S1E7: Health, Weight Loss and Mindset Shifts with Leah Hope Mancuso


Hi Everyone! Today’s podcast episode is about a subject I know a lot of women struggle with…. How to get healthier, how to lose weight if desired, and most importantly, how to create long-lasting mindset shifts that improve your mental, emotional and physical well-being.  

I’ll share my own health journey story about how I changed my health drastically in the past year, along with a 45 pound weight loss. Plus, you’ll hear from my special guest as she shares her own journey to better health, including a 150 pound weight loss in a little over a year. In fact, one of her Tik Tok videos about her health journey has over 3 million views. Wow! 

We each had different methods, purposes and reasons for wanting to get healthier, including different rock bottom moments. Our goal here today is to give you hope that you also can start improving your life… one day, and one step at a time. So let’s get started!

Welcome to The Enneagram Girl Podcast, hosted by Alicia Larkey, a Certified Enneagram Life Coach & Relationship Coach. If you feel overwhelmed in your relationships and want to start feeling seen, heard, validated, and hopeful, you’re in the right place. Through thoughtful exploration and explanation of your Enneagram type, you’ll become more confident in your behaviors, emotions, intentions, and reactions.

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Health, Weight Loss and Mindset Shifts

Today’s podcast message is a slightly vulnerable one for me. I didn’t want to share it publicly because you open yourself up to other people’s opinions and scrutiny when you do. But I’m finding out that the more people I share my small story with, the more people it’s impacting to begin choosing better health in their own lives. So that’s worth it to me if it gives someone else the hope and motivation to begin. 

Setting goals to lose weight and become healthier, in addition to improving mental well-being,  emotional stability, and even spiritual fortitude… are some of the hardest goals that we as women go through. And it’s even harder when you go through it alone. 

So, my special guest and I wanted to share how we really leaned into a growing friendship and became each other’s biggest support system in the early parts of our health journey. 

But first, I want to state that neither of us pretends to have any sort of health degree, wellness qualifications, or weight loss expertise (other than our own personal experiences). We are not doctors, nor we don’t proclaim to have all the answers to what you personally should do with your own body. 

But, we both deeply believe in helping women in all areas of life, especially the areas we’ve done our own personal growth in. You don’t have to feel so alone in the more difficult seasons of life. Each of us has learned different lessons and gained wisdom in how to become healthier. 

Both of us had different paths to get here, while also supporting one another regardless of what sets us apart. In this process, we’ve become dear friends and health accountability partners. We hope to encourage you to find an accountability partner and begin your own journey.

My special guest today is my friend and colleague Leah Hope Mancuso. She is an amazing professional portrait photographer and business mentor right here in Scottsdale, Arizona. We initially connected via Instagram because we were in the same field as professional photographers. The first time we actually met in person was at a photography conference called  Showit United in 2015. Then we started talking a little more in DM’s on Instagram about all kinds of things… from work, to the enneagram, to the latest in pop culture, and so much more.

In spring 2022, one of those conversations was about health. We ended up sharing deep,  vulnerable things about how we were feeling physically. It turned out that that we both had just started personal health journeys towards losing weight so that we could be healthier in all areas of our lives, from the inside out. We ended up talking almost every day after that and supporting each other as we navigated the highs and lows of losing weight and creating new, sustainable habits. We both wanted to take slow steps and not repeat past dieting mistakes. 

There’s so much more in a health journey than just watching the number on the scale go down. And because we both believed that, it felt safe to get honest and vulnerable with one another. 

Today, we’re each going to share our personal stories about how we have continued to keep our health and body’s well-being at the forefront of our lives, almost like its our full time job. And how that in turn has affected other important areas of our lives.  

So, if you’re ready for some hope and encouragement today… then let’s bring in my friend Leah! 

I know we are both ready to talk about the REAL stuff when it comes to health, weight loss and mindset shifts. The hard stuff that made us both say ‘enough is enough’. We each like to refer to that moment in our lives as our “rock bottom moment”.

So, let’s share that moment, or series of moments, where we felt like “I REFUSE to continue feeling like this. I’m done. I don’t know where to start or how to start, but I’m going to try something, anything.” 

And even though that’s not the exact conversation in our heads, it was the FEELING we had. 

I’m sure a lot of people listening can relate to this and might be feeling that “enough is enough” time in their own lives right now. So, let’s give them some hope, shall we? Why don’t you go ahead and start us off. Will you please share your ‘rock bottom’ moment first.

Leah’s Health Journey

Yes, I’d love to! I’ve spent the majority of my life in a larger body, even at almost 400 pounds. I almost felt comfortable in my discomfort, which shouldn’t be surprising to any other enneagram nines out there. It wasn’t even until the last few years that I really started to notice how much harder I was making things for myself, simply because of my size.

