. At the end of the day, you are not supposed to lose weight while you’re pregnant. You can still maintain your healthy fitness while you’re pregnant. I’m sure you did.
But a lot of women struggle with that, especially if it’s their first pregnancy or if they’ve had other pregnancies in the past where they were eating for two. It’s a different challenge when you’re like, “Okay, well, now everyone’s pushing food on me, and I let myself go for nine months.” Or whatever. But there’s just so much work after that. Personally, I’d also experienced this because when I got pregnant with my first daughter, I had just finished losing a hundred pounds.
One of the first thoughts was, “I’m gonna gain it all back.”
But I was afraid it was gonna also make me go back into old habits. I hear some of that with you. But I’m sure between your first child and your last child, you certainly have done a lot of mindset work and focus on you and prioritize what matters.
Question 6: If you could tell Meghan, when she was pregnant with her first child, what kind of advice would you give her knowing what you know today?
Meghan Joy Y: Don’t eat a gallon of ice cream in three days! That’s what I would tell her. My first two kids, I just didn’t have the knowledge or the education of how important it was to make better choices more often and to be active.
[00:27:30] I was pretty young and probably more immature. But I didn’t lead that lifestyle, and so just naturally with pregnancies you gain weight. Then it’s magnified a little bit more.
Educating myself and getting informed and just choosing to be more active has just helped in that. I could have wonderful, healthy pregnancies, which I believe very much affects how your labor and birth goes as well. If you’re active and fit during your pregnancy and giving yourself and the baby the nutrients it needs.
Yep, I would tell myself, “Don’t eat so much ice cream. Don’t indulge with everything you want every single day, and go for a work.” That’s what I would tell myself.
Question 7: What would you recommend as the first thing folks starting on a health program should do?
Meghan Joy Y: Oh, man. I would have to say that having an accountability partner is really important. Especially if you’re not as self-motivated. But having someone who’s gonna do it with you or is gonna keep you on track, I think is a really helpful piece of it.
I had my husband who was doing it with me.
At the time, most of my family was also just trying to lead you to healthier lifestyle. We were all on MyFitnessPal. When we saw that somebody else was working out and got a 30-minute workout in and burned 500 calories, we were like, “Oh, I got to beat them. I got to do the same thing.” We’re all very competitive as well. It was fun. It was like a competition.
But I think accountability is really important. Whether that’s a friend or a spouse or a community, I think that’s really cool. But I just think you have to get to that point where you’re like, “You know what? This is the end of my rope. I am going for it. I am going to do a 180. I’m gonna make these changes in my life.”
Visualizing your end game. Visualizing your goals. Then just not stopping. Don’t let any obstacles or setbacks get in your way. But just keep, keep striving for what you want.
[00:30:30] Jennifer E-G: Beautifully said, Meghan. Thank you so much for accepting this interview with September Success. I encourage everyone who is listening to connect with Meghan on Facebook or Instagram.
She is encouraging women and moms just like you to live your extraordinary ordinary life today. Make sure to join her Tribe while you’re there visiting her.
Thank you so much, Meghan, for all of your feedback and your wisdom today. It has really touched me, and I’m sure it’s touching everyone who listened today.
Meghan Joy Y: Thank you so much. You are amazing. You are touching so many lives as well. I’m very, very honored to be a part of this series. Thank you.
Jennifer E-G: Have a great day.
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