Every week we highlight a Rise member whose story inspires us. With the help of her coach Hillary Goldrich, R.D., Molly lost 18 pounds in 15 weeks by learning how to establish new habits that set her up for success.

We’re especially inspired by Molly’s enthusiasm in sharing her journey and what she’s learning. She even recently created a blog to share recipes and chronicle her food-loving family’s mission to make life a little healthier!

What’s your typical day like?
Lately I’ll get up and go running with my dog (he also needed to lose some weight!) Then I go to work and eat breakfast on the way.

I used to work for Disney World, where I was on my feet all day as a tour guide. Now I work at a tax consulting firm. In the corporate job there’s more sitting—but I made a standing desk so I’m on my feet as much as possible.

After work I come home and have dinner with my fiancé. Then we generally go the gym where I do mostly strength training (lifting) and interval training.

Were you always a regular exerciser?

I used to go the gym sometimes, and I ran on the elliptical but didn’t really know what I was doing. When my fiancé. and I started dating he would take me to the gym and teach me things. Then he started training to become a personal trainer and needed a guinea pig, so we would focus on different areas every day.

We’ve been working out together for about 3.5 years now. We kind of have the opposite challenge—he wants to gain weight and muscle, and I want to lose weight, but we can actually eat the same things, just different portions.

When I left my job at Disney in January 2014, I didn’t really change the way I was eating (which was mostly healthy but not always). I was still working out, but I was doing more sitting instead of being active on my feet all day.

What was your weight loss journey like before Rise?
I had tried pretty much everything—Weight Watchers, My Fitness Pal, low carb, no carb, other various diets.

What prompted you to take the leap?
Two main things factored into the decision. I watched the documentary Fed Up (highly recommended!) and it really spoke to me about eating clean, healthy food from the ground, cutting out processed foods, and being more mindful about sugar. After watching the movie I did the Fed Up 10 day challenge to not eat sugar or anything processed during that time—and that got me started on being more aware about what I’m eating.

The second thing was I realized I’d be going dress shopping for my wedding in about 3 months. Together, those things lit a fire for me to take action! I had heard about Rise before and hadn’t wanted to invest in it, but when I wanted to kick it into overdrive I knew I needed someone else to help me get accountable.

How did the wedding dress shopping go?

It turned out great! Most dress sample sizes are super tiny so I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to zip them up but they all zipped up fine! Then we had our appointment to take engagement pictures two weeks later. Those milestones along the way were helpful for keeping me motivated to continue my progress.

What has been most challenging for you on this journey?
Being in my mid-20s, being more careful about alcohol has been hardest. I want to be mindful of it and factor it into my day and making sure it’s not overusing calories.

It has also been a process of adjusting to eating the way I do pretty much all the time—not just for the length of a challenge or during the workweek. The good news is, the longer I do it the easier it is, and I’m not even tempted by certain stuff anymore.

For example, my coworkers ordered pizza from Papa John’s or Domino’s the other day and I didn’t want any at all! Pizza is still my favorite food, but now I’d much rather make it at home with good ingredients, fresh mozzarella and veggies. The stuff from a pizza chain just isn’t appealing to me anymore.

On Friday nights my fiancé. and I have our “cheat day” when we’ll make pizza, grill homemade burgers or bake sweet potato fries. That day we’ll make stuff typically considered “unhealthy” but we make it ourselves with good ingredients so it tastes better and is pretty guilt-free.
How has working with your coach Hillary affected your journey?
I love having a coach because knowing I have to show her what I’m eating makes me accountable.

One thing my coach Hillary taught me early on was the concept of the “perfect plate” ½ fruits and veggies (mostly veg), ¼ lean protein, ¼ whole grains, ¼ healthy carbs or avocado/dairy. That’s such an easy trick to keep in mind on a daily basis.

How have your habits changed?

Now we keep our house stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, etc. so then what’s most convenient is also healthy, and we don’t have to feel restricted about it. I’m not going to feel guilty because I ate a handful of unsalted pistachios for a snack.

What’s your advice on establishing healthier habits?
Planning and preparation are key. Failing to plan is planning to fail! Know in advance what you’re going to bring to lunch, and keep your kitchen stocked with the ingredients for a healthy breakfast and go-to snack you can grab. If the only ingredients in your cabinet and fridge are healthy whole foods, then you can’t go wrong when you’re reaching for something to eat.

Remember to read the labels on food and try to stick to the outside perimeter of the store when grocery shopping (since there are more processed foods inside the aisles). I read about that trick in Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules, which I loved.

It’s going to be difficult at first, but stay dedicated and as you do it you’ll start to see results. Set a small goal at first. My coach Hillary consistently gave me small, achievable goals like losing 2 pounds in the next two weeks. That felt much more manageable than trying to lose a lot of weight at once—and made it easier to stick with it and keep going.

In addition to losing 18 pounds and zipping up those wedding dresses, what other non-scale victories have you experienced?

I took my engagement pics in size 4 jeans, which is pretty awesome! I have a coworker friend who just got engaged and is asking me lots of questions. I’ve basically become an informal resident wellness advisor for my friends and family.

It’s fun to see your own success and then help pass it on by sharing recipes and tips. I also started a blog (http://mccormacksmake.blogspot.com/) where I’m posting healthy recipes now that I have friends and family asking for them!

You could be our next member of the week! Work with Hillary Goldrich, Molly’s awesome coach. When you signup with her, you’ll get $10 off your first payment.