Home > Joy's Fit Club on NBC's TODAY Show, Weight Loss > Joy Fit Club on NBC’s TODAY Show (Submittal)

Joy Fit Club on NBC’s TODAY Show (Submittal)


So I have finally completed and officially submitted my Joy Fit Club on NBC’s TODAY Show submittal on Friday, 10/23/09!!!  =)

Check out my answers to their questions & some of the before/after pictures I submitted as well: 

Section1: Meet the members

My name is Laura and I am 32 years old.  I live in Orlando, Florida with my husband, Steven, of 3 years and my daughter, Jai Lei, who is 9 years old.  My current weight is 142, though some days I am a bit more or less depending on my eating habits and/or if I have missed a run or the gym that week.  My starting (before) weight was 246 pounds, I believe I may have weighed more than that at one point but I did not weigh myself often back than so I do not know for sure.  To date I have lost just over 100 pounds!  I officially hit the 100 pound weight loss mark in August 2009.  I currently work as an Assistant Real Estate Manager for a large commercial real estate company and have been in the Property Management field for almost 10 years now.  

I was very lucky to have been blessed with an amazing childhood full of tons of fun adventures and travel that my parents introduced me to, despite the fact that they divorced when I was 2 years old.  Lucky for me they both happened to remarry when I was 5 years old to amazing people who I became close to quickly and am still very close to today.  Throughout my childhood I ate quite healthy, as my mom feed me a very well balanced diet that did not include a lot of junk or fast food and also maintained an active lifestyle that included several outdoor sports and activities. 

In my pre-teen years I discovered my love for food, which came from all the amazing foods I got to taste in my travels with my family.  Now, I did not gain any weight at that time as I was still quite active, however that is when my love for food officially started and slowly but surely as the years followed I gained weight and a few months shy of my 13th Birthday I discovered that I was approximately 20 pounds overweight.  Now at the time I really did not think anything “negative” about my weight!  In fact, it was not until my Dad said to me, word for word, “that if I wanted a boyfriend in the future I would need to lose some weight“, that the “negative” thinking began!  Now, my Dad did not mean anything bad by saying that.  He did not mean to hurt me or mess me up in side (though he did and it of course affected me for years to come).  It was just his way of trying to help me lose some weight as I was a bit heavier than I should have been for my age and he did not know how else to bring it to my attention, though of course he should have.  So as you can imagine my weight issues officially started from that day forth and continued through my early adult years. 

I met my daughter’s father & ex when I was 23 years old, we moved into together quickly and soon after I became pregnant with my daughter.  At that time I was at a healthy weight for my height, in the upper 130’s and luckily I only gained about 30+ pounds while pregnant.  However, just before my daughters Second Birthday things started to go downhill fast in my relationship and I left my ex and moved back to Florida to be near my family!  That is when the BIG weight gain started, as my ex severally damaged me, as I will call it, and I also had to go through a horrible custody battle that ended with me being 80+ pounds heavier!  Over the next few years I stayed OBESE weighing upwards of 240+ pounds and despite my “internal” feelings on my weight and its effect on me and my daughter I struggled to overcome them.  That was an EXTREMELY difficult time in my life in which I was very depressed and was literally hiding inside, under all the fat.  I had never been that heavy in my life and I was in denial, though of course from time to time others would remind me of just how big I was…….like one of my former bosses who treated me horribly because as she said it (not around me of course but other co-workers) she hated Fat People! 

Before pictures

May 2003 (Me @ 245+ Pounds & My Daughter)

May 2003 (Me @ 245+ Pounds & My Daughter)

June 2003 (Me @ 245+ Pounds & My Daughter)

June 2003 (Me @ 245+ Pounds & My Daughter)

December 2004 (Me @ 245+ Pounds)

December 2004 (Me @ 245+ Pounds)

April 2006 (Me @ 200+ Pounds)

April 2006 (Me @ 200+ Pounds)

June 2006 (Me @ 200+ Pounds)

June 2006 (Me @ 200+ Pounds)

 Section 2: Food Philosophy 

Throughout my childhood I was exposed to all different kinds of amazing foods that tempted my taste buds and awaked my mind to this wonderful new sensation.  Then during my pre-teen & teen years I began to use “food” as a solution for boredom as I was the only child and even though my weekends were quite full with activities with my parents I was alone a lot on the week days.  This boredom eating continued into my early adult years; however it was not until after my split from my daughters’ father that I used food as like a drug, to numb the pain that I had inside, though of course it was always a short-lived solution so the vicious cycle of eating continued and resulted in an extreme weight gain.  At the time I viewed food as both the savor and the enemy. 

