Fitness

How Hailey Lost Over 100lbs & Kept It Off

I am honored to have such an inspiring individual, Hailey Hechtman, as a guest on the blog. Hailey originally reached out to me sharing her fat loss story, and I decided that I wanted to put the spotlight on her because I know she can be an impact to others.

Hailey is a wellness enthusiast who is passionate about sharing her personal journey with others who are looking for ways to find a sustainable, long-term and strength-based approach to their health. Hailey has lost over 100 pounds and kept it off for over 6 years by finding aspects of nutrition and fitness that she loves and gets excited about.

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What made you decide to want to start your weight loss journey?

My weight-loss journey really began with a look in both the literal and the figurative mirror. Throughout my teens I had always been overweight, however it wasn’t until I was 20, just out of a long-distance relationship, confronted by the important question “what do I want?” that I really became fully aware of how I looked and felt.

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For a long time, I had focused all of my attention outward, on friends, family members, on the people that I supported through volunteering, rather than on myself. This felt good because it gave me a sense of accomplishment to help others and to be seen as a caring support system to so many. This role as a helper, as someone that gives of herself and doesn’t expect much reciprocity, clouded my vision of who I had become, or better yet, the person that I wasn’t living up to.

At 20 years old, I started to shift this perspective, when I looked at a picture of myself attending my cousin’s wedding. It wasn’t just my size and the redness of my face that took me off guard, but the fact that I had gotten to be that unhealthy without even thinking about it. It was my lack of self-assessment that really shook me as I thought about all the food that I had eaten mindlessly, all of the times that I had sit on the couch motionless for hours and never considered the value of getting up and going for a walk.

When I stepped on the scale that day for the first time in as long as I can remember, the number jumped at me…. 287. This number represented not only a lack of self-control, but someone who had spent the majority of her existence carefully considering the needs and feelings of others and never had thought to do the same for herself.

Now, this entire fulsome self-care revelation did not just happen overnight, I continue to look back regularly and have worked to identify where my insecurities still hide even to this day. That being said, that day at the heaviest weight was the beginning of that deeper internal conversation and what motivated me to start looking at what I was eating, and take steps towards changing my life as I knew it.

What was the biggest obstacle that you faced on your journey and how did you overcome it?

My wellness journey in many ways was an entire obstacle course. When I started out, not only did I know nothing about nutrition or exercise but I had very little sense of who I was. The food and the workouts were definitely a practical barrier to success at the onset, but they came in time with research, planning and dedication.

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For me the struggle in getting to know myself was the more challenging area of growth as it required a significant mental push forward beyond my comfort zone. I had to ask questions that I had never been confident or aware enough to ask like “what had caused me to become so unhealthy?” “why did I use food to cope with emotions?” ”where were these emotions coming from?” “can I really say no to helping out a friend and instead focus on what I need?” These internal confrontations were hard to have, and sometimes I wasn’t even completely honest with myself because that was scary and vulnerable even when I was the only one to know.

Doing this however, was the key to all of the other stuff. If I could understand what caused me to eat to that extent, then I could also identify new strategies to deal with it. If I could pinpoint how food made me feel calm or soothed, then maybe I too could find other ways of getting that sense of relief. Without taking the time to interview the person that I was, it would have been impossible to become the one I am now.

How did you keep yourself motivated?

Motivation is a drive that no one feels 100% of the time. When I was starting out with my wellness journey, I was motivated by losing weight so that I could look better and feel more energetic and capable. As I began to lose weight, I was motivated by a drive to become a better version of myself, to feel strong, to be confident and to let myself catch up to the potential that I had been missing out on for so long.

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Let me tell you, some days no motivation was there when I was tired or aching or felt sad but what propelled me ahead was my dedication and commitment to that woman waiting on the other side.

