As a busy mom and teacher, Sharon van Veen is sharing how she got into the best shape of her life— and inspired her entire family along the way.
It Takes a Village
Sharon van Veen had always been an active person and an avid long-distance runner. But when she hit 173 pounds at age 54, she realized that her cardio routine was no longer enough to keep her looking and feeling healthy. “I have exercised all my life, but it didn’t look like it,” she recalls. Ready to make a change, Sharon reached out to a personal trainer and a nutrition expert. She also enlisted her family to help her along her fitness journey. “It was easier to follow the meal plans because my daughter Justine was doing it as well,” she says. “I kind of think she inspired me more than I inspired her.” Sharon’s entire family got behind her lifestyle transformation by agreeing not to bring tempting foods into the house.
Sharon’s team helped her revamp her diet and workout routine. She started eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates, including fruits. At the gym, she switched from loads of cardio to mostly weight training. Sharon started to see results, but the changes to her body were happening more slowly than she had hoped. Instead of getting discouraged by her slow progress, Sharon kept meticulous track of both her improvements and her struggles. She took bi-weekly photos on Trainerize, a personal training app. Having these photos helped her recognize her results and encouraged her to keep going. Sharon also recorded how well she was able to stick to her diet and exercise strategy. “Be honest,” she advises. “If you don’t follow the plan exactly record it. I think having to record everything helped me to be aware of how much everything I ate made a difference and deterred me from cheating.”
When Life Gets in the Way
Sharon was making steady progress, but she soon hit a roadblock. “When my weight got to where it had been in high school, I got stuck there for a long time,” Sharon admits. She is a teacher, and the extra workload that came with report-card season was making it hard for her to focus on fitness. “This time involves long hours of stationary sitting at the computer, too much snacking, and little to no exercise,” she remembers. “During these times, I tried to be realistic and not expect to lose weight.” It’s all too easy for a setback to throw us completely off-track, so Sharon took this time to refocus her goals. She decided to pause her weight-loss efforts and set her sights on maintaining her weight. Her strategy worked—once she had ploughed through the report cards while maintaining her weight, she felt energized by her win rather than disappointed by a setback.
Enjoying the Spoils
Having spent 14 months slimming down to 138 pounds, Sharon is now in the best shape of her life. Her newfound strength has made her a better runner and has eased her back pain. This experience has also strengthened her family bonds. “My children are proud of me and are proud to say to their friends, ‘That’s my mom!’ They tell me I am an inspiration to them,” she says.
The way that Sharon cooks and eats has changed forever. Her journey has also inspired her husband to lose weight. “When others see my transformation and are inspired to become more fit and healthy themselves—that is my biggest reward,” she admits.
At A Glance
Greek yogurt with raspberries.
Kale salad with grilled chicken and poppy-seed dressing.
Photos By Chris V. Linton Follow (@chrisvlinton)