Flushing junior Alyssa Spangler has gone through a complete transformation over the past year, losing 50 pounds through diet and exercise.
“This October, it will be a year since I started. It was pretty much right after my brother died, and I kind of needed an escape,” Spangler said. “I started going to the gym with my roommates, and I fell in love with it. It was a place I could focus solely on myself.”
Exercise came naturally to Spangler. She was a power lifter in high school, where she holds records for squatting and dead lifting.
“Working out was the easiest, just getting in the gym and watching yourself get better,” she said. “I started out not being able to run a mile to running a 25K in Grand Rapids six months later. And I ran it in the under two-hour group. Not going to lie, I’m pretty proud of myself for that one.”
Having the will power to give up the unhealthy staples of a college diet, however, was not as easy.
“My roommates would want to go to Taco Bell at 1 a.m. and drink every night. When losing weight, you have to stick to a strict diet if you want to get results,” Spangler said. “I had to go from a normal college diet of Ramen noodles and fast food to eating chicken and asparagus with water. It’s still a struggle.”
Spangler has found ways to deal with her cravings by creating her own healthy alternatives to sweet treats.
“I found a recipe to make my own dark chocolate, and you can freeze Greek yogurt to make ice cream. That saves me to this day,” she said.
Despite the temptations, the end result she achieved was well worth the challenge.
“When I started seeing results and feeling better about myself, it was a lot easier to turn down pizza and ice cream,” Spangler said. “My clothes were getting looser and I was getting compliments. Little things like that made it easier.”
Today, Spangler proudly reflects on her journey and on how far she has come.
“I started off doing three hours of cardio every day. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I was just doing all cardio. I wasn’t eating as much as I should have,” she said. “Now, I eat six times a day and eat more food than three or four people combined. I’m also working out every day and making it a daily routine instead of looking at it as something I have to do.”
Spangler’s fitness routine includes 20-30 minutes of high-intensity interval training cardio per day, as well as lifting weights for different muscle groups. Although she tracked her initial progress, the numbers on the scale are no longer an issue for her.
“When I started out, my heaviest weight was almost 190 pounds. I ended up dropping 50 pounds,” Spangler says. “I don’t know my weight now. I try to avoid the scale because I’m happy with my body and I’m now focused on gaining muscle. And when you gain muscle, you gain weight.”
Looking toward the future, Spangler hopes to incorporate her newfound passion for all things fitness into her career by becoming a certified personal trainer and breaking into the competition world.
“I’m honestly happier than I have ever been. I feel amazing,” she said. “My body is doing things I never thought it could do.”