An Insider Look Into a 150-Pound Transformation Journey


🕑 8 min read

Learn how understanding motivation and mindset are the keys to long-term success in this personal testimonial from a woman who underwent a 150-pound transformation journey. 

Michelle’s Transformation: How She Made It Happen

If you’ve ever attempted a weight loss journey, you know it’s not for the faint of heart. The process doesn’t happen in an instant, and along the way, you’ll encounter roadblocks and challenges, both physically and mentally. But the health effects of losing weight, from lower blood sugar and cholesterol to a reduced risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, make the process worth it.

Take it from Michelle Paulhus. She underwent a 150-pound transformation journey, and she reports feeling better than ever before. We spoke with Michelle and Metabolic Meals health coach Zac Bell to discuss Michelle’s journey.

Metabolic Meals: Michelle, could you tell us a little bit about how you started your transformation journey and the challenges you faced?

Michelle Paulhus: My initial goal was super attainable — to lose 1 pound per week. That’s 52 pounds a year, and I knew that would be enough to drastically change my quality of life. But the biggest challenge was getting started. From there, I can honestly say that I didn’t feel challenged throughout the process. I was eating great food and having fun with my workouts, and I was surrounded by supportive people.

I quickly realized I was able to lose more than a pound a week, but starting with that framework of improving my quality of life over reaching a particular number on the scale was crucial for my mindset throughout the process. Once I started to learn more about how food works in the body, how processed food is made, and why real food is important, that changed everything for me. Plus, I learned that I could eat delicious, amazing food and lose weight at the same time.

If I had known earlier in life that it was actually going to be this painless, I would have started sooner.

MM: What did it take to accomplish your 150-pound transformation? What were the steps you took?

MP: There were seven main aspects that were important along the journey for me.

1 Motivation and figuring out my “why.” 

The most crucial part for me, and why I believe I’ve had success in losing the weight and keeping it off, was starting with my “why.” I found out that I was going to be an aunt. And knowing that I wanted to be involved in my nephew’s life, I knew I had to make big changes in my life. In the state I was in, I knew I wouldn’t be able to run and play with my nephew, and I couldn’t stand that thought. That was the catalyst for change for me.

2 Finding a group of like-minded people for support and encouragement. 

I was fortunate enough to be part of a corporate wellness program that connected me with health and nutrition coaches and personal trainers. It also united me with a group of co-workers who were working to better themselves as well. Outside of work, I searched for others with similar goals on Instagram. Finding real-life examples of people who were getting results showed me that it was possible — I wasn’t focused on just the extreme weight loss I had seen on TV shows that seemed unrealistic. The support system around me kept me motivated and accountable.

3 Finding fun and realistic activity. 

The thought of joining a gym at the beginning of this process was too intimidating and overwhelming for me. I had to start small. I started with at-home workout videos and walking outside. As I started to feel better and the weight started to fall off, I was more confident. Then, I progressed my workouts and eventually joined a gym.

4 Making sleep a priority.

As I started to lose weight, my sleep started to improve. And on the flip side, as my sleep started to improve, I saw that I had better success with my weight loss. When I saw that trend happening for me, I put more of an emphasis on making sure I developed a healthy routine at night. I stopped using electronics in bed, and I incorporated meditation and stress management. Sleeping better also gave me energy to tackle those morning workouts.

5 Emphasizing tracking and accountability. 

Quantifying my progress by keeping track of my results helped keep me accountable. I used MyFitnessPal to keep track of my food, a Fitbit to track my activity, and programs like Whole30 to give structure to my routine.

6 Understanding genetics and family history. 

I was obese as a child, and I grew up with obese family members. I grew up with that as the norm, and I had just accepted it as my reality. But once I started to make small changes and see the initial results, I quickly realized that I didn’t have to accept that as my fate. I recently learned that I am genetically predisposed for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, but that knowledge helped me realize how much lifestyle matters. If you know you can do better, you do better.

