Aquayla Gadsden Page ContentJanuary 2017Aquayla Gadsden stays fit and focused on her goals with the help of a personal trainer and online fitness challenges. Following thyroid surgery, Aquayla gained a lot of weight, but found the resolve to turn her life around. She joined a gym, where she works out almost every day for two hours. Aquayla preps her meals each Sunday to help resist temptation during the week, and rewards herself with new workout clothes. Her strategy is paying off. She’s lost four dress sizes and more than 60 pounds.How did your fitness journey begin?I was overweight for years, but when I had my thyroid removed four years ago, I gained a lot of weight and began having high blood sugar and edema.Did medication help?The doctor put me on metformin for prediabetes and a diuretic for edema. The medication made me more determined to get the weight off because I hate taking medicine.How did you stop the spiral?I researched how to lose weight, entered online weight-loss challenges, walked and joined Facebook groups. In one year I lost 20 pounds, but I hit a plateau, lost focus and couldn’t lose anymore.What was your breakthrough?I started a 90-day challenge and gave it 100 percent of my attention. I fasted intermittently, ate 95 percent clean and stopped watching TV and hanging out with friends. What did your friends say?Some understood; some didn’t. But now they totally do. You have to put yourself first. There’s nothing wrong with being selfish in a good way, especially when it comes to your health.Do you have a regular workout schedule?I joined a gym and my trainer is a friend. I don’t think I could have done it on my own in the beginning. I work out an hour and a half to two hours five to seven days a week. I especially like the stationery bike. Have you made diet changes, too? I meal prep on Sunday and get all my meals ready for the week. I eat salmon about four days a week. I do a lot of meal repetition with healthy foods I enjoy. I don’t count calories.What’s your daily meal routine?Breakfast is oatmeal with raisins or a green smoothie and lunch is lean meat and veggies. I snack on healthy snacks in between. I don’t usually eat after lunch, but sometimes I’ll have something small, like some fruit.What do you miss the most?My friends call me the cookie monster, and I love sweets. I miss having milk and cookies, especially Oreos, every night.How is your diabetes?My blood sugar is now regular. The doctor took me off diabetes medicine, but I still take the diuretic because I retain water. Are you happy with your results?Yes, I am very happy with my results. I’ll always be curvy but still want to lose 20 pounds. Then it will be about fitness and health and maintaining my weight loss. I don’t want to be the one who takes weight off, then puts it on again.How do photos and social media help keep you motivated?I document my changes with photos and share them on Facebook groups and online fitness challenges. When I look in the mirror, I still see my old self. But in before and after photos, I can see the difference.Do you reward yourself for success?I like to make short-term goals I can hit. I reward myself with workout clothes, especially T-shirts with sayings like, “Strong is the new pretty,” “But did you die?” “Cycling with curves.” And it really helps when people say you look good!What did you learn about yourself?To my surprise, I found a love for working out. I don’t always have a lot of willpower, but I pushed past my limits and got results I didn’t believe I would be able to get. I’m so proud of myself for doing this. This journey is mine and nobody can do it for me but me.