Photo by Amanda Kirsh

At 24 years old, Khristi Lister had already spent years struggling with a negative body image. Since the birth of her first child in 2007, she had been battling with diet and exercise programs, sometimes successfully dropping a significant amount of weight, but also adopting an unhealthy relationship with food and restrictive eating. Her self-esteem was at an all-time low—so low, she would avoid her children’s school trips, family functions, and even dates with her husband. “I was too uncomfortable to participate in anything,” says Khristi. “There was so much sadness over everything I was missing out on because of the shame I felt for my own body.”

“There was so much sadness over everything I was missing out on because of the shame I felt for my own body.”

After enlisting the help of her coach in 2013, Khristi finally reached a healthy 130 lbs and felt much more like her usual bubbly and outgoing self. “My third child had just weaned, and I couldn’t wait to find ‘Khristi’ again,” she says. “My husband and I were re-connecting as people, not just as parents, and I was in a better place than I had been in a long time.”

But in 2016, life threw them a curveball: Khristi was pregnant. The following nine months were difficult, with Khristi experiencing antenatal depression that brought on feelings that her body, marriage, and even her own self were being taken from her. “It was a hard pregnancy filled with some incredibly hateful times,” she says.



After the birth of their fourth child, a daughter, Khristi’s hormones eventually began to balance and her mental health improved. But her motivation had waned, and she found it very difficult to be consistent with her fitness and nutrition efforts. Looking for an extra jolt of motivation, she signed up for the STRONG Fitness Magazine Transformation Challenge in February 2019. “I had excuses: Four kids, hormonal imbalances, and a nursing toddler,” she says, recalling that she felt like quitting in the beginning. “Honestly, in the first week I was ready to give up, but after a couple weeks and participating in the [Facebook] group, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.”

“I was in the moment instead of hyper-focused on my body.”

The support and encouragement Khristi felt from the other challenge participants helped her to push past the excuses and stay on track in a healthy way. Instead of counting every calorie she consumed, Khristi learned to track her macronutrients, which meant she could be more flexible with her food choices. Suddenly, she could enjoy birthday parties and date nights without feeling like she had “failed” her diet. Using this method, Khristi realized the important messages she was sending to her kids about healthy eating. She also hit the gym in the evening, when the kids were in bed. “The idea of laying down at home with a book is way more appealing, of course, but now this schedule is routine; getting there is easy. It’s why I don’t work out at home—because then I’d end up on the couch!”

Photo by Amanda Kirsh Photography | Quesnel BC

After 12 weeks, Khristi went from 151 lbs to a healthy 129 lbs on her 5’4” frame and last summer, she did something she says she hadn’t done in almost 15 years: Wore a bathing suit—proudly. “I was in the moment instead of hyper-focused on my body,” she says. “That freedom is something I had hoped a magic number on the scale would give me. But I’m not at a magic number. Instead, I found a balance I’m proud of that takes away all the pressure and loathing of dieting.”

Chelsea Clarke
Chelsea is a Toronto-based editor and writer, penning everything from investigative reports to inspiring profiles. She’s the current Associate Editor of Strategy Magazine.