I think for anyone to keep motivated you need to remember what you are working towards and have it be something more meaningful, more life-validating then a specific number on the scale or on your shirt tag. Setting goals that inspires you, like becoming a stronger person, gaining personal insights, enjoying healthy food or having exercise help you to cope is so much more powerful.

Today, what keeps me motivated is the fact that it doesn’t feel like work the way that it used. I now have found nutritious foods that I love to eat and make me feel good. I have found workouts that I enjoy doing, that challenge me to get better, that fill me with excitement and that help me to relax when I am anxious or stressed. This took time, practice, switching things up but eventually the food and the fitness that I was doing, matched the lifestyle that I wanted to sustain.

What is something that you do daily for self-care?

I am a huge advocate for self-care and have found many ways of incorporating little practices into my days as a way of checking in with myself. I have been keeping a gratitude journal for over a year now, where I write down what leaves me feeling happy and thankful at the end of each day. I start off all of my workouts with a fun form of cardio and a catchy beat that always gets me energized and smiling. Most of all, I try to laugh with my husband, connect with friends and family and treat myself when I need a little pick me up.

Did you ever struggle with body image? What is one thing that helped you work through it?

I have struggled with body image at many points pre and post wellness journey.

When I was overweight, I constantly tried to hide my lack of self-esteem by not wanting to be the center of attention. I desperately wanted to feel attractive however I just didn’t and compensated by taking the light off of myself and putting anywhere else I could.  I often looked at other women with fascination to how their clothing fit or what options they had when they went to a store and felt isolated.

When I lost weight, I felt a new type of self-consciousness. It was a mix of getting to know a new body, having lots of comments and compliments that felt uncomfortable and facing the fact that my body wasn’t going to be perfect. After losing over 100 pounds, I had loose skin, I had stretch marks, all of which made me feel like I would never truly see the success that I had accomplished because it was still hiding below layers of the past.

I still feel this way on occasion, but one thing that has helped me work through the body image issues I felt was remembering how far I had come, that my body was a shining example of effort, commitment and changes that I had made for a better life. That I was able to wear things I never would have, and was stronger, more agile and knowledgeable then I have ever been in this skin.

What Does Body Positivity Mean to you?

Body positivity means embracing not only what you look like but all of the elements that make you who you are. It is about focusing on your strengths, your abilities, your talents, your beauty and being accepting of all the combining factors that are involved in the person that you have turned out to be.

Body positivity means empowering other people to see beauty, power and achievement in who they are and encouraging each other to be supportive rather than dismissive. It is about sharing experiences of success and failure because we are all going to have both throughout our lives. Body positivity is showcasing the value of diversity among people because if we were all the same the world would be a pretty boring place.
 

What are you most proud of yourself for today?

I am most proud that I took the time to get to know myself on a deeper level. That I didn’t just make this wellness journey about weight loss or a goal size or fitness landmark, I truly made it about exploring the various facets of who I was, who I was becoming and who I will continue to strive towards each day. I am proud that I see myself as an evolution that I didn’t get to a certain dress size and then say that was it. I instead committed to being healthy, happy, to growing and learning on a daily basis which all have lead me to create a lifestyle that is enjoyable and sustainable.

What advice would you give someone who is starting a weight loss journey?

The best advice that I would want to give someone who is starting a weight loss journey is that there is no one size fits all answer. We are all motivated by different things, have diverse preferences and abilities and that you should consider yours in order to work towards your goals.

Find the strengths that you are proud of and use those to get you going. Really good at drinking water? Then make a water intake goal that you can work towards and get a sense of accomplishment from, then move on to the next one. It is helpful to set small goals at the onset so that you can have milestones that excite you rather than beginning by wanting to lose 100 pounds. Congratulate yourself when you get there and don’t discourage yourself when mistakes happen or when you don’t quite hit the mark.

The journey is not linear. It is going to have giant peaks of motivation, plateaus of no progress and dips of temptation and that is okay. Just remember what got you started in the first place and keep going towards that.


