At 256 pounds, Cheryl Shaw was understandably worried about her excess weight. And not just its effects on her health, either, but also in terms of the emotional toll that it was taking on her two kids.
“You know, I’m a single mom and they depend on me. I’m all they have,” confides Cheryl in an emotional YouTube video in May 2014. That vid, furthermore, has since been viewed over 2.5 million times.
But with a demanding job in the ER and a tendency towards “emotional” eating, the New Jersey native knew that the only way to lose the weight would be to take drastic measures. Fortunately, though, Cheryl was ready to do just that.
“I’m definitely an emotional eater and my daughter takes right after me,” Cheryl explains in that first video, as her voice cracks with emotion. “And I don’t want her to have a lifetime of this,” she adds.
Back in 2014, moreover, her 17-year-old daughter Tessa weighed 181 pounds despite being just five feet tall. “I knew it was time for a change for the both of us; we needed to start a healthy lifestyle and stick to it, not just for ourselves, but for each other,” Cheryl told Women’s Health in May of that year.
Emotional eating is defined as eating for comfort to counter feelings of anxiety or hurt. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that, over a one-month period, 38 percent of adults in the U.S. turned to unhealthy foods because of stress.
And as an ER technician who sometimes works 12-hour shifts, and a single mom to boot, it’s no wonder, perhaps, that Cheryl turned to the occasional sugary pick-me-up. But this was a habit that was about to be ditched forever.
Cheryl explained the mother/daughter team’s new eating strategy to Women’s Health. “Our diet changed to eliminate foods with sugar, up our intake of water, and we started to make our own healthy version of ‘fast food,’” she said. “All our meals are now prepared ahead of time.”
“I cook up a lot of chicken breasts and place them in a Tupperware container of cooked veggies and a huge container of raw spinach,” she continued. “This way, when it’s time to eat, we have our food with no last-minute choices that would lead to eating garbage.”
Cheryl and Tessa were inspired by the “Give it 100” movement, which sees members posting videos of things they’ve achieved – from learning to dance to spreading kindness through note-sending – over a 100-day period. Having an end goal in sight, the theory goes, makes reaching it a little bit easier.
“We’re sick of looking like this, and it’s time to get this weight off and work hard,” a determined-sounding Cheryl would go on to say, before high-fiving Tessa, in their own Give it 100 video. It was time, then, to begin their challenge.
What followed were almost-daily visits to the gym, after-work jogs in the snow and mother/daughter sparring matches. “My mom just worked 12 hours in the ER and we’re still gonna go for a run,” says a clearly motivated Tessa in the pair’s Give it 100 video montage.
Of course, Cheryl is only human – so, despite her determination, the occasional temptation proved too much. These were the days that she’d call her “cheat days.”
Post-pastry, however, her resolve was stronger than ever. “My little cheat day turned into two little cheat days,” she admits in the clip. “I gotta get back on track again.”
Soon, though, the women’s commitment started paying off. “Today is weigh-in day, and I lost five pounds,” Tessa reveals in the video before Cheryl cheerily interrupts, “And I’m down six!” A little friendly competition never hurt, right?
Tessa’s healthy new regime clearly had a positive effect on her self-esteem, too. “This morning we did our 70 squats, and my booty is looking phenomenal!” she giggles in the Give it 100 clip. But how much of a difference to the duo’s weight did the 100-day challenge really make?
Well, simply by changing their eating habits and exercising regularly, Cheryl dropped an awesome 42 pounds and Tessa shed a highly respectable 32. And since the pair’s YouTube video was made, they’ve lost even more, with the women sticking to the gym and attending boot camp training to keep the weight off.
What’s more, Cheryl and Tessa are clearly determined to stick with their healthy lifestyle. “We’re ready to take our fitness to the next level!” Cheryl enthuses at the end of their video. “Let’s do it!” she adds, with her equally resolute daughter whooping beside her.
Indeed, the mom-and-daughter team’s fitness regime is showing no signs of slowing down. “You must find an activity you love,” Cheryl told Women’s Health, “so make a plan to help you reach your goals. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”
You can continue to follow Cheryl and Tessa’s journey on their Facebook page, where mom and daughter share both their own story and others that motivate them. Keep up the great work, ladies – you’re an inspiration!