I didn’t develop a weight problem until I graduated from college. During college, I loved to be active. I always walked to and from classes, I went to the gym after classes and was passionate about running. It was my stress reliever. After college, I was so excited when I got offered a full time desk job. I found my priorities shifting very quickly. After work, I would go to happy hour with my coworkers almost every day. I never worried what I ate because I figured I was active enough for it not to matter. With my lack of activity and my poor diet, I found my weight creeping up by the day. My clothes were getting tighter and I would blame it on them shrinking in the dryer. I would try and start diets here and there. I would be successful for a day or two, and then when I didn’t lose a lot of weight, I would quit which always resulted in even more weight gain. It was a vicious cycle. Within a year of graduating college, I found myself over 60 pounds heavier.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE? My weight affected almost every aspect of my life. I found the simplest tasks like putting on my shoes, walking up stairs or making the bed much more difficult. My clothes were so tight and uncomfortable that I resorted to wearing a shaper under everything I wore. My shaper became my safety blanket in a sense! I used to love to go shopping, but as I gained the weight, it used to be my worst nightmare. I remember shopping for work pants at The Limited at one point and realizing that the biggest size wouldn’t even button. Although I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, I was really in denial about how big I actually was. I remember thinking that The Limited’s clothing just ran *really* small. I bought the biggest size they sold and held them together with a bunch of safety pins.
More than anything though, my weight made me feel like a stranger in my own body. I didn’t even recognize the person I saw in the mirror. I was so uncomfortable and embarrassed with the way I looked. When someone would look at me, I always assumed they were looking at me because of my weight. My self esteem was so low that I was willing to settle in life because I didn’t feel worthy of good things.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY? I remember this day like it was yesterday. It was September 28, 2012 and I went to a luncheon with my boss. It was a large group of women and the speaker was talking about how to add more harmony in your life. She had us start by writing down our top 10 accomplishments for the year so far. While the rest of the women started scribbling things down, I sat there puzzled. Literally couldn’t think of anything. I wasn’t proud of anything I had done that year because, frankly, I hadn’t done anything. Then she had us write down our top 10 disappointments for the year. Sadly, the first thing I thought was, “Oh good! Something easy!”. She asked for 10, I wrote down over 15. Once I was done, I looked up at the table and everyone else there looked puzzled as if they couldn’t think of any disappointments. Its was literally THAT moment that I realized, it is not normal to be so miserable. When I got home, I took a look at my disappointments. I instantly saw a theme – my weight. My weight was the root of my misery. I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I felt, I hated that I let myself go, I hated that I felt so unworthy and I hated how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin. That day, I learned a very valuable lesson. Only YOU have the power to change your life. I was in the drivers seat of my life, meaning, I had the power to turn that steering wheel and head in a different direction. That day, I chose to not be miserable anymore and I chose to do something about it. Finally.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? I started small. I started with working out with a trainer at my work twice a week for an hour. After realizing how good it felt to workout, I started going to a gym a couple times a week after work. I actually found that I REALLY liked working out. It made me feel good about myself. I liked seeing my strength and endurance improve week over week. I loved going to the gym and doing cardio and then learning how to lift. I would go home and do P90X and other ab exercises at home too. When I would watch TV at night, I would do sit ups and squats during the commercials. As for my diet, I started making healthier substitutions here and there. I gave up my lattes and apple fitters for black coffee and protein shakes. I started cooking at home and packing my lunches. I tried to keep my cheats to weekends only and then eventually went down to only one cheat a week. Just as I found a love for working out, I found a passion for cooking and learning about nutrition. The better I ate, the better I felt. Slowly but surely, the cleaner I ate, the more my cravings started to disappear. Those weekend cheats became much less appealing.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS? During the first month of my new healthy lifestyle, I actually gained 6 pounds. Normally, that would have made me want to go home and binge on junk food. But this time, it was different. I felt so good that even though I had put on weight, I decided to continue with it and just trust the process. I knew I was eating healthy and exercising and was confident that eventually, the weight would come off. The next month, I lost 15 pounds. After that, my weight loss was slow. There would be months I would drop 5 pounds and others where I would completely plateau. Regardless, I kept pushing forward, refusing to go back to the girl I once was. Within eight months, I had lost 50 pound. I am so thankful I didn’t quit after that first month or during any of my plateaus, who knows where I would be now.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART? The biggest challenges I had to overcome was my willpower and the way I viewed food. Losing weight is really hard and it is even harder when you are doing it alone. I didn’t have gym buddy or someone that would help me stay accountable. I just had myself. So, when I would go over to my Mom’s house for dinner or meet up with friends at a restaurant, I had to have the willpower to stay on track. No one else would care if I ordered a big cheeseburger rather than grilled chicken. And frankly, sometimes people would give me a hard time for not eating like them. People like to give you a hard time when you are trying to eat healthy. Maybe it makes them feel guilty for eating unhealthy? Who knows. I had to continuously remind myself WHY I was doing this. I wrote down all of my whys on notecards and kept them with me at all times. Some of my reasons were: looking stunning in a wedding dress someday, feeling good about myself, proving to myself that I could actually do it and wearing shorts in the summertime. Whenever I was tempted to skip a workout or choose something unhealthy, I would read my cards. I would only need to read through a couple to help me feel strong enough to say no!
