Height: 5′ 7″
Dress size before: 12
Dress size after: 2
Weight loss: 70 lbs.
What led to your weight gain?
Weight has been something I have struggled with my entire life. I was always the chubby kid growing up and can remember being in 3rd grade and not understanding why my weight was in the triple digits when all of my friends were not. It was not until I was 15 and I began to play sports that I started to lose weight, however over the years I gradually would gain all of the weight I had lost back plus some. Through high school and college whenever I felt like I was gaining weight I would start to workout for a couple of months and would end up losing it. However then I would go back to my old habits and would gain even more weight back then I had originally lost. When I graduated college I was at my heaviest weight I had ever been. I started working out everyday and 4 months later I had not made any progress. I became very frustrated and did not understand why I was not losing weight when this plan had always worked for me in the past. I decided at that point that my body was just meant to be heavy and I just accepted it. However it was not until five years later I figured out how important nutrition was to losing and maintaining weight. That is when I learned I could make a change.
What do you consider your turning point?
My weight loss wake up call was on New Years Eve 2010. I was back home in Colorado visiting my family. I had been feeling down about myself for months and that night I had decided to pass on a night out with friends because I did not feel good enough about myself to get dressed up and go out for a night on the town. I ended up going to my bed and crying that night instead. It was that night I decided I was no longer going to let my body be a reason for me to not do something. That next morning I started the journey that changed my life
How did you lose the weight? How long did it take you to achieve your goal?
I started my weight loss journey on January 1st 2011. By summer I had lost 50 lbs. and by that fall I had ended up losing another 10 lbs. Over the course of the next 6 months I gradually lost the remaining 10 lbs. and have now been maintaining my weight for over a year and a half.
How did you change your eating habits and physical activity? Were there any special diet tricks you used to control cravings, squeeze in exercise or meal planning, or limit portions? What are your go-to products that helped you stay on track?
The first thing I did was figure out the appropriate amount of calories I needed in order to maintain my weight and how many calories I needed to eat in order to lose weight. The number I came to was 1,200 calories a day in order to lose 1-2lbs a week. My next step was to download a food logging app for my phone (my fitness pal) to help me journal my food daily. I started using the app to research and learn how many calories were in various foods. I was amazed to learn just how many calories were in some of the foods I was eating. For instance I would order a nacho plate every time I went to the movie theater. I learned one serving of this had 1,300 calories, which is more than I should be eating in a single day to lose weight! In order to stay full and satisfied I made a plan that I needed to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole wheat grains and other forms of protein. I have always loved bread, but found I could either have one small piece of bread or I could have a large apple and greek yogurt which would make me just as happy and a lot more full. In regards to food I never gave up anything entirely as I knew that my plan needed to be sustainable. So I made choices. If I wanted to go have a nice dinner with friends and enjoy a glass of wine then I needed to pass on the bread basket and dessert. I think this helped me to stay on track and not feel like I was suffering too much. However that is not to say it was always easy. Sometimes it took all of the willpower I could muster to pass on something and sometimes I ended up caving into my craving.
With exercise I already had a routine going prior to my weight loss start so that made it a little bit easier for me. In five years I had never skipped a week of working out. However I was only going once or twice a week and running for 30 minutes max. When I started my weight loss plan I learned how important weight training was for women. So I upped my working out to 3-4 times a week and would have two days focused on cardio and two days focused on weights. I started taking a Body Pump class at the gym and became hooked! After a few months of working out 3-4 times a week I became so addicted to how good working out made me feel that I upped my workout days to 5-6 days a week. I still stuck to balancing out my workouts with a mix of cardio and weights. For me I made no excuses about not finding a time to workout. This meant I would go before work some days or at my lunch break on others. I made it part of my routine and prioritized it to be just as important as getting a shower in and going to work. For me personally working out was actually the easier part then the nutrition.
What are some tips for someone trying to reach a similar goal?
1. Weight loss needs to be something you really want to do and are ready to do. If you are not 100% fully vested in it then you are going to struggle.