It was in late 2021 and early 2022 that I realized I was at a place where something had to change, but I still just wasn’t ready to drastically alter my entire life. That is, until my personal, rock bottom moment.

My rock bottom moment came from one of your absolute favorite places in the world Alicia…. Disneyland. I went to Disneyland with my sister, brother in law and nephew in March of 2022. I remember being nervous because I knew that I was at the biggest size I’d ever been going to Disneyland or any amusement park. So, I was worried my body wouldn’t be able to handle it, but I also didn’t want to miss out on this experience with my 3 year old nephew, Lincoln. And I should also mention that becoming an aunt has been the greatest joy of my life up until this point, and it has been a huge motivating factor in changing my life.

I knew that I wanted to get healthier for him so that I could be around for him longer, but I had yet to start making choices that reflected that.

But on this day at Disneyland was the final straw for me. I got a migraine a few hours into the day. My feet hurt, my back hurt, I was profusely sweating, I was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t fit on some of the rides… and actually had to use a difference entrance for rides that had a turnstile because my body couldn’t fit through it. 

It was anything but the happiest place on earth for me that day.

I had to spend the last couple of hours of the day, sitting at a table on Main Street, with my eyes closed and head down, so I didn’t make my migraine worse, while my sister and her family were soaking up every moment in the park. 

The whole drive back to where we were staying I was focusing on not throwing up from the migraine and regretting going at all. Honestly, I was feeling stupid for thinking I would be able to enjoy the day. I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity with my nephew, but I ended up feeling completely defeated.

After that I knew I had to do something drastic for myself, I could not keep living this way. I was missing out on too much and wasn’t living anywhere close to my potential, and the kind of life I dreamed of and hoped for. So, I started researching weight loss retreat centers because I knew I couldn’t do this alone. I had tried it alone my entire life and was never successful. I knew I needed something different. I got to the point where I realized staying the same was going to be harder than making the changes I needed to make.

A few days later, on my birthday actually, I woke up, started scrolling TikTok, which admittedly is not the healthiest way to start the morning, and stumbled on a song called “Fat Funny Friend.” This song is about what it’s like to live your whole life feeling less than, feeling like you’re not good enough and never feeling like you fully belong or fit in all because of your size. I listened to this song in my bed and sobbed. Like truly, sobbed. And remember, this is my birthday. What a way to start a birthday, right?

I was crying because this song made me feel so seen but also reminded me how alone I really felt. I was someone who never talked about my weight struggles. Even if with my closest family and friends. I tried to pretend like it didn’t exist. And if I didn’t bring it up, no one would notice, or at least that’s what I told myself. I spent most of my life living in denial and pretending like everything was fine because that was easier than addressing the root of it all and being affected by it. It also drives me crazy when people complain about something they have the power to change. So, I never complained about my weight or size. Literally, never once. Because I didn’t want anyone to remind me that I could do something about it if I wanted to. I never wanted to bring attention to my size, which ultimately left me feeling lonely. And I didn’t even realize it until I listened to that song, crying alone in bed, on my birthday.

That same morning, I decided to do something about what I was feeling. I called Skyterra Wellness, the weight loss retreat that I decided would be the best fit for me after spending days researching dozens of retreat centers, and I put down my deposit for my summer stay. I had an upset stomach for the rest of weekend because I was so nervous about this huge decision, I made to commit to 6 weeks of working on my physical health, across the country, with a bunch of strangers. Even though I was anxious, I also somehow still felt at peace about it. And that is when everything changed for me. Or should I say, that is when I changed everything.

Alicia’s Health Journey

My rock bottom moment was after a doctor appointment on March 23, 2022. That was about 14 months ago and that day woke me up. 

Well… let’s me back up just a bit. My friend and I made a pact as one of our New Year’s Goals to book all the doctor appointments that we were behind on. And when I say behind, I’m talking many years of not going to the doctors. We both knew we needed to face our fears, and take better care of ourselves. But this pact ended up being life changing for both of us as I discovered some unexpected health challenges, and she discovered a huge life changing illness. 

From annual physicals, to gynecologist check ups, to mammograms, to dermatologists for strange moles, heart check ups, etc. Me in my 40’s and her in her 50’s. 

I hadn’t been to my gynecologist in 6 years. I hadn’t done a mammogram in 7 years. I hadn’t done blood work or a physical in longer than that. The squishing, the prodding, the poking, the results, it all scared me. Plus, I knew I had gained weight faster than I had anytime before in my life. But, didn’t everyone gain some weight during the stressful year 2020? Plus, I’m in my 40’s and knew that’s just par for the course.