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On a professional front, Hailey has dedicated herself to a career focused on promoting self-care and mental wellness through her work in distress lines, youth workshops and now as the Executive Director for a non-profit supporting adults with developmental disabilities.

She feels that in life and in work, people are at their best to give to others when they are feeling full, happy and empowered from within.

To reach out to Hailey you can contact her by email at hh.healthyliving@gmail.com

Podcast Interview: Creating A Healthy Lifestyle + Healing Body Image

In this podcast interview with Amir Lamdan, I discuss the tools I've implemented into my life that helped me establish a healthy lifestyle and relationship with my body.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

1:28 - What advice would you give someone who is just starting their journey?

3:30 - How did you create this mindset shift with fitness and your body?

6:50 - Finding YOUR happy (being lean does not equate to happiness)

8:46 - Self love and self acceptance does not mean you can't change your body

11:05 - Being independent of external validation

13:05 - Dealing with insecurities

15:40 - Stepping away from numbers and the scale

17:00 - Changing the way you speak to yourself and your body

18:37 - Who helped to inspire me to get to where I am today

21:55 - What my coaching program is about

Don't have time to workout? Try this!

Time is one of the most given reasons people don’t workout. And while I wholeheartedly believe that you prioritize what's important to you, it’s impossible to overlook other important obligations that need fulfilled as well. Between working long hours, running errands, going to school, and still making time for your loved ones—it can take up your entire day and make working out seem nearly impossible.

This is usually why fitness ends up taking the back burner and I totally get it. Even I have those weeks from time to time where I think to myself: How the fuck am I supposed to workout today?

This is why I am huge advocate for making fitness work for YOU. Because the truth is, not everyone can dedicate 5-6 days a week in the gym for hours at a time (not even I can). It comes down to finding something that you can stick to consistently and makes the most sense for your schedule. Fitness shouldn't be an added stressor to your life—it should be the opposite. 

The solution for most people is to make fitness quick...and by that I mean, like real quick. This doesn't mean it's going to be ineffective, either. If programmed correctly, it can be even more effective than a longer workout. 

….After all, something is better than nothing, right?

This is where circuit style training comes in. In this case, you’ll get lifting and cardio done all in one session. Talk about efficiency.

It can look something like this: 

  • 10 (R/L) rengade rows 
  • 10 (R/L) dumbbell alternating reverse lunges
  • 10 overhead press
  • 10 romanian deadlifts

Complete as many rounds as possible within 15 minutes.

This type of training not only saves time, but promotes fat loss for longer periods of time, can lead to a healthy heart, improves strength, and preserves muscle (and can potentially build new muscle!!). 

If you’re all about this approach, I have good news: I created a workout program for you with workouts similar to the one above. 

Fitness At Home is designed so you can get shit done quickly and more efficiently. The workouts take less than 20 minutes and you don’t even have to deal with the hassle of going to the gym—you can do them in your own home. The program is four weeks long, with three new workouts every single week and all you need is a set of dumbbells.

>>> GET FIT FAST AT HOME <<<


Elizabeth's Transformation

Elizabeth O'Hare's transformation after going through EmpowerHer coaching.


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What was your biggest concern before you began working with Devon?

One of my biggest concerns before starting my journey with Devon was, “am I going to fail?” After trying diet after diet, and never following through or seeing change I would automatically give up. So one of my biggest concerns was “am I going to fail, be a quitter or let her down.” 

What did you struggle with the most before this program and how did you overcome it?

I struggled with self-confidence not just before this program, but it has been a struggle of mine, my whole life. In years past, my self-confidence and self-esteem were always so low, it was even noticeable to people around me. Devon has helped me SO MUCH! If you were to know me then and talk to me now, you would think I’m a whole new person! I walk into a gym with all the confidence in the world now! I’ve learned to love myself in a bathing suit, to set reasonable goals, and I’ve learned not only to have self- confidence but self-love, because I’m an amazing person and Devon has helped me to see that!

