Lightbulb Moment: When I graduated college in 2011, I figured the vodka-saturated pounds I gained frequenting the bars and frat parties were bound to shed themselves when I took myself out of the element. But there I was, two years post-grad in April 2013, celebrating a Chicago rendition of my Alma Mater’s claim to fame, Little 500, even heavier than the day I graduated. The next morning I woke up to unwelcomed light pouring into my windows and a slight hangover directing me to the fridge. Opening the refrigerator door I thanked myself for picking up a large pepperoni pizza and 2 liter of Mountain Dew, then made my way to back to my bed not to move an inch for the rest of the day. By the end of the night still feeling crappy, I realized this wasn't just a hangover—it was defeat, it was dissatisfaction, it was unhappiness, and it was the last time I was going to make excuses.
How did you do it? The first thing I did was join Weight Watchers. I became a member on April 21, 2013 and chose to attend meetings for the added accountability and sense of community. Throughout WW, I’ve learned the importance of balance. I learned that by planning ahead, I could have whatever it is I want, even if that means Chinese take out or drinks with my friends. I've found it helpful to plan for these indulgences first, then make food choices based off the points I have left so I never feel deprived. WW never tells you ‘no’, they teach you how to say ‘yes’ by giving you the tools you need to make more food conscious decisions that balance out the indulgences.
The program encourages you to track your food/points intake on a daily basis, but I decided to take it a step further and created a WW Instagram account (celiabediliaa_ww) to keep a visual record of my meals and progress. I had no idea how much support and community I’d gain from creating this account. We share our individual journeys via photos of the up’s, the down’s, low-point grocery finds and recipes. It’s great to have this constantly streaming community to help you throughout the week between meetings, and it’s also an easy way to look at your week’s food choices all in one place.
What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you overcome it? My biggest challenge that I’m still working on is validating my accomplishments and feeling satisfied with my progress. I’ve dieted my entire life, so on April 1, 2014 when I reached Lifetime (which means I hit my goal weight which is within the BMI healthy weight range and maintained that goal weight for 6 weeks) I thought to myself, “well, this can’t be it, there’s no way”. It’s just really hard to grasp the idea of finally getting something you've wanted your entire life. I have my moments when I discount the hard work I’ve put in, or still see a body that’s “not good enough”.. but I’m overcoming that with a heavy dose of tough love. I used to put myself down a lot, but these days I work on elevating myself and giving credit where credit is due.
What was the single thing that helped you most along the way, especially when things got tough? The recognition, support and acknowledgement from my family, friends, my Weight Watcher leader and meeting members, as well as all the individuals I’ve come across on Instagram, have really pushed me along when times were tough. Whether they’re asking questions about how I do it and steps I've taken, or if they’re just going out of their way to give me a genuine compliment, it’s a huge help.
How has your life changed since losing the weight? What I love about this question is that my life isn't all that different! I still go out to dinner with friends, I still get an order of crab rangoon with my beef and broccoli, and I’m still planning to celebrate Little 500 with my friends over drinks. What’s different is my mentality after learning to live a balanced life. Losing the pounds and committing to a healthy lifestyle made me feel happier, more confident, and more accountable for my choices. Everyone is deserving of these things, but for me, I was only able to capitalize on these when I worked hard for them. I don’t waste time making excuses anymore, because that’s not going to get me anywhere.
Exercise routine: My goal is to work out three times a week, incorporating cardio (typically running) and strength training (free weights, machines and squats), but I also enjoy biking, hot yoga and going on long walks. I've also learned that racing is a hobby of mine and I absolutely love being able to run outdoors. I've participated in several 5ks, a 10-mile race, one triathlon and am about to begin training for my third half marathon in which I (try to) follow Hal Higdon’s 12-week program.
Favorite breakfast: Coffee and a light English muffin topped with 2 tbs light cream cheese, 1 oz smoked salmon, sliced cherry tomatoes and red onion.
Favorite grab and go snack: FRUIT! And low calorie popcorn like Black Pepper Skinny Pop or White Cheddar Smartfood.
Favorite 20 minute dinner: I love cooking and trying new recipes, but when I’m short on time I make tortilla pizzas. I’ll take a light tortilla and brown it in a pan until it’s slightly crispy, add about 1/4 c of pasta sauce (or more depending on the tortilla size), turkey pepperoni and veggies, a drizzle of barbecue sauce, then top it with 1/2c part-skim or fat free shredded cheese. Pop it in the oven at 400 and wait until the cheese melts.
Advice for someone just starting: Don’t beat yourself up. Losing weight is a process so you can’t let yourself derail after one unhealthy choice. My old mentality after eating something off-plan was, “I messed up, might as well restart tomorrow” and I’d binge the rest of the day. That type of attitude gets you nowhere because it means you can never indulge! If you slip up, accept it and move on. On average, we make more than 200 food-related decisions per day… so don’t worry, you’ll get the next one.
Anything else that you would like to share: Don’t believe them when they say “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”…. They've clearly never eaten crab rangoon or a Big Mac. The key is moderation!