So, I went to my dr appt because of this pact. It was to the Gynecologist. But before even saw her, I got the wake up call when I stepped on the scale. I had gained way more weight than I even believed over the past 6 years. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  I was so disappointed in myself… not just cause of the way-higher number on the scale… which was awful enough, but because everything else I felt disappointed in flashed before my eyes… all the times I was so out of breath even just cleaning the house, or when it was painful on my knees to walk up the stairs because I was carrying so much extra weight, or how I didn’t desire to go do outdoor physical activities anymore like I did in my 20’s and 30’s when I was super active. I used to play tennis, taught dance classes, loved going to pilates, went hiking with friends, played with my kids, rode roller coasters with no back pain, and so much more. And I was no longer doing those things as much because of the weight gain. 

I also realized the biggest change was because I had opened my own business at age 40 and didn’t understand how sedentary my life had become because of it. As a professional photographer, there is so much more sitting involved than you would think. It’s because of culling through photos, editing images, sending a million emails, building a website and maintaining a social media presence for marketing, creating wedding magazines, guides, sending contracts and invoices, etc. There is so much more work than just photoshoots and wedding days. Being a business owner is highly stressful, especially when that business is booked and busy.

I was a Stay At Home mom for 17 years before this. As a mom of 3, I was always at my kids events or volunteering in classrooms and doing ALL the things, all the time. I hadn’t realized the overwhelm and sedentary lifestyle of those past 6-7 years and how that had affected my physical health and overall mental well-being. Plus, the chaos of emotions that 2020 brought us all in the middle of it. I handled a lot of that stress through m&ms and take out. I ate my emotions for that first year of covid life. And I know I’m not alone in saying that. 

So all that stuff just rushed right to the surface when I looked at the scale. I felt disappointed in myself.  Then, the nurse said… time to check your blood pressure next. And that was even worse than being on the scale it turns out. I basically was one point away (or whatever you call the measurement of blood pressure)…. away from needing to go to the hospital and get on meds. It was terrifying. Plus, all I could think about was how both my parents and brother had high blood pressure and all 3 of them lived on daily medications for it. I didn’t want that to be my life. I didn’t take medication for anything. 

I knew in that instant I couldn’t make any more excuses. I needed to wake up and fix this.

As an enneagram two, I knew that even if I wouldn’t do it for myself, then I must to do it for my family. I want to be around for their future, and to be a cute grandma someday. My doctor wanted me to do some blood tests to check everything out because of the weight gain and blood pressure, but I chickened out and left. That was enough bad news for one day. 

On the way home, I Marco’d my friend to tell her about it. (Marco is a video messaging app). 

I tried to make jokes about it at first, like I often do when I’m uncomfortable. But, then I just burst into tears and told her everything I was feeling, including how disappointed I was in myself. I sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed. Ugh, it makes me almost cry now, remembering how painful that drive home was. I actually saved that video and have watched it twice in the past year and it hurts my heart every time I do because I know how alone that girl in the video felt at the time. How defeated, disappointed, & sad I felt. 

It wasn’t just about what I looked like, or what the scale said. I just kept thinking about all the other things that gaining SO much weight was stealing from me. I wasn’t sleeping well through the night, I wasn’t playing tennis or fun recreational things with friends. I couldn’t wear my favorite dresses on trips. I was living in leggings and pj pants most days and wasn’t putting myself in pictures with my family as much. Worst of all, my wedding ring is actually 2 rings that aren’t sauntered together and I could only wear one because it was too tight to wear both. I felt so ashamed as a wife that I wasn’t wearing both my rings anymore just because I was living a sedentary, checked out existence when it came to food and fitness. 

So, after I bawled my soul out on that call to my friend, I knew enough was enough. I wanted so badly to feel like my old vibrant self again. So the next day, I changed my life. 

The Pieces of Your Health Puzzle

Gosh, we’ve both come so far! A lot of people have rock bottom moments like we did… and usually put off starting til January 1st or some other future date.  You and I have done that a million times & failed.

So why did this time work for us? How did we start with the smallest of actions, and little shifts in our mindsets in those early days…. and how were we able to keep the consistency and momentum in those first 3 or 4 months that eventually got us to where we are today, just over a year later. 

Let’s talk about the small pieces of our health puzzle. We’ll share the systems we’ve put in place, the habits we decided were non-negotiable, the routines we built and the support systems and experts we added into our lives. Let’s talk how some of our goals weren’t even about the scale itself. They were more about living an intentional life and not feeling shame anymore. We didn’t want to give up after a day, a week or a month. We knew it was about so much more than eating less food and moving more. 

How did you start changing your life, one day and one step at a time? 

