Though society typically focuses purely on the “before” and “after,” the journey to weight loss is often a long and trying one. Without motivation and a strong support system, it’s easy to get lost along the way.
However, two Vikings have found a solution which not only keeps them on track, but inspires others to as well. After deciding to make the change towards a healthier lifestyle, former Western student Tasheon Chillous and sophomore Elizabeth Colescott took to social media to share their weight loss journeys.
Chillous, who has been recording her weight loss through her Tumblr blog and Instagram, decided to make the change after a visit to her local gym.
“It started when I finished at Western, I came home and had nothing to do. It’s kind of a boring story really,” she said. “I joined a gym because I was bored. I started working out and I started loving it. Knowing that I was as big as I was, I really did need to change. I needed to work out, I needed to change my life.”
This small decision snowballed into a huge lifestyle change. After working for the free fitness app Cody, which aims to create a community for fitness lovers, Chillous began posting her journey on Tumblr and Instagram. Two years and over 150 pounds later, she’s become an inspiration to her over 7,000 blog followers.
“When you have a blog, you don’t want to brag and be like ‘Hey I have a blog with this many followers’ but there’s over 7,000 people who follow me. It’s kind of crazy, it’s kind of weird,” Chillous said. “I get messages all the time and I’ve talked to a few people from Washington. I’ve met up with a few of them and we’re Facebook friends and help each other.”
Utilizing social media to share her journey has not only gained her a huge support system, but also a newfound passion and direction in life.
“I went to school for design. I think I found my love and what I want to do, and that’s combining fitness and design,” Chillous said. “It goes hand-in-hand for me because I love to create posters of how far I am. I have a lot of inspirational quotes. I found the passion that I was missing. I totally see myself, in like a year or two, becoming a physical trainer or a group fitness instructor, because I want to see other people do the same thing.”
Elizabeth Colescott followed Chillous’s social media fitness campaign after deciding last year to make a change in her life as well.
“The summer before I came to college I was at my highest weight and I always thought, ‘Oh it’s not that bad.’ But then you watch shows like the Biggest Loser and you’re like, ‘Oh my weight is the near some of theirs. This is awkward, I could be on a TV show to fix this,’” Colescott said. “Then also just coming to college, I know it would be all on me to change. I have the opportunities to do it because of the Rec Center and I control everything I eat. I think that’s when I had the initial ‘Okay it’s time to change something’ thought.”
Colescott began training with Kacie Fischer Cleveland of Kulshan CrossFit, a local gym in Bellingham’s Sunset District. As she met her fitness goals, Colescott began sharing her accomplishments on Facebook.
“I had posted some things originally on my personal Facebook, like when I lost seven pounds, and when I beat a certain time on the row machine my trainer took a picture and it got a lot of likes,” Colescott said. “I realized having that support, even just somebody clicking the ‘like’ button, it’s actually really nice to know that people think what I’m doing is impressive.”
She decided to create a separate Facebook page and Instagram to focus entirely on her fitness journey, entitled “Elizabeth Gets Fit,” where she continues to post her accomplishments.
“I can keep track of myself and have others motivate me. I know that if I have this going on I can’t just be like, ‘Oh, I’ve stopped working out’ or anything like that,” she said. “It keeps you accountable.”
Colescott, just beginning her fitness campaign, says the hardest part is making healthy choices when eating.
“Being in the dorms, well, I call the food on campus an obstacle, but my trainer was like, ‘It’s just something you’re going to have to change, it’s not an obstacle,’” Colescott said. “It’s just food, you’re going to eat no matter what, so it’s just something you’re going to learn how to change.”
Both Colescott and Chillous noted that making healthy eating choices is often overlooked when making this lifestyle change, yet eating the right foods is essential to the process.
“One of my favorite things that my trainer Kacie has said is, ‘You can’t out work a bad diet,’” Colescott said.
While social media helps keeps the girls on track, true motivation lies within. Chillous and Colescott stress the importance of making this lifestyle change for oneself. In addition, the girls always keep how much progress they’ve made fresh in their minds. There are good days and bad days in a fitness journey. A key factor Colescott noted, is embracing your body.
“Body positivity is really important. I could go my whole life hating what my body looks like... but you actually can’t go through life like that... So instead I make myself see the good things about my body. Stretch marks? I’ve grown, gained and lost weight, and those are a sign of it. Big thighs? Do you know how strong my thighs are? Pretty dang strong, and that’s because they’re big... I can’t say I never see the negatives about my body, but it’s a matter of FORCING myself to see the positive,” she said.
Having the Facebook page allows Colescott to keep her goals in perspective.
“There’s always going to be off days but people don’t really want to read about that so you kind of have to figure out how you can turn it into a good thing, which is good mentally too.”
For those who are struggling through those “off days,” both offer this advice: focus on smaller goals rather than an end goal.
“I don’t think there is an end. The thing you have to realize is that this is a lifestyle change,” Colescott said.
“You know, you can’t just say, ‘Oh I made it to 160 pounds, I can start eating bad or stop working out.’ No, you have to keep doing what you’re doing, not to lose weight, but to keep being healthy.”