Emily Lavender - Before & After

How did you find The Studio (MDR) and when did you first start taking classes?

I first took class at The Studio (MDR) shortly after moving back to LA with my fiancé. I had gained weight after a lot of stress and struggles going on in my life and wanted to get back in shape before I started wedding dress shopping. My future sister-in-law had been taking classes at The Studio (MDR) and told me I had to try these classes. She brought me to my first class with Mary in February 2012.

What were your fitness (and other) goals when you first started?

Towards the end of college I gained a lot of weight, but I was able to lose it pretty quickly. I just didn't maintain the loss. So beginning of 2012 I found myself well over my "comfortable weight." I wanted to get back to 120 pounds by my wedding on August 10, 2013. After a little over a year at the studio (and 4 months until the wedding), I'm 123 pounds! I’ve lost 22 pounds! I am completely confident that I will surpass my goal for the wedding and I will not have the issues with maintaining my weight loss as I did in the past. I have learned a lot over the last year and have gotten in touch with a healthier me -- not just me temporarily on a diet. Now I'm addicted to the feeling of strength I get every time I'm in class, and I enjoy eating healthy, clean foods way more than junk food. It's more than the number on the scale or the jeans size I wear now; it's about living the healthy lifestyle that I've found.

What was your first impression when you took your first class? Were you hooked right away?

I think I was hooked even before the class started just by talking to Lindsay at the front desk and hearing her story. Then Mary showed me the Megaformer and I had no idea what I was in for! I couldn't believe what a challenge it was, and as soon as I was finished I couldn't wait to sign up for my next class. I don't think I'd ever been that sore in my life! I've never felt stronger than I do now and I feel like I'm up to any challenge. Whether it's a 5-minute plank or one of the ridiculous upper body classes, I know I have the physical and mental strength to get through it!

What have been some setbacks along your journey? How have you gotten back on track?

I pretty much used to never cook! My fiancé likes to cook, so I would eat what he made and ask him to make veggies instead of loads of rice and beans for me. But I never paid attention to how he was cooking anything, the amount of oil or salt. And if he wasn't cooking, we'd eat out. The biggest hurdle has been to get over my fear/hatred of the kitchen and learn to plan meals and cook!

What's your diet like? Did you clean up what you eat in order to reach your goals?

It took me a while to come around to what eating clean really means. Last year I was eating OK, but not clean, and I lost about 10lbs. Beginning of 2013 I realized that it was time to really evaluate my eating because I wasn't losing the weight that I was working so hard to lose. I focused on cutting out sugar and carbs and watching my sodium intake. That on top of drinking loads of water, and the weight started coming off fast! I cook at home the majority of the time now and always use salt-free seasoning. I try to avoid all processed foods and stick to lean proteins and veggies as the main staples in my diet. Not that that's all I eat, because it's not! But it's a good way of thinking when planning my meals for the upcoming day(s). What will be my proteins, what will be my veggies, and then what should I add on to reach a healthy balance for the day? Things like yogurt and berries, sweet potato, quinoa, and other foods that I can keep CLEAN! I finally feel like I've found a balance of being healthy and not feeling deprived.

Tell us a little about your upcoming wedding? Do you feel like you're ready? Has trying on dresses been more fun because you're loving the body you're in?

Wedding planning has been a lot of fun, and obviously I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect dress. As I went wedding dress shopping over the last year, I felt a little more comfortable each time. Now, I've lost another 10 pounds since I bought my dress and I can't wait to see how it looks! (Well, after the alterations!)