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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mom of 2 Drops 37 lbs and Makes Fitness Her Lifestyle -- A Great Interview with Sarah

1. Tell us something about yourself

Hi! My name is Sarah Failla! I am a married 33 year old mother of two boys! Just this summer (’12) we relocated back to the USA after living the last 5 years in China. I don’t have a degree, but have traveled and worked in over 40 countries. Currently, I am a work at home mom as a Beachbody Coach and we also homeschool my son 1.5 days a week which mixes in with a local Montessori school he goes to. 

2. What determined you to start losing weight and to have a healthy lifestyle?
It almost happened as an accident. To explain, I didn’t set out with a goal to lose X amount of weight. I was always 170+ and honestly didn’t think going lower was possible. One summer I got one of the biggest tools that helped me lose weight -- a heart rate monitor watch. I’m serious! I am a numbers nerd and when I began seeing how many calories I burned (or didn’t burn on a lazy day) it was a reality check. And it also made it into a game to see how many calories I could burn each day. 

So with my new gadget, a Weight Watchers food guidebook, and a summer of playing outside with my husband and son I began to see the weight drop. I was happy with myself at 170 + because I didn’t think I could be smaller. I thought I was just ‘big boned’. If I had attempted to lose weight in the past I would never get under 170, which encouraged the ‘big boned’ mindset. But that summer, I saw 169 on the scale and everything changed. I kept doing what I was doing and I then saw 159! I was like WHAT??? And from there I was inspired to do more. I celebrated every pound like it was 100. Remember, I thought 170 was my set point. 
3. Tell us more about your progress over the past years.
Oh how far I have come! I used to eat ice cream for breakfast and justify it because there was protein in it! When my husband and I first got married we lived on grilled cheese sandwiches and Totinos $1 pizzas! Over half the items in my fridge today I used to think only ‘crazy health freaks’ eat! So I have come very far.  Small changes have added up over time. When it comes to exercise, I remember when I started I would have to pause my workouts 3-4x just to get through it. Now those workouts don’t even really get me sweating. I’ve gone from a size 14 to an 8 and now help others do the same?! It’s incredible. I also think living in China had a lot to do with my exercise habits. Working out became ‘me time’ and a way to help process cultural stress. I also had friends who were doing the same DVDs so it was socializing and exercising at the same time. 

4. Which is your actual training routine?

I workout at home using DVD sets so I like to follow the schedule it comes with. With that, I usually get about 8-9 weeks into a 12 week schedule and I start rebelling against the schedule! At that point I start mixing and matching up different programs based on what I am in the mood for. I find that sometimes people will get so ‘stuck’ on finishing a program that they get miserable and end up doing nothing. So when I start dreading the schedule I allow myself to mix things up. Right now I am doing a hybrid of Les Mills Pump and TurboFIRE. As we settle into the USA again I am also excited to check out some group classes at our local gym.

5. How about your daily meal plan? Describe a regular day of your life, with all the meals you have.

This is always changing for me. I find with diet there is a book to promote any and every different theory out there. I found myself reading a ton and stressing out that I wasn’t following the ‘right theory’. (One night my husband was like forget eating the wrong foods and getting cancer, stress is going to kill you before that does. RELAX!) So if you ask me next week I may be trying a different theory! I do try to keep my carbs between 100-150g a day unless I am doing an intense workout session in which I will add more in. This doesn’t work for everyone but I find it to be a ‘magic’ spot for me to not struggle with the scale going up. I also limit my grains and sugar. (And I should mention my husband is gluten/dairy/soy/egg/sugar free, my youngest can’t have lactose, so I understand the reality of cooking for a family with allergies.) 

A typical day for me might be:

- Ezekiel tortilla wrap with 2 eggs,
- Salad with TONS of toppings -- chicken, pine nuts, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, blueberries
- a “Quest Bar” - I am a sucker for protein bars and these are so healthy
 - Chocolate Shakeology with PB2 or Tropical Shakeology with 1/2 banana and 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder
- salmon or Tri-tip - my family’s favorite dinners along with steamed or raw vegetables
- nuts - I portion out about 200-250 calories worth of nuts into a container that I carry in my bag to have as I am out and about my day.

I’m pretty tall so I usually aim for 1800-2300 calories a day depending on how active I am.

6. By the way, how do you manage to keep up with your professional life, your workouts, your own personal time and your 2 sons?

By being flexible! I understand that life happens. If the kids are sick and I am up all night I’m okay to skip my workout and get my sleep the next morning. It also helps that my husband and I both value the other person having time to workout so we make sure that happens. He’ll go play soccer and I’ll watch the boys, and then he will do the same for me. If I do work out when the boys are awake, I end up hitting pause 3-4 times but I’ve become okay with it. I want them to see that fitness is a part of life and not something that always has to be ‘set apart’ if that makes sense?  And they usually join in with me for some parts which is super fun. 

I also play with them whenever I can, it may not be as intense as HIIT drill but it gets my heart up and fills up their love tank at the same time. When my husband is traveling for work it does become more tricky, but in those moments I rely on my accountability groups for motivation and just have to dig deep knowing it will help me stay sane with the boys if I get my workout in! 

7. What are your Fitness plans for the future?

The area I struggle in most is with clean eating. I have come so far but am striving to become even healthier. I plan to do the School of Integrative Nutrition in the future to create a full health coaching practice that goes outside of what I already get to do as a Beachbody coach. (This last summer I got my Certified Fitness Trainer certificate but am not using it yet.)

8. What really keeps you focused and motivated?

I always joke that working out is my ‘happy pill’. The thought of looking great will get me motivated now and then, but when I remember that I FEEL better and am a more engaged wife and mom when I am working out- that keeps me going. I also owe it to my boys to be an example of exercising and eating right so they can grow up doing the same. As I host accountability groups for women I am constantly reminded to push myself harder and make better choices, how can I ask them to do something that I won’t do myself? 

9. How can people get in touch with you? 

I love to connect with other women and moms who are on this same journey. My blog is and you can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

10. And finally say a few words to the readers of!
The one thing I would stress is that you have to be realistic. I’m not saying to make excuses for yourself. But my primary goal (and most people I work with) is not to be a fitness model, it’s to be a great wife, mom, woman, business owner. Only you know what that looks like for you, what the difference between lazy and realistic is. If you are content carrying an extra 5-10 pounds then OWN IT and don’t feel down on yourself. Celebrate that you are as healthy as you are. If you want to be at your goal weight or compete then take some time to evaluate the common excuse/habit that is keeping you from reaching your goal. 

For me, I can weigh 146-148 but it takes a lot of work to stay there. But if I bump that up to just 150-152 it is a lot less stressful and time consuming for me. Is 150-152 lazy or realistic? That is something I am still searching out. There is always the balance of making sure you take care of yourself, but also knowing if you are trying to look like someone that has completely different goals than you do it’s not going to work. I help women everyday and sometimes I struggle knowing I still have a little pudge around my belly or cellulite on my thighs. But I’m okay with that. I am not striving for a perfect body - I am striving to make the one I have as healthy as I can and also keep up with all my other daily activities. There are seasons in life, and we need to adjust our expectations accordingly. Have a wonderful day and it has been an honor to share this time with you.