Before and after photos show the progress of Cheyenne Moen's journey to lose weight. On the left, this Spring Grove resident weighed about 285 pounds in April 2017. She lost 35 to 40 pounds between April and September, resulting in a trimmer and more fit person, at right.
Before and after photos show the progress of Cheyenne Moen's journey to lose weight. On the left, this Spring Grove resident weighed about 285 pounds in April 2017. She lost 35 to 40 pounds between April and September, resulting in a trimmer and more fit person, at right.

A common theme in health and fitness stories is middle-aged people losing weight they've held onto for most of their lives, but one young woman from Spring Grove didn't want to wait until she was older, married, had kids and might feel too busy to workout.

She started her weight loss journey on April 4, 2017.

"I always told myself I have all the time in the world to lose weight," said Cheyenne Moen, 23, of Spring Grove. "I kept saying it until I realized I wouldn't have the time if I just kept saying it and not doing it."

Her current weight is 218 pounds. Moen lost over 70 pounds since she started her journey 10 months ago. She started by taking her dog, Zeus, for daily walks. For Moen, and others, the gym can be intimidating to just walk into and start working out.

"I was terrified," she recalled. "I thought everyone up there knew exactly what they were doing. They had routines. I was afraid what people would think."

However, in May, Moen ventured into the Spring Grove Fitness Center and decided to just go walk on the treadmill. Whatever nervousness she had melted away as she walked.

"It was very welcoming up there," she said. "No one was judging me."

From then on she was, and still is, a regular attendee at the gym. Her first activity is to walk and run three miles on the treadmill.

"I love doing that. It's my main thing," Moen said. "I didn't really have a plan. I just needed to get in there and figure it out."

Her motivation for becoming healthier and losing weight was mainly her friends, who are fit and smaller sized. They were living their lives in a way Moen could not, she said.

Weight didn't seem to be a problem for her in high school, as she maintained a certain weight as a three-sport athlete, even though she was always a little bigger, she thought.

After high school, the struggles started. She wasn't staying as active as she needed to be.

"I used to think I was so big in high school, but looking back I realize I wasn't," Moen said. "It's weird how you pick out the flaws you don't need to pick out."

As she compared herself to her friends, the emotional feelings that often come with a weight loss journey affected her mentality.

"I thought maybe that's how I should be; doing fun stuff and not staying home because I'm too tired to do anything," she said. "It really got to me and I wasn't doing things I wanted to do."

The day came when Moen woke up and looked at herself and decided the person she saw in the mirror and in her mind was not the person she wanted to be.

"I've dealt with depression, and one day I just woke up and looked at myself and I said, 'This isn't what I want to be like,'" she decided. "I am going to make a change and I am going to make it now. It's not for anyone else. It's for me."

In addition to walking her dog and going to the gym, Moen also cut out Mountain Dew, which was a staple for her throughout high school and after high school. She said she would drink about three to four bottles a day.

The weight dropped quickly without that lime green substance and she won't even touch it anymore.

"I quit it cold turkey. If I take a drink of Mountain Dew, it tastes gross to me," Moen said. "It was the best decision I ever made."

Drinking more water was also a benefit for Moen. It not only helped with weight loss, but it also helped clear her skin.

She also changed her diet and quit eating fast food from convenience stores and other fast-food restaurants.

Moen recruited one of her best friends, Maddy Thompson, to help her with dieting and what to eat. She took on a low carb diet.

"Maddy went grocery shopping with me and showed me things to eat and cook," Moen said. "I know what to look for now when I go grocery shopping."

Her new diet consists of lots of vegetables (which she was neglecting previously, she said), protein and smaller portion sizes. Controlling portion sizes really helps, she adds.

Perhaps the most helpful thing about her weight loss journey was not the workouts or the diet change; it was her support system. She had four friends who helped her get started and challenged her, along with themselves.

"Jordan Olerud, Maddy Thompson, Jake Maistros and Wilfredo Camacho really helped me out," she said. "Josh Olerud has helped too. He's been showing me a few workouts."

The friends started doing step challenges and put money on the challenge. The first challenge had $40 on it and Moen kept right up to her friends' amount of steps and won it.

She also told her coworkers at the Spring Grove Soda Pop Factory and they've been helpful to her too. They check in with her, and her boss, Bob Hansen, always asks for an update.

As she continued with weight loss, her clothes became looser and fit differently. When she went shopping, she would automatically go toward the larger sizes, and then remember she could fit into smaller sizes now.

"When I first started, I could barely get my jeans buckled, but now they come up way past my belly button," she laughs. "I like shopping for a different size now."

Though her journey has been going well and she's almost to a full year of working out, there have been hard times when she's felt like giving up.

"I hit a plateau where I was maintaining weight, for about two or three weeks," she said. "I was really down on myself and thought, 'Well, maybe this is where my body wants to be.'"

But Moen didn't accept that excuse. She talked to her friends in their group chat, who encouraged and motivated her. They told her it happens to everyone and to just keep going.

"It instantly brought me up," she said. "I told them I would try and they kept messaging me to see if I had worked out yet. I finally got past it."

Her support system has been a huge positive for losing weight. It was the best thing she ever did, she said.

"It really helps having support. You don't have to do it alone," she encouraged. "Reach out to your friends, ask for their help. I told my friends to be strict with me and not enable me to keep living like this."

Her friends gave her more support than she could ever ask for. They said, "Sure thing. We got you." During their step challenges, Moen saw them getting their steps in, which made her mad, so she went on extra walks to make sure her steps kept up with her friends’ numbers.

The support system also helps when temptations arise, like doughnut days at work.

"I'll message them and ask 'Do you think I can have a doughnut today?' They'll ask me what I've had to eat previously and if I had a big breakfast, they'll ask, 'Do you need the doughnut?' And I'll put it down," she said. "A support system is crucial. I couldn't have done it without them."

Moen allows herself some cheat days though, especially for her beloved crab rangoons. She didn't want to restrict herself too much from things she loved.

"It's important to do that. Some days I don't work out, but I make sure I work out the next day," she said. "When I go and visit friends on a vacation, I eat some things that I shouldn't eat, like fast food."

By sticking to this new mentality, Moen is able to go out with her friends and have a good time. Her weight does not stop her there.

"I like to have fun with my friends, and I can still feel good about it," she said. "I workout on the weekends too if I miss a day."

In addition to her friends accounting for her workouts and diet changes, another accountability method was using the social media platform of Snapchat.

Already a fan of the platform, Moen started snapping her workouts, sweat and baggy clothes to her Snapchat stories for her followers to see.

"It's just kind of something that happened," she said. "I thought it would be cool to document what I was doing and other people could see it."

The workout pictures took off and people messaged her encouragement. If she doesn't post any workout snaps or doesn't workout, her inbox fills up with messages asking where the gym snaps are and asking if she worked out today.

"It's super helpful for me. I want to help other people be encouraged too," Moen said.