Leah’s Pieces of the Puzzle

Every other time I have tried to lose weight or get healthy in the past, I was an all or nothing type of person.

This time I wanted to try the opposite approach. So, I started small. 

The first month I started by simply writing down what I ate and trying to eat more nourishing foods. I didn’t eliminate any foods, but rather focused on what healthier options I could add in. I also didn’t start immediately tracking calories, I began just being mindful of what I was eating by writing down everything I ate in a food journal.

When it came to activity, my body felt like it had a lot of limits. I was nearly 400lbs and knew moving my body would be the hardest part for me. Before I started this health journey, I built my life and my days to be as easy as possible for myself. And that included moving as little as possible. I use to actually save trips to the kitchen until I had more than one thing to do in there because thinking about walking to the kitchen twice felt exhausting. That is what I was up against when deciding to start moving my body more.

So, I started by walking just 10 minutes a day in my backyard, because I was too embarrassed to walk through my neighborhood. I didn’t want anyone to see me struggling for breath or see how slow I needed to walk. I was just terrified that anyone who saw me would be judging me. When I say walking for 10 minutes, I mean literally just leisurely walking for 10 minutes. 

Eventually, I started adding more steps wherever I could, for example…like marching in place in the kitchen while waiting for my coffee to brew. I continued to walk every day and within a few weeks that 10 minute walk turned into a 20 minute walk and then a 30 minute walk. 

The more I moved, the more I realized how I was more willing to expend more energy throughout the day. It always felt counter intuitive to me. How could moving more make me want to move more, wouldn’t I be exhausted? But I was proved wrong. The more I moved my body, the more I realized my body was capable of doing more. It wasn’t always easy. My body was also very tired and often sore in those first few months. But somehow even while feeling tired and sore, I also felt energized and strong.

While I walked I listened to a podcast called Inspired Intentions by Skyterra Wellness Retreat. This is the retreat I found when researching a place where I could go to get help losing weight in a healthy way. I ended up booking a stay for July and August in late March. But, I didn’t want to wait until then to start making changes.

So in order to prepare myself, I started moving and educating myself by listening to their podcast. And I was not a podcast person at the time, it just wasn’t my thing, but their podcast turned me into a podcast person. The motivation, inspiration and education I received from their episodes helped me keep walking every day.

That podcast is what helped me make so many mindset shifts that I needed to make in order to turn this into a lasting change. They helped me see the all or nothing mindset, basically perfectionism which was no surprise because I have a One wing. They helped me realize how that was keeping me stuck, and that I needed to approach this as a permanent lifestyle change, rather than a temporary diet just to reach a goal. It also helped me really hone in on my why. Why am I doing this in the first place? What does getting healthier really mean to me? And having a strong why that doesn’t revolve around what we look like… that was really important to me. Just as important as not being so focused on the scale number, because I knew that would be discouraging if I was disappointed in what the scale said. I didn’t want to give up just because of a number. Changing from the inside out was more important to me. 

It reminds us why it’s worth it. Why we’re worth it.

Alicia’s Pieces of the Puzzle

You are worth the time and energy to just start. Don’t give up on yourself, no matter how many days you might fail. Get up and try again.

There’s so many things I want to share here that helped me get started. My main goal is to give every one of you hope so that you can pick any of these things we are talking about and just begin. It does not require you overhauling your entire life. You don’t have to make a big complicated plan. It doesn’t all happen in one day or even one month. Figure out one thing at a time and commit to that, and then build on it over time. 

I went back to the beginning of my health journal so I could remember all the ways I started. The first thing I want to share, and it might surprise you… I decided I wasn’t going to weigh myself at all. I knew I would be disappointed by the numbers no matter what they said. Needing to lose 45-50 pounds felt extremely overwhelming. So I knew this had to be about those other goals, or the people in my life, and about the things that I was missing out on. So I picked one thing to think about that first night after the doctor appointment. I decided I needed to dump my M&M bag into the trash and never buy them again. I let myself keep everything else in relation to food, but picked that one thing. I didn’t do one of those big grand plans like I had in the past. When I did those, I always gave up after the first failure point.  

I just said… girl, you gotta stop eating M&M’s at your desk. No more snacking mindlessly while you work. I had the Costco sized bag of M&M’s at my desk, and replaced it every time it ran out. 

And until this moment, I hadn’t realized how often I was grabbing a handful of them. Whether it was in the morning before my breakfast or after a meal as a treat or in addition to all those hours I worked at my desk. Something about dumping those M&M’s in the trash that day and saying I would never buy them again felt like I took back my power from the unhealthy lifestyle I’d created.

I’ll have you know I’ve never had one single M&M since then. So by taking away only ONE of my favorite treats, it wasn’t as threatening to quote “fall off the wagon”. There was nothing to rebel against. I eventually started removing more treats from my choices.

