Hello there! My name is Mariah.
For those of you who don't know me, I wanted to share my story in hopes that you'll be inspired!
Part I: The Journey Begins
My journey started when, 15 years ago I found myself fat and out of shape at the University of Chicago (aka "Where Fun Comes to Die," UChicago is known for stressing academics above all else, producing beautiful, Athenian minds, but not Spartan bodies). I had been a swimmer growing up - a very bad one, which meant I had to work twice as long and pick horrific individual events like the mile or the 200 meter butterfly just to get past all the talented people around me, tortoise/hare-style. It also meant a 3,000-5,000 calorie/day diet and 2-4 hours/day of training. Flash forward to UChicago with long hours in the library and a ridiculously difficult language like Turkish to learn, and I probably exercised once - maybe twice - in my undergraduate years. My lifestyle change completely altered my physical and chemical state, which slowly led to an enormous weight gain. This in turn bled into how people responded to me, which affected my personality, self esteem, and ultimately my destiny, which I could feel beginning to veer off course underneath my feet as I stood by and watched, powerless. My ego wrecked, I was depressed and felt out of control. Doctors said, "Take Prozac for the dark cloud… medication for a sluggish thyroid… surgery for your failing knees… more medication for the metabolism… more Prozac for an eating disorder." In essence, "You're doomed unless you take these pills I am prescribing you."
I was 20 years old.
Unsatisfied with those answers, I scoured book stores and the internet for signs of success. As Tony Robbins says, "Success leaves clues." I stumbled upon Bill Phillips' classic, "Body for Life," and message boards dedicated to the 12 Week Transformation. Lurking there I would unearth a Coach who had herself lost over 100 lbs within 1 year. I hired her, and I began a journey that would help me develop the Transform With Mariah method. I dropped rapidly from 215 lbs and a size 20 to 175 lbs and a size 10/12 in just 12 Weeks.
Mariah, at her heaviest, in 2003
Excited about the results of my first 12 Week Challenge, I decided to keep on going and dropped from 175 lbs to 145 lbs, 22% to 10% body fat, and a size 10/12 to a size 4 in another 12 Weeks. I ultimately finished two consecutive 12 Week Challenges in bikini-wearing shape, and was able to leverage that into a number of small fitness modeling jobs that, to me, were the ultimate proof that I had transformed.
Mariah, from progress pictures taken in her second 12 Week Program, 2005
As I mentioned before, I had attended the University of Chicago (and Georgetown School of Foreign Service & Bogazici Univeristy in Istanbul, Turkey) and studied Near Eastern History & Religion. I was set to attend Columbia University for a graduate degree in their internationally-focused school of journalism. But I found that the thrill of coaching the 12 Week Transformation - and immediately making a positive impact on someone's life - far more rewarding than anything more etherial. I felt like Charon, shepherding people through the dark, mysterious forest that is personal transformation. We would do battle with their dragons (divorce, job loss, depression), and we chose which tools to use for each individual client based on their unique goals, their motivators and driving force, as well as their body, metabolism, and physical structure.
It felt to me like applied religion.
And thus, because I wanted to help people and change lives, I left graduate school without ceremony and began coaching 12 Week Transformations full-time when I was 25 years old.
My method gained traction first within Gold's Gyms in Washington, DC and then later in my adopted hometown of Austin, TX, where, inspired by Austin's great king of fitness David King, I opened my first business in 2007. Within a year I had grown to where I needed a business partner to help flesh out my method and make it scaleable across multiple trainers, and to help manage the business side of the house. We would eventually part ways, and I found myself in a position where I was trying to do everything a small business owner does (marketing, sales, billing & receivables, employee training, quality control) in addition to trying to keep my feet wet in my clients' transformation process. I found that setup was detrimental for me personally, mentally, emotionally, as well as for my clients and coaches, and ultimately the house of cards collapsed. I sold the business at a tremendous loss a year ago, in September of 2014.
Good and bad came from the ten years I spent in Austin. The good? My teams and I coached over 1000 transformations. That's allot of lives changed. The bad? I found that my motivations changed. It was no longer about changing lives it was about the challenge and the thrill of growing a business (at first; later it was about the stress of maintaining that business). Which turned me into a different person, with different core values and ethics. The day came I looked in the mirror and no longer liked the person I saw.
Over the past year I have been able to reflect on how I'm wired, and how I'm best suited to help other people, which is why I originally set down this path, and why I'm not sitting at a foreign correspondent's desk. I ultimately landed on: my gifts and talents are best suited to serve others as a solo-preneur, and that what I love best is coaching my own (personal) clients. I also realized that my best clients were coached ONLINE, as we expend greater focus on the FOUNDATION of their Transformation Pyramid (see below) - and less on the 'window dressing', or workouts (which, contrary to popular belief, are not the most important thing). To that end, I now coach clients individually via my Online Program, and the results have been the best I have coached in 15 years.
That's the first part of my story.
PART II: Prove it Can Be Done
The second part begins in December of 2011, when I slipped a disc in my back. I suffered with chronic, crippling pain stemming from that injury for about 9 months before I conceived my oldest daughter, Ezme, who is now 2 years old.
I was able to stay somewhat fit throughout my first pregnancy. I lost significant strength and mobility because of all the pain, and was hobbling by the end of the pregnancy, but all things considered I was reasonably healthy and gained a reasonable amount of weight.
When Ezme was just 4 months old I conceived my youngest, Clara, who is now 11 months old. That pregnancy wreaked havoc on my already-out-of-shape body. By October of 2014, when Clara was born, I was exhausted. I couldn't walk without pain, couldn't bend over, and thought I might need to start using a cane. Add to that pain the need to care for young baby, a pregnancy, the stress of running a business, and I was barely making it. In the midst of all that my husband had strayed. I was 7 months pregnant with a one year old to take care of and a business to run so I was beating myself up for not being 'better': a better wife, a more energetic mom, a more capable business owner. As I mentioned in Part I, I ultimately sold that business at a massive loss and left Austin needing to get back on solid ground.
My mommy transformation began right smack dab in the middle of that move, in June/July of 2015.
Within 3 months, I dropped from 35% to 17% body fat, from 189 to 162 lbs. I began the process of regaining mobility in my spine, and I was able to do Olympic lifts again.
3 months after that I was 151 lbs. I had lost over 75 lbs, dropped from 35% to 10% body fat.
I am stronger than I have ever been, having recently set a personal record for head-to-ground handstand pushups. And most importantly, I have my confidence, inner strength, and personal integrity back.
So whatever challenge you're facing, I hope knowing that someone out there lost over 75 lbs as a single mom of two babies under 2, raising them on one income, and with all the stress that comes with having no time relief - if she could do it, you can too.