As we all know, life can be hectic. Between work, play and the other stuff it’s hard to sort through our priorities and organize them efficiently. But when we do manage to find that beautiful harmony in our lives, we can find a healthier, stronger self. One great example is how Michal Clarke, 34, went from between 252lbs. to 176lbs. in just six months!

In 2007, Michal moved back in with her parents to save some money. She also moved back in to a house where a large amount of food was kept in the kitchen. Soon, she was snacking on things like Doritos and Sprite throughout the day and night-even in place of meal at times! Workouts disappeared when her membership at the gym expired and when she began to log more than sixty hours a week at work. As a result of the inactivity in her schedule, Michal’s cholesterol level increased and her blood pressure went off the chart to 180/90 (120/80 is considered optimal).

Upon reaching 252lbs., Michal stopped weighing herself because she was disapointed in what the numbers read. It was then she decided she needed to make some changes. So rather than continue the bad habits, she bought herself a treadmill and began walking three times a week for twenty minutes. Over time she increased the intensity and duration. Soon she was running for 60 minutes, three times a week then 90 minutes, four times a week. Her clothes changed almost immediately. She replaced junk food snacks and meals with food with more nutritional value. And when a Doritios craving comes on, she lets herself have one serving size. But to keep from eating a whole bag, like many of us have a habit of doing, she dips her chips into into salsa for added flavor. And her cholesterol and blood pressure? Cholesterol is at 137 and her blood pressure is now a healthy 110/60!

Now at 176lbs, Michal has found herself a running junkie. She’s completed the Shamrock Shuffle 8k, an indoor triathlon at L.A. Fitness and the Chicago half-marathon in 2011. “Running is relaxation,” she says. She prefers running outside to feel the wind blow. In addition to her love for running, Michal takes LA Fitness’s Aqua Fit class, walks in and outside and bikes. 

Michal says not to pressure yourself but to exercise at least four times a week. “It actually makes people feel better. I feel like something’s missing if I don’t work out,” she observes.

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