My weight loss story is nothing crazy. My pictures will not circulate on Pinterest and I doubt anyone will ever say, “Wow, this is girl is so inspiring,” as I have sometimes said about this girl or this girl. I am just a normal person and I was unhappy about my weight so I did something about it. Heck, I am still uncomfortable with my weight, but not nearly as much as I was before. Feeling good about your body is a constant battle and it is never really over. For now though, I think I have accomplished a lot and learned even more, so I’d like to share my story anyway. As I said, it won’t be the most awe-inspiring story, but if sharing it will help even one person out there to make a change in their life, then it’s all worth it.
If you’re just starting out on your weight loss journey try Weight Watchers, especially now that they have an app for smartphones. It will teach you the basics and then you can stop once you feel you can do it on your own.
Don’t rely on convenient pre-packaged snacks, even if they are fat-free or 100 calories. Stick to fresh foods that you can make yourself (fruits & veggies!!!).
You have to treat yourself now and then and eat what will make you happy. Otherwise you’ll never be able to stick to a “diet.”
I have never been a “skinny” girl. Maybe when I was 4 I didn’t have a tummy, but after that I almost always did. The pictures of me from ages 6-12 are the most embarrassing things you could ever imagine. One year I had a fish-themed pool party for my birthday. There is a photo of me riding an inflatable whale and my friends now joke about who the real whale was. I don’t mind the teasing now because I know how far I’ve come, but clearly I was never a skinny girl. When people think back longingly to how thin they were in high school, I always think, “Umm, I wasn’t very skinny in high school.” My family always ate large meals and food was a huge source of comfort to me growing up. I didn’t ever emotionally eat or anything, I just enjoyed good food. I still do! But back then I never cared or even knew what was healthy.
Once I hit puberty, I had a growth spurt and my weight evened itself out for a little while. I remember all of my family and friends kept telling me how good I looked and commenting on my weight loss. They all asked me what I did differently to lose the weight and I had no answer for them; I didn’t know how I lost the weight. I remember thinking, “Is it the different cookies I’ve been taking in my lunch? Is it switching from Doritos to Lays?” I had no idea how I’d lost the weight and didn’t know how to find out. Again, it didn’t matter to me much, but it’s something I can look back on now and realize how ignorant I was. It was just a growth spurt and part of growing up, definitely not the cookies.
In high school my weight started to creep up on me again. I remember senior year one of my guy friends teased me saying, “What happened to you huh? You got a little more chunk on ya.” Again, I laughed it off and I pretended not to mind, but it’s funny how those comments will stick with you over the years. I knew I was gaining weight again, but I still didn’t know how to be healthy.
At one point I remember “dieting” by slashing my calories like crazy. I would eat a slice of rolled up turkey and 3 saltine crackers for lunch. I remember losing a few pounds and thinking that each time my stomach grumbled that I meant I was burning more calories. If I could go back in time and shake myself I would say, “STOP!!! YOU’RE DESTROYING YOUR METABOLISM AND STARVING YOURSELF!” But again, I didn’t know better so I thought it was fine. Luckily I got away from that diet quickly; I was too hungry for that!
Right before high school graduation I was pretty heavy again. I was worrying about my weight more now, with the big move to college ahead of me, and went to the gym a lot over the summer. I probably lost about 5 pounds before school started, but I didn’t weigh myself and I didn’t have a solid routine, so I can’t be sure. My weight was always in the back of my mind and sure, I was uncomfortable, but I had good friends, a boyfriend, and a loving family so nothing was really motivating me to do anything drastic.
Then freshman year of college I met Shaun. She was my best friend and we hung out all the time. Shaun played lacrosse in high school so she was very active and dragged me to the gym with her at least 4 times a week. I remember we would only run a mile or two and I thought that was the worst. Shaun also taught me to do different activities like Pilates and that working out didn’t mean trucking along on the elliptical on the easy setting for 30 minutes. Shaun had a huge effect on my life during this time, though I don’t think either of us realized it. She helped me understand how good it felt to be eating healthy and exercising. I hate to say it but I guess it was the first time in my life I actually really wanted to be healthy. She helped me to set goals and achieve them.
Mid-way through sophomore year, I joined a sorority and Shaun’s grades began to slide. By the end of the first semester I moved into the sorority house and Shaun took some time off to work and bring up her grades. We got out of touch and as a result, my fitness started sliding again. (Update: Years later we’ve gotten back in touch and now we sometimes meet up for yoga dates!)