The next thing I decided was that I was going to walk for 30 minutes that next morning. I didn’t make it a big thing with pressure. I just said “whenever you wake up tomorrow, go take a 30 minute walk at someplace you enjoy (which was Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter for me). I was out of breath and slower than I thought I was going to be of course, but I didn’t let that stop me. I kept reminding myself that it didn’t matter. My only rule was 30 minutes of walking. I could walk at a snail’s pace and it would still count. I could sit on a bench for 10 minutes, and pause the time if I needed. But there would be 30 minutes of actual walking. And guess what, I actually did 45 minutes! I loved how it felt.

It awakened something in me, especially because I didn’t draft this whole plan and worry about a ton of rules I might fail on. The next morning after that, I was so excited for my walk and actually did 50 minutes. Throughout that day, I kept doing a little marching in place, or getting up to grab something. I started moving more, taking the stairs, and parking farther without frustration.

As the day went on, I checked the Fitbit that I’d just bought and realized I could make it to 10,000 steps if I did this again the next day. It felt amazing when I actually did it! I was getting around 2,000 steps a day in those few years before this. What a life-changing decision this became. Please don’t discount these small changes. They are major and shifted our perspective on being able to truly succeed over time.  

So I made these my only goals…. No m&m’s, walk 30 minutes every morning, move 10k steps a day. I didn’t track calories, cut carbs or any of those hard-to-do things when you first start something like. Some days I only got to 6,500 steps in. Some days I didn’t go on the walk.

But I didn’t treat this time like a diet that I was failing. I just knew I had to do this every day for the rest of my life like a job. That kept me focused on doing what I could every single day, instead of worrying about what I couldn’t do or didn’t want to do.

By week four, I hit seven days of 10,000 steps for the first time. As an enneagram Two with a strong 3 wing (that craves achievement and success), I felt so happy and proud! I really leaned into understanding my core motivations of my enneagram type and wing.

In the first couple weeks, I could already see a difference in the mirror, especially looking less bloated. I wasn’t weighing in so I didn’t know about the weight, but I knew I felt a million times better and had so much more mental energy. My emotions felt more balanced, I felt less impatient. I was breathing a little easier and sleeping better for the first time in years. That was all just in one month of consistent changes… with no aim at scale-confirmed weight loss, and without forcing myself to change my entire nutrition plan. This was all done in baby steps. 

I realized I had started making small food changes when I went out to eat or picked up something from the grocery. This was by choice because of how I was feeling. I had started eating breakfast, which I was terrible at before. But because I was having these walks now, I actually had an appetite in the late mornings, for the first time in a decade. So I ate toast, a banana and scrambled eggs. I was choosing fruit more often. These started becoming natural choices because I felt better when I changed the small things. I wasn’t craving candy bars or cookies or treats anymore, which I’d been eating all the time in the years prior to this.

I ordered a salad at my favorite place, instead of the pasta, by choice. And it actually felt filling and yummy. It was even better because it wasn’t a requirement, it wasn’t a rule I made for myself. This was not a diet. It was a choice to not have high blood pressure and to do everything possible to start wearing the other half of my wedding ring again.  I didn’t track calories. I was more motivated by wanting to hike again, play tennis again, fit into my favorite clothes and want be in pictures with my family again. 

I didn’t know when I’d get those things in my life back, but I knew they were guaranteed at some point. And that motivated me more than making excuses to not get up and move. My only requirement was to walk for 30 minutes per day and aim for 10k steps. On the days I couldn’t do it, I didn’t beat myself up or believe I ruined some big plan. I actually just told myself… this is for life. This is forever, so you will have days you can’t go. But don’t let them be two days in a row.

The funny thing was that I actually felt I missed walking on days I didn’t go. I missed being outdoors and all the sounds and the people. When my grandmother died a few weeks into my health journey, I thought I wouldn’t want to get up and go walk after a night of tears and sadness. But the walk made me feel her presence and helped me process the enormous pain of losing her. I know people always talk about how fitness makes them feel better mentally, but I hadn’t really experienced that. But during that season of grief, I experienced that value. Simply walking helped me process through the emotions I used to turn to m&m’s or tv for. I can’t express this enough… if you are in a hard season of life, please give yourself the gift of a walk. Do it for the peace and the time to breathe and be present. It’s priceless.

The other thing that naturally started changing was my sleep time. Because I started getting up to go for these walks everyday at 8am, my body was getting more tired at night. I would atry to have lights out by 10pm or 11pm. For years, I had stayed up til 1am or 2am working, culling, editing, or just having stress insomnia. Now, my body was naturally getting sunshine in the morning, which improved my melatonin patterns without even realizing it. Sleep is the BIGGEST game changer in life that will help you lose weight and keep it off. I didn’t really believe that until having gone through all of this. 