My parents had completely different views on my “eating habits”, as previously described my Dad looked upon my eating habits very negatively and in turn reacted negatively to them, however my Mom was much more understanding and supportive, though I know after my extreme weight gain she was not quite sure what to say or do as the rest of my extended family and friends were as well!  

Section 3: Eating habits

When I was gaining the majority of my weight I ate an extremely un-healthy diet full of fast food/restaurant meals and very little healthy options.  I can say with 100% accuracy that eating out every day will QUICKLY pack on the pounds, especially eating Fast Food daily, as I gained the majority of the weight from doing just that and in a matter of months, between 6-8 months to be exact!  While I was at my heaviest I ate twice as much as I should on a daily basis and could polish off an extra-large whole pie on my own in a matter of days.  I always finished my plate back then, no matter the size, and would still want more after finishing it.  Often times I never felt full, like the HOLE could not be filled, which I am sure was because it was not appetite I was feeding but something deeper that could not be fixed with food!  

My favorite places to eat at the time were Taco Bell, Wendy’s and any restaurant we went too.  I would often order several taco’s and a large burrito from Taco Bell and a cheeseburger, large fries, coke and sometimes chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.  I also loved to eat out at restaurants during that time and my choices were never salads or healthy meal options.  Back then I completely ignored my extremely un-healthy habits and avoided coming face to face with it.  A lot of times it was like I was looking at myself through rose-colored glasses that hid what I truly looked like on the outside as deep down I knew what I was doing was not healthy and that I was extremely overweight, but I was just too depressed to face it and my addiction took over.  

My weight affected my career quite a bit during that time of my life, as I felt others did not see the real me inside through all the fat or that I was an asset or worth much during that time.  I will also admit that I did not do the best job I could have done due in my career as I lacked the self-confidence to do so.  I was also single and did no dating what so ever during that time in my life.  In fact until I met my husband and started to change my life I wanted to be alone as my breakup with my ex (daughter’s father) was a very bad and volatile one that I honestly feel to this day I gained the weight on purpose to keep men, away from me……..in order to avoid myself from getting so hurt again!  On the other side of things my wonderful family treated me the same as they always had, not one change.  However, I know they were concerned and just did not know how to approach me about it and I am sure it was quite difficult for them at the time.  It is funny how your mind thinks or more likely doesn’t think when you are in a position such as mine……….as all my life goals just melted away and I honestly had none at the time as my thinking was nowhere near that area back then, I did not think I could achieve anything or that I deserved it either!  My focus was my daughter, paying bills and FOOD! 

Before daily intake

Mock rundown of what you ate for: 

  • Breakfast
    • Several servings (bowls) of cereal high in sugar
    • Fatty bacon, egg & cheese breakfast sandwiches several times a week
    • Large muffins or pastries
    • Hardly ever ate any “fruits”
  • Lunch & Dinner
    • Cheeseburger, fries & coke
    • 3 tacos & a large burrito
    • Large portion sizes of pasta (lasagna, spaghetti, etc.)
    • Frozen Pizza’s or Pizza Bites (unhealthy versions, not Kashi)
    • Large salads with lots of cheese, croutons & fatty dressing  
    • Basically “large” portions of whatever I ate!!! 
  • Snacks
    • Baked goods (donuts, cookies, cake & pie)
    • Chips 
    • Ice cream
    • Soda (large glasses) 


Section 4: The turning point

For me the most painful part of being overweight was the way I felt inside and how I treated others on the outside.  I felt so bad on the inside that it unfortunately came out on the outside quite often and of course the two most important people (Mom & Daughter) in my life were directly affected by that quite often!  To this day I am still saddened and ashamed of how I was with them at times.  I also hated being such a POOR role model for my daughter who was under 5 years old at the time.  In addition, the extreme weight was a toll on my physically as it kept me from doing so many of the things I loved to do in the past and more importantly from being more actively involved in my daughter’s life.  I spent far too many hours on the couch eating back then or in bed napping!  And, of course there were all the physical ailments of being so overweight……backaches, headaches and always feeling uncomfortable!  

