WHEN 37-year-old Revenue Assurance Manager Malene Carr-Mullings decided to tie the knot to then husband-to-be Anthony in 2010, she embarked on a weight loss journey that would change her life.
"I was five-feet-two-inches and weighed 165 pounds," Carr-Mullings confessed in an interview with the Jamaica Observer. "I wanted to lose the weight for my wedding and the wedding pictures. It was a goal I became serious about when I was about to be married," she said.
With her May wedding fast approaching, Carr-Mullings sought the assistance of a personal trainer and over a three-month period lost 11 pounds.
"At first, I was exercising on my own but I felt that I wasn't getting anywhere," explained Mullings. "My friends encouraged me to try a personal trainer. With the trainer I started a food journal, it was very strict and focused on the elimination of processed carbs, such as rice, flour and pasta, and more towards ground provisions. I had no sweets or juices, mostly water with lime."
With a structured programme in place, Carr-Mullings started seeing results.
"By the time for my wedding I had to change my wedding dress, and by September of that year, I lost a total of 30 pounds," she stated.
Satisfied that she had met her weight loss goal, Malene started a maintenance regime to keep the weight off. "I found that I was more comfortable working with a trainer and so in 2012 I started with a new trainer, Shanique Green, who took me to a more mature level of fitness training," Carr-Mullings said. "I continued to exercise four times per week and I maintained the change in my diet by being more consistent with it," she explained.
"My trainer Shanique, taught me acceptance of any mistakes, to get back up and keep moving; with Shanique I lost an additional 10 pounds," she went on.
She now weighs 122 pounds and Carr-Mullings admits that her weight loss journey has not been an easy feat.
"To this day, I have strong cravings and look at others who are eating high carb meals, begrudging at times," Carr-Mullings stated. "But you (must) think about the goals you have in mind."
She admits though that "cheat meals" helped her to maintain her sanity during her weight loss process.
"There is also an aspect that is called re-feed that is designed to boost your workout," Carr-Mullings explained.
A journey that started with a goal of losing weight for her wedding has transformed into a way of life.
"It becomes a lifestyle," quipped Carr-Mullings. "If I now eat certain items no longer a part of my lifestyle, for example oily foods, I may feel sick."
Today, the 37-year-old manages to balance her workout schedule with her busy work schedule at one of Jamaica's leading telecommunications companies.
"For the hours outside of work, I let that be my extra-curricular activity instead of going out," she shared. "Due to my work schedule, I shifted from evening to morning workout sessions, which for me, mornings are better.
"My body is at a much better place for workout, the gym is quieter and I am ready to take on the day," Carr-Mullings continued, adding that there is one school of thought that you burn more calories that are stored overnight, in the mornings.
With a personal quest to reach a higher level of fitness discipline, Carr-Mullings is currently training for a Body Building competition hosted by the Jamaica Amateur Body Building and Fitness Association (JABBFA).
"Based on my journey and getting to this point, I want to go to a higher level of discipline and see the best results that I can bring my body to," stated Carr-Mullings. "I am in the Body Fitness category which speaks to toning and overall musculature, appearance and skin tone," she added.
As part of her preparation for the July 4-5 competition, Carr-Mullings increased her training duration and intensity, which includes extended hours at the gym . She now works out twice daily and has also increased her protein intake, such as eating seven egg whites per day.
Carr-Mullings said that her husband has stood by her side throughout her journey.
"My husband has been very supportive and understanding of this goal," stated Carr-Mullings. "During the overall transformation, he would take progress pictures and prepare healthy dinners."
She also told the Sunday Observer that she is far removed from any fears of reverting to her old weight and lifestyle.
"My weight loss journey has become so much of a lifestyle that I can literally see how what you (do) today can affect you tomorrow," stated Carr-Mullings.
"I see myself continuing to focus on giving back aspects of all that I have learned and achieved from the various persons that have helped me," she declared. "Having become part of [outdoor fitness group] TrainFit Club, I am able to accomplish that.
"I would (also) like to be qualified as Group Fitness Instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America," Carr-Mullings added.
She is currently a part-time fitness instructor and has instructed at companies such as GraceKennedy, CB Chicken, Airport Authority, and Kier Construction. She is also the coordinator for TrainFit Club and has responsibility for organising road runs.