I started treating my time more valuably. I started saying no to things that took away my time or made me feel overwhelmed because I knew I wanted to conserve all this wonderful new energy for my family, for myself and my clients. I unknowingly became so much more intentional with my time and was able to focus when I worked… instead of wasting hours scrolling social media or comparing myself to others. Treating this weight loss journey like a job made me prioritize myself and health. As an Enneagram Two, that was always a challenge for me because we prioritize others first. Especially as a mom to three kids and as a dedicated wife.

A few other things that I naturally gravitated towards as I made other small changes were:

Realizing that if I was eating past 7pm, that my stomach hurt more when I went to bed. I’d never realized that before so I eventually added a 6:30pm cut off time for eating dinner. That was huge game changer in falling asleep easier. I forgave myself if I couldn’t do it , and then did it the next until it was a habit. That’s the point here… don’t give up once you start. Nothing is broken.

I gave myself permission to start small when it came to food changes. I started with condiments. LOL. Anyone who knows me will tell you that chips and salsa are what I eat most. So over that next week, I scoured the grocery store shelves and compared all the salsa labels to see which ones had the best natural ingredients in them. I bought 3 of them to try and narrowed down to my favorite and still use it to this day (shout out to Trader Joe’s salsa). And because I liked that experience of feeling proud changing just my salsa, I did the same thing with my ketchup, jelly, ranch, peanut butter and breads. I ended up loving Dave’s 21 grain bread and still eat it to this day. I never have to worry about not eating those condiments I enjoy because they are the healthiest and tastiest options. I eventually did the same with chips, popcorn and protein bars, although I don’t snack even half as much as I used to. I picked 1-2 things a week and went to a grocery store and looked at every option. Did a taste test on the best two, and voila! 

As far as restaurants or fast food, I noticed I was naturally WANTING to order healthier things as my body started feeling better and my clothes started fitting better. Nothing was off limits to me. I just made different choices more often. Eventually, I ate great about 75% of the time.

I loved walking so much and the peace it brought to my heart and mind. I even sometimes walked twice per day, in the morning AND in the evening, especially when I could get someone to go with me.

By week 6, my friend encouraged me to do an in-body assessment. I didn’t want to see the weight because I knew it’s never what you want it to be. But it was exciting to see I had lost 16 pounds in those first 6 weeks!

And while 16 pounds doesn’t feel like a lot when you need to lose 50, I could SEE the big changes in my body, and most importantly FEEL how different my life was. That’s when I knew my mind was forever changed about how I viewed my body and my thoughts about weight loss. It was more about how I felt and all the energy I now had, instead of about how I looked on the scale.

Motivation had nothing to do with it. Some days it was so hard and I hated it. But, I just stuck with consistency and habit, no matter what. Consistency is the most important word in my vocabulary now. With consistency, I can literally do anything I want in life. I’ve even been applying consistency to some work things lately and am seeing some small business dreams slowly come true. I look forward to seeing their results next year.  

I have so many more things I want to share about the initial small changes I made in those first few months, but I know we are limited on time. I do want to tell any of you listening that if you need someone in your corner to help you get started or to talk over those initial first steps to change, I’d love to be your Life Coach and Accountability Partner. I can’t help you with weigh ins or medical advice. But I can listen to the frustration of being stuck and feeling defeated and disappointed in where you are right now. I can help you have hope and start setting goals and seeing a bigger picture full of possibility. I can be your encouraging partner and a place where you can be accountable to yourself and honest about what you’re going through. If you need that in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at AliciaLarkey@gmail.com to book a Life Coaching session or through my website at AliciaLarkey.com

It’s so hard to narrow down in one interview these important things that changed my life. And those are only the starter things. I know we both had bigger things that helped us as we got deeper into our journey of health. 

Leah’s People, Places and Systems

I eventually decided that tracking my calories and weighing my food would be the best option for me. I know this is something that doesn’t work for everyone. But I personally had no idea how many calories I was actually eating before. So, tracking my food helped me educate myself on how many calories and how much protein are in certain foods. This is also what helped me make sure I was in a calorie deficit since that is basically the one thing all weight loss experts agree needs to happen in order to lose weight. I also added in occasional, at home, strength training. I mostly did body weight workouts only like squats, wall push ups, planks and sit ups. I had 7lb dumbbells that I used for some bicep curls, but mostly kept it to bodyweight only.

