130 Pounds Lost: Lifestyle Makeover
NAME : Jessica
BEFORE WEIGHT : 290
AFTER WEIGHT : 160
POUNDS LOST : 130
WHEN DID YOU START DEVELOPING A WEIGHT PROBLEM?
I have been overweight my entire life. I don’t remember a time after age 9 or 10 that I wasn’t “too heavy” for my age and height.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE?
I was depressed. I was constantly getting sick with colds and viruses. I had a hard time breathing when doing even the most basic activities. I had no desire to go outside, or do anything physically active. This was partially because I knew I couldn’t do it without feeling physically uncomfortable, and partially out of pure self-loathing. I was unhappy, and it showed.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY?
My daughter was born in 2012. Over the course of her first year, I packed on more weight and was not the “hands on, outdoorsy mom” I always wanted to be. But, it wasn’t until she asked me to chase her up the hill in our yard and I literally could not keep up that I realized something had to change. I found myself trying to convince her to stay inside and watch movies with me, or read books, or do “sitting down” activities because the thought of having to chase her around outside was just too much for me. I knew then that I didn’t want to be that parent. I wanted to be the mom that takes her kids for runs and plays basketball and tag. And that wasn’t what I was, and I knew I’d never get there if I didn’t change something fast.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I started SMALL, like most people do. I cut my calories, and tracked EVERYTHING. I viewed my calorie intake like a budget. If I had 1200 calories to “spend”, I made every single one count. No empty calories, no drinking my calories in sugary beverages, just whole nutritious foods. I couldn’t do too much other than walk at that point, so I made sure to walk EVERY day and go as far as I could. I’d put my daughter in the stroller and aim for a mile. Then 2. Then 3. Once I was able to build up some endurance I incorporated a lot of calisthenics. My goal was to not just lose weight, but build strength. About 2 months in, I started lifting weights every day. Looking back, I credit my weight loss almost entirely to strength training and clean eating.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS?
I started to FEEL the changes as early as 1 month in. It wasn’t until about 3 months in that other people started to notice too. My clothes got looser and looser, and definition started appearing in places I NEVER thought I’d lose the flab and extra skin. I lost my first 80 pounds in about 9 months. The rest of it (50 pounds) came off gradually over the 6 months to follow. Fast forward to now, approximately 2 years later, and I’ve been maintaining my current weight for about 6 months and have built muscle, gained definition, and dropped another 2 pant sizes without losing any actual weight.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
Eating is the biggest challenge for me. I’m an emotional, stress, binge, over-eater. Once I got over the physical restrictions of my obesity holding me back in the exercise department, I learned to love it. I work out every day. Not because I “have” to – I just love it now. But, I STILL struggle with food. You can’t ever over train a bad diet. You’ve got to get a handle on the nutrition, otherwise you’re fighting yourself.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING?
There were days that I would over eat and skip workouts, and my immediate thought was – “ugh, it’s not worth it. I’m going to be fat forever. I’ll never be fit. I’ll never be healthy. This is a waste. I’m going to let everyone down anyway.” And then my daughter would walk into the room and ask to play outside, or go to the park, or go to the pool.. and that’s all it took. She was my motivation to start, and has been the driving force that keeps me going every single day. Knowing that I’m sculpting myself into the best parent I can be for her is just enough push to keep me driven.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I didn’t have any MAJOR plateaus where I was just completely stuck. When my weight would start to level off, I just upped my weights in the gym and increased the intensity of my cardio. I did a lot of H.I.I.T. workouts, and a lot of heavy lifting. Weight training would kick my metabolism right back into high gear, every time.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT?
All together, it was about a year and a half. The first 80 pounds came off in about 9 months. It was another 6 or so that the last 50 came off. Since then, I’ve been maintaining my current weight and focusing on changing the shape of my body. I don’t focus on the number on the scale. It’ll make you crazy. I focus on the way I feel and the way my clothes fit. I took pictures throughout my journey and I look back all the time to remind myself how far I’ve come.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES?
Of course! The first time I went shopping after losing the first 80 pounds was life changing. At 290 pounds, I was in a pants size 26 and tops size 3X. When I went into Kohl’s and was able to buy a size 14 pair of shorts and an XL tank top, I nearly fell over. And that feeling STILL gets me every time I shop. I wear a size pants 6-8 now, and S-M tops and I still forget. Sometimes, I’ll walk into a store and walk straight to the plus size section and start looking for clothes. It always takes me a minute to remember that I’m not that girl any more.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
Aside from the fact that I used to consume about 2500-3000 calories a day, I was also eating that many calories in pure JUNK. Fried foods, fast foods, processed foods, sodas, alcohol, just garbage. Now, I don’t WANT those foods. I crave fresh produce, whole grains, WATER, healthy fats; protein; I eat about 1400-1500 calories a day and I’m FULL. That’s not to say I don’t love a good slice of pizza or a glass of wine. But, that’s not my every day diet. If I crave something, I indulge – moderately. I used to have 4-5 slices of pizza in a sitting, now – I have one, I get full, I stop. It’s a whole new concept for me.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER?
It is radically different. I was living a completely sedentary life. No gym. No walks. Nothing more than I absolutely had to do. Walking from the house to the car seemed like a mile. Seriously. Now, I look for ways to move. I never take the elevator. I ALWAYS take the stairs. If I can walk or run, I don’t drive. Instead of packing the car to drive 2 miles down the road to take my daughter to the park, we pack the stroller and jog there. It’s just a new way of living for me. I do some form of a workout every day. Whether it’s yoga, or weight lifting, or a run on the trail, or even just a walk around the neighborhood; no matter what I move my body every single day now.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Overeating, binge eating, stress eating, cheating – it all happens. Acknowledge it. Understand it. Accept it. Get OVER it. Slip ups happen, but they don’t ruin you. You don’t have to start from scratch. You haven’t undone all the work you put in. You’re human. Don’t forget that.
- Be consistent. Running 10 miles a day for 3 days and then not moving for 5 isn’t going to work. Move your body every single day. That doesn’t mean run a marathon every day, maybe it’s just walking or stretching or going for a swim. But, no matter what – move your body.
- Nourish your body. You don’t (and shouldn’t!) have to eat lettuce and chicken every day. You NEED carbs, and healthy fats, and veggies, and fruits, and ALL of that good stuff. Make a list of your favorite foods. If they already happen to be good, clean foods, then great – you’re two steps ahead. If they aren’t, find a new way to make them healthy. Research healthy versions of your favorite things and experiment in the kitchen. And if you need some guidance, Pinterest and Instagram are AWESOME sources of inspiration.
- DRINK WATER. This goes right along with nourish your body. You should aim for half your body weight in ounces every day. I drink about 100oz a day because now, my body craves it. I was NEVER a water drinker before – and now, if I don’t get enough in I feel weak, I get headaches, and I’m cranky! Skip the soda, skip the sweet tea, skip the juice. Water is the key. Can’t get down enough of just plain old water? Try adding some frozen fruit to your bottle! I love strawberries, cucumbers, and mint leaves in mine. 😉
- Forgive yourself. You’re not perfect. And you won’t get it right every time. But, you’re trying; sometimes – that’s enough. There’s a saying that goes something like, “no matter how slow you’re going, you’re still lapping every body on the couch.” And it’s true! You don’t have to be the fittest. You don’t have to be the strongest. You don’t have to be the fastest. You have to be the best version of YOU.
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