We Are All Worth It
Stephanie was overweight her entire life, and always knew she wanted to lose the weight. A love of running finally convinced her she could do it, and prompted her to make the healthy choices necessary to make the change. After losing 80 lbs., she realized it was her health she should be worrying about, and that weight was only one part of it. Now, she’s focused on being active, being healthy, and treating herself the way she deserves to be treated – with love and respect.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an “Aha!” moment?
I had been overweight for my entire life – always wearing clothes in double-digit sizes – and I always had extremely low self-esteem. When I started high school, I joined the field hockey team. Running and exercising that much, I lost a TON of weight. But, I wasn’t healthy and when the season ended, I gained it all back and then some because I never changed my eating habits. I spiraled out of control for the next 5 years.
When I last weighed myself, I was a freshman in college and I was almost 200 lbs. I would like to say this was my “Aha!” moment, but it just made me very depressed. I kept eating and being unhealthy until finally my roommate freshman year decided she wanted to go to the gym. Ithaca College, where I attended school, is an extremely health-conscious school, everyone goes to the gym, so I decided I would try it too. Honestly, it didn’t do much. I lost about 15 pounds over the course of 3 years because while I thought I was eating healthy, I eventually came to realize that I hadn’t been.
I didn’t have my true “Aha!” moment until last year. I started running last summer simply because I remembered liking it in high school, and I thought it might be fun. I weighed myself finally after about 4 months of running and I realized I had lost over 15 pounds in 4 months. I consider this my “Aha!” moment because I realized I could do it this time. I truly enjoyed running and this forced me to eat healthier so I could run better. When I realized how my energy changed and that my blood pressure and heart rate were becoming lower, I realized this was it.
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I hadn’t really tried any other diets. I signed up for Calorie Count years ago, but I only started seriously using it last year. I tried counting calories on my own, but I never measured anything before Calorie Count.
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?
Honestly, I changed everything about my diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude. I exercise every day – running 6 days a week and going to group exercise classes like Zumba and aerobics. I just love being active. Even if I drive somewhere, I park as far away as possible just so I can walk more. I eat a well-balanced diet and I make sure I measure everything.
The most important change is definitely my attitude. My whole life has been about being unhappy and hopelessly trying to lose weight. Now that I’m maintaining and I love where I am, I need to completely change my way of thinking and realize that this is my life now. Weight is all about attitude.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
As I mentioned earlier, Calorie Count was key in getting me to see not only what I was eating, but how much. I never measured anything before Calorie Count, so I would see that 1/2 a cup of low-fat ice cream was 100 calories and decide that it was healthy. But then, I’d never actually measure it, and I’m sure I was eating about 2 cups of it. Calorie Count helped me see, though, that I can have ice cream every night for dessert if I want, so long as I have the serving size. Additionally, Calorie Count’s Analysis helped me get my nutrients in check. I make sure I have enough of the good stuff and not too much of the bad stuff. It has helped me eat a well-balanced diet.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
Honestly, losing the weight wasn’t the hard part for me. I lost about 80 lbs., and the first 50 was almost easy. It just came right off. But once I became lighter, I burned less through exercise and then the foods I was eating really seemed to matter much more than before. This was a challenge, but it wasn’t impossible.
The hardest part for me was the switch from losing weight to maintaining weight. My whole life, all I ever wanted to do was lose weight. Once it was all lost, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to anymore. Weigh-in day was basically a letdown every week and I was petrified of gaining weight. My goal was 120 lbs. and I hit that and decided I should maintain it. But, because I was so afraid of gaining weight, I didn’t change anything to actually maintain it. I kept losing weight (not too much, but enough that if I didn’t stop, it would have eventually become very unhealthy). I became obsessive over the number on the scale and measuring my waist, etc.
I was finally “cured” of this when one day I stumbled on an old photo from my senior year of high school. I realized that weight loss never should have been my ultimate goal – it should have been my health, with weight loss as an added benefit. It occurred to me that obsessing over a number was ridiculously unhealthy, especially since the number was lower than I had originally hoped for anyway. Maintaining doesn’t mean that the number on the scale never moves. We are humans, not machines – the number will fluctuate. There is a difference between fluctuations of a few pounds and exponentially gaining weight. I finally learned that.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
As I mentioned, I didn’t weigh myself until a few months after I started running, but I saw results in other ways just a month or so after I had started running. I was so much happier and less stressed. I used to be so high-strung about everything and just the smallest things would completely set me off. After I began to run regularly, I had a stress-free attitude toward the little things. Why get upset about a traffic jam? Why fret over having to restart your computer because it froze?