In the beginning of 2005 I decided “enough was enough” and set out to try and lose the weight I had gained over the past 3 years!!!  With the love and support of my family and friends I started making the changes in my life that set me in the right direction to lose weight.  Then in March 2005 I met my future husband, Steven, who quickly became a great friend at 1st and helped me find the courage to stop hiding from life and actually start living it again!  He helped me return to the gym, which led to the rekindling of my love for running (a sport that I feel in love with in my early teens) and his healthy lifestyle inspired me to start living the same way and fostered the love I have for healthy foods and cooking today.  I also must add that he unlike so many other people I met during that time in my life saw the “real me inside”, under all the FAT and truly looked at me as the person I was, not what my exterior showed.  To this day I feel blessed to have been lucky enough to meet him and still have him in my life today! 

Section 5: Losing the weight

Once I decided to take control of my extremely un-healthy eating habits and my life for that matter, I overhauled my diet and lifestyle completely!  Now, this was not easy, there were many ups and downs along the way and the weight did not come off overnight either.  In fact, I would do good for a long time than I would take a month or two off (due to stress at home) and even a year at one point (when things were really busy at work) and return to my old habits during those times.  It was during those breaks as I call them that I learned a very valuable lesson that, DIETING DOES NOT WORK!!!  See I would lose a lot of weight, 30-50 pounds, and then I would take a “break” and gain it all back and sometimes more.  Anytime things got tough in life (at home or work), I would take a break and return to my old means of making myself feel better, which of course was EATING!!!  Then would become fed up with myself, would get back on the wagon and start the whole cycle over again.  This up and down cycle pretty much continued over the next 3 years for me, until I FINALLY I said ”enough was enough” and I decided to get serious, stop the dieting (up & down cycle), start working out regularly and make some PERMANENT changes in my life!  I finally made all those PERMANENT CHANGES in my life back in June 2008, at that time I weighed around 215 pounds, only 31 pounds below where I had started 3 years earlier!  I decided then and there to start doing the following on a weekly (regular) basis:

  • Eat a “healthy & balanced” diet, limiting my “bad” choices
  • Work out on a regular (weekly) basis!
    • Run or do other forms of cardio 3-5 times a week for at least 30+ minutes
    • Weight lift (abs, upper & lower body) 2 times a week for at least 60+ minutes

I followed the above over the next year and three months, then finally in August 2009 I hit my GOAL WEIGHT of 146 pounds, marking a 100 pounds lost in all!!!

After daily intake 

  • Breakfast
    • Instant high-fiber oatmeal (single serving size) with fruit, nuts & flax seed mixed in or a piece of fruit on the side
    • Whole-wheat frozen waffles (2) toasted with a tablespoon of peanut butter, ½ a sliced banana and a drizzling of syrup on top with orange juice
    • One serving size bowl of high-fiber cereal (Multi-Grain Cheerios, FiberOne Raisin Bran, etc.) with 2% milk and a glass of juice or a piece of fruit
    • Homemade frozen mixed berry smoothie made with milk & ice
    • Toasted whole-wheat bread with peanut butter and fruit on the side
    • A two egg omelet with tons of veggies (mushrooms, onions, peppers & tomatoes) and light cheese
  • Lunch
    • Tuna/Peanut Butter on one or two pieces of high-fiber whole wheat bread with carrots, pickles & fruit on the side or frozen veggies
    • A medium size chef or chicken salad with tons of veggies (romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes and peppers), beans (red, black or garbanzo beans), egg, sunflower seeds, a few croutons, a pinch of cheese and a little ranch or Italian dressing on the side
    • A bowl full of homemade vegetable soup with low-fat beef or hamburger & beans added and whole-wheat crackers on the side
    • A small plate of humus and whole-wheat pita crackers with a small side salad or raw veggies on the side and a piece of fruit
    • Small cheeseburger, small fries & water or unsweetened ice tea
  • Dinner
    • Whole-grain taco shells with lean taco meat, lots of shredded romaine lettuce, diced cherry tomatoes and a little cheese with yellow rice mixed with black beans and salsa on the side
    • Small bowl of whole-wheat pasta with lean hamburger meat & marina mixed together on top and a side salad
    • Marinated lean pork loin with ½ a baked potatoes and vegetables (asparagus, corn, broccoli or cabbage) on the side
    • Homemade whole-wheat pizza with tons of veggies (mushrooms, green & red peppers, onions and tomatoes) and thinly sliced pepperoni and a small amount of cheese sprinkled on top
    • One serving size of pot roast with baby carrots & potatoes and a small salad
    • Small cheeseburger, small fries & water or unsweetened ice tea
  • Snacks
    • One small serving size container of high-fiber and active culture yogurt with a tablespoon of granola and a handful of fresh berries
    • A small piece of homemade chocolate chip, walnut, raisin & flax seed granola and a fruit
    • A handful of whole-wheat pita chips and a scoop of humus and raw veggies
    • Occasionally a small cookie, piece of cake/pie or a small bowl of ice-cream