What was your favorite part about working with Devon?

One of my favorite parts about working with Devon is her availability! Whenever I needed her, whether it was a nutrition question, exercise question, or just needing to talk and vent she is there for me. I love the weekly check ins, because it holds me accountable but I don’t feel forgotten either. Whether it’s email, text, or phone call she has been such a great coach and mentor, but most of all I’ve gained one kickass friend! ☺ 

What is one life changing thing you learned through this program?

NO ONE IS PERFECT! Devon is an amazing coach. She makes me take responsibility if I start to get off track, but she also reassures me that “ no one is perfect...” we are all going to eat that piece of cake, or drink that glass or two of wine with friends and that is okay, because that’s fucking life. You have to enjoy life, just because you are making a life style change, doesn’t mean you have to give everything up. She has helped me understand that! She has helped me with so much, through the holidays, through funerals, through summertime, etc. Many of these events I felt like I fell off the band wagon, but she never gave up on me. Always there to help me, and remind me “no one is perfect, its life and we all go through it.” <3



Are you ready to create your own transformation? Apply HERE to be apart of EmpowerHer Coaching.

5 exercises for glute growth that aren't squats

Did you know you can grow your glutes without doing squats? Or better yet, did you know that there are exercises that target your glutes more than squats do? 

Contrary to popular belief, squats are targeting your quads more than they are targeting your glutes. Sure, your glutes are being worked and activated during the squat. And this is not to say that you shouldn’t ever do squats, because any solid glute program will include a variety of different exercises. However, there are plenty of different exercises that isolate the glutes more than squats do, here are a few of my favorites: 

Hip thrusts

The thrust is a must--as Bret Contreras would say and I could not agree more. Once I started to incorporate hip thrusts into my program I started to see serious glute growth. There are a variety of different variations, including: 

Regular hip thrusts 

Weighted hip thrusts

Banded hip thrusts 

Single leg hip thrusts 

Back and feet elevated hip thrusts 

Feet elevated hip thrusts 

If you are a beginner, it would be best to master the glute bridge first and then progress to the hip thrust. It’s important to master the fundamentals before moving on to more advanced exercises so you build a strong foundation, don’t get injured and get the most out of the exercises. 

Romanian deadlifts

The romanian deadlift moves the hips in a full range of motion while working the glutes pretty hard. 

Here are some common mistakes you want to avoid when performing the RDL: 

Mistake #1 - Rounding or extending at the spine: 

Keep your shoulders down and back with your chest staying open: imagine a million dollars is in your armpits and you don’t want to lose it. 

From your tailbone to the top of your head, you should remain a straight line, even as you move your hips backward, that line is completely straight. 

Mistake #2 - Squatting instead: 

A huge mistake people make is that they end up squatting their deadlift. The difference between a squat and a deadlift is that the squat is knee dominate and the deadlift is more hip dominate.

So to put that in a better perspective for you: during the squat the motion primarily comes from your knees and your butt goes down toward the floor; as for the deadlift, the motion primarily comes from the hips (only a slight bend in the knee - just softly unlock your knees) and your butt goes back toward the wall. 

Once you nail down the rdl, you can progress to more advanced movements too like the single leg RDL or the kettlebell swing which brings us to the next exercise…. 

Kettlebell swings

The kettlebell swing is like a faster and more explosive version of an RDL. The swing is a great way to add a metabolic component to your workout while absolutely destroying the glutes. 

I love adding swings as a finisher to my glute workout or as my conditioning workout for the day.

Back extensions

Back extensions is a commonly misused exercise because people use their low back erectors to straighten themselves out, which if you’ve ever had a low back ache that is exactly where it hurts. 

In order to do this properly, you need to focus on driving the motion through the glutes. 

Think about rounding your low back slightly and creating a curve so that your low back is turned off.

Bring your rib cage to your hips to keep your abs engaged.