I began to realize I was a success back in March, when I had reached a weight of about 128 lbs. Until that point, I had done minimal shopping for new clothes. I made it work with what I had, wearing size 12 jeans with belts and really baggy sweaters. It was still winter weather where I lived, so I was able to get by. In March, I went through my wardrobe and got rid of EVERYTHING. Nothing fit, so why keep it? I then went shopping and it made me realize what I had done.
When I went shopping and was able to buy clothing in size 4, I realized what I had accomplished regarding my weight and appearance, but as far as realizing my total success, that didn’t happen until very recently: I went food shopping and being single and living alone, there was no one to judge me or hold me accountable for unhealthy foods. Yet, as I looked into my shopping cart, I realized I was buying all fruits and veggies and lean meats and healthy foods, anyway. My success became even clearer when I went down the aisle for ice cream. I was headed for my usual Skinny Cow ice cream. Before, when I didn’t care what I ate, I used to buy the tubs of ice cream and they’d be gone in a few days. So, I switched to Skinny Cow simply because they were pre-portioned to help me from overeating. However, next to the Skinny Cows, I saw a pint of Edy’s Slow Churned low-fat ice cream and it was about the same price as one of the pre-portioned Skinny Cow cups. Not only would I be saving a ton of money, but as long as I measured a half of a cup, I’d be eating less calories and I’d be eating “real” ice cream. I consider this the moment I realized I was a success, because now I’m able to buy the foods I’ve always loved because I understand portions and moderation.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
When I got rid of everything in my wardrobe, I kept one thing. I kept the dress I wore to my junior prom. At 16 years old, I was wearing a size 18 and even then it was a bit tight. When I look at that dress and realize you could fit two of me in it now and that I’ve gone from a size 18 to a size 2, I realize no amount of cake in this world is worth being that unhealthy and unhappy. Not a single food on this planet is worth it. So, to prevent relapse I just keep my portions in check, exercise, and remind myself every day of where I was and what I’ve accomplished.
8. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I’m a much happier person. The little things like being able to walk up a hill or a flight of stairs, and not be out of breath, bring me such joy and make me feel great. I have much more confidence and I love shopping simply because I enjoy being able to take armfuls of items into the dressing room and have it all fit. I used to take armfuls of clothing into the dressing room and only buy the one thing that fit – but now, it’s impossible to choose. I have so much more energy and a much more positive attitude toward every aspect of my life. I just love life now.
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
I hit my official goal weight back in May and struggled with maintaining a bit, but I’d say I’ve maintained this weight for a few months now.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
1. Don’t look at this as a diet; see this journey as a complete life change.
2. Measure and log everything! Be honest with yourself about what you’re eating, and how much of it, so you can achieve that nutrition grade of A.
3. Celebrate and reward yourself. As someone who has always turned to food, I had to rewire my brain to seek out rewards that weren’t food. Go shopping, get a manicure, get new running shoes. Just do something that helps keep you motivated and feeling great.
4. Remember the past but don’t live in it. It’s important to remember the ways you used to live your life and how unhealthy you may have been before. Otherwise, you may return to such living habits. But, it’s also important that you don’t live in that past – give up those old habits and commit to the change.
5. Forgive yourself. We all have reasons behind how and why we’ve packed on the weight, whether it is emotional or environmental issues, etc. We can’t change the fact that we’ve gained this weight; all we can do is accept that it’s there and forgive ourselves for putting it there so we can get rid of it. Even during the weight-loss process and the maintaining afterward, there will be days when you just eat your weight in junk or completely go off the wagon. This is okay! Forgive yourself for it and just get right back on the wagon. In the grand scheme of things, one day of overeating every now and then is not going to make you regain 80 lbs. or whatever your total loss was. Just never give up and always see the big picture because it is totally worth it! We are all worth it!
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