Inspiring Humans: Portia Harrison

Feeling a little down in the dumps today? Lacking motivation to go out and chase your dreams?

Not to worry, friends! I’ve got a hit of mid-week motivation for ya here with another installment of Inspiring Humans!

Today I’m interviewing Portia. Portia and I worked together in Manning Park a few years ago, and both of our lives are drastically different now than they were then. I tried to find a picture of us together but couldn’t, which is probably a good thing 😉

Not too long ago Portia posted a transformation picture on Facebook and I was so inspired by her! I had seen in her pictures that she was hittin’ the gym and was looking good, but it wasn’t until she posted that before and after picture that I realized how hard she had been working.

Portia is the mom of a gorgeous little girl, goes to school AND has a job, all while crushing her goal of improving her health. She is a true example of dedication and it just goes to show that if something is important to you, you will MAKE time for it.

So without further ado, let’s hear how Portia managed to transform her life and her body.

Before and after

Ariana Fotinakis: Congratulations on your 53lb weight loss! What motivated you to get started?

Portia Harrison: Thank-you!  I was working hard towards school and being a mom. I was so focused on planning for the future I had forgotten about the present. My family, the reason I was working hard for the future, was slipping away, and the stress just got to me.

I hit a rock bottom with my weight, appearance and my confidence.  A girl at school who I was not overly close with at the time had gotten a personal trainer and was looking for a work out buddy. I knew I had nothing to lose so her and I started to work out regularly. We are still work out buddies and have become best friends.

AF: What sort of lifestyle changes did you have to make to achieve this?

PH: At first I was just going to the gym. We made a plan to go 4 times a week and alternated between cardio and weight training. As I began to see results and get more into the healthy life style I began to examine and alter my eating habits. Now I think of it as a life style not a “diet”. I am always looking to improve in certain aspects of my health.

AF: How did you balance being a mom, a student, and having a job with your weight loss efforts?

PH: It was not the easiest but well worth it. Of course the gym had to have daycare available, and my daughter enjoys going there which is a plus. I am a big believer in meal prep, probably the most important part of my life style change. I’m not always in the mood to cook; when it’s already prepared for me there’s no reason to grab some fast food after school or work. Usually on Sundays I will meal prep for the week.

AF: Were there any surprising benefits you noticed once you lost the weight?

PH: I have gained confidence, I have never felt so good about myself before. I have never been this healthy and loved what I looked like. Now I look the way I feel. It has really made me more aware of who I am. Things like being able to wear the clothes you like because they finally look the way they should on your body really makes a difference in your confidence and the way you feel about yourself.

I have also become very interested in cooking. Every week I am online searching up recipes and gaining ideas on how to eat healthier. I was never very interested in cooking or very good at it. My meals still don’t always turn out the way they should but I have improved significantly.

AF: Were there any challenges you weren’t prepared for during your weight loss journey?

PH: One thing I learned is that people will never be happy, you’re either too fat or too skinny. Everyone assumes that you must be starving yourself to look like that. My grandma always tells me I’ve lost too must weight and must be sick. Yet my male cousin who works out like I do, but bulks up is doing an amazing job and she couldn’t be happier to work around his eating habits. There is always a double standard, all that matters is that you like what you see.

AF: How has your weight loss impacted others in your life? Do you find you’re inspiring them to make healthier changes?

PH: I’ve gotten a few of my friends to join the gym and at least try it out. They didn’t stick to it but that’s fine with me. I don’t want to force anyone to live my life style, it’s definitely something that someone has to do for themselves.

AF: What does a typical exercise routine look like for you?

PH: I like to mix it up a bit. I am a big fan of Zumba! I have taken a bit of a break from it because I think I over zumba’d but still one of my favourite forms of cardio. When I do weights I normally prefer free weights and I like to do a whole body work out compared to focusing on one particular part of the body.

I start with a 10 minute warm-up, usually on the elliptical. I do usually 3 arm, leg and ab exercises. Arms I do things like overhead extension or bicep curls.  Planking is one of my favourite ab exercises. I started off being able to do about 30 seconds now I can do over 2 minutes. There are also so many forms of the plank and you can really track your progress. Squats and lunges suck but are amazing for the legs.

AF: Did you focus on implementing any specific diet to achieve your weight loss?

PH: I count calories, I aim for 1200 calories a day but I do not count fruits and vegetables in my calories. No one ever got fat from fruits and vegetables! I aim for about 6 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I have a cheat day, sometimes two depending on the week I’m having.

The key is moderation, I have always had a bad relationship with food. I love food and I used to love to eat until I felt I was going to explode. Eating less and more often as well as keeping track of what I eat has made me more accountable of my eating habits.

AF: Do you have any new goals you plan on tackling?

PH: Right now I’m looking at what I’m eating. About 10 weeks ago I plateaued with my weight loss. That was fine with me, I was perfectly happy with my weight and appearance. About 3 weeks ago I had what I would have called a bad week of eating where I consumed more carb’s than usual. That week I lost weight again which I thought was really unusual.

I ate a lot of carbs when I was unhealthy, so when I began my life style change I really cut out most carbs from of my diet besides on cheat days as I knew they contributed to a lot of my weight gain.  Now that my body is a well fueled machine its needs carbs in order to have the energy to function properly.

My body needed carbs and I completely ignored that fact because I was so sure they were bad for me because of the amount of calories most carbs contain. It is really a learning process when it comes to your health because everyone’s body is different. There are so many opinions on what foods should be in your diet – don’t be afraid to try changing it up.

AF: What is one tip you would share with someone just starting out their own weight loss journey?

PH: Working out doesn’t have to be horrible. There are so many ways to exercise you just have to find the ways that you enjoy. I joined soccer because I wanted to be more active, I would not have thought soccer would have been for me but it’s now one of my most favourite things to do.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Portia! You’re an inspiration to those around you!

Remember, if you have anyone in your life you think has a great story to share, let me know about it! I would be happy to feature them! 


2 thoughts on “Inspiring Humans: Portia Harrison

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