Healthy Lifestyle Changes | Wedding Photographer


Okay, guys, I’ll be honest this was a tough one to write. Even after it was written, adding the photos was even harder. And, even when I considered it finished, I had a tough time hitting “publish”. It’s just so awkward and uncomfortable to talk about a topic so personal. But, I’m pushing that judgmental fear out of my mind, and talking about it anyway.

Last summer, Ryan and I had a conversation about our health and it ended in disgusted tears. Our wedding was planned for that fall, and we were in the worst shape of our lives. Not only had I gone up a couple of pant sizes, but I was slow and tired. I have always been “skinny” as much as I hate that word, and in college I didn't sit still for long, so I maintained my “skinny” well enough. After settling into a career that mostly leaves me in front of a computer screen and only steps away from the kitchen, I fell into habits that made me slow and heavier. I was ready for a change, and both Ryan and the wedding were the extra nudges that I needed to just start.

I contacted Derek at Flex Strength & Fitness, and we scheduled to meet with him twice a week.  You guys, that was over a year ago and we are STILL DOING IT. We had all of the excuses…the time, the money, etc. The very idea of me in a gym was so far out of my comfort zone, I can’t even begin to explain it. But, we ultimately decided that we had to make this a priority to be the best versions of ourselves. Flex has played a HUGE role in this lifestyle change. We have learned so much about food and fitness from Derek. He pushes us harder than we would normally push ourselves. He gives us something tangible to work toward. And, seeing him twice a week holds us accountable.

One of the biggest things that I had to realize was that I could show up and listen to Derek everyday, but what I ate when I wasn’t there was the real difference maker. I cut out fast food and sugary drinks almost completely. I replaced junky, sugary, carb-filled meals with food that I have grown and hunted myself. I can’t begin to tell you how great that feels. The best part is that I don’t consider this to be a diet, this is just how I live my life now. I never feel deprived, and I most definitely don’t feel guilty when I go out for drinks with friends, throw down a good burger and fries, or grab an extra dinner roll at wedding receptions. ha! I just make sure that when I do, the next decision is a healthier one. Eventually, my healthy decisions outnumbered the unhealthy ones and I landed in this place where I can maintain my fitness level and enjoy food all at the same time. Balance, my friends.

Another thing that I have to point out, is that this isn’t about being skinny. It’s about being STRONG. It’s about being healthy, fit and the best me I can be. Below is a side by side from a wedding in the summer of 2017 vs. 2018. I didn’t even realize that this had happened until I ran across some photos from last year where I could actually see the difference.


I don't have fitness specific BEFORE photos of where I started, because I honestly didn't think I would get this far. But, here is a photo of where I am NOW.


Since I started, I have lost somewhere between 10-15lbs. But, to me, that is the least significant part of my success.

I got my pant size back.

I found confidence.

I can run without throwing up.

I run for fun now.

I can crank out a couple of pull ups.

I can shoot a wedding without feeling like I am dying the next day.

I upped the poundage on my bow again.

I can walk to the deer stand with all of my gear without being winded in the first few steps.

I can climb a tree after that walk and not feel like I’m going to have a sweaty heart attack.

I am strong.

I am healthy.

The list goes on, but what keeps me moving forward is that I truly feel that I am a better photographer and a better hunter with this lifestyle, and those two things are VERY important to me. So, if you are struggling to start, I hope you find that extra push you need. And, if you are struggling to keep going, find a new goal that motivates you. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to work for YOU.


Chelsea LieferComment