How long did it take you to lose the weight? I began my journey in September of 2012, so it has been about a year and a half.
Lightbulb moment: I was house sitting for my sister, a week alone at the lake house. I had a lot of time for reflecting on my life. I was unemployed at the time and knew that I needed to find focus or I was in danger of becoming depressed. I had stopped smoking two months prior and decided that continuing on a path to health made sense. I told myself I would lose 150 pounds by my 35th birthday (I was about to turn 31 at the time.) I never imagined I would hit that goal in only a year!
How did you do it? Weight Watchers and exercise! I try to never criticize anyone's choices but I am very proud to have lost the weight without surgery, shots, pills, starvation, or short cuts. Just healthy living.
I cannot speak highly enough of the Walk Away the Pounds videos by Leslie Sansone. They are a great way to ease into exercise but are deceptively effective! I began using her workouts my first week on Weight Watchers and stuck with them for 6 months before moving on to my current love, running. I am now running half- marathons!! I also do strength training several days a week. Don't be afraid of weights, ladies!! And for anyone with a Wii, the NFL Training Camp game is fantastic! I really try to incorporate variety into my workouts to avoid burnout while keeping my body guessing.
I love to stress that I have never stepped foot in a gym. I am not anti-gym at all, but when I started this journey I was on unemployment and could not afford a gym membership. I committed to working out at home & outdoors. I decided to not join a gym after finding employment to show others that they could lose weight without it. Gyms can be intimidating for some, not to mention pricey. That can end up being an excuse for not getting fit. I am here to say: NO EXCUSES!!
What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you overcome it? My biggest challenge right now is dealing with others who feel the need to comment on my weight loss in a negative way. I pride myself on living a very healthy lifestyle and having a goal of a healthy weight, not being "skinny". I am far from too thin but I get frequent comments like, "How much are you gonna lose?" Or "Don't get too skinny!" I have to remind myself that I am healthy and have healthy goals, and that this journey is mine. I don't need to justify my lifestyle to anyone else.
What was the single thing that helped you most along the way, especially when things got tough? I began keeping a weight loss journal my first week of Weight Watchers. I write in it on my weekly weigh in days, and I note any workout progress/achievements. I will go back and read older entries when I am feeling frustrated, which gives me perspective on how far I have come and how much I have truly accomplished.
How has your life changed since losing the weight? I am so much more confident and outgoing! Rather than hiding at home, I look for reasons to go out. I am also more efficient at work, and I never feel overly stressed because the exercise keeps stress at bay. Also, I can't overstate how great it feels to know I can shop at any store and find clothes that fit!
Exercise routine: Weather permitting I run 13 miles on Saturdays and 6-10 miles on Sundays. I try to work in a shorter ( 1 hour) runs mid-week as well. On the other days I do strength training ( On Demand on cable has great free personal training workouts!). I also do tabatta interval training once or twice a week. Fridays are my rest days and I take that seriously. I don't do so much as a sit-up.
Favorite quick lunch: hummus with carrots & celery, and a turkey flatbread sandwich with spinach, tomatoes, onions, and mustard.
Favorite grab and go snack: Apples. I love apples :)
Favorite dinner: grilled chicken with stir fried onions, tri color peppers, banana peppers, diced tomatoes, and hot sauce.
Advice for someone just starting: Don't try to do everything at once! You will get overwhelmed. Find one exercise you love and stick with it. You have plenty of time to add variety. And don't use the d-word: diet. That implies a temporary thing, but you are making permanent lifestyle changes.
Anything else you would like to share: If I was able to get up and exercise at 344 pounds, it is possible for anyone. You will be amazed at the things your body can accomplish if you only let it!