Health and Wellness Transformation: The Journey of Cherie Steffen

Welcome to another Motivational Monday! As we mentioned last week, this is our final feature in the series. We hope you’ve enjoyed these posts that showcased the journeys of Tim, Justin, Erica, Jeff, and Jerry, and have taken away some great tips and ideas to share at your office or in your own life!

Today, we’re introducing you to our Communications Specialist Cherie Steffen. Yes, it’s me! I’ve been with ABG Capital for seven months now and couldn’t be happier to have found such an amazing company and group of people who value health and wellness. They don’t just talk about it; they are about it. Like you, some of them don’t know my story, so let’s get into the whys and hows of my health and wellness transformation.

Health and Wellness Transformation . Cherie Steffen . ABG Capital Blog

How much weight have you lost and how long did it take you?

I initially weighed 230 pounds in January 2010 and throughout this journey, I lost 85 pounds, getting to my lowest weight in the summer of 2013. I lost it very slowly, over a period of about three years. I figured the more slowly I did it, the more I’d give my body and mind a chance to adapt new, healthier lifestyle changes. I maintained that loss for a long time, but after a separation, divorce and other personal challenges, managed to find 20 pounds of it again, haha. But I still feel great and am no where near the “old” me as in physical looks, a sedentary lifestyle, or gluttonous behavior.

What inspired you to lose weight/get healthy?

This is Precious (from the movie of the same title).








This was me in January 2010.
Before picture . Cherie Steffen













My teacher told me I looked like Precious.

But let me back up for a moment–My mother and best friend died from cancer on June 8, 2009. I loved that woman more than life itself, but she was always hard on me about my weight. As she lay dying, she said four words to me, “Save money. Lose weight.”

I promised her I would. No matter how long, I was going to lose the weight. (I’m still working on the saving money promise, haa!) But right after I made this promise to her, about two weeks later, I herniated my lumbar disc. Worst pain of my life! I couldn’t move. I surely couldn’t work. Having already been on a longer-than-allowed bereavement leave, and then needing to take time off for my back, my job fired me. I worked at Whole Foods as a supervisor and couldn’t stand on my feet all day. So, no mother, no job, in crazy pain, and couldn’t call my Mommy to complain to her–I became depressed. The weight gain spiraled out of control and in the span of about six months from June to December 2009, I gained a good 40 pounds. I was already overweight, so adding to that, I ballooned up to 230 pounds–the highest my weight had ever been.

Knowing that my mother would NOT be proud of the person I was becoming, I decided it was time to make some changes. I went back to school in January 2010 to obtain a second degree in hopes of embarking on a new career, getting back on my feet, and fighting through my depression.

No more than one week into my first semester, I was walking down the hall and my professor, surround by a group of guys 10 years or so my junior, yells out to me, “Hey Precious!” I looked around. I had no idea who he was talking to, but it had to be me. I did that hand gesture/pointing at myself thing as if to ask, “Are you talking to me?” He understood the gesture and said, “Yeah, you! You look like Precious, hahaha.” The guys started laughing, murmuring, “She does look like Precious. She’s so fat, haha. She’s Precious.” I was humiliated. Every last bit of excitement about starting school left my body. It was replaced with a spark that grew into a full on fire. Many people will say there was a moment when there was no going back–it was time to change. That was my moment. I didn’t cry, I didn’t say anything to him and I never let him know what he did to me. I did go home that day and walked 10 minutes on my treadmill. That was all I could handle, but I knew it was the new beginning I needed.

What types of food do you eat/have you eaten during this transformation?

Most of my meals will consist of a meat, a vegetable, and some sort of rice or quinoa. I don’t personally believe in any sort of diets that will exclude certain food groups. But again, that’s my personal belief. I don’t do paleo, vegetarianism, veganism, or shakes as meal replacements. I want real food. All of it. Nothing is “bad” in my opinion. I adhere to an 80/20 way of eating. 80% of the time I eat pretty healthy; 20% is what most would consider “not healthy.” I believe in balance above all else. If I restrict myself from having certain foods that will cause an all out passionate desire and binge session. So I just eat responsibly and have some foods in moderation.

