“Baring It All Helped Me Lose 63 Pounds”
Taking one good look in the mirror led Cristina González to serious weight loss and newfound body confidence.
Cristina González, 25
REDBOOK research editor
Height: 5 feet 2 inches
Starting weight: 185 lbs
Current weight: 122 lbs
Pounds lost: 63
“I wasn’t just chubby — I was fat.”
I don’t remember a time in my life when I felt thin. I was a chubby kid, then a chubby teen. But I grew up in a Hispanic culture that prized curves, voluptuousness, and fullness, and I was surrounded by family and friends who made me feel beautiful. They convinced me that I was not my weight; I was confidence, intellect, and playfulness. It didn’t matter that it all came in a size 16.
Then I went to college. I was really out of my comfort zone and became aware of how I looked for the first time. It suddenly became obvious to me that other girls didn’t look like me. I realized that I wasn’t just chubby or overweight — I felt the full force of the descriptor “fat.” I became preoccupied with my weight and was convinced it was all that other people saw. So I avoided social situations where my body was the focus, such as a bikini-themed party or salsa lessons. But I continued to indulge in pizza and other takeout — and gradually gained 25 more pounds.
“My friends made me believe I could do anything.”
After college, I moved toNew Yorkfor graduate school. I felt completely alone, and my insecurities consumed me. I made horrible food choices, like guzzling soda or going through a box of pasta in two days. In my first semester, I reached my highest weight: 185 pounds. That’s when I finally realized that I had no idea who I was anymore, or whose body this was attached to me. I felt miserable. Eventually, I made friends with women whose self-knowledge was rock solid. They had moved to anew city, were holding their own in a competitive graduate program, and knew that if they had accomplished so much already, they could do anything. I realized that I could too. That same year, I took a trip home. I was stunned to find a 20-pounds-lighter version of my best friend, who mentioned that she lost weight by following The 3-Hour Diet by Jorge Cruise. Seeing my friend and having new confidence in myself made me think this was the time to lose weight. I bought the book and made only one goal: to read it.
“Sometimes you just have to get naked.”
I thought the book was corny; cool people didn’t do this self-help stuff. I didn’t want to “make a pact with myself” or “list five people whose support I could count on,” as the book suggested I do. And I certainly wasn’t about to look at myself naked in the mirror. When I told my best friend that I thought it was a waste of time, she said, “Stop being a punk and just do it.” So I did.
Well, first I locked the door. Then I paced. Then I stalled. Then, finally, in a flash of courage, I threw off my clothes. I stood in front of a full-length mirror and looked at myself. I thought about my body image and how it was skewing my perspective on life: I was so self-conscious about my weight and body that I thought other people were fixated on the same things. This was preventing me from exploring and having fun — being the Cristina I used to be. Sometimes you just have to get naked to see who you truly are. It was at that point that I decided to get serious about weight loss.
“Every day I wanted to quit.”
The 3-Hour Diet is built around the principle of eating small, balanced meals and snacks every three hours to keep your metabolism going. I spent a few hours at the beginning of every week planning meals, making grocery lists, and scheduling when I’d eat. Portioning everything out, from 2 tablespoons of salad dressing to 1/4 cup of rice, was very educational but maddening. I was convinced I’d never make it.
When I weighed myself for the first time a week later, though, I’d lost 2 pounds. Really? What would happen in the next few weeks? I wondered. What happened was a lot of frustration. Eating on a schedule doesn’t allow for much spontaneity. I set my cell phone timer to ring every three hours so I wouldn’t miss a meal or a snack. But it wasn’t always feasible to eat salmon and a baked sweet potato when I was in class or on the subway. And impromptu dinner plans? Forget about it. But I learned to stuff my bag with snacks and switch around meals and snacks so I could go out with friends. It paid off — in my first month on the diet, I lost 10 pounds.
Then the weight loss slowed down. I got anxious — when was I going to reach my goal? Witnessing my roommate eat pizza inspired an intense jealousy and downright sorrow for the freedom I believed I was giving up. Every day required so much planning and preparation that I felt like I had no time for anything else. I wanted to grab a skim latte after class — but I still had an hour to go before my next snack.
But I kept reaching my goals. First 10 pounds, then 15. Within a year, I lost 63 pounds — and hit my goal weight. But I was scared these changes wouldn’t last.
“It’s surreal to be this size.”
A year and a half later, I realized I was wrong. What I used to think of as a “diet” is really just the way I eat now. With a lot of practice, I’ve figured out how to reconcile my diet and my life — going to bars, eating out, and working long days.
It’s surreal to be this size. Surreal. A lot of things changed when I lost weight — from the physical, such as the way I dress, to the mental, like how I interact with others. It’s a rough road finding the balance between who I was and the body I had and who I am and the body I have now. Gaining even a few pounds can send me into a panic. But I’ve learned that falling off the wagon and into an extra helping of my favorite lemon cookies is distressing but not life-ending. I just get back on the wagon. Forgiving myself for mistakes and letting go of the fear is just part of the process.
I’m starting to feel comfortable in my body. I feel beautiful and at peace with myself, and with that there comes a freedom that allows me to express my drive, ambition, silliness, sexiness, and so much more. I’m grateful that I have finally started figuring out who I am and how to love my whole life — including my body.
MY 5 SLIMMING SECRETS:
1. EXPERIMENT WITH FOODS.
When I get bored, temptation strikes. So I’m constantly seeking new recipes and foods online and in cookbooks. Eating healthy is more exciting when I’m trying fresh beets or artichokes.
2. WHEN DINING OUT, KEEP IT SIMPLE.
I love going to new restaurants, but it can be hard to find low-cal items on the menu. I order the simplest dishes, those with no sauces or batters, so I can estimate calories accurately.
3. STASH SNACKS.
To make it easier to stay on my three-hour eating schedule, I keep healthy snacks like 100-calorie snack packs of Goldfish crackers or chocolate rice cakes on hand.
4. BECOME DETAIL-ORIENTED.
I make very specific goals, such as: I’m going to lose 10 pounds by June 15. It’s a way to check my progress, reward myself for reaching milestones — and hold myself accountable when I don’t.
5. SEE YOUR FUTURE.
A tangible reminder of what I’m working for (like a bikini in a smaller size) helps me stay on track.
HOW TO CONNECT TO THE NEW YOU
After Cristina dropped 63 pounds, she struggled to identify with her new, skinny self. “Body image is often the last thing to change after weight loss,” says Edward Abramson, Ph.D., author of Body Intelligence. “You may look thin, but in your head, you’re still the fat girl.” But embracing your new, thin body can boost your confidence and motivate you to keep the weight off. Here’s how.
* SAY “THANK YOU”
if someone compliments your weight loss, even if the attention makes you uncomfortable. You worked hard and deserve the praise.
that a new body doesn’t mean everything else in your life — like dating or work success — will fall into place. Losing weight is not a cure-all.
* TRY ON
a pair of pants that are now too big on you — then give them to charity. Or pull out old photos of yourself. “Both are physical evidence of how far you’ve come,” Abramson says.
* BE A ROLE MODEL.
Just as Cristina’s friend gave her confidence to give the diet a try, friends who are struggling with their own weight can help you stick to the healthy choices that make you feel great.
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