'I Lost More Than 100 Pounds for My Son': One Mom's Story

chandell tytlandsvik

We all give lip service to "getting in shape" or "watching what we eat." But let's be honest. How much of us really do it? That was Chandell Tytlandsvik's problem, too. At 5'5" and 245 lbs., the road to a healthy lifestyle -- ie, dropping more than 100 pounds -- seemed impossible. Then Chandell, 25, became a mom and everything -- including her desire to take better care of herself -- changed.


Growing up, eating healthy and exercising weren't priorities for Chandell, who works part-time as an office administrator in Estevan, a city in Saskatchewan, Canada. "I wasn't a strong, athletic kid," she says. "Sports weren't what I excelled at or enjoyed."

By high school, Chandell noticed that she wasn't super skinny like most girls she hung out with. "I was the 'curvier' friend," she admits. But even when she tried to drop a few pounds, Chandell couldn't get the number on her scale to move. In fact, it went up. By age 20, she weighed 188.

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Jumping from one weight loss program to another, she managed to slim down 20-ish pounds. But then she became pregnant "and that's where things got out of hand," says Chandell. Bags of chips, popcorn, poutines... "I told myself I was 'enjoying my pregnancy' when really I was just stuffing my face."

The weight came on fast, and by the time Chandell gave birth to her son, Penn, in March 2012, she was heavier than she'd ever been: 245 pounds.

Even though her husband, Lorne, has always been athletic, playing hockey and golf or working out at the gym, Chandell started to resign herself. "I felt like 'Well this is just me now I guess.'"

Then in 2013, Chandell and her family went to Disney World for vacation. On their way to the shuttle that would take them from their condo to the theme park, they realized they were late and about to miss it. Chandell's husband suggested they run. After all, it was only two blocks away. Chandell was humiliated to realize ... she just couldn't do it.

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That was a wake up call.  "I remember thinking, 'I'm so glad my son isn't old enough to remember how out of shape I am,'" she says.

It's not just Chandell. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980. Last year, 39 percent of all people were overweight -- and 40 percent of them were women. In the U.S., the numbers are even higher: 69 percent of us are overweight or obese. And while not liking how you look in a bathing suit or being able to comfortably sit on an airplane are real issues, carrying around extra weight puts us at risk for a host of serious health issues like heart disease, sleep apnea, arthritis, and infertility.

Even worse? We pass our lifestyle choices on to our kids. According to a new U.K. study, parents' diet and exercise habits influence kids' weight more than the genes they inherit.

Is it any wonder a third of American kids are obese, more than double the number of overweight kids 30 years ago?

It's not the sort of legacy Chandell wanted to pass on to her son. The day after returning from vacation, the mom of one ordered a Bowflex TreadClimber. At first, she could only last 15 minutes a day on it. But after three weeks, she noticed a difference, not only in her stamina but her waistline.

"I wanted to keep going," she says.

Chandell started re-evaluating her diet as well, trading in fast food French fries or whole plates of pasta for egg scrambles with veggies and ham or chicken Caesar salads.

"I found that it really was no harder and didn't take more time to make healthy food instead," says Chandell.

In less than a year, she lost a whopping 105 pounds the old-fashioned way: diet and exercise. 

"But it's more than just losing weight," she says, "It's feeling better about myself and teaching my son that [eating well and exercising] are important in life."

chandell tytlandsvik before and after

Now, if Penn wants to chase her in the backyard, Chandell doesn't have to stop after a few seconds. Shopping for clothes isn't as frustrating as it used to be.

In fact, she frequently works out with Penn. Yes, he's only 2, but "he loves doing squats, burpees, and push-ups -- they're his favorite," she says.

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Getting kids involved in your workout has been found to be good not just for moms but for kids too. In one study published in March 2014 in the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers found a direct link between a mother's activity levels and that of her child. Moms who make exercise a high priority, they found, have kids who are more active. That's important when you consider American kids ages 5 to 10 get on average less than an hour of physical activity a day.

For moms who are intimidated at the very thought, Chandell says a big part of getting moving is giving yourself a break as a mother. She rearranges other mom responsibilities to find time to exercise. "My house might not be the cleanest or maybe the laundry got started later than I would have liked," she admits, "but I make workout time a priority." Some days she can only squeeze in 15 minutes rather than 30, "but whatever time that day is giving me is what I will use," she says.

Losing weight is intimidating, she says. "My advice is to just start."

What's your biggest challenge to getting or staying in shape?


Images via Nautilus and Chandell Tytlandsvik


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