Elizabeth is a wonderful, wife, mother, Zumba instructor, total foodie, and has lost a whopping 128 pounds through hard work and dedication to her Weight Watchers program! Our VEP's never seize to inspire us! Recently we had the chance to interview Elizabeth and hear all about her healthy lifestyle transformation!
Keep up with Elizabeth on Instagram @feistyelizabeth and her blog !
1. So tell me a little about yourself?
Hi everyone! My name is Elizabeth Hargraves, I'm an Arizona native. I'm a 37 year old with an absolutely incredible husband and mom to 2 brilliant, beautiful girls. I'm an executive assistant by day and a licensed Zumba®
instructor by night, teaching 4 classes throughout the week. Health and fitness have become a passion of mine after a lifetime of being overweight. In addition to my amazing family and lots of dancing, I love to cook! I get so excited when I find ways to simplify or lighten up recipes while keeping them delicious.
2. What inspired your healthy lifestyle transformation?
On January 11, 2011, I was 128 pounds overweight - again
. After a lifetime of being overweight and labeled as obese as early as 6th grade, I lost 120 pounds in 2004 on a very restrictive diet. I gave up all things processed, salt, sugar and dairy! I lost weight quickly, but that lifestyle wasn't liveable for me long term. It was DEFINITELY a diet. When I stopped following the severe guidelines, I immediately started gaining weight. I joined Weight Watchers and began to yo-yo diet, although I didn't realize that's what I was doing at the time. After having both of my girls, I had regained everything I'd previously lost, plus some more weight. At the age of 32, I had an extreme case of plantars fasciitis and my body hurt just getting out of bed in the morning. I didn't have energy to keep up or play with my girls who were 3 years and 20 months old at the time. The day I found myself seriously considering I was just going to be obese the rest of my life, I knew I was close to giving up and I had to make a change. I wanted to be a good example for my girls so they grew up with healthier habits and basic nutrition understanding. More importantly, I wanted to do everything within my power to be around for a very long time to watch them grow up. I decided to re-join Weight Watchers for the 11th time. January 2011 was the first time I honestly realized I had to stop dieting and change my relationship with food in order to achieve long term success.
3. What's your current favorite meal or snack to make?
Grilled chicken! I know that might sound funny, but with a busy schedule to contend with, my cooking style is "Quick, simple and delicious!". I thrive on variety and grilled chicken is so versatile and does a great job filling me up. Grilling a big batch on the weekend creates a lot of opportunity throughout the week. I like to re-purpose it into tacos, stir fry, sandwiches, salads, quinoa bakes, stuffed peppers - even breakfast scrambles! It also makes a great, low-Point snack on the run.
4. If you could give someone beginning their weight loss journey one piece of advice, what would it be?
This is one day of the rest of your life, so be persistent but patient. I have been guilty of wanting to hurry up and "be done" losing weight, but there's no finish line to a healthier lifestyle. Losing weight is just practice for maintenance which takes a lifetime. Small changes made gradually may take a little longer, but they create a better foundation of the habits you're building to carry with you!
5. How has the Weight Watchers programmed coupled with social media helped you stay on track?
This is such a fantastic question! I never could have imagined what an impact social media would play into my success. I am a long time WW meeting member because I always loved the ideas, support and camaraderie shared between members. Coupling WW along with Instagram, specifically, was like finding a 24/7 meeting. Having a like-minded community to share ideas and feelings with has been such a powerful tool for success. For me, one of the biggest challenges to weight loss was feeling as though I was alone in my struggles. When I'm open and honest with any difficulty I'm having, there is always someone who steps in to show support or just say "Yes, I can relate!". That feeling of understanding and validation alone always makes things a little better. Having friends with similar goals and interests helps me to stay motivated and focused on the positives because they're always there to cheer you on. Plus, I get to use everyone's yummy food ideas! Meal planning is a LOT easier when you have so many fabulous people inspiring you with their delicious meals and food finds!
6. How did you come across ENLIGHTENED products? Which one is your favorite and why?
Weight Watchers recently re-vamped their program and launched a plan called Beyond the Scale (tm). This plan is centered around SmartPoints and has a huge focus on watching sugars and saturated fats in foods. I am a dessert person through and through! I have found having a treat planned helps me to make healthier choices throughout the day. Ice cream and frozen yogurts (my treats of choice) took a drastic points increase because of their sugar content. I made it my mission to find the best dessert option around. That's when I discovered Enlightened peanut butter ice cream bars at only 2 SmartPoints each. In all honesty, I begrudgingly purchased that first box thinking they had to be terrible if a half cup of ice cream was 9 SmartPoints and the bar was only 2. I was absolutely blown away
at first bite with just how incredible they are! The texture of the bars is so creamy and the flavor is just amazing. I tell everyone they're so good they'll have to call their best friend to talk about it! After trying the peanut butter, I've also had mint, chocolate and my one true dessert love, salted caramel! Their low point value even allows me to use them as the base for sundaes or add a little almond butter to make them even more decadent!