Theresa Merkel: A Seaward Nutrition Success Story

Theresa’s story in her own words:

On May 1, 2014, I started on a journey that would challenge me and change my life in many ways. One year ago I started tracking my macros and gave up adult beverages. When I began I told myself that I would be “balls to the wall strict” for 100 days and then I would celebrate with a drink! I was not a drinker per say but during social events I would enjoy myself plenty. Well here we are 365 days later and the journey has brought me so much more than just a smaller dress size.

This journey actually started MANY years ago when I got on the scale and saw that I weighed 225 pounds at just 21 years old. I was shocked at this number and I was clueless about making healthy choices to change my lifestyle. This would begin a rollercoaster of ups and downs, a journey of trial and error, a path to greater knowledge and overcoming obstacles. I joined a gym and started working out, doing endless hours of cardio and the weight machine circuit. I also started watching what I was eating, or at least I thought I was watching what I was eating. I was actually filling my body with packaged and highly processed chemical “diet” crap foods. I lost weight and I was excited but I was still fat. At some point on my journey I discovered ephedra pills and started popping those bad boys. The weight was falling off and by the time I graduated college I looked like a whole new person.

I began my career teaching elementary school and decided that I also wanted to be a group fitness instructor! I was excited to learn and to teach classes at my local gym. I became certified by Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) in both group fitness and personal training. I started teaching classes at the gym part time and I loved it! I worked in a globo gym for 14 years; I taught yoga, cycle, body sculpt, aqua aerobics, step, and high/low classes. I was also a runner, having completed 9 half marathons, a full marathon and many obstacle based runs. My workout life was an endless cycle of cardio, light weight reps and “diet” foods. I was skinny fat, yet still not skinny. I felt that I needed to lose more. Enter yet another bad idea – the HCG Diet. This one was just crazy. Injections and 500 calories a day for a month! Yep, I did that and somehow still had the energy to teach school and all of my classes at the gym. I lost 10 lbs. and was down to 143. I thought I looked great, people were giving me compliments galore so clearly this was a good thing. Right? Wrong! When your month is up this is not a sustainable way to live life! Eventually I gained 10 pounds back but I was feeling great, looked good and was content.

Here is where my rollercoaster takes a sharp turn…

I made a huge life change. I had recently started CrossFit and decided to quit my part time job at the gym. I also sold my house and moved in with my boyfriend. I weighed 153lbs on the day I moved in and I remember exactly what I wore on moving day. Now I had made the change to a Paleo lifestyle, was cooking family meals, baking “Paleo Treats” and enjoying many apple cider beverages on the weekends with my boyfriend. Life was good and then one day I woke up and realized I had put on 30 pounds! What the what?!?!? Yes, I know it did not happen overnight but somehow I was oblivious to it creeping onto my thighs and hips! In the eyes of this Paleo newbie, the treats and apple cider were amazing and I thought it was a free for all! In a year’s time I had gained 30lbs, all while Crossfitting and eating Paleo. During this year I also became a Level 1 CrossFit Coach and had begun the startup of my own Paleo meal prep business. I actually had a kitchen, a registered business and was waiting on my license from the state when I realized the path I wanted to be on did not include cooking for others. I thought that people NEED to learn how to cook for themselves, how to properly nourish their own bodies without relying on ready-made meals. Yes, having meal prep is an awesome help but as the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I decided that going back to school to get my Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition would be a better decision for a path that would help people. Let’s go back to the start of this write up…a year ago today. In May of 2014 I began working with Vanessa on my macros and REALLY looking at what I was consuming. Yes I eat Paleo, grass-fed and organic BUT I was also eating more food than I should for my body. Looking back I know I put my body through a lot and now I am knowledgeable and aware. To me it isn’t about being 100% Paleo perfect as much as it is about fueling my body with nutrient dense food. In a year’s time, I have dropped 40lbs, numerous inches and a significant amount of body fat. The knowledge that I have gained had given me the opportunity to help others on their own personal journey. For this I will forever be grateful to Vanessa and Chuck Bennington.

Theresa Merkel May 2014
At a high point with my weight and just before the big move

May 1, 2014 184 lbs.               May 1, 2015 144 lbs.
Hips 45.25                                Hips 39.5
Waist 35.5                                 Waist 30
Thigh 25                                   Thigh 22.5

Theresa Merkel 12 month comparison
May 2014                     May 2015

Sharing this my story is one thing. Sharing a picture of myself in a bikini is an emotional experience. My body will always have reminders of the journey I have taken. Loose skin and old stretch marks are a part of that journey. As is learning to love yourself and forgive yourself.

*Theresa is now providing nutrition coaching for Seaward CrossFit. What better person to help you lose weight, gain muscle, and finally learn how to fuel your body than someone that has been there, done that, more than once, and has finally found what it takes to change her body… for good! If you are interested in working with Seaward CrossFit’s nutrition program please click on the link below or email us at

If you interested in learning more about the gym contact us at

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