My other challenge was the way I viewed food. Food wasn’t nutrition. Food was a hobby. All day long, I would think about what I wanted to eat at home after work, what I wanted to order at happy hour, etc. Food was a way for me to be social and hang out with my friends. Food made me feel good, it comforted me when I was down and gave me something to do when I was bored. Food made me really happy, and that was a problem. I had to learn how to really listen to my body to figure out if I was just bored or if I was legitimately hungry. My Mom used to tell me, if you aren’t willing to eat an apple, you aren’t all that hungry. How true. In the evening when I am munchy for salty food, I am just bored, I am not actually hungry. I made a list of things to do to distract myself like taking a bath, going for a walk, running an errand, brushing my teeth, reading a book and going to bed. Basically, getting away from the kitchen! Once I started to read about nutrition, I started viewing food as fuel for my body. The food I ate would impact my workouts, my mood, my energy and how I felt. That was a big eye opener for me.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING? I can’t count how many times I wanted to just give up. Losing weight is really hard. I made a list of my whys and I reminded myself of them often. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice all of my goals for extra time in front of the TV and a bag of cheetos. For the first time in my life, I was actually making progress and I didn’t want to let all of that go to waste.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? I have hit many plateaus. At one point, I hit a 5 month plateau where I was working out daily, eating clean and just wasn’t losing weight. During that time though, I went from a size 10 to a size 4. I realized, a plateau isn’t always a plateau. You may not be losing weight over all, but your body may be slowly replacing your fat with added muscle. If you replace a pound of fat with a pound of muscle, you will not lose weight but you will shrink in size since muscle is more dense!
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT? It took me 8 months to lose 50 pounds. I have since had a baby and lost more weight, and I now have lost a total of 63 pounds.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES? Tons! I have been able to buy all new clothes and have gone from a size 16 down to a 4. My strength has increased and I can lift more than ever before. I couldn’t even run a mile when I started and I can run several now. I can run up a flight of stairs without getting winded. I pack my lunch everyday for work, haven’t gone out to lunch in a very long time! My rings and watches now fit me again! I can fit into all of my clothes from college.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? I eat clean 90% of the time now. I pay attention to the actual ingredients in my food rather than just eating what looks good. I stay away from anything that says “sugar free” or “fat free” and all artificial sweeteners. My diet is packed with lots of lean protein like chicken and turkey, healthy carbs like brown rice and sweet potato, lots of greens and fruit. I don’t eat fast food anymore and I think twice about what I eat when I go to restaurants now. I don’t buy frozen food as much and I try to stick to fresh foods.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? I workout six days a week now. I do all of my workouts at home actually in my living room. When I was heavy, I didn’t do any exercise and had every excuse in the book about why I couldn’t workout. Right now I am finishing up Insanity Max: 30 and I am able to do way more than I ever thought I could. I like to go walking now with my husband and son. I wear my fitbit daily to make sure I hit my 10,000 steps each day.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Write down your whys on notecards and carry them with you. Tape a couple of them in your kitchen, your bathroom, your bedroom, etc. Reminding yourself of your whys will help you stay on track when you are struggling!
- If you struggle with night time snacking, save a protein packed snack for after dinner like a greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs or even a protein shake. Rather than restricting yourself after dinner and then binging later, allow yourself something healthy!
- Find an accountability partner. Whether it be a friend, coworker, family member or an online accountability group! Having someone that is on the same journey as you will help you so much! Its nice to know you aren’t alone!
- Celebrate those non-scale victories! The scale isn’t always the best way to determine your success. It fluctuates so much! Take your measurements, take those selfies, pay attention to how your clothes fit! Sometimes you can shrink in size without losing any weight!
- Remember, progress is progress – no matter how small. Even just one pound is such a huge accomplishment! All those small weight losses will compound into a large weight loss!