Goodbye Diet, Hello Weight Loss!

Author: Shannon Miller

Earlier this year I spoke at a childhood obesity seminar in West Virginia where I had the pleasure of meeting an inspiring woman by the name of April Hudson.

April appearing on the Today TV show.

April on the Today show.

April has been highlighted on NBC’s Today Show to discuss her weight-loss efforts and success.  She’s lost over 100 lbs! I couldn’t stop asking her questions and was absolutely positive that her story would help so many other women out there who struggle with their weight, emotions and self-esteem. That basically covers every woman on earth! April was kind enough to share pictures and her personal story through our interview below.

TIP: Read this article for motivation, inspiration and specific ways you can toss the diet, lose the weight and enjoy a healthy lifestyle!

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is April Hudson. I am the youngest of 6 children. My siblings are older, so it was mostly my mom and me growing up. She was and is an extraordinary mother! My dad was not in my life consistently after the age of 5. I think I started putting on weight in 3rd or 4th grade. I was always taller and definitely built bigger than the other girls. I cannot tell you how often I heard the phrase “you have such a pretty face, if only you would lose 20 lbs.” The people that said this were not being mean or cruel but it was devastating to hear as a little girl going into those awkward teenage years.

I remember a young boy when I was maybe 11 or so telling me how fat and ugly I was in front of some other kids. Those things definitely stayed with me. I can still hear them in my head now. Being heavy definitely made me try too hard. I wanted to feel liked and wanted, so I would push, and end up pushing people away. I guess at times I felt a bit desperate. As an adult going through my weight loss journey, I realized that I used my weight to keep people away. It was easier to say someone doesn’t want me because I am overweight and fat rather than risk them not wanting me for me. I definitely over ate but it was never really about the food so much as my weight essentially hid me from the world.

April in July of 2005.

April at the height of her weight gain.

When was your “aha” moment? When did you know you had to make a lifestyle change?

In 2004, I almost lost my mom and that was definitely a mixed blessing. Had she not gotten sick, I may not have realized I wanted and deserved so much more for my life.

We’ve all tried the quick fix weight loss schemes, but you lost over 100 lbs with a healthy diet and exercise. How did you do it?

After I got married in 2003, my weight ballooned from about 235 to 270 in 2005 when I started making changes, including ending my marriage and exercising out of boredom. From 2005-2006, I lost about 50 lbs from exercise. I never really got my nutrition right/developed healthy eating habits, so the moment I stopped exercising, the weight came back. When I started back to the gym in Sept 2007, I had put back on 32 lbs of the 50 I had previously lost, so that was my first goal. I made a realistic commitment to go to the gym 4 days a week. I tell people not to get caught up in going daily or even how long they are there at first. The important thing is to just get there and find something you love.

Did you ever feel like giving up?

There were times when I definitely wanted to give up because I wasn’t losing weight. It would seem, just when I was on the verge of giving up, something (Zumba or new equipment at the Y) or someone (a kind word from a stranger noticing my hard work) would come into my life and re-motivate me. Having and surrounding yourself with good people in your life is so important. My motto…“Diets don’t work but healthy lifestyles do.” and “I think I can…I think I can…I think I can.” I can’t tell you how many times “I think I can” went through my mind when my body was telling me no more.

Many women are emotional eaters. My go-to treat on a bad day is cookie dough. What was your sinful delight?

Basically I loved to go out to eat. Big meals 3-7 days a week for dinner with no exercise. I had no self respect for myself or any self worth. I loved pasta, bread, butter…really just whatever I wanted in that moment. A big weakness was Double Doozie (two chocolate chip cookies with icing in the middle).

How do you handle cravings, especially on those emotional, stressful days?

Let’s be honest, some days I fail and eat too much or the wrong things. No one is perfect with their diet all the time. The important thing though is to keep trying and arm yourself with the tools to succeed. I have accepted and realized that maintaining a healthy weight will be a challenge the rest of my life. I keep Dark Chocolate pieces in my desk drawer and allow myself a cheat meal or two once a week to help me not feel deprived.

April with Jared from Subway.

April with Jared from Subway.

Did you receive a lot of support?

Yes! The kindness of strangers amazes me! I also am very blessed with good coworkers, friends, and family.

How long did it take you to lose 100 lbs?

I lost 50 lbs from September 2005 to May 2006, only to put 32 back on. From September 2007 to September 2009 I lost 82 lbs, including 32 twice…and reached that 100 lbs lost. From there I lost another 14 lbs, reaching my lowest weight of 156 in March 2010

What was the biggest struggle?

It was and has been accepting that I will always have to stay vigilant in maintaining my weight and being active. I had to really wrap my head around the concept that “Diets don’t work, healthy lifestyles do.” It is also a struggle for me to put myself out there everyday and say this is who I am and allow the world to see the person I was always meant to be.

What was the most unexpected part of your journey?

Weight loss, eating healthy, and working out is a mental thing. I think you just really have to be ready for change, find a strength within, and realize you can do anything you put your mind too. For me I finally realized after taking the time to get to know myself…that I am worth the effort it takes to be healthy. Also losing weight and discovering myself gave me the confidence to go back to school and pursue a MBA.

What is your daily workout now?

Currently I do CrossFit 4 days a week and get in some other cardio 2 days.

What’s your favorite fitness activity?

I really enjoy weight training and lifting. I also enjoy hitting the treadmill or getting outside for some interval training. It gives me such a since of accomplishment to deadlift 155 lbs and run at 9.5 mph on the treadmill.

How have your eating habits changed?

I eat a high protein, low carb, and good fat diet. My carbs come from veggies and fruits. I eat lots of lean meat, nuts, cheese, and along with some protein drinks. I try to eat “clean” 80-90% of the time and give myself one or two meals off during the week. Even then, I try to watch my portion and not over eat.

April as she is today.

April today.

What advice do you have for a woman that wants to begin a similar journey?

It’s important to be realistic and honest with yourself. Make a commitment that you can stick too. Make small lifestyle changes. Cutting out all foods you enjoy and trying to suddenly exercise 6 days a week is only setting yourself up for failure. I always encourage people to go to the gym 3 days a week for 30-45 minutes and do something! Don’t worry about how much or how fast at first. It’s important to get in a routine.

I leave work and head straight to the gym. If I go home, I am not going. On the weekends, I get my workout in early so I can get on with my life. I feel amazing. I am so proud that my reflection shows the woman I was always meant to be. It feels great to know that I did it; I changed my life, one day and pound at a time and you can too. My advice? You can do it and you are worth the effort!!! If you’ve failed in the past, get up and try again. We are not defined by our failures but rather what we do when we fail. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!!!

All photos courtesy of April Hudson

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