Jess’s Health and Wellness Overhaul
Having been obese her entire life and suffering many cycles of disordered eating patterns Jess decided to ditch the “quick fix” mindset and lose weight the healthy way…all 110 lbs. Her story is extremely inspirational and a must read for anyone struggling with their own weight loss.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an “Aha!” moment?
I had been overweight my entire life and obese through my developmental years – I weighed well over 200 pounds by the time I was 12. All things considered it didn’t hold me back as much as one might imagine, until I hit about age 16 and entered the workforce. Stress, school, work, and struggles with clinical depression began to breed a bad relationship with food. After many cycles of under-eating followed by binge eating, paired with an extremely demoralizing full-time low-pay/high-stress retail job, I ended up around 265 pounds at age 19. I was sick and in pain all the time, and was at very high risk for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.
My favorite thing in the world is traveling. However, my weight and general health finally made it impossible to travel without difficulty. I had trouble fitting into airline seats, and even five days away would see me back home with flu, bronchitis, and crippling joint pain. It was time to make a change.
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I had tried some diet pills (Zantrex) that claimed to “help your metabolism” if you took them before eating. However, their actual effect was shakiness and nausea, which encouraged chronic under-eating and caused muscle loss.
3. Please describe how you reached your weight loss goal. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude? Did you implement any other strategies besides Calorie Count? What was the most important change?
I decided that “this time” it was going to be for real. I started simply by casually watching my portions – one PB&J sandwich, not three – and eating normal meals instead of allowing myself to binge eat out of boredom or spite. This was enough to get me down to 225-230 pounds, which is when I signed up for Calorie Count to track my nutrition. I knew that it was unhealthy to imagine I would “see results fast!” and had no desire for another temporary fix, so I decided that this was going to be a Lifestyle Change (yes, capitalized).
I started tracking my portions and ensuring that I was getting all my nutrients in. As a lifelong vegetarian I already had the building blocks necessary to construct a clean, healthy, delicious and wholesome diet. I began light exercise a few times a week. At first it seemed a massive undertaking because of all my constant pain, but I was amazed to find the pain rapidly decreasing after just a couple weeks! I did my best to stay positive always, move in ways that made my body feel good, and fuel my body well so that it would make the transition without complaint.
The most important change for me was understanding and ultimately rejecting the common mindset of weight loss. I believe there is no point in losing weight unless it is done in a healthy way. I moved my focus away from “losing weight” and instead set my sights on complete overall health and wellness. Live a healthy lifestyle and the weight will resolve itself.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
Calorie Count has taught me how to find foods that are high in nutritive value, and reminds me of proper portion sizes. While I have had a few personal issues with the way calories are metered, the site has been very helpful in showing me the math of how my body works. I can confidently say that this health endeavor would have not been nearly as successful or sustained if I had not been using the site!
The Community has also been very helpful and motivational – there are some truly inspiring individuals to be found here, whether they are losing, gaining, or maintaining!
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
I have experienced a number of very bad plateaus, and most of them have been a result of unconscious under-eating (starvation/conservation mode), stress, or from my body adapting to my fitness level. The plateaus always seemed to resolve themselves fairly quickly with a regimen of increased calories, some heavy lifting or long runs, and good old-fashioned sleep!
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
I started seeing results after about two months, when suddenly I could see the hint of a waistline again, but I started feeling a million bucks better after barely a week. Clean eating and light exercise was relieving my pain, improving my sleep, decreasing bloat, elevating my mood… I knew I was successful when I realized that I had learned how good a human body is supposed to feel, and that I was horrified at how long I had let myself feel so terrible without even knowing it.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
The weight – all 110+ pounds of it – is staying off without much thought. I am currently eating well over 2000 calories daily to maintain my weight at BMI 24 and a body fat percentage of 22%. The biggest challenge I face is preventing a relapse of disordered eating patterns. I seek to prevent binge eating by never under-eating, and to avoid under-eating by focusing on protein and healthy fat to fuel my ever-improving workouts.
8. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I can do so many more things! Travel is effortless now and I don’t get sick. I can spend all day out or work an entire shift on my feet and feel fine the day after. I eat delicious, natural foods and enjoy every bite. I am more confident and am a better role model. I feel good all the time and full of energy. Currently I am planning a skydiving excursion, as I no longer exceed the weight limit!
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
I’ve been in the 150-155 range since August or September 2012, although my body composition has changed somewhat. I am currently focused on slowly losing fat and maintaining/gaining muscle.
10. What tips do you have for other dieters?
- Don’t under-eat! Eating too little will crash your metabolism by burning off muscle/bone/organ tissue instead of fat. This is NOT desirable weight loss. If you want your body to change, you must fuel it for the change.
- Lift weights, and lift them hard. Yes ladies, you too. Strength training is a crucial aspect of healthy weight loss, because it’s the fat you want to be losing. Working on your muscles will elevate your metabolism and help ensure the weight you are losing is actually spare fat and not beneficial tissue.
- Eat wholesome, clean foods. You are what you eat, so don’t create your brand new body out of chemical-laden diet products and empty sugars. In particular: lean proteins, plant fats, whole grains, and fresh produce should become your best friends.
- Stay active, in ways that feel good to you. Don’t think of exercise as “calories out”; exercise is a marvelous tool that will improve your whole life outside of mere weight loss.
- Be positive! Self-hate and criticism is not a healthy motivator. Make a change for the better because you love and care about yourself.
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