How hockey jump-started her into shape

Our January issue is devoted to living well, with tons of helpful tips on being fit, happy and healthy. So we're featuring stories from real women-women who've gotten healthy and made themselves over in a magnificent way. Here is Vanessa Garvin's story.

Name: Vanessa Garvin

Age: 27

Residence: Hilliard

Gig: Care coordination assistant at Management and Network Services. We check benefits, obtain preauthorization and process claims for skilled nursing facilities (rehab after hospital stays, typically)

Family: Married

Weight lost: 70 pounds lost

Motivation: My husband and I decided that we wanted to play rec league ice hockey with our friends in early 2012, and I didn't want to have to deal with being new (AKA not good) and out of shape at the same time. Steph Greegor had recently gotten her certification for personal training, so I knew a few sessions with her would be a good place to start. It all sort of snowballed from there. I liked training so much that I started going to bootcamps hosted by Core Fitness too. Then a few of my friends decided to run the Emerald City Quarter Marathon in August so I started running on top of training and playing hockey. I'm lucky enough to have lots of friends who value health and fitness as a normal part of everyday life. It's a lot easier to keep going through tough games, workouts and training cycles when I know there are others going through the same thing. We all do our best to keep cheering everyone on.

Workout regime:My typical week will include a training session with Steph at Core, a hockey game, an informal hockey practice hosted by another team in my league, and I'll run two or three times, depending on where I am in my race training cycle. In 2014 I'm planning to add an at-home weight lifting session as well.

Favorite one-hour workout: In all honesty I don't really "like" working out. I love the feeling after, and the results of course, but working out typically isn't the best part of my day. So my favorite way to get in exercise is to play hockey: the number one reason I started training in the first place.

Diet: My diet varies a lot depending on my schedule and the time of year. I try to eat seasonally when it comes to fresh produce. For a long time I tracked my calories using the MyFitnessPal app, but I'm looking to change how I track food now that I'm closer to my goal weight. Training has become more about improving my running and hockey skills and less about weight loss. I've been doing a lot of research on tracking macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) instead of calories. I need to figure out how to best fuel my body now that my goals are changing.

Favorite healthy snack: A piece of fruit or some veggies with low-fat version of dairy like yogurt or cheese.

Greatest challenge: I have a monstrous sweet-tooth. I don't stop myself from eating sweets, but I do have to pre-portion them so I don't end up eating a whole tray of cookies!

Most exciting success: The day I broke the 200-pound barrier. I can't remember a time in my adult life before that day that I weighed less than 200 pounds. Steph was there, and we both cried happy tears.

Best advice: Don't judge your beginning based on someone else's middle. It's a little cheesy, but it's true. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you can't get discouraged when you see someone else succeeding. Focusing on your successes, even if it's doing one real pushup instead of a modified version (been there!), is much more important than looking around to see what everyone else is doing. If I judged my running time against someone who's been running for years I would never sign up for another race again. But knowing that I can now average 11:30 min/mile instead of the 12:45 min/mile I averaged during my first race is a great motivator to keep training. I'm signed up for the Cap City Half Marathon this May (my first half marathon), and I'm working toward an 11:00-11:15 min/mile average.

How your life has changed, in one sentence: Taking control of my health has shown me how strong I am and how much power I have over my choices-I can mold myself and my life into whatever I want.