It’s time for another body transformation interview! I’ve had the privilege of talking with Lyss Remaly. This incredible woman went from weight over 350 lb. to winning 1st place in a bodybuilding competition. She’s also the first person I’ve interviewed who used bariatric surgery to help her reach her goals.
Kevin: Lyss I’d first like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Please start things off by just telling us a little about yourself (where you live, family, occupation, etc.).
Lyss: I currently live in Scottsdale, Arizona. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois and made the move out here a few weeks ago for a new work adventure. I am the Senior Catering and Event Manager for Hilton Worldwide so I get to plan weddings and big parties! It’s a blast!
My amazing family is in Chicago. I’ve lived with them my whole life. Now that I’m on my own I find I’m naked a lot more than I used to be around the house!
Kevin: Based on the pictures I’ve seen you once weighed 350 lbs. Did you always struggle with your weight (since childhood) or was it a problem that developed later in your life?
Lyss: I was ALWAYS fat. When you’re a newborn and look like you have rubber bands on your arms and legs it’s cute. But when you’re 18 and look like that…not so cute!
Kevin: What was the turning point for you? What made you decide to begin your body transformation journey?
Lyss: I had what I call my “click moment” when I was 21 (December 11th, 2010). I was getting on an airplane from Las Vegas where I went to college to New York (I was auditioning for an off-broadway play). I literally could not fit into the airplane seat. The airline made me buy the seat next to mine just so I could fit. To make matters even WORSE, I had to be given an extender for the seat belt because it didn’t fit.
I was a crying mess and decided then and there that I HAD to change. I had a whole life in front of me that I was sabotaging. I couldn’t even put on my own bra or walk up a flight of stairs. Everything just clicked in my mind.
Kevin: You began with the help of bariatric surgery. I believe you are the first person I’ve interviewed that took this route (which makes me even more thankful to talk with you). What was that experience like? What advice would you give to those who are considering surgical intervention for their obesity?
Lyss: This can be a sensitive topic for some because some people are ignorant and just don’t understand the process. Bariatric surgery is exactly what you said…help. It’s not a quick fix, a magic pill or even the be-all end-all to successful weight loss.
Yes, the surgery gave me a violent shove in the right direction. But 5 months after surgery I had only lost 20 pounds. I realized that while I was eating far less, I was still eating the same crap foods that got me into that condition to begin with.
That was when I had my second “click moment” and realized that the food wasn’t the problem. It was just a symptom of the problem and it was up to me to really figure out what the problem was. THAT was when the real weight loss journey and transformation began because I had to work out my food demons. I had to come to grips with the the “why’s” of what I was doing and fix the bad habits that I had formed over 21 years of life.
Kevin: Not everyone who does weight loss surgery gets into intense, bodybuilding style training. What made you decide to do it?
Lyss: I have always been strong. My dad was built like a brick outhouse and passed those genetics to me and my little brother (thanks daddy-o). I HATE cardio: I always say that I’ll only run if I’m being chased, and even then I would try to negotiate!
I walked into a gym after I had my second “click moment” and literally went from machine to machine, figuring out how it worked, what muscles it worked, and seeing how much weight I could move. I FELL IN LOVE! I talked to all the “meat-heads” for advice, read everything I could get my hands on, and bought myself the Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. My life was totally changed!
When I got to my goal weight of 150 pounds in 2012 I looked at myself and said… “Okay…that was a fun challenge…what’s next? I’m going to compete in bodybuilding.” There it was. I put it in my mind and I didn’t stop.
Kevin: Did you experience any plateaus in your fat loss? How did you overcome them?
Lyss: Of course. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast when training for anything I think. I had to keep pushing, keep consistent, and find other ways to track my progress. Some weeks my strength or endurance improved or my clothes fit better even though I didn’t see the numbers on the scale go down. It was helpful to celebrate improvements in other aspects of fitness.
Kevin: What does your typical week like in terms of training and diet?
Lyss: I train 6 days a week and take one day of active rest. I work out using a body part split and on the active rest day I might swim or go for a long walk or hit the stair climber. I do some form of cardio every day since my job is pretty sedentary. I keep my diet very low carb and high protein. I follow a paleo type lifestyle where I have cut out all artificial sweeteners. I make my own condiments and spices and really focus on good quality fuel.
Kevin: What was it like for you to compete in a show?
Lyss: It was literally the GREATEST moment of my life. I loved every single minute of the process–from day ONE of prep to the moment I walked off that stage with a 1st place trophy in my hands.
Kevin: What’s next for you?
Lyss: I will be competing again in 2016 in August at the WBFF worlds in their transformation division. I may do a show before then here in Arizona since a year seems like a LIFETIME away! I am also focusing on finishing my book that I am writing about my entire journey. I’ve been working on it for two years and I’m DETERMINED to finish it by fall.
Kevin: Is there anything I haven’t covered that you’d like to say/share?
Lyss: I just want to take a second to thank you for the opportunity to share my story. It means more to me than you know to have the chance to share my journey with others. I promise…regular people are capable of doing incredible things…you just have to trust yourself, your body and be your own motivation.
Kevin: Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview!
Note: You can check out Lyss’ blog here: From Bariatrics to Bodybuilding (FitnFabuLyss.com).