Obese, unhappy, and in constant pain, 380-pound Shiryl decided to make a change. She was bingeing on junk food, eating frosting from the can, and suffering from debilitating Crohn’s disease. Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, this inspiring woman put her lifestyle through a complete overhaul — she quit the food habits that made her feel sick and moved in ways that made her body feel renewed.
It didn’t take anything extreme to spark her transformation. She didn’t count calories (in fact, she never counted a single one) and didn’t go hungry at all during her weight loss.
Eating until she was satisfied and taking care not to overdo it in the gym, Shiryl lost 172 pounds and totally transformed her life.
Once her mind was set on making a change, it was inevitable. Her excess weight shed naturally over time and her painful experiences with Crohn’s ceased completely.
Now, Shiryl is a certified fitness instructor, health coach, and ray of positive light to those around her. No longer will her weight or her suffering health hold her back — now, she finds joy in her life every day.
Just four years ago, Shiryl weighed 380 pounds. “I have been overweight the majority of my life,” Shiryl told The Daily Meal. “However, my weight really got out of control when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Crohn’s disease.”
Weighed down by her disease and her extreme obesity, Shiryl trudged painfully through her day-to-day.
In a word: terrible. Bingeing on sweets and gorging on fast food were a daily occurrence. “I used to go to the grocery store and I could eat a sheet cake in one sitting,” she said. “I could also eat icing out of the can. I used to eat fast food for every meal.”
“I was severely unhappy with my life and depressed,” she continued. “I realized that I was tired of being sick and tired, and that I was the only person who could change my current situation.”
So change is what she did. Four years ago, after deciding she was too sick and tired to keep surviving through her poor quality of life, she did something drastic. She became a vegetarian, which sparked a renewal of her lifestyle.
She began paying attention to the foods she was putting in her body. She learned to cook for herself and found that fast food and junk didn’t fit with her new vegetarian life.
“Looking back on it now, this was the best decision I’ve ever made with regard to my health,” she reflected years later. “After going vegetarian, I noticed that I wasn’t in pain anymore.” While vegetarianism isn’t for everyone, it truly helped Shiryl to tame her painful Crohn’s disease and pay attention to her eating habits. By cutting out meat and fish, her diet became more mindful and healthy — and she could immediately feel the difference.
Ever since her journey began four years ago, Shiryl hasn’t counted a single calorie. She represents real and lasting evidence that you don’t need calorie counting or restrictive dieting to lose weight.
“No magic pills, no teas, no waist training,” she says.
She was simply mindful of her choices. She learned to love cooking for herself. She stopped settling on fast food. She still eats treats and she still loves food.
She just started putting her health first.
Once her diet was making her feel a whole lot better, Shiryl was energized enough to get active. She had been mostly sedentary due to inhibiting pain from her disease — but once she was pain-free, she headed to the gym.
To ensure that her commitment would last, she started small. It’s crucial not to overdo it, especially if you’ve been absent from exercise for a long period of time.
“I started taking a boot camp-style workout class once a week,” she explained. From there, she slowly increased her activity to meet her current regimen.
“We all have different levels of fitness,” she explained. “You just have to be consistent and go at your own pace, but continue to push through any and all obstacles.”
Shiryl had a support system, as well. Her gym community gave her the tools she needed to learn to work out effectively and with proper form — this became an uplifting source of her motivation.
Weight loss that works involves finding a routine that works. And Shiryl has managed to keep her fitness routine for over four years. She never did sports in high school, and she never had a passion for fitness or “loved to stay active” growing up. Fitness did not come naturally — at least not at first.
Instead of struggling through painful workouts she would dread, she found the workout she loved. With those workouts, it felt natural and simple to stay committed.
“Make fitness fun again,” she preaches in her Instagram captions.
You don’t have to do everything at the gym; you just have to find your thing. Shiryl only ever does one type of workout: kettlebells.
