Losing weight (and keeping it off) is not an easy task — it’s extremely difficult to overhaul old habits and adopt a completely new lifestyle, especially with everything that life continues to throw your away. But this week, we spoke to someone who not only shed a lot of weight, but is also a thyroid cancer survivor, who uses her experience to inspire others.
You might recognize Erica Lugo from Instagram as @EricaFitLove, but you’ll soon see her in her new gig as one of the trainers on the new season of The Biggest Loser airing tonight, January 28 (9 pm ET/8 pm CT) on USA Network. Lugo was chosen to motivate the contestants not only because she is a bonafide trainer with her own boutique fitness studio in Dayton, Ohio, but because she has lost over 150 pounds herself .
At her heaviest about seven years ago, Lugo had reached 322 pounds, but her son provided a wake up call. “My son was about three and a half at the time, and I couldn’t play with him,” Lugo explains. “I had zero energy, and that aha moment for me was when he asked me to play with him on the floor, and I said ‘no.’ I thought, ‘My god, I don’t even want to get up off the couch to play with my son.’ It made me think… he needed a mother who could keep up.”
Lugo began her fitness journey by starting with the basics. “I grew up with no idea what health and fitness really was, so I was a little fish in a really big pond,” she says. “All I knew about weight loss was ‘less calories in, more calories out,’ so I downloaded MyFitnessPal and started walking on the treadmill.” With this simple routine, she started to shed some real weight!
When Lugo started losing weight, other things in her life started to shift as well. Her marriage came to an end and she became a single mom. This could easily break a person down, but Lugo was able to use her new found health and vitality to swim through the muddy waters. “I felt like everything was out of control — the divorce, my job — the dynamic of my life was changing, and fitness and getting healthy were the things I could control based on what I ate and how I moved.”
But even after she took control of her health, life dealt Lugo another blow when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in October of 2018. She had her thyroid and surrounding lymph nodes removed and underwent radiation treatment and is now cancer-free, but doctors told her that many patients gain weight after the surgery.
Lugo was determined to make sure she continued to treat her body the right way and has maintained her healthy weight and habits. To this day, she says that her son is still her number one reason for striving as hard as she does. And since her journey started, Lugo has gone on to inspire those at her fitness studio, on Instagram where she offers motivation, tips, and tricks for getting your healthiest body ever, and now on The Biggest Loser.
Read on for Lugo’s tips for anyone starting on a weight loss journey:
Be confident with what you decide.
“There are so many diets, weight loss methods, and exercises out there, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of thing,” she says. “Keto and crossfit won’t work for everyone. Everyone has different lifestyles, budgets, and needs, do what works for you. People will criticize you, but you have to be OK with what you decide and follow what feels good to you.”
It’s OK to ask for help.
“Whatever gym you decide to go to or fitness program you enroll in, it’s OK to ask professionals for help,” says Lugo. “A lot of us decide to keep ourselves closed off and not talk about our goals with others, because we don’t want people to think ‘she’s just doing this again and she’s going to fail,’ or we feel shameful. But asking for help has helped me so much on my journey. Even now, I still ask for help. There is no shame in asking questions and being open.”
Let go of what no longer serves you.
“All those shameful feelings and thoughts are really heavy, and you have to make sure you’re strong enough to carry them. And if you’re not, and they’re breaking you down, toss them. They no longer serve you.”
We think this is some pretty amazing life advice whether you are trying to lose weight or not.