Tracy Dunne is a 51-year-old preschool aide and mom from Minnesota who started on an amazing journey to better health. Read on to find out what she did and how she did it.
It was more than 4 years ago when Tracy, pictured, found herself at her heaviest weight — 230 lbs. Fast-forward to today, and she is working diligently to maintain her stunning 80-pound weight loss. Clearly she put in the effort, but how exactly did she do it?
Tracy committed the time and hard work necessary to prioritize her health, using multiple devices and apps to track her progress along the way. Read on to learn more about her successes, her challenges, and her advice to others looking to accomplish a similar goal.
Getting inspired and staying accountable
When we asked Tracy what motivated her to make such a drastic change in her life, she mentioned a few factors that came into play. A call with a health coach from her insurance agency stands out as a moment of clarity, during which the representative told her that she was officially considered to be in the obese range. She says she had been unhappy with her appearance and how she looked in pictures, but this moment really sparked a desire in her to do something about how she felt. The thought of losing the weight seemed daunting at first, but Tracy looked to her older sister, who had lost a tremendous amount of weight, for inspiration. She remembers thinking to herself, “If she can do it, then I can do it too.”
One of the first steps Tracy took was joining the popular heart-rate based interval training program, Orange Theory, where she would take class about twice a week. On top of that, she began tracking her nutrition intake everyday using the LoseIt app. She started with a very restrictive diet program until she reached her weight loss goal, and then decided to switch to a whole foods based approach that she felt would be better for the long term. Tracy feels strongly that the consistency of established programs like Orange Theory and LoseIt helped her stay accountable during the first part of her journey.
Stay on track with data and feedback
About the same time Tracy began using LoseIt, she began using a smartwatch and smart scale as well. She mentioned she wanted a simple, yet stylish watch that did not have too many extra features—enter, Withings ScanWatch. She felt the automatic heart rate notifications and sleep tracking data were particularly helpful. Tracy has noticed that for her, sleep is crucial for mental health and maintaining energy, and she learned from her watch that she feels best when she gets at least 8 hours of sleep a night. For weight tracking, she wanted a scale that offered immediate feedback and the ability to connect easily to other apps. So, she decided on a Withings smart scale that could show her not only weight, but long-term trends and body composition metrics too.
“I like that it tells you immediately if you’ve gained or lost weight. When I was really in weight loss mode, it was very motivating to me because I thought, if I stick to my budget on LoseIt, then tomorrow the scale maybe will be the same or lower. But I know if I have that cookie or piece of cake or the real ice cream and not the keto ice cream or the cocktail, then probably the scale will be up. I’ll see the plus and just having that immediate feedback was important because I don’t remember numbers all that well, and it helped me stay on track.”
She also appreciates the scale’s more fun features, like the Happy New Year message that appears on January 1st and the daily weather forecast, which she says helps her pick out her outfit for the day.
Tracy and her family reach new heights together
Tracy did not just want to get healthy for herself. She wanted to get healthy for her family. In particular, her daughter was planning to study music abroad in Spain for the summer. Tracy recalls how this trip motivated her to stick to her mission.
“I wanted to be a parent chaperone and I did not want to be “that mom”—huffing and puffing in the back, up the hills, and up the stairs. So I would just raise the incline on the treadmill and think about climbing hills in Spain. And say to myself: you are going to Spain.”
And go to Spain she did. Fun fact—Tracy still imagines herself on scenic, outdoor hiking trails when she walks on the treadmill today. She began incorporating hikes into her health routine about 2 years into her 4-year journey, even attempting the 52 Hike Challenge, where participants aim to go on one hike per week. She pretty much met the goal both years, and enjoys doing so because it’s free, and her family can join her anytime.
Reflecting on obstacles & sharing wisdom
But of course, every life-changing endeavor won’t always be smooth sailing—there will be challenges along the way. We asked Tracy if there were any moments that stood out as being particularly difficult when she reflects on the last 4 years, and what her advice would be to people who are struggling with their health.
At one point, Tracy’s whole family was going to an iconic North Shore pie shop, called Betty’s Pies. She remembers sitting in the parking lot drinking a banana cream pie protein shake while her family was inside, doing her very best to hold on and get to where she wanted to be.
Looking back now, she would emphasize the importance of sustainable diets and planned breaks. Tracking her eating truly helped, but she doesn’t feel you need to meet your exact intake goals all the time in order to feel good. Meaning, it’s definitely okay to have a slice of Betty’s pie once in a while. Tracy continuously tries to educate herself on new health concepts, practices mindfulness, and follows what she calls her “rule of 8” which is 8 hours of sleep, 8 glasses of water a day, and 8 sweaty workouts per month.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, Tracy says you should find someone in your life that has done what you want to do, and talk to them. Getting advice and finding avenues of support is key.
“I’ve talked to so many people—family and friends, who want to just meet me for coffee, and find out. How did you do it? Because it seems so impossible.”
The journey continues…
Tracy, having done the seemingly impossible, told us how she’s doing now. She shared that she’s gained 15 lbs back from her original 80 lb loss, and reports struggling with stress-eating since starting her new job. But she stays positive and is progressing towards getting back to her target weight.
“I feel healthier, more energetic, so much more confident. I can do things that were really difficult for me before, especially with winter sports in Minnesota. When I was overweight, I tried to get on ice skates and I couldn’t really balance, and I can ice skate now. I tried cross-country skiing when I was overweight and just kept falling over and ended up bruised. I can do country skiing now too.”
Today, you can find Tracy doing anything outdoors—she is planning on doing a 100 mile activity challenge with her kids this summer, and is always working on sustainable ways to master her health.
We were so grateful to hear Tracy’s story, and hope it can help inspire others to become the best, and healthiest versions of themselves.