7 Using quality ingredients in meals. 

I saw great results tracking calories, but the more I learned about food and ingredient quality, the more I understood that the types of food I ate mattered more than how many calories my meals included. When I eliminated common food allergens like gluten, soy, refined sugar, and artificial ingredients to focus on real food, I started to feel better and more energized. If I never lost a single pound from switching to real food but still felt as amazing as I do now, I’d still eat this way.

MM: Zac, what did Michelle do during her journey that made her so successful?

Zac Bell: A major contributing factor to her overall success was patience. Long-term success is just that — long. Not only does it take time to lose a significant amount of weight, but when it’s done correctly, it lasts a long time as well. A staggering nine out of 10 people who diet too aggressively and too quickly gain back the weight they lose, and sometimes more. This wicked cycle is commonly referred to as “yo-yo dieting.”

The psychological aspect of weight loss is often overlooked. You’re likely to hear things like, “What should I eat?” or “What exercises should I do?” when in reality, understanding why you’ve set this goal, how you got into this position, and how you’re going to succeed all trump the latest, greatest exercise or nutrition plan you might choose to follow.

But from being patient, Michelle found accountability. I don’t care who you are, willpower is finite. There will always be times when you’re struggling physically, mentally, or both. Having a strong social support system helps keep you on track. Being able to see your progress (or lack thereof) on paper or in an app holds you accountable as well. There are thousands of fitness apps that help you track nutrition as well as exercise. If you have a plan to follow, you’re much more likely to have success.

In addition, Michelle’s motivation was personal. She decided to make this major change for an internal reason — for her future self and her family. That type of motivation goes a long way versus doing things for an external reward.

Lastly, she educated herself. She researched exercise routines and nutrition strategies and found what was going to work for her. She eased into the gym scene by getting comfortable with home workouts first. This approach was what was going to work for her, and she knew it. The same thing happened with her nutrition. Rather than diving into the newest fad diet, she learned what foods worked well for her and what foods did not.

When you think of food as fuel for your body, your whole perspective changes. In the big picture, total calories play a large role, but the quality of those calories matters, too. Whole foods provide numerous micronutrients that aren’t present in the standard American diet. These vitamins and minerals are catalysts for thousands of reactions that happen on the cellular level.

You notice a difference when you base your nutrition around high-quality foods. You’ll have better sleep and more energy during the day. Your performance in the gym will increase, and your recovery will be better. Also, the combination of quality proteins and fibrous vegetables increase the thermal effect of food, meaning your metabolism will increase a bit when eating more foods like organic poultry, grass-fed beef, and grass-fed bison alongside fresh, whole vegetables.

Success isn’t always easy, but once you educate yourself and make a point to stay disciplined and consistent, the hard work will pay off. Michelle is proof of that.

MM: Michelle and Zac, what can others learn from this journey? What parting advice would you give?

MP: It’s simple: Small changes over time yield big results. Start small, start smart, and start today.

ZB: Set small, medium, and large goals. Educate yourself on how you’ll approach your lifestyle change, and make sure to find what fits for you. Seek out a trainer or health coach to get started. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be proud of yourself for making a change, and that attitude will attract positivity from your support group.

Track everything. Track your food and your workouts to stay accountable to yourself. If you have something to reflect on, you’ll know how well your approach is working and what you might need to tweak. Be disciplined.

Finally, be patient. Remember that this will take time, but it will be worth it. There will be ups and downs. It’s rare that significant weight loss will be completely linear. In other words, instead of losing 100 pounds in a row, you might lose 15 pounds, gain back 5 pounds, then lose a few more. But if you stay dedicated and do that 10 times over a long period, you’ll still be down 100 pounds overall.

Making Change Easier

Losing weight is hard, but there are a few ways to help take some of the stress off your plate. Consider working with a nutrition coach or a personal trainer to help plan meals and workouts that will meet your needs. In addition, using a fresh meal delivery service will help you ensure you’re getting the quality food and correct portions that you need. Contact us today to find out how Metabolic Meals can help with your own transformation journey.