woman poses in mirror after weight loss

Ashlee’s #UNSTOPPABLE Journey

Like many mothers, Ashlee Stephens found herself gaining weight throughout her pregnancy. When she delivered her daughter in May 2017, she expected to make a full recovery, but six months after the birth, she had only lost just over 20 pounds of the 87 pounds she gained. 

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but it can do a number on a pregnant person’s body. Before Stephens got pregnant, she weighed about 120 pounds. Over the course of 9 months, she grew to 204.6 pounds. Six months later, Stephens was still 184 pounds. When she plateaued at 184, Stephens knew she had to make some changes to her lifestyle. 

First steps

woman before and after weight loss
Stephens, left, in January 2018 at 184 pounds. On right, Stephens in August 2019 at 118 pounds.

Stephens’s first step in her post-pregnancy recovery was to stop depriving herself of food. She changed her diet to include three meals and three snacks a day. Stephens also added to the gym to her routine, at first going two times per week starting just by walking half a mile on the treadmill, before upping it to five days a week, now able to run for six miles on the treadmill. 

Stephens also reduced her food intake to 1,500 calories a day when she is trying to lose weight, eliminated soda and drinks almost entirely water, and averages 15,000 steps a day. 

Frustrations and realizations

Plateauing while trying to lose weight is incredibly common, but frustrating, nonetheless. Stephens would get frustrated when she would see a plateau or a minor weight gain after a “bad day of eating” before realizing it was likely just water weight.

“One day won’t get me fat just like one day won’t get me skinny,” Stephens realized. “I just hop back on my good routine of eating and exercise I drop right back down to my maintained weight which is about 117-120.”

Steady progress

After Stephens began working out at Xperience Fitness she lost the final 67 pounds, 15 of the pounds in just the first 8 weeks, and discovered her “why” behind her health journey, the why that makes her want to continue living a healthy lifestyle. 

“Everyone has their own ‘why,’” Stephens said. “My why is my kids and my husband, and obviously for me. I wanted to feel beautiful in my body again.”

Although Stephens has transformed her body, she still wears her pregnancy scars with pride. 

“My skin is flawed but I’ve earned every mark I have!” Stephens expressed.

While Stephens’s hit her weight loss goal in December 2018, she has continued to maintain that weight loss through today. 

Positive changes

woman before and after weight loss
On left, Stephens the day before she delivered her daughter at 204 pounds. On right, Stephens in July 2019 at 118 pounds.

Stephens was a varsity runner before having kids and she thought she would never be able to run again. Since December 2018, Stephens has done six races: four 5ks, one 10k, and one 7k. 

“I am currently training for a marathon sitting at 118 pounds,” Stephens expressed. “…Never did I think I could ever train for a marathon! I am so excited to finally accomplish this.”

Stephens can also now run around with her kids without feeling her body move uncomfortably, but most importantly, she feels healthy, happy, and confident again. 

To keep up with her progress, Stephens continues to not make working out a chore. 

“I make it a habit and routine,” Stephens explained. “Just like we have our kids as a priority, I have my health and fitness as a priority. Take 90 minutes out of your day to move, lift, run, walk, do something to get that heart rate up! You can do it, just don’t make excuses.”


Stephens’s said anything is a start but do not set very high standards for yourself in the beginning. If you are new to working out, ease into it and set realistic, healthy goals. 

“You will have setbacks,” Stephens admitted. “You will gain before you lose. You will fluctuate. You will have days where you don’t want to, but you will find the motivation to get it done. The biggest thing is when you fall just get right back up and try again. It gets easier, I promise. Allow yourself to have failures. You can’t fix a mistake if you don’t make them. You’ll get down on yourself at times, but remember that you will get there.”

Additionally, allow yourself the foods you enjoy 20 percent of the time while maintaining a healthy diet 80 percent of the time, but all foods should be within a healthy portion size. 

“Enjoy it, have fun with it, and be creative!” Stephens concluded.