2. Have a good support system. I was very lucky to have friends and family that supported me. So when I needed to eat healthy they would eat healthy too. They encouraged me along the way and for that I am extremely grateful.
3. Unfortunately there will be people in your life that will act as “saboteurs.” It might come from a place of jealousy, it could come in the form of not understanding or accepting why you can’t do things like you used to, or it will be people who just keep encouraging you to cheat. It is important to stay strong and remember what your ultimate goal is.
4. Don’t torture yourself! If losing weight and keeping it off is your ultimate goal then there is no way you are going to be able to cut out all of the food and drinks you love from your life forever. And you shouldn’t! Start to learn what are the things that are really important to you. For me having wine and cheese with friends was always something I needed to be able to make room for. However giving up fried food I found was something I didn’t miss. It is all about moderation. One bad meal or one missed workout won’t break your weight loss plan. Just remember to get back on track at your next opportunity. This is something that has taken me a long time to learn.
5. Find workouts you enjoy doing and just focus on moving your body more. Let’s be honest, if you hate it you won’t do it. And working out will never be as fun as having drinks and an awesome meal with friends. But realize it is important and you can make it fun and social too. After recently having a spinal stress fracture I had to try some new workout routines since I was no longer able to run until I was healed. I tried a ballet inspired class called Barre and I am now obsessed! It is fun to continue to push yourself into trying new things as you will never know what you might like.
6. Know that losing weight is just the starting off point of the journey. I think a lot of people assume once you lose weight you can go back to old habits. In reality there is not a huge change between weight loss and maintenance. The habits of eating healthy and exercising will need to be a part of your life going forward. However once you start to maintain your weight you get to indulge more and over time these habits become second nature and you can’t imagine not doing them.
What are your strategies for developing healthy eating and exercise habits to maintain your weight loss?
What has worked for me is building sustainable routines?
For exercise I know that I hate working out at night. I will dread it all day and will make excuses not to go. So I go to the gym every morning. My alarm goes off and I don’t even think twice, it is just part of my day like going to work. I plan my workouts for the week so I know what I am doing every morning. I also try and make working out fun. So whether this is trying new classes (which used to scare me beyond belief!) or making working out time to spend with friends. This can be in the form of classes, playing golf, going on a hike, you name it. I am lucky to have a boyfriend who constantly supports my working out. So we will even make dates out of being active. Just going with someone else makes it even that more fun!
For food I plan ahead a lot. I bring my breakfast and lunch to work almost everyday. I find having staples in your routine is what makes this work. During the week I eat either oatmeal or greek yogurt with fruit most mornings. That way I am not having to think about it. I try to focus lunch around veggies as my main dish. So a salad during the summer or roasted veggies with a grain during the winter. Dinner for me has always been my most important meal. So If I am going out to dinner with friends I look at the restaurant’s menu before hand and figure out what are the healthy options and what I want to eat. That way I go into the meal ready to enjoy without worrying. I have to travel a lot for work so I have learned to bring snacks and healthy food with me. That way if I am stuck with only bad options I have an apple and some nuts in my bag. However at the end of the day I am going to have days where I indulge too much. I have learned that is ok because I will eat healthy for my next meal. Again everything is in moderation and it is about listening to your body.
Overall losing 70 lbs. obviously changed my life in a lot of ways. I have found I have a lot more confidence now in every aspect of my life. From sleeping better, to getting sick less, and having more energy throughout the day. Trying new things still scares me, but it is nice to know I now have a body that will support it. So even if I am not good at something new I am trying I will have fun doing it. The journey to being healthy is not easy. I still have days I struggle with overeating or being too hard on myself for not getting a good workout in. It takes time to build a good relationship with food, especially when you have always had a very emotional one. However when you know what the benefits are from being healthy it makes you want to keep going. What I shared with you is everything that worked for me, but it is worth saying it may not work for everyone else. Hopefully you may have found something interesting or useful with what I had to share!