I started to develop a weight problem during the end of my sophomore year in college. I was struggling with anxiety and balancing the high demand that my major entailed. I turned to food as my coping mechanism. Eating unhealthy, at the wrong times and very frequently on top of the binge-drinking associated with college led me to pack on the pounds. At the beginning of freshman year, I had started around 125lbs and weighed in at 155lbs at the end of my senior year of college. This is when I finally realized that in order to change my life for the better, I needed to take action and develop healthier eating habits.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE? I have always been very athletic and picked up any sport that I played naturally. Being an athlete, I have always had a competitive nature and always pushed myself to be the best in whatever sport I was playing. When I started to gain the weight over the years, I was really bothered by the fact that my athletic capabilities were diminishing: I was feeling winded and couldn’t keep up. Additionally, as I gained weight, my anxiety and self confidence were worsened. I remember being so anxious and dreaded going to certain parties/activities because I didn’t feel confident about myself due to my weight gain. I felt that I was losing sight of who I really was as I packed on the pounds and I turned to food to help cope with that.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY? My turning point hit after I graduated college. I entered graduate school as a doctoral student in Pharmacology. I looked at myself in the mirror one morning before class and just cried. I cried not only because I was so upset with what I saw, but also because I was not the person I knew deep down inside that I wanted to be. Mentally, I was so exhausted with the woman that lacked self confidence and the will to change her life for the better. I am known to be a go getter when it comes to education, but when it came to my health, I seemed to always put it on the back burner. I realized that the only way to achieve my health and fitness goal was through hard work and dedication. I promised myself that I would apply the dedication that I always have put into education into health and fitness and transforming myself into the woman I was always fighting for.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? I started off by telling myself that I am worth it. I am worth all the hard work needed to become a better version of myself. I purchased a guide that educated me on portion control and meal preparation and learned that eating healthy didn’t have to be boring. For the first few months of my new health journey, I focused solely on tackling my eating habits and refocusing my mind on wholesome and nutritious foods. I started to attend dance style classes 2 times a week to slowly get comfortable with exercising again. After the first initial few months, I purchased a high intensity interval training program that educated me on incorporating fitness in shorter time periods throughout the week. After completing this guide, I ventured into the gym and fell in love with weight training while still incorporating high intensity interval training in my fitness regimen.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS? I started seeing results as soon as I changed my unhealthy eating habits. My weight loss results were increased as I incorporated more fitness training on top of eating very clean. My mentality shifted from a quick diet fix to making healthy eating and fitness my lifestyle. I realized that hard work, dedication and time is the remedy for success in weight loss efforts!
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART? There were many challenges I had to overcome. Balancing a full-time doctoral program at the age of 22, when typically the average age of entrance is around 26 with years of experience, was a major challenge. Juggling, 10-12 hour school days and then studying after returning home was definitely a challenge. Finding the energy to stay on track with eating well and hitting the gym after those long days was something I needed to overcome. Additionally, being in my early 20’s usually comes hand in hand with many weekends that consist of going out with friends and eating and drinking tons. Being able to express that eating healthy and exercising was important to me and indulging in all the yummy yet not so healthy food during the weekends with my friends was also something I struggled with. I was able to overcome this by expressing to my friends how important my weight loss journey was to me and that their support during this time would mean the world to me.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING? There are days where I definitely wanted to give up. Days where I knew that I had worked so hard the previous week and no weight loss occurred. Or days where I wanted to just sleep after studying hours for a set of exams, but knew that if I made a habit of being lazy that all my progress would be for nothing. What kept me going were my goals. My goals that I set for myself early in my weight loss journey. I have never been one to start something and not finish it. This is what pushes me. I want to be a the best version of myself and giving up on myself won’t get me there.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? There was a period of 3-4 months where I reached a weight loss plateau after losing a significant portion of weight. In order to overcome it, I actually started incorporating more weight lifting into my routine and focused less on cardio. When I did this, my plateau finally was overcome. Also, I worked on changing up my diet. I felt as though my body was used to the same foods that I was eating, so I started to incorporate more of a variety of healthy and wholesome clean foods into my eating routine.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT? Weight loss takes time and it honestly took me about 6-7 months to lose most of the weight that I had set as a goal for myself. If I had to do it all over again, I would because throughout this amazing process, I have learned so much about myself and am so proud of the person I have become because of it.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES? So many non-scale victories! I have my life back. I am the happy person I always knew was hiding deep down inside. My anxiety is under control. I am healthy and my relationships with those around me are amazing and blossoming. I have made amazing friends throughout this process as well. I am able to do so many new exercises in the gym that I could not do before mostly because I have the self confidence to try new things without worrying what others will think of me.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? I have incorporated wholesome and nutritious foods that fill me up and are rich in protein. I don’t neglect any food groups whereas before I thought eating low carb or no bread would get me the results I was looking for. I focus on making sure that I am eating enough protein and that I am well fed instead of starving. I have learned that food is fuel for your body and not the enemy!
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? I train about 5-6 times a week whereas before I would not train at all. I would always dream of going to the gym and being healthy and fit. I would go for about 2-3 days and then would completely stop. Now, if I am not in the gym for 2-3 days, everyone knows that I am not a happy gal! I love the gym. It is the place where I can shut off all the hectic things going on in my life and can escape even if it is just for 30 minutes.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Write down 3 goals every few months or so and keep it with you at all times. When you feel like giving up, take out that piece of paper and remind yourself why you started.
- Surround yourself with people that want to motivate you to be the best version of yourself. Once you find those people, don’t ever let go of them!
- Always keep a protein-rich snack and water with with you at all times. If you are feeling hungry, you will always be prepared to fuel your body!
- Set aside one day a week for an hour or so to meal prep! Keep this saying in mind: if you fail to prep, you plan to fail!
- Never skip a Monday at the gym. Always starting off the week on the right foot will keep you motivated and will help you reach your health and fitness goals!