Keep your chin tucked.

Extend through the glutes.

Cable pull throughs

If you thought the hip thrust was sexual, wait until you do cable pull throughs. It looks like you are thrusting two dicks between your legs. Need I say more? 


There you have it, my five favorite booty building exercises that don't involve squats.

If you want to learn more secrets to building your glutes, you can download the FREE booty building cheat sheet here. In this cheat sheet, I uncover 4 common mistakes people make, how to fix it and so much more. 

>>> DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BOOTY BUILDING CHEAT SHEET HERE <<<

One simple way to reduce stress

Did you know there is a proper way to breathe? Better yet, did you know breathing can help you reduce stress?

Sounds silly, right? But, after learning about it myself and incorporating it into my daily life, I was completely blown away. It not only has improved my movement, but it also has helped to reduce my stress. 

I am excited to have collaborated with James Fryer, a massage and neuromuscular therapist, so he can dive in and teach you all about breathing. 


How I incorporate it into my life to reduce stress: 

Whenever I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I like to take a moment and do 5-10 belly breaths (sometimes longer if I really feel I need it).

This practice is essentially a way to meditate since it allows you to stay present, slow down and focus on your breathing. Such a small difference, that creates a huge impact. 


If you would like more informative videos like this or have more questions about belly breathing, shoot me an email and I'd be happy to provide :) 

Take a deep breath ;) 

Devon 

How to enjoy the holidays AND still reach your fitness goals

Tis' the season to overindulge. It's no question as to why people have a hard time staying on track during the holidays. From Halloween all the way to the New Year, there is always a reason to drink more alcohol, nibble on a few treats (or more than a few) and grab a second plate. 

How on earth are you supposed to stay on track while you enjoy yourself? Better yet, is that even possible? 

The answer is: abso-fucking-lutely. 

I am not about to give you some asinine advice like: eat before, bring your own meal, skip the alcohol, only stick to the healthy foods, or weigh yourself to hold yourself accountable. Staying on track doesn't require any of that nonsense — especially the last one.

My advice is a bit different. And not to be biased, BUT my advice is better — much better and much more enjoyable. 

However, before I get into the good stuff, I need to address the underlying issue, which is: most people approach it with an all or nothing mentality. The minute they feel like they "messed up" or got off track, they feel as though they ruined their progress and have to start all over. This concept is entirely nonsensical. 

Eating something that isn't "diet" friendly or missing a weeks worth of working out is not what causes people to mess up. It's the mentality around thinking they did or that they let that spiral back into their old habits and don't get back into their routine.

You see, there will be occasions when your nutrition isn't as precise and dare I say - times you have to skip a workout. And that — that right there is called life. It does not mean you have to stop everything you've been doing and wait until Monday or the New Year to restart. You simply move on from it, and continue your fitness journey; because, you do not have to be perfect in order to live a healthy lifestyle or even make progress. 

So...

If you find yourself indulging a little more than you normally do — that is okay. It's the Holidays — it's bound to happen. 

If you have to miss a workout so you can go Black Friday shopping — do it. I probably will too. 

Hell, if you have an entire week off from working out — it's fine. Just get back into it the following week.

Got it? Okay good. Now that we've got that out of the way - lets dive in, shall we? 


Pick the foods you love. 

Eat the foods you love, and skip out on what you don't. Just because the fruit cake is being served, it does not mean you have eat it. It seems like common sense, but I find that a lot of people eat food just because it's there or because they feel obligated to eat it for the holidays. But honey, you're an adult — you can make your own decisions. You don't have to eat anything you don't want or don't love.

Another little tip I follow personally is, I skip out on the foods that I can get anytime of the year and stick to eating the foods that come once a year. So for example: if there are brownies and pumpkin cheesecake severed at Thanksgiving dinner, I choose the pumpkin cheesecake since that typically only comes once a year. 

Remember, you can save it for leftovers.