After pictures

March 2009 (Me @ 152 Pounds)

March 2009 (Me @ 152 Pounds)

April 2009 (Me @ 155 Pounds)

April 2009 (Me @ 155 Pounds)

August 2009 (Me @ 146 Pounds) - 100 POUNDS LOST!!!

August 2009 (Me @ 146 Pounds) - 100 POUNDS LOST!!!

October 2009 (Me @ 142 Pounds) - 105 POUNDS LOST!!!

October 2009 (Me @ 142 Pounds) - 105 POUNDS LOST!!!

Section 6: New food outlook

Over the past year it finally dawned on me that I had to change my eating habits and lifestyle completely in order to be healthy and stay healthy!  Otherwise the weight would just creep back on eventually, which I had learned several times over the past 4+ years!  In my eyes, the only true way to lose weight, maintain your weight and be ”healthy” is to CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS AND LIFE STYLE COMPLETELY!!!  However, this does NOT mean you can’t ever eat anything “unhealthy” or “bad” for you again or that you can’t miss the gym either, quite the opposite!  You can enjoy those things and take time off…….you just have to do it all in moderation, it is all about BALANCE!!!  This is the 1st and best advice I would give to someone who is in the same situation I was in back then.  

I now view food and exercises as a means of taking care of myself, food is no longer an addiction for me and exercise is now a great source of pleasure in my life.  I love running; it is an excellent form of exercise and is a wonderful stress reliever.  Since losing the weight my life has changed A LOT!  I have been married to an amazing and wonderfully supportive husband for 3 years now and finally have the “family” I always wanted!  My career skyrocketed after I finally found the confidence in myself to go after what I wanted and show just how much of an asset I can be.  I feel so much better about myself as I finally have my confidence back and honestly I have much more than I did before I gained all the weight.  My view on life is completely different as well; I am a much happier and positive person now and try to be that way no matter what life throws at me.  I finally feel good inside my own skin and the best part is that I am finally “healed” on the inside and the outside luckily benefited from that healing.  I find that the people in my past pretty much treat me the same today as they did back then, however I do get lots of compliments on my weight lose, new lease on life and several advice inquires from them now that I of course did not get back then.  I did notice a big difference in the way “strangers” treat me though as now they actually look at me instead of trying to not and I get a lot more eye contact, smiles and conversations from them.  

I would like to end with the following statements:

I have finally let go of my past (late childhood, teen, early adult & adult) issues that led me down several wrong roads in life! 

I no longer let those things control my thoughts, image of myself or my self-esteem!

I can finally say that my 20 year (starting at age 13 and ending at age 33) “weight loss” journey has officially ended and I now can start a new chapter in my life…………..FINDING A HEALTHY BALANCE!

  1. October 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Your story is so awesome and I hope your is picked!!

  2. October 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Laura, this is amazing!!! I so hope your story gets picked!! I will definitely watch the Today show looking for you!

  3. October 26, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Your story is so inspiring!!!! Congrats to you and all of your success! 🙂 I hope they pick your story! 🙂

    Where in Orlando do you live? I grew up in O-town!!!

    • October 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm

      Oh, thank you! I hope I get picked as well but they did tell me it could be awhile before I find out as they get lots of entries, so we will see, fingers crossed! =)

  4. October 26, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    You have such an amazing story!! Best of luck!! 🙂

  5. Jenny
    October 27, 2009 at 12:31 am

    That is an amazing story that continued to inspire me. Thank you for sharing it with us and taking the time to share your healthy habits with us! I have learned so much from your blog.

    • October 27, 2009 at 12:43 am

      Thank you very much, Jenny! I am glad to hear that my blog has helped others, as I have learned a great deal myself from other’s health blogs and that is what inspired me to start mine. =)

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