I went to my retreat over the summer and worked out with a trainer and in a group setting for the first time in my life. It was scary and intimidating, but it was so good for me! It was simultaneously the hardest summer and the absolute best summer of my life. The retreat is also where I found a love for pickleball. I didn’t think I would ever find an exercise or activity that I actually craved, I thought I would just have to suffer through exercise the rest of my life. But I really do crave playing pickleball, it is so fun for me. I’m so grateful I found this sport I love that is now a regular part of my life! 

I could cry thinking about how blessed I feel to have a way to stay active that brings me true joy! It’s something I would want to do even if it didn’t burn any calories at all. And that means so much to me.

I eventually started weighing myself every day. This is something that I don’t recommend to everyone. And I didn’t start out doing this. For the first 6 months I only weighed myself once a month. This was so important for me because even though I knew I was changing, it helped encourage me to see that weight loss was happening on the scale too. If I would have been weighing myself daily or weekly at the beginning, I don’t know if I would still be on this journey. I would have seen multiple times the scale being up or not changing, and that might have discouraged me enough to give up. Weighing monthly was what I needed in the beginning.

But then I started getting curious about when in the month I was actually losing weight. I knew that with women’s hormones you can often see fluctuation on the scale and I wanted to learn when my body was naturally up and naturally down so that the number on the scale wouldn’t make or break me. I wanted to take away its power.

I learned that my body can fluctuate up to 10 pounds depending on where I am in my cycle. Literally, I’ve seen my weight go up 10 pounds in one week and then it goes back down. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not thrown off or discouraged when I see the number go up because I know it’s just part of how my body responds to hormone changes throughout the month. I can understand that it’s water weight or inflammation and know that if I have stayed the course and kept up with my calorie deficit, it isn’t actual fat gain. Every month there’s about 2 1/2 weeks where I don’t lose weight or the scale just goes up. That’s a long period to not see results when you’re putting in the work. But then the next week and a half, I see the scale go down. It also helps me to realize that one day isn’t going to throw everything off. My body isn’t actually losing or gaining weight each day, it’s more gradual than that and doesn’t always happen like I would expect it to. Although weighing yourself daily is not for everyone, for me it has been a great tool when it comes to learning more about my body, and also shifting my mindsets around the scale and what true progress really means.

Something else that was important to me was to check on my hormones and make sure that I was losing weight in a healthy and optimal way, so I decided to hire a hormone specialist. I also have been seeing a naturopath throughout this whole process who helps me find supplements specifically for me and my body. This has been such an important part of this journey for me because it helps me focus on getting healthy from the inside out.

Alicia’s People, Places and Systems

I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to sharing the biggest game changers in my health journey. Those first initial months were the small ways. Then I got serious and committed. I’ll start with the first one that I believe made the biggest impact on making me feel ‘safe’ in my weight loss path. That was Orange Theory. But, it’s not because of what you think it is. It’s not because of the classes, although they are amazing and I highly recommend them as a workout. It was their OT band. That’s basically their version of tracking your heart weight, calories, steps, etc (like a Fitbit or your Apple watch). There are 5 levels of your heart rate (gray, blue, green, orange, red). I don’t want to take up a whole hour on this so if you want to know more, google Orange Theory’s methods. But, as someone who was still carrying an extra 40 pounds, I was always nervous about breathing so hard in my workouts. I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack sometimes. The OT band helped me feel safe because you could see which zone you were in. In those early days of my first month at Orange Theory, I felt ‘safe’ only in Blue Zone so I stayed there and learning to trust my body. After I felt comfortable there, I would work a little harder into green zone and not go past that. Orange Theory’s zones helped me trust working out and learn how my body was reacting to working out, in a way I needed to understand. Eventually I got brave enough to go into Orange Zone. I wasn’t there to compete with others, or even myself. I was there to learn that my body was more capable than I had remembered. Soon enough, I was an expert in heart rate zone training and still use it in every workout these days. Without Orange Theory and that band where I could watch the colors change on my phone while I did my walks and other workouts, I don’t know where I’d be. So if you’re scared to workout because you feel like you’re going to pass out, try something like this method to learn how your body works with movement. It was a game-changer for me.

