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Beautiful women. Beautiful stories. Beautiful day.

Lori at Duluth Women's Expo 2015The winter weather was gorgeous last Saturday and so were the women who came out to hear me share my transformation story at the Duluth Women’s Expo. We had a full house, and I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the incredible women who attended.

I love speaking to women’s groups. There is such energy and eagerness among women to “better themselves” — to strive to reach their full potential. As women we’re often our own harshest critics, but most of us also have an innate desire to become more self-aware and to make ourselves and the world a better place. That energy and focus was prevalent in the crowd on Saturday.

Lori Schaefer, speaking Dulth Women's ExpoAfter my speech, where I shared my story and five principles for achieving transformative life-change, we embarked on the typical post speech Lori Schaefer-Big Pants, Duluth Women's Expoquestion and answer session. But, to my surprise, more than 15 women stayed after that Q&A for a follow-up small group conversation. It was a great dialogue. Lori Schaefer speaking at Duluth Women's Expo 2015I thank them for providing me the opportunity to connect on an individual level and for being brave enough to share their stories and struggles with me. It is a privilege to do this work. So thank you ladies.

I’d like to share answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that I got on Saturday and from people who have reached out since my appearance on NBC TV’s The Biggest Loser Season Finale.

 Q. What diet did you follow to lose your weight?

A. I worked with nutritional coach, Leif Anderson from the Duluth area, to implement a fat loss protocol. Our goal was to burn stored fat and build muscle, thus getting the weight off as quickly and healthily as possible. Part of what worked for me was the momentum. I knew if I followed the plan and did the work, the weight would come off.

My nutrition included a high protein, low carbohydrate and low healthy fat diet. I counted macro-nutrients vs. counting calories. That means I counted the protein, fats and carbohydrates in my food, and exercised portion control by eating smaller, more frequent meals (usually 5x) throughout the day.

I ate mostly lean protein such as chicken, turkey, fish and lean sirloin; healthy fats like nuts, avocado and olive oil; very few starchy carbs (sweet potatoes, oatmeal), and more fibrous carbs  — lots of green veggies, including spinach, broccoli, green beans, peppers, etc. I limited my sugar intake and ate very little processed food.

Most importantly, I got educated about my food for the first time in my life! I learned to read labels and look for those hidden sugars that would spike my insulin levels, or worse, make me crave sugar or carbs. To do this day, I am a religious label reader.

Where to start: I immediately gave up soda and now drink primarily water and coffee. In fact, I average a gallon of water per day. I eliminated fast food all together and as much processed food as possible. Opting instead for fresh meat, fruits and vegetables. This is how I eat today in what I call my healthy living phase.

Q. How did you begin?

A. First, I committed 100+% and went all. Instead of a goal, I established this new way of living with “Lori in the center of the equation” a non-negotiable. To set myself up for maximum success, I admitted that I couldn’t do it myself and assembled a team to help me. This included my nutritional coach, O’Neal Hampton who was my hope and inspiration and served as a mentor throughout my journey, my personal trainer Sandra in the Twin Cities, and not to be under estimated — an amazing counselor to help with the “head” and emotional part. This was critical.

Second, I developed a short list of non-negotiables that I would adhere to for maximum success. And finally, I surrounded myself with friends, family and positive peeps who supported me in my goal.

Q. What was the single most important factor in your success? If you had to pick one.

A. It was getting my “head” straight and adjusting my thinking. I had to change everything about my thinking to be successful. First, I had to go all in and set this as my number one priority in my life, bar nothing. I had to give it more than 100%.

Then, I had to learn that I wasn’t perfect, and I would slip and fall off the program from time to time. The difference this time around that was different from all the other times I dieted is that I learned what I call the “restart.”

The Restart: I learned how to forgive myself for being human when I messed up and went off my plan, and then picked myself up and got right back on the program with the next meal or the next day. In the past, I would use these slips and falls as evidence that I wasn’t good enough or couldn’t do it and throw in the towel.

Not this time. This time, I made up my mind that quitting was simply not an option. So I had to get right back on the plan and move forward. It worked and it is perhaps the greatest skill I developed throughout my journey. It serves me well today.

For a copy of my five principles for achieving transformative weight loss — or whatever you want in your life that has alluded you — go to my blog homepage and click on the right sidebar in the pink box titled “Lean the Top 5 Things I did…”

Here is a photo gallery from the day. Special thanks to Tracy Lundeen, Duluth Women’s Expo organizer/host, and to Katie Nelson for the beautiful photos.



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