Instead of stuffing yourself until you feel sick (which I used to do), you can enjoy these foods in moderation throughout the week. To hell with cheat meals, you don't have to limit yourself to one day. 

Eat protein and veggies, too. 

Because health. 

But also, filling up on veggies and protein can help prevent you from overeating AND it aligns with your fitness goals. 

Workout.

Continue to workout as consistently as you can. I also think that getting a workout in first thing in the morning is helpful because you get it out of the way and it helps to put you in the right frame of mind. 

And, I know this time of the year can be busy but even doing something quick is a good way to keep you on track. Something like: 20 kb swings, 10 kb thrusters, for as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes. 

Relax, gorgeous.

Chill out and enjoy yourself. This is the time to cherish moments with your friends and family — not stress out about food. So, enjoy yourself, enjoy the food and get back into your routine the next day. Guilt is not aloud. 


I told you my tips are fucking awesome. Now, go enjoy the holidays, stress free :)

XO

Devon Day 

How to feel confident in the gym

Do you get intimidated when you go to the gym? Don't worry babe. This is normal. I felt this way when I first started too. Today I want to share with you some tips that have helped my clients and myself overcome gym intimidation. 

Watch the video below to learn! 

If you liked this video, make sure to subscribe for more videos! Click here to subscribe :)  

I hope this helps! 

XO 

Devon Day 


What my clients are saying....

DANIELLE'S STORY 

"So I bet you are all wondering what it’s like to work with Devon… She’s always so motivating on social media, between her Instagram, youtube, and blog. Devon has a lot of ways that she reaches out to everybody.

Back about a month ago, I made an Instagram for my fitness and health journey wanting to really focus on motivating younger girls and inspiring others. I really don’t know how I found Devon’s Instagram among the hundreds of other fitness accounts that I followed, but I am so grateful that I did! I love Devon's whole mantra on fitness and the message she is trying to deliver to others. Love yourself and love your body. It’s one of the main things that every girl struggles with and we all need to learn to love ourselves over losing weight or trying to fit into a bikini in the summer.

After going through Devon's program, I will never go back to doing hours of cardio to lose weight or even regular "body building" style workouts. Devon has opened my eyes to more a efficient and extremely effective way to workout. Being a full time college student and working, I don’t have a lot of free time and I would miss out on hanging out with friends and family to workout. But not anymore. Devon provided me with workouts that I can manage to fit in my schedule. 

Devon doesn't just give you a plan but she teaches you. I am so happy that Devon shared with me so much of her knowledge because I don’t think I could have done it on my own. I would have not seen results and went back to starving, binging, and lots of cardio. 

Within the program I have gained confidence, my body has changed physically, I have been able to adjust my diet into a way of eating that I enjoy and I've made a new friend. Devon is always just a text, email or call away. She has always been there for me and I am so grateful for that. 

Working with Devon is such an amazing experience and I am so happy that we are able to work together. To anybody just starting on their fitness journey or struggling with self love… I highly recommend working with her! Don’t ever hesitate to email her either because she is the sweetest person you will ever meet!"

- Danielle Maurer

Lower body exercises for people with bad knees

If you have knee pain the answer is usually not to do more knee dominate movements. This includes things like, squats, lunges, and step ups. When you perform knee dominate movements when you already have knee pain, it can cause more knee problems. 

So what can you do for lower body? Focus on hip dominate movements instead. This can actually help alleviate some of your knee pain. Here are a few of my favorites: 


1. Good mornings 

This includes banded and weighted variations. 

2. Glute Bridge / Hip Thrust Variations

This includes single leg variations, elevated variations, and weighted variations. 

3. Deadlift variations

This includes romanian deadlifts, single leg rdls, barbell conventional deadlifts, and sumo deadlifts.

4. Cable pull throughs 

5. Glute targeted exercises 

This includes things like side laying clams, lateral band walks, and reverse hypers.