Health

How I Got This Body: Runnings Races, Boxing, and Drinking a Ton of Water (While Still Hitting Bottomless Brunches)

All photographs courtesy of Hanna Porten.

Want to share your transformation story? I want to hear from you! Email me at mmontgomery@washingtonian.com. 

Who: Hanna Porten, data scientist
Lives: Columbia Heights
Height: 5’4″
Pounds lost: 57 pounds
How long it took: I started my fitness journey in mid-July of 2018, so it has been almost a year.

Turning point: I was really unhappy with the way I looked and the way I felt. I was eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and it was making me sick. I had tried earlier in 2018 to do fad diets (like keto and slow carb) and the second I stopped, I gained the weight back. I knew I would not be able to do it on my own, which is why I sought out help from a trainer and found Errick McAdams on Yelp. After my first session with him, I was completely committed to fitness and changing my life.

Exercise: When I started working out with Errick, I was at a very basic level of fitness. Running for me was especially difficult, both physically and psychologically due to a negative experience I had running running as a child. But we worked through it, and now I can even say I somewhat enjoy running.

From the day I started working out with Errick, our workouts have been challenging and remain challenging to this day. We do everything: running, jump roping, calisthenics, weight training, even boxing (which I love). The workouts are now more advanced in terms of number of sets and amount of weight used. Rest periods between sets have gotten shorter. I’m able to pack more exercise into an hour than I used to.

Diet: “Diet is the most important thing.” Errick says this all the time. When I started, he suggested I track my calories on the MyPlate app. It was a real eye-opener! I had no idea I was consuming so many calories! Also, I learned that I needed to drink more water. A LOT MORE WATER. I wake up each morning and down a water bottle, during my workouts I drink two, and I drink another two-to-three throughout the day.

I cut down my alcohol consumption and increased my consumption of veggies and protein (food protein, not supplements). I meal-prepped each week and I am extremely careful planning when planning to eat out. Errick also says constantly, “You can eat anything you want, just not everything,” and I took this to heart. I was still allowed to eat the foods I loved, just not all at once and in the same quantities. He also says, “Eat clean, eat, and don’t eat after.” I cut out after-dinner snacks and supplemented with more water to cut post-dinner carb cravings.

How she stuck with it: It was not hard to stay committed and motivated once I started seeing results (which happened right away). I was excited going to my sessions with Errick because I never knew what to expect and because of his positive attitude. He has been my personal cheerleader from the start.

I am extremely goal-oriented. From my day-one session, we set a goal for how much weight to lose and I was determined to accomplish it.

Favorite splurge: I love DC’s bottomless champagne brunches and any Asian noodle soup.

Changes to her “invisible” health: Mentally, I feel much better. It is easier to wake up in the morning—I have more energy and I am more excited and optimistic about life.

How she felt then: I felt lethargic and unhappy with myself. I was self-conscious about my appearance, but I was not doing anything about it.

How she feels now: I feel great now! I love the feeling after accomplishing a hard workout, running that extra mile, and just being overall healthy. I have completed four timed 5Ks, and I regularly run three miles on my own (when I started my fitness journey, I could not even run for five minutes straight). Each time I run, I try to go faster or longer. I am now training for my first 10K!

Newfound body love: I really did not like any of my body before. Now I have learned to love myself again. I am still a work-in-progress because I don’t think the learning process is ever complete and I don’t want to be complacent.

To those who want to make a change: Start with small goals. I did not get to running five miles overnight. It took time and dedication to make my way there. Make a plan and stick with it. I had my workouts scheduled in advance so I knew what my week was going to look like and I committed to it.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Readers should consult their doctors before making health and wellness decisions. 

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Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.