I’ve been obese since I was 6 years old-that means I’ve always been the big girl, the ‘fat, funny friend.’
I tried a bunch of different diets while I was in my twenties-each time, I’d lose 40 or 60 pounds, but immediately gain it back. I was an emotional eater and a binge eater, so that definitely didn’t help my weight-loss goals.
My diet used to center around carbs and fast food-doughnuts in the morning, pizza for lunch, fast food for dinner. Red Bull was also my drink of choice in the morning instead of coffee. To top it all off, I wasn’t exercising at all-not even walking more than I absolutely had to. I hit bottom once I began hiding the trash from my husband-I knew I needed to change.
I was going on food binges almost every night, hiding the wrappers from my husband because I was so ashamed. I felt like the real me was hiding behind this body I was punishing with food.
I felt awful physically and emotionally, and I decided I couldn’t keep living my life like this. So, for the new year-it was 2012-I made a 90-day resolution (it seemed less intimidating than a full year) to lose 15 pounds in 90 days without a strict diet. I’d just make healthier choices, completely on my own. I used my own common sense when it came to my new, healthy eating choices.
Sticking to strict diets had only failed me before-counting calories, points, or carbs-and I knew trying yet another one would only set me up for another failure.
Still, I knew I had to do something to reset my eating habits, so for the first few weeks, I ate mostly lean meats and veggies. I also cut out almost all processed foods and ate as close to nature as possible. At the end of my 90 days, I exceeded my goal by losing 20 pounds.
Here’s what I’d eat in a typical day:
- Breakfast: an egg white waffle with guacamole, spinach, and bagel seasoning
- Lunch: a turkey burger in a lettuce wrap with a side of veggies or a spinach salad with balsamic vinegar, broccoli, and asparagus, with some type of protein like fish
- Dinner: grilled chicken or ground turkey with veggies and a small side of brown rice or quinoa
- Snack: bags of carrots or other crunchy, satisfying veggies
I knew I had to get active, too, so I signed myself up for a 5K.
Once I felt like I had my new, healthy diet down, I started walking. I’d just pop on a podcast and walk around my neighborhood at first, then I gradually worked up to running in short intervals.
After a few months of doing that, I felt like I needed a little more structure, so I downloaded the C25K app-a digital trainer that helps you work up to running a 5K race in just eight weeks.
About a year into my weight-loss journey, in 2013, I ran my first mile straight through. At this point, I was down 75 pounds! The following year, I signed up for my first official 5K, and my first half marathon a year after that.
Despite refusing to even take the stairs just a few years prior, I became a runner. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like trying different workouts, too. In fact, varying how I exercise has helped me keep the weight off-doing everything from HIIT and strength training, to yoga and boxing. It’s been more than six years since I started my weight-loss journey-and I’ve lost (and kept off) 117 pounds.
Even though I lost a ton of weight, I’ve learned that maintaining that weight loss is just as hard as losing it in the first place. What’s helped me most has been meal prepping-I prepare all of my meals for the week on Sunday afternoons and always make sure to have fresh, healthy snacks on hand.
Reading the labels on the foods I buy and knowing what I’m putting in my body (and making sure it’s not packed with sugar or sodium and has a healthy mix of ingredients and macros like protein and carbs) has been a game changer.
I also make sure to be active whenever I can-if I can’t get in a full workout, I’ll make a point to go for a walk around my building at lunch or take the stairs instead of the escalator. I do whatever I can to stay active, because doing something is always better than doing nothing.
But my body isn’t the only thing that’s changed-my mind has, too; I’m paying more attention to my body and learning how best to fuel it, and the more I learn about my body, the more motivated I become to stay on track. I’ve just come so far and I know I felt awful before-I never want to feel that way again.