I eat often throughout the day, always beginning with breakfast. I also make sure to include snacks like nuts, Greek yogurt, or fruit to keep me going until my next meal.

Salmon skewers, wild rice, broccoli . Cherie Runs This . ABG Capital Blog

National Donut Day . Cherie Runs This . ABG Capital Blog














What is your preferred type of exercise? How often do you do it?

I love running and lifting weights. When I first started my journey, all I did was cardio. I finally wised up, after getting certified as a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, and realized that lifting weights would give my body the shape I wanted and be more conducive to burning fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns while at rest! When I’m really on point with my workout schedule, I like to work out 5 – 6 times per week.

What do you do to get back on track when you lack motivation?
My easy answer is to look in a full body mirror without clothing. That instantly does wonders, haha! But for the times when even that is not enough to get me going again, I look at where I started, how far I’ve come and where this journey has gone.

Fitness Magazine . Cherie Steffen . ABG Capital Blog













It sounds odd, but I liken it to a music awards shows–and bear with me on this. When they give some sort of Lifetime Achievement to singers, they show clips of all of their number one hits–all of the songs that led them to that sweet spot in their career. That special level that earned them the award in the first place. When I look back at all of my pictures, at all of my magazine interviews, newspaper stories, website coverage, and this commercial below, I stop and say to myself, “Do you see how far you’ve come, lady?!! You did all of that. Your teacher never thought you would. Your mother never thought you would. And most of all, YOU never thought you would. But you did. So why quit now? KEEP GOING.” That usually gives me the kick I need!

Become an NASM Certified Personal Trainer . Cherie Steffen








My story in this commercial begins at the 21:20 mark.

Any advice that might help others to stay motivated?

I have all kinds of tips that I share with others based on what helped me over this journey. But a main one is to take progress pictures. It helps me tremendously to see where I began and how far I’ve come along. Even when I first started–I think I had only been making changes for about a month or two, I still took a picture. I could see that the small changes I made with my treadmill walking were starting to help me. That motivated me to keep going.

What do you do to stay healthy/on track while you’re at work?

I work with a bunch of awesome people that are into fitness and health. Just being around them keeps me on track. Haha, even if it’s out of guilt sometimes when I’m feeling like being lazy, I’ll see a couple of guys get up to go lift at the gym, or see others eating healthy lunches and that rubs off on me.

How to Meal Prep . Cherie Runs This . ABG Capital Blog

Sunday is my mealprep day. I make all of my lunches for the week and plan out all of my snacks. I bring them with me every day and that way there’s no room for the “oh, I forgot my lunch, let me run out to get fast food or hit the vending machines” mentality. Also, I joined a gym close to work, LA Fitness, so I go there during the afternoon sometimes. If I can’t go during the day, I have begun to take advantage of the activity breaks our company provides by taking a walk.

What is your fitness mantra or philosophy?

Suck it up so you won't have to suck it in . ABG Capital Blog
Keeping up with the Running Joneses . ABG Capital Blog








I’m big into making my own motivational pictures. These are simple, to-the-point, and true; I do my best to follow and keep them as my mantras.

What’s next for you? What future goals are you excited about?

Just keep on growing personally, physically, and mentally. I want to continue helping and motivating others through my blog, Cherie Runs This, and get more certifications. In addition to being a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, I am a Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and a Senior Fitness Specialist. I’d like to add another certification by this fall. My next physical training goal will be to prepare for a fall race, perhaps the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler, and most certainly the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon in the spring. And always and above all else, keep that promise to my mother, keep making her proud, and never, never ever have anyone liken me to Precious again.


That’s all, folks! Again, we hope you enjoyed our Health and Wellness Transformation Series we had this past month. Employee health is important to us and we can’t say enough about how much we notice a difference in the overall spirit of active and healthy team members! Does your company place an importance on health and wellness? What types of activities do you do together? Have any of your coworkers had an amazing transformation?