How long did it take you to lose the weight? It's been a journey up and down for roughly 4 years
Lightbulb Moment (When/why did you decide it was time to get serious about losing weight?): I had just gotten out of an extremely unhealthy relationship, right after high school graduation, and stood on a scale. I hadn't stepped on a scale in years (since probably I was 15) and never saw many changes with myself physically in the mirror. I thought growing pant sizes and shirt sizes was normal - and part of growing. I thought it was normal to dislike pictures of yourself, and to try to "hide" your body. I was in awe at the number I saw. I always knew that when I went out to the bars guys seemed to not be as interested in me as my skinny friends, it was always hard for me to keep up with running in the sports clubs I had previously been in, and that I definitely had a different shape than others, however, seeing 180 lbs on the scale really sunk in.
How did you do it? I got a lot of my motivation from watching the contestants on biggest loser and finally read Jillian Michaels book "Making the Cut". I started exercising 4-5 days a week (only being able to do cardio for 10 minutes at first!!) and slowly started to develop habits I had never had before. I stopped eating fast food and really found my love for cooking of fresh ingredients. I would walk every lunch hour and try to squeeze in physical activity everywhere I could, whether it be standing at my desk, using the stairs, or asking friends to do workout DVD's with me.
What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you overcome it? The biggest challenge I have found is life/health balance. I'm in my mid 20's now and am constantly faced with social temptations (erhm - ALCOHOL lol) and have had a tough time with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and social life. I gained back roughly 20 or so pounds slowly over the span of 2 years (after losing 40 within the first year) and couldn't find my way back. In October 2013 I finally decided I wanted control back and signed up for Weight Watchers. I have found with Weight Watchers I can have my drinks AND still lose weight - it's just about portions and making decisions on what events are most important to indulge at!
What was the single thing that helped you most along the way, especially when things got tough? As of late - I have found my online social circles a HUGE help. I have been a part of Spark People Online, a Weight Watchers Facebook group, and of course - Instagram. Having people to talk to about similar struggles and feeling like you are being held accountable publicly by yourself has helped me stay on track and not lose sight of my goals.
How has your life changed since losing the weight? I found I now have more energy for life! I am less sleepy, I am more aware and alert of what goes into my body, and have just been overall happier :) I can dance longer when I go out with friends without being a sweaty mess, feel much more confident when I get dressed up or go to the beach, and am not CONSTANTLY trying to hide myself in photos - or cringing at the sight of ones that get taken of me.
Exercise routine: When at the gym - I try to do at LEAST 30 minutes of cardio. My latest thing has been to strap on my polar heart rate monitor and set a goal of calories I want to burn in that first 30 minutes. This pushes me to go as hard as possible and not just go through the motions on the treadmill, stairmill, or eliptical. I then do 20 minutes or so of strength training followed by core and stretching for the last 10.
Favorite breakfast: Steel cut oats. So fun and easy to transform into any flavor you're craving.
Favorite grab and go snack: Bananas. They are 0pp on Weight Watchers, keep me full, and are easily portable!
Favorite quick dinner: Salads!! Whatever you are craving can be turned into one. Whether it is tacos, steak, greek, asian, etc. it can be easily (and quickly) chopped up and thrown in a bowl to whatever you are feeling like :)
Favorite healthy restaurant or fast food find: A go to fast food option for me is Wendy's small salads with no cheese and grilled chicken. Fills me up, isn't too pricy, and are really delcious!
Advice for someone just starting: Don't worry about jumping into it and going 100% at the beginning. Take it slow. Make sure you change your core habits - not just your one week or one month plans. If it takes you months, or even years, to get to the goal you want - do not give up. Start with small steps like going for walks, changing what you eat for breakfast, or ensuring you pack meals to work! I remember one of my first goals was to never say "no" to something because I was feeling lazy. I made sure if dishes needed to be done, I did them - rather than telling myself I'd do it later. This mindset helped me in so many more ways than I could have ever imagined.
Anything else that you would like to share: Don't do this journey for anyone but yourself, don't get discouraged by only slight losses or even slight gains some weeks, don't weigh yourself too often (it is all just a number) and just keep pushing forward! :)