Your Best Body in Your 30s, 40s, 50s
Look Your Best: Your 30s
A scary diagnosis from her doctor prompted Holly Sepp to break her junk-food habit and rediscover her love of exercise.
Hometown: Douglasville, Pennsylvania
Starting Weight: 180
Current Weight: 125
Pounds Lost: 55
For most of her life weight struggles were a foreign concept to Holly Sepp. Even though she regularly filled up on junk food, Sepp stayed slim thanks to occasional trips to the gym. But when she got pregnant with her first child, at age 30, the 5'4" Sepp took the outdated "eat for two" advice to heart and gained more than 60 pounds. "I ate better when I was expecting, but my portions were huge," she admits.
Sepp didn't realize how risky that extra weight was until she got a checkup six months after she had her second child. "My cholesterol level was 300," she says. Her doctor put her on medication to get the number down. "The list of possible side effects of the pills scared me, so I vowed to get off them ASAP." Her first step? Seeing a nutritionist, who gave her some surprising news: She wasn't eating enough. "I was trying to eat very lightly during the day, but then I'd binge at night because I was so hungry." The nutritionist advised her to eat more fiber and lean protein, like chicken and fish, to feel satisfied. After just one month Sepp's cholesterol dropped to 226 and her doctor took her off the drugs.
At the same time Sepp decided to return to a former love: running. She added five 50-minute workouts into her weekly schedule, alternating cardio and strength training. She started by walking and using the Stairmaster, then worked her way up to running. A few months into this routine Sepp received a brochure from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program. Members raise money by participating in marathons, cycling races, and more. Sepp, whose nephew died of leukemia, signed up immediately. "I'd always wanted to run a marathon, and now I had a really good reason to do it," she says.
After 18 weeks of training Sepp weighed in at 125 pounds and her cholesterol level was under 200. She finished a local marathon, raising $4,600 for the society.
Exercise is now an even bigger part of her life. Sepp used to work in financial services but switched careers and is now a certified group fitness instructor. "I love going to work and inspiring other people to get fit."