How long did it take you to lose the weight? I started in Sept 2010, I lost 60 lbs by Sept 2011, then lost 10 more pounds by Sept 2012, I gained about 20 lbs back in 2013 and now in the last year 2013-2014 I have lost an additional 30 lbs for a total of 80 lbs.
Lightbulb Moment: I had really let myself spiral out of control the beginning of 2010 and was binge eating a lot to deal. I was tired of going to the doctor and being told that I needed to lose weight or else I was gonna have to be on medication. I was obese, pre-diabetic, had poly-systic ovary disease and really needed to make a change. I was uncomfortable, tired all the time and I felt lost and didn't know what to do. I previously had tried diets or weight loss plans and I always gained the weight back. I finally decided that I was going to make a permanent change and find something that I could stick to that would get me results. My mom started losing weight in 2010 and had a lot of success, she was a big part of my inspiration to make a permanent change.
How did you do it? What was different this time than the other times was that I didn't only start exercising, or changing what I ate. I did BOTH.
I started in Sept 2010 by using a meal replacement and eating TONS of fruit and vegetables. I did not allow myself "cheats" or any "free" days and that really jump started my weight loss. I also started to exercise. I started just by going on walks and trying to burn 2000 calories a week. That was HARD! I used a online chart to calculate average calories burned per minute based on weight and activity. When I started, walking burnt 7 calories a minute (based on my weight at the time). Two thousand calories is a lot, and the first few weeks I didn't hit the 2000 mark, but I was moving much more than I had before, so I was taking steps in the right direction and by throwing in exercise along with the change in eating, my results started to come faster. It seemed like the weight was just melting off.
I was really motivated by the results to keep going. I decided that I needed to learn more about nutrition and what to eat, because I was eating a lot of fruit and veggies, which was good, but too much of anything can be bad. I continued to use a meal replacement but started to slowly move towards eating "regular" food. I transitioned to eating more chicken, using some weight watcher recipes and trying to eat "healthy foods". There is nothing wrong with meal replacements and I have found them to be a great resource, however, I wanted to learn how to eat the right way so there were no foods that were "off limits".
I amped up my exercise routine, got a gym membership and would go and do group exercise classes and more intense cardio. I also started lifting weights occasionally. In 2012, I started working out with a personal trainer at my gym. I worked with her closely for a year and was able to lose about 10 additional pounds. I wasn't paying as close of attention to what I was eating, but I was eating much healthier than I had in the past. I lost a lot of weight doing cardio only, and once I started lifting weights, it reshaped my body in a way that cardio could not. After I stopped working out with the personal trainer, I stopped going to the gym. I had reached the goal weight that I wanted and stopped making exercise a priority. After about a 9 month hiatus from the gym, I had gained some weight back and was needing to get back into the routine of things.
This past year, I have lost the additional 30 pounds, and I am in the best shape of my life. The biggest change from what I was doing was that I took what I knew about nutrition, and really put it into practice. I have started exercising again on a regular basis and I found a workout that I truly enjoy doing - I look forward to it every day! (Well almost every day, even the most in shape people have days they don't feel like working out.)
I also started eating un-processed foods (some people refer to this as "clean eating") and this has not only made a difference in how my body feels, but has also helped me lose weight and reduce inflammation. I make sure to track the food that I eat each day. I include protein with EACH meal, and include enough of the healthy fats. This has helped me so much. The protein keeps me full and satisfied until the next meal, and the healthy fats help my body burn fat. This was so counterintuitive when I first started making the changes because I had been trained to not eat fat, but it has really been a game changer for me. I also eat complex carbs and lots of dark, leafy greens. My body has responded so well to this. There is no name for this style of eating, but I am currently trying to develop guidelines that I can share with others so that they can apply what I did. By food journaling I was able to address the ways I was using food that wasn't for fuel. Between the regular exercise, fueling my body the way it needed to be fueled (because not eating enough can either plateau you or make you gain weight), and fixing my relationship with food, I have been able to lose a total of 80 lbs. The best part is this is a style of eating and living that I know I can maintain for the rest of my life.