After starting to feel more comfortable moving my body and pushing myself harder using heart rate training, I knew what my next step had to be. It had to be hiring a personal trainer. I knew I needed someone who would be slow and intentional with me, and truly listen. I needed an encourager, a cheerleader, not a yeller or tough cookie. So I decided to join Lifetime Fitness and met my favorite person to spend all my mornings with… my personal trainer (and dear friend now) Maya. I started personal training with Maya in August 2022 and she has taught me so many things I didn’t know, in addition to our actual working out. She helped me finally understand what protein really does for you, and how to use carbs. I know this will sound like I’m dumb, but even learning what some muscles were called and how they were used and how to build them specifically. I’d never really cared or paid attention to that stuff before. I was always super active with sports and activities and a social life, not weight training. This is now an area where I could spend hours talking about what the past 10 months of off and on training at Lifetime with Maya have been in my life. But, I want to sum it up with how I knew as an Enneagram Two, I needed to be committed to someone else in the beginning. I wasn’t to a place where I was doing it for me yet. So, again, I want to encourage any of you out there listening who know you NEED that other person so you’ll stay committed… go to your local gym, ask for the ‘nice’ trainer who will hear you and go at your pace in the beginning. Learn to trust them. Build that relationship. Tell them you need to build that trust and relationship. It’s life changing. Maya is a non-negotiable in my life. Yes, we take some breaks through the year.. like at the holidays, etc, but my strength training sessions are building that future cute grandma self that I want to become… the woman a couple decades from now who is strong and active and has endurance and the freedom good health gives. So, I can’t recommend personal training enough. And if you are in the Scottsdale, AZ area and want the best trainer there is, reach out to me and I’ll put you in touch in Maya at Lifetime Fitness north Scottsdale.

Another huge part of my weight loss and mental growth success has been the 75 Hard program. I don’t want to spend too much time explaining it, but you can google 75 Hard and see what the program is. It’s 5 simple steps, but the commitment and mental fortitude aspect is the thing that is life changing. I adjusted when needed during my first 75 Hard phase and saw big results physically, but most importantly mentally and emotionally from it. The mental growth you will go through is not like anything else. It’s equivalent to personal training, but for your mind. I’m currently on Day 8 of phase two of 75 Hard, so clearly it’s had a big effect on me. I plan to do this at least 2-3 times every year for the rest of my life just to reset my mind.

The big game changer was my people of course. Without my husband Matt being my encourager and gym driving partner most days, it just wouldn’t have been as fun to go to the gym. Plus, Leah as my accountability partner was incredibly important. I also want to shout out my Besties squad. They’ve been there this past year for me in the sweetest of ways… even my bestie Suzanne bringing me flowers to celebrate my One year Healthiversary. I plan to celebrate every year because I have a better future because of it. As an Enneagram Two, I’m very motivated by connection and being accountable to people outside myself. My closest friends have helped me in those heart-based ways. I also consistently work on my own enneagram personal development to stay on track, to grow my blind spots, and am careful not to let fear of being selfish for spending the time on my health or emotional setbacks keep me from giving myself this gift of a healthy life.

We all know there will be tough days no matter how hard we try to have a plan in place. Whether that’s getting sick, grieving the loss of someone, your hormonal cycle or even just muscle soreness because your body is building into a healthier version of you. Life just happens sometimes and it’s easy to give up on our physical selves on those days. So find a program, a place, or a person that you can be accountable outside of yourself to.

You Have the Choice

Anyone listening to this who might not think a change like this is possible for them—know that it is! We are not the exception. We are not special in this way. We are just two people who hit our rock bottom and decided not to let ourselves stay there. We stay consistent but also extends grace to ourselves day after day. It’s important to share that we are not making these changes because we hate ourselves or our bodies. We are making these changes because of how much we love ourselves and because we know what we, and the people in our lives, deserve. And we know that we’re worth every bit of work we put into ourselves…. And so are you. 

The way we filter the experiences we have, or the way we choose which goals to set, or how we react when our goals fail… can be handled in more productive ways by understanding your type. 

I know this topic of improving our health from the inside out can be so overwhelming to think about, much less to act on. Everyone struggles with “well, where do I even begin?”. 

If this resonates with you, then you’ll know from our answers…. You just have to start with one small step and just kept getting up the next day and the next day. We kept trying again and again and never gave up after 1-2 bad days. Consistency is the biggest key in our lives. We expect to live this way for the rest of our lives. We approached our health journey as a slow lifestyle change and as a job, not as a diet. There is no end date. 

We learned so much about ourselves along the way. And that growth has impacted people in our lives too. Just as we hope to do for some of you listening today. 

If you resonate with this and don’t know how to begin, or need someone in your corner, don’t hesitate to invest in Life Coaching. Seeking a session with an Enneagram Life Coach doesn’t mean you are broken, lost, or need to be fixed. It’s about getting the right support system in place and having someone by your side to offer a different perspective on a challenging situation. Working with a coach is often about clarity and taking that first step. When you overthink things, it can lead to chaos of emotions.

If you want to build your confidence again and live that vibrant, intentional life… I’m here for you.Reach out through AliciaLarkey.com or email me at AliciaLarkey@gmail.com

Connect with Leah



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Alicia Larkey, Enneagram Life Coach | Site design by Jessica Gingrich