Kettlebell workouts are often of a high intensity and involve a heavy weight. The weights themselves are hefty compared to most dumbbells, and can be used for a variety of compound strength movements such as swings, snatch and presses, and deadlifts. The compound exercises and heavy weight make these workouts a quick and effective combination of strength and cardio.
“My current exercise routine consists of a variety of kettlebell workouts. This is the only thing that I do,” Shiryl told The Daily Meal. “I work with a certified kettlebell instructor and he trains me three to four times per week for about 30 minutes to an hour.”
“I basically work out no more than an hour, three to four days a week,” she explains. “This is what works for me and my goals.”
The most important thing to consider when creating a fitness regimen that works is what actually works for you. She doesn’t overdo it with workouts. For her, three to four days is enough.
When you create a routine that not only fits your lifestyle but that you enjoy, it becomes second nature and you’re more likely to stay on track — just like Shiryl, you’ll be going strong four years later.
“I became a fitness instructor by chance,” she shrugged. “I was working out and the owner of the gym stated that I should teach fitness classes.”
At first, she wasn’t sure. Who would want to work out with someone who wasn’t in shape? she thought.
“The owner of the gym told me that I should teach because of my determination of not wanting to fail. He told me people would work out with me because I have a story to tell.”
And people did. Shiryl has now been teaching for over a year. “I can relate to what they are going through while working out,” she says. “My biggest motivation is everyone that I'm helping.”
“I used to reward myself with a sweet treat when I had a great workout,” Shiryll confessed. “Sometimes that treat would turn into something bigger.” This is all too common for people when they go on a diet — they feel restricted from the foods they enjoy and end up bingeing on them later as a “reward.”
She overcame it, though — simply by allowing herself treats occasionally and using other, non-food-related purchases to work as rewards instead. “I learned that I don't always have to reward myself with food,” she said. “At the end of the day it's mind over matter.”
She follows a daily mantra, one she preaches in all of her fitness classes, as well: “Your Journey, Your Pace, Your Way.”
Do what works for you — that’s her message. Torturing yourself with extreme dieting or slaving away hours at the gym won’t get you very far and you’ll be likely to bounce back. If Shiryl’s story tells us anything, it’s that everyone is different and everyone’s journey to health looks different, too. It’s your journey. It’ll go at your pace. And you can do it your way.
“You shouldn't compare your chapter one to someone else chapter 20.”
And she’s right. Beating yourself up for where you are now isn’t going to work — instead, appreciate the journey. Appreciate where you are and remember how proud you are of how far you’ve come. Shiryl doesn’t let imperfection hold her back. She doesn’t look like your typical fitness instructor, but she teaches anyway — and she’s great at it.
“When you're feeling like you can't do one more rep, or that you really want to eat a medium pizza,” Shiryl advises, “think about why you started your fitness journey and all the hard work that you have put in so far.”
Never discount your progress.
“I still have my kangaroo pouch and I look great!” she exclaims in a caption of her Instagram photo. In it, she’s wearing a swimsuit — confident and worry-free.
Yes, Shiryl still has body fat. No, her body doesn’t fit the typical “ideal.” But she’s still proud of it no matter its size or shape — she knows it’s healthy. It carries her through her workouts, it’s free of pain, and it carries her through life confidently. Why shouldn’t she be proud?
Learn to embrace every “imperfection.” Know that no person’s body is really perfect, and learning to appreciate your health instead of your appearance is the greatest transformation of all.
“I’ve been consistent for 4 years now. I have lost 172 pounds naturally.”
Shiryl never went on a strict diet. She never cut the amount of food she ate to feel full and never went hungry. She never counted a single calorie.
“My single motivation was to get healthy.” When your focus is health, and not just your image, that’s when the real magic happens.
Now, Shiryl doesn’t have any flare-ups from her Crohn’s disease. She is pain free and able to move, walk, and live.
“Going through life and not living because of your weight isn’t a good feeling. I’m comfortable at my current weight. I am 5’11” and I weigh 208 pounds. I’m able to LIVE.”