What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you overcome it? My challenges changed throughout the course of my weight loss, but I would say that the biggest challenge that I faced was learning not to use food as anything else but fuel (aka fixing my relationship with food). I realized about half way thru my weight loss journey that I had used food for comfort or as a reward. It wasn't something that I was doing consciously, but it needed to be addressed. Thru food journaling (tracking) and reflection, I was able to catch myself when I was doing that, learn from it, and then find other ways to comfort myself or reward myself. Occasionally there are times that I still struggle with this, and I address it the same way. I acknowledge that I am wanting to comfort myself with food, I figure out why, and find another way to deal with it that doesn't involve food. I have had to physically get up and walk away from food before, or decided that I am going to wait to have whatever I am "craving" to comfort myself until the next day. By then I am in a better place, I have dealt with the issue and if I eat that food it is not to comfort myself but because I want to eat it.
What was the single thing that helped you most along the way, especially when things got tough? Small changes/decisions each day add up to BIG change over time. Just because you don't see instant results does not mean that all your hard work is in vain. You have to be persistent and continue make the right choice(s). Even if you don't see the results you were expecting in a day, a week, or even a month, those days all add up and compound to BIG results. Remembering this helped me get thru some major plateaus and some really tempting days.
How has your life changed since losing the weight? I have more confidence and more energy. Confidence is the area where I have seen the most change. I used to hide because I didn't like how I looked, and now I dont hide anymore. I am at peace with my body and while it is not perfect, thru my weight loss journey, I have learned to love myself.
Because fitness has changed my life so much, I wanted to share it with the world so I have become a workout instructor and now lead others on their fitness journey. I am able to do exercises now that I previously didn't think I was capable of. I enjoy going shopping for clothes (I used to dread it).
Fitness has introduced me to so many people that I would not have met otherwise, and allowed me many opportunities like working out with celebrity trainers, speaking engagements with young girls to talk about body image and positive self-talk, and I get to be an inspiration to my friends and family. While my weight loss has positively impacted my life, I am so thankful that it has also allowed me to positively impact the lives of others.
Exercise routine: I am currently training for my first half marathon, so my current workout routine is different from my standard. I run 3-4 times a week, one of those being a very long run. The other 2 days I cross-train or do strength-training.
When I am not training for a half-marathon, my favorite workout is PiYo. It's a combination of Pilates and Yoga, with cardio and strength training too. Its a lot of fun and a great workout for anyone at any level of fitness, beginner or advanced. I also LOVE cardio kickboxing - it's a great way to define your abs and do cardio at the same time. It's so much fun the time flies!
Favorite lunch: Buffalo burger with no bun, 1/2 cup quinoa and some spinach
Favorite snack: A green smoothie or veggies with 2 tbsp. of hummusFavorite dinner: Mixed greens salad with tomato, carrots and some cucumber, and either grilled chicken or salmon
Favorite healthy restaurant or fast food find: My favorite fast-food finds are a Chipotle salad, with black beans, chicken & salsa, a salad from Panera (no dressing), anywhere that has a salad bar (can you tell I like salad). I also love to order a blended americano from Starbucks and mix in my own protein powder.
My go to at sit down restaurants is Mexican food. I will order the fajitas (usually chicken or shrimp) and ask them to cook them with no oil, then I will order a side salad instead of the rice and beans. I also ask them to leave off the cheese and sour cream, and get guacamole instead. I get them with corn tortillas (I will only eat 2 of them). This is something most Mexican restaurants have and it is usually consistently good and filling.
Advice for someone just starting:
- It is a JOURNEY and it is a LIFESTYLE. Find something that you will be able to stick with for a long period of time (aka the rest of your life). Just because you reach your goal weight does not mean that you can go back to your old ways, or eat cake everyday and not lose weight. Find something you know you will be able to maintain so that you can maintain your results.
- What works is different for everyone. We are all unique, so what worked miracles for your friend may not work for you. Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things until you find what you are comfortable with and what works for you.
- Pay attention to how your clothes fit, not the scale.
- While your weightloss goals may seem far off, never give up, you CAN achieve them. Believe in yourself and your abilities.
Anything else that you would like to share: Remember that if we got lost on the way to our friends house, we wouldn't continue to drive around and be lost for the rest of the day, or the rest of the week. We would get back on track immediately so we could get to our destination. Weightloss is the same way. If you make a "bad decision" or get off track, don't wait around for a week or a month to get back on track, forgive yourself immediately and get right back on it. There is no sense in guilting ourselves for a mistake. Learn from it, see how you can do better next time, and keep going!
I'd love to stay in touch! Follow me on IG @sweetblondesfitlife OR on my blog Sweet Blonde's Fit Life.