Mallisa Mott and Beth O’Neil were miserable.
They did not know one another when they each concluded they would have to make changes. They met about two years ago at the Crossfit Portside gym in Gulfport, long after their transformations had begun from overweight and out of shape to fit, confident and energetic.
Mott started a website and podcast to share her healthy lifestyle. O’Neill, a Crossfit instructor, came on as a guest. Their common experiences, shared goals and easy banter led to a partnership with the website and podcast, Mantras & Macros.
“We’re just two regular girls who work full-time jobs, go to Crossfit and have a passion for nutrition and fitness because we’ve done 180s with our lives,” O’Neil said.
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Between them, Mott and O’Neil have lost 140 pounds — 70 pounds each.
Mott and O’Neil’s heavier selves are hard to envision as they sit in body-hugging workout clothes at the Crossfit gym off Courthouse Road.
Mott’s journey to health began about eight years ago. She was overweight and depressed, with little direction and few goals.
Mott said she lost 20 pounds the unhealthy way: by under-eating and smoking a lot. Still, friends told her, “You look so great! What are you doing?”
She decided she needed to lose weight the right way, so she went on a practical diet and began studying nutrition. Today, the 27-year-old is a certified nutrition consultant who basically follows a Paleo diet, which is big on protein, vegetables and other unprocessed foods.
She found Crossfit because her husband was going and it sounded like fun.
O’Neil, 35, was equally miserable when she decided about four years ago that something had to give. She was a binge eater who finally asked herself, “Is this really going to be my life?”
She started working out at a regular gym, but she really didn’t know what she was doing. She figured as long as put in the time and sweat, the weight would come off.
She wasn’t getting the results she wanted. On a whim, she decided to try Crossfit. She followed a macro diet plan, counting proteins, fats and carbohydrates instead of calories.
“Flexible dieting,” the women call it, although neither of them likes the D-word. They’ve found healthy lifestyles that suit them, and they want to share.
Mott said it makes her sad when someone comes in the doctor’s office and announces they have to start a diet for an upcoming wedding or cruise. Getting in shape, the women said, should be about loving oneself, not deprivation.
“You don’t have to have a set of rules with food because, if you have a set of rules with food, you’re going to fail in some way,” Mott said.
How has her life changed? In every way. “I’m a completely different person,” she said. “There’s not really any comparison.”
O’Neil, who works as a bookkeeper, said: “Right now, I feel like I’m pretty brave. I’m willing to try anything. I’m just not afraid to fail anymore, and I used to be.”