Around this time I was also sort of doing the Isagenix diet, which involved having just a protein shake for breakfast AND lunch and eating a normal-sized dinner. It also required having a “cleanse day” once a week where all you have during they day is this gross juice and a ton of water. While I didn’t follow the cleanse days (they were gross), I did drink the shakes pretty religiously. It was pretty easy to follow while living in an apartment-style dorm with Shaun, but when I moved into the sorority house with a fully-stocked kitchen and a professional chef, it was hard to keep up with Isagenix. I think the program itself worked pretty well, but I’m not sure how much I’d recommend having dinner be your only real meal of the day. The shakes were pretty good and had good nutrients so they were fine, but I wouldn’t recommend this diet. It’s just not sustainable!
During my time living in my sorority house I lived the life. I mean seriously, I ate and drank whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. No one else seemed to be worrying about their weight so I didn’t either. Everyone would participate in “fat talk,” where they would joke about being fat but wouldn’t do anything about it. I followed everyone else’s mentality and just had a great time. The problem was that most of these girls naturally were skinny. I, on the other hand, was not.
My senior year in college I finally moved out of the sorority house and got my act together. I was living with girls who were closer to my size and we all managed our weight together. We would all try to work out every day and cook dinner as a group. It was so much easier to live a healthy lifestyle when I was with others who did the same thing, so I finally began to lose weight again.
Although I am very close with all of those girls in different ways, my friend Catrina and I bonded the most over weight loss. We have very similar body types and cheered each other on during rough times. It was Catrina who inspired me to join Weight Watchers, after she came back from summer vacation having lost about 20 pounds. She looked fantastic. I decided to try it out immediately.
I loved it and had so much fun buying healthy foods and keeping track of what I ate. Weight Watchers assigns points to foods based on their nutritional content and considers a food’s calories, fat, and fiber to determine the points value. Through Weight Watchers I learned so much about which foods are healthy. I used to think a Caesar salad had to be healthy because of course, it’s a salad. Nope. Might as well have gotten a burger. I learned that ground turkey instead of ground beef is much leaner in fat and that whole wheat breads with a lot of fiber are better for you than regular white grains. These facts now seem so basic to me that I can’t believe I didn’t know these things! But it’s true; I didn’t. No one had ever taught me! Thankfully I had Weight Watchers to show me the basics.
Weight Watchers alone didn’t help me to lose weight. I owe a lot of my weight loss to good old Shaun T, the trainer in the Insanity DVDs. His workouts made me sweat and burn calories more than anything else I’d tried and they were so quick and effective.
I kept up my healthy habits through the end of college and once I moved into a real apartment and wasn’t sharing a fridge with 7 other girls (no joke) I realized how much I liked cooking. I would spend my lunch breaks during work looking up healthy recipes and figuring out what I was going to make for dinner. I loved buying different vegetables and healthy ingredients like quinoa and chia seeds and then finding recipes for them later. I would read hundreds of articles on WebMD, Shape, Fitness, Cooking Light, etc. etc. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to know everything about being healthy. I think I was uneducated for so long that as soon as I realized how easy it could be to eat healthy, I couldn’t get enough.
Now that I’ve been out of college for almost three years, I’d say my knowledge on nutrition has improved IMMENSELY. I now realize that while Weight Watchers was a great experience for me, I relied too much on processed foods that had points values easily printed on the package. I ate so many frozen dinners and hundred calorie packs and I now realize how bad those were for me. I’m thankful for Weight Watchers for teaching me the basics, but I wish they focused more on the benefits of clean eating and fresh ingredients. That is one major thing I’ve learned through my self-education, and through nutrition education programs I’ve participated in during my spare time.
I have also improved my fitness routine since college; I’ve run a number of races (including two half marathons) and know about the importance of cross training. I have learned to change my mentality from thinking about working out as a chore to looking forward to it (well, most days) as my time to reflect and take care of myself.
I am by no means an expert on eating healthy and I have not lost any crazy amounts of weight (probably about 25 pounds total), however this is something I am truly passionate about and I always want to keep learning and improving. I thought this blog would be a good outlet to hold myself accountable to my healthy habits and catch myself if I start to slip back into a slump, and in the past two years it has! I’ve also recently made the move to working full time in the field of health and wellness, in the hopes that I can continue to help inspire people with my simple story.