Munching through multiple takeaways a day was a key factor in Echosdream’s weight gain. She took control of her unhealthy lifestyle by becoming vegetarian, removing processed foods from her diet and adding daily exercise. In her story she shares her tips that have helped her lose those 28lbs, which makes her feel healthier and happier.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an
“Aha!” moment? There were many factors. I’ve struggled with my weight since elementary school, but aside from a short time in high school, I never seriously decided to go for the body I want in life.
Three years ago, however, I decided I wanted to turn toward a healthier lifestyle which began with becoming vegetarian permanently. Once I went vegetarian, the new healthy lifestyle followed, which is the life I live today. At the same time, my best friend had become engaged in 2008, and I was determined to fit into a size 6 gorgeous bridesmaid gown as her Maid of Honor, one year later. Her wedding date gave me an actual goal date, which I think really helped.
But really, my weight loss journey was never about losing weight so much as I just wanted to feel more energized, healthy, fit, and confident about my body!
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past? I’ve tried the 3-day 10lb Kaiser “diet” many times, Slim Fast, and many years ago I got in better shape in high school by simply exercising daily and eating only when I was really hungry and stopping right before I was full. I tried cutting out sweets and soda, but I never really stuck to anything, and I never went for a permanent lifestyle, diet change, and very rarely did my plans include enough exercise. No wonder nothing I tried was consistent!
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 had gone vegetarian when I was 19 and lasted 8 months before I stopped, but I actually GAINED then, so becoming vegetarian wasn’t enough and I knew it was possible to be unhealthy and still not eat meat. I read the book Skinny Bitch when a friend lent it to me which really woke me up, and realized I needed to cut out all soda, processed foods, drink more water, and eat a LOT more fruits and vegetables. I’d been eating junk for too long.
I started using CC for awhile without results because I didn’t stick to entering my foods all the time, and I’d go on and off between counting. Eventually I began using it consistently and really making sure I stuck to an amount of calories that would burn 3500 cal/week.
I stopped eating out–I had been in a long term relationship where I ate out multiple times a day, daily, and I gained SO much because of that–I started only eating at home for the most part, and if I did eat out I chose something healthy or ate half of my plate. I also stopped eating processed foods whenever possible. My fridge and pantry became stocked with whole foods.
My attitude change was instrumental as well. I was making a lifestyle change to eat healthy ALL the time and to be as active as possible, and it was about feeling good and keeping my body clean of crap I used to put into it. And if I had a bad day or ate too much at any point, it didn’t matter; I’d start over the next day. Changing my perspective from wanting to look good to wanting to FEEL good resulted in looking AND feeling good.
The biggest thing I did, aside from changing my attitude, was exercise! I started running (something I have always hated!) and entered my very first 5K race–last year I ran FOUR 5K races (best time at 29 min) and one MUD RUN, which was the most fun I’ve had ever! A friend I knew who began running daily and dropped 60lbs in a few months was the one who inspired me to get into running. I ran 2-3x/week, advanced in belly dancing techniques, advanced my yoga practice which increased my strength, my family and I began going on 4-14 mile hikes, I got into interval fitness training with friends, exercise DVDs, and I started playing tennis again which was something I hadn’t done since high school.
I am now more fit and more active than I have ever been in my life, and all this time I NEVER joined a gym. Everything I did was outdoors or in my home. I am even at the point of wanting to try new outdoor activities I’d never considered before–I’m determined to try rock climbing and surfing this summer, for example!
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss. Calorie Count helped me control my intake by logging food, it has helped me hold myself accountable when I veered off the path I’m trying to stick to (bingeing on cookies later makes me wince when I see the calorie amount they put me over!), and actually, something I didn’t anticipate was understanding more about nutrition beyond just fat and carbs.
My goal now is to always eat low-calorie healthy food that also fulfills all my daily vitamin/nutritional needs and keeps me full, and Calorie Count has done so much for teaching me about the many different aspects of health.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight? The biggest difficulties were hitting plateaus where I didn’t lose any more weight in spite of consistent effort, and making sure I maintained the effort without seeing results. I changed up my exercise plans at these times or increased the intensity and just kept pushing myself more and more. But the struggle was almost daily…even though I got used to restricting my calorie intake and was generally pretty good about it, getting exercise into the mix was my biggest challenge and many days I just didn’t want to do it, especially running.
Luckily, my sister, mom and some friends have been on the path toward getting more active with me, so many times I had them push me when I didn’t want to push myself. Also, when you have exercise planned with a friend or family member, it makes you feel bad to cancel it “just because.” Making sure I had NO excuses really helped.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success? I saw results on myself after about 6 months. I didn’t have a TON of weight to lose, so it was harder to see the change for awhile. However, after a year I really saw it, and keeping records of my measurements as I did it really helped, too.
I realized I was truly a success within these last 2-3 months. I saw a friend a few weeks ago that hadn’t seen me in 2 years, and she just kept saying how different I looked, but at first didn’t want to say why (that I lost weight), until admitting noticing my weight loss later. People I hadn’t seen in years are telling me how great I look, people at my work (where I’ve only been for a little over a year!) have repeatedly told me that I look much more slim and in better shape.
SO many people have exclaimed over the change in and on me, and it feels absolutely wonderful. My hard work is paying off!
7. How do you prevent relapse? Since May of 2009 when I started tracking measurements, I lost 5 inches around my waist, hips, and butt. I cannot believe it when I look at the numbers, and anytime I feel like I’m not getting anywhere (I still have 10-12lbs to my goal weight), or when I am dissatisfied with my size now, I look at old pictures and I look at those measurements and the size of my pants NOW and slap myself for getting down for any reason. I am SO proud of achieving what I always only talked about doing, and reminding myself of how far I’ve come is all I need to keep going.
I went from a size 12 to a size 4. Knowing that, alone, prevents relapse. What I’ve been doing is working!
8. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight? So many ways. On the whole, I am ten times more confident about my body and about who I am because I know what I can do when I set myself to it. I have so much more energy, I get excited about trying on new clothes, about spring and summer, and I feel so healthy and strong! I cook more, I get excited about healthy recipes, exercise many times a week, have a blast getting sweaty and enjoying those endorphins, I’m strong enough to do pushups and I love participating in fun outdoor activities that I’d never had interest in before.
I am going to sign up for Yoga Teacher Training later this year, where I will make fitness truly a part of my daily life, when I begin teaching yoga!
I’m a completely new person. And of course, I am much happier.
9. How long have you maintained your current weight? I’ve been at 122 for about 2 months pretty consistently. I am still trying to get down to 115 in time for a cruise this May–a GREAT motivator, let me tell you, since I’ve never been on one–but my ultimate goal weight is 110, or to be in the “teens,” as I am 5’2″ and this would be a healthy, lean weight for my height. However, I’ve become more concerned about my body fat percentage as opposed to my weight, now. I don’t want to be “skinny,” I want to be strong and fit. I’m at 22.5% right now, and would like to reach the athletic realm of 19-20%.
My goals have changed so much since I started. At first it was 135. Then 130. Then 125. Then 115, and now 110, although I will be happy with anything between 117-110.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- Log everything; be consistent in your logging and calorie intake!
- EXERCISE! Find a sport or activity that gets you excited and get into it.
- Fixate more on being healthy and active, rather than numbers.
- Never give up, even when you get off track a bit. You can always get back on. The only person you’re competing with is yourself.
- Find a friend or support system to keep you motivated!