I was always fairly active growing up and never had a weight problem. However, when I turned 20, I changed from a retail job where I walked all day to a job where I sat at a desk, and I moved to a new city away from the exercise class I had been attending several times a week. Then I fell in love with a handsome boy and married him, which meant starting on birth control and also starting to eat much more “man food.” I ended up gaining at least 40 pounds that first year of marriage, and it just kept climbing and climbing.
NAME : Emily
BEFORE WEIGHT : 210
AFTER WEIGHT : 140
POUNDS LOST : 70
As poor newlyweds, we couldn’t afford a scale, but I knew my weight was climbing and I couldn’t figure out how to make it stop. I started doing exercise DVDs in the mornings, but I was eating so much processed food that the exercise didn’t help budge my weight at all. Then I hung out in my new, obese shape for over a decade, randomly going on different diet and/or exercise plans, without any lasting success.
HOW DID YOUR WEIGHT AFFECT ANY ASPECT(S) OF YOUR LIFE? The biggest way my weight affected my life was that the weight and my PCOS made me infertile. More than anything I wanted to be a mom, but years and years of doctor’s visits, invasive procedures, and horrible medications couldn’t help us to have a baby. Yes, I was embarrassed by my body, and I avoided pictures and mirrors as much as possible, but those were minor inconveniences compared to how the weight took away my dreams of motherhood.
WHAT WAS THE “TURNING POINT” THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY? I had started learning a little about health and nutrition and made some small improvements in my diet, which helped me lose about 30 pounds. This was enough help to my body to give us the biggest surprise of my life! I was thrilled to finally have our little miracle baby, but I gained all the weight back and then some. I did the exact same thing a couple of years later for miracle baby, #2, and gained it all back again.
While I was proud of what I had learned and done to get my babies, my real turning point didn’t happen until my second baby was about a year old. I got out of the shower one day and walked to my closet to get my clothes, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirrors on the closet door. Before I realized what I was doing, I had the mirror in my hands and I was going to break it. Thankfully I quickly stopped myself, realizing this was absolutely not a normal or good reaction. For both my mental and physical health, I had to make real changes that would last for the long run.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? The first thing I did was head to the library, where I checked out every book I could find on health and nutrition. I wanted to read them all and learn as much as I could about my body. My focus had shifted from wanting to lose weight so I would look better, to wanting to lose weight so I could feel better. My perspective had changed from needing to punish myself for poor eating choices, to instead the idea of showing love to myself by giving it healthy, nourishing foods. Through my research we decided that the best thing we could do was cut processed foods.
HOW LONG AFTER YOU STARTED DID YOU BEGIN TO SEE RESULTS OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS? When you nourish your body well, it’s like you are finally giving it the tools it needs to heal and work correctly. I saw results right away, with a very steady 1-2 pound weight loss per week. Compared to all the restrictive diets I had been on before, this seemed almost too easy! But it was also sustainable.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART? I do have PCOS, which makes it so hard to lose weight! But again, when you really nourish yourself well, your body can finally work the way it is supposed to. Not only did I lose weight this way, but my PCOS symptoms subsided. The biggest challenge I had was my own bad habits. When I was tired or didn’t feel like cooking, I had to find new and better habits to create so I wasn’t calling for pizza delivery.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO GIVE UP? WHAT KEPT YOU GOING? I gave up several times! Sometimes several times a day. The path to real weight loss and health is never a straight line, and sometimes a girl just needs a cookie. The difference between success and failure with weight loss is that you have to keep coming back more times than you give up.
DID YOU HIT ANY WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAUS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? I don’t remember having any plateaus, but I also was in it for the long game, so I might have had them and I didn’t stress out about them because I knew in the long run that the number on the scale didn’t matter, just how I felt in my skin!
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LOSE MOST OF THE WEIGHT? I lost about 60 pounds within 9 months. At that point, I had reached my goal weight, a nice healthy weight, and I thought I was done. However, over the next three months, another 10 pounds simply slipped away as my body regulated and found the right spot for me.
DID YOU HAVE ANY NON-SCALE VICTORIES? The only way this worked for me long-term was that most of my victories were non-scale victories! I celebrated throwing away my too-big exercise pants, I celebrated each time I chose fruits and veggies over cookies, I celebrated each workout I completed. My favorite NSV, though, was the day my daughter asked me to put on a pretty princess dress like one of her dress-up dresses. In my mind I thought, “You’ve hung on to those old prom dresses for forever, it’s just too bad they’d never fit you now. But wait?” And those dresses fit me perfectly!
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY DIET LOOK LIKE COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? I was a huge Dt. Coke addict! I look back now and can’t believe how much I drank every single day. My husband has always been an amazing cook, but he would usually only cook meals on the weekends. During the week we would have canned soup, frozen pizza, or fast food.
HOW DOES YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY COMPARE TO WHEN YOU WERE HEAVIER? I have always been a very active person. For many years I would do cardio one day, strength training the next, then yoga the next. Rinse and repeat. My weight loss had everything to do with the way I was feeding my body! I like to say that what you eat determines your size, and how you exercise determines your shape. I still love exercise! I’m currently obsessed with the Tracy Anderson Method, which is bodyweight exercises full of crazy leg lifts and some dance cardio mixed it. It gives me the body shape that I like, and it’s so fun to conquer all the crazy moves! I feel so powerful. No matter your weight loss goals, it’s so important to find an exercise that is fun and that you love to do.
MY WEIGHT LOSS TIPS & TRICKS
- Kicking my Dt. Coke habit was one of the hardest thing I’ve done! To do it, I bought a 12 pack of Dt. Dr. Pepper, which I hate (sorry Dr. Pepper lovers out there). When I was getting a caffeine headache and felt like I needed something to get me through, I would drink one of those. Since I didn’t like the taste, I only grabbed it when I was totally desperate.
- Instead of focusing on limiting foods, shift focus to adding in the healthy ones. The healthy foods will naturally crowd out the ones that don’t serve you well.
- If I’m in a situation where I know I’m going to indulge in food that isn’t the most healthy, instead of saying that I can’t have that food, I try to see how long I can make myself wait to have the food. For example, if my husband orders French fries, I try to wait as long as possible before stealing one, because I know that once I begin eating French fries, I won’t stop until they are gone. This way he gets the fries he wants, and I don’t eat as many!