I don’t usually do personal posts on here, but this was something I wanted to share!
At the beginning of this year, I was the biggest I’ve ever been in my life – 195 pounds (I always told myself I would NEVER hit 200), and a size 14-16 depending on the clothing. I felt disgusting every single day, I was ashamed of my body, and my self esteem was at an all time low. Something had to change.
My mom has struggled with weight her whole life. She underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in 2012 at the weight of 420 pounds. The surgery was no joke – she almost died (and I’m not just being dramatic) – but today she is under 200 pounds, walks daily, and is the happiest she’s ever been! I am SO proud of her! I told you that to tell you this – I always promised myself I would not follow in her footsteps after seeing her struggle. That even if I gained weight, I would never allow myself to reach 200 pounds, or worse.
Reaching 195 was a wake-up call for me, and so was the knowledge that my 30th birthday was looming very close. I knew I wasn’t getting any younger, and I wasn’t living a lifestyle that I was happy with. So I finally decided to make a change.
Past attempts at weight loss
I’ve tried to lose weight before, of course. I was extremely successful when I split with my ex-fiance in 2015, losing 30 pounds in just under 6 months. All I did was cut my calories back to 1500 a day. I was barely exercising. Then I got into my last relationship (which lasted 3 years) and gained it all back as well as an additional 10 pounds. I don’t know what it is about being in a relationship! I think somewhere along the line I lost myself. I stopped caring about loving myself, and maybe that’s why it seems to be relationships that pack the pounds on: I care more about loving the other person than I do myself. I will never let this happen again!
I’ve had several phases where I was gung-ho about going to the gym and eating healthier, but it never stuck. I’d do it for maybe 2, 3 months then get lazy and slip right back into my old ways.
This time feels different
This is the longest I’ve lasted practicing a healthy lifestyle, and it just feels different. I was never really serious before. This time, I’m serious. I do track my calories, and my rule of thumb is to never go over 1700 calories per day. But I still eat foods I love, I just eat healthier! Here are some of the changes I’ve made:
- I follow the 90/10 rule. It’s okay to indulge sometimes (10%), as long as you stay on track most of the time (90%). Don’t aim for perfection, aim for consistency. (This was a tip I learned from Popsugar Fitness!)
- Intermittent fasting. I have an eating window of 11 am to 7 pm. I don’t eat breakfast until 11 (I do still have my morning coffee, though!) and I don’t eat after 7 pm at night. This has been a great help in breaking plateaus and eliminating the feeling of being bloated before bed!
- I cut my calories back. I try not to exceed 1700 calories a day as a general rule of thumb, but my goal range is 1200-1500. I also try to stick to a 500 calorie deficit between calories burned to calories consumed. On days I burn more, I allow myself to eat a bit more too.
- I cut out pop/soda, milk, and excessive sugar. I don’t drink anything with calories anymore except coffee. The only milk I use is almond milk (Silk light vanilla is my fave). I never touch sugar-laden drinks anymore. On the rare occasion I do drink a Mountain Dew, I feel like shit after it so it’s no longer worth it. I drink primarily water, and a lot of it! Staying hydrated makes me feel better and curbs appetite. Now, if I could just cut those carbs too…
- I eat healthier in general. I cut out all of the baked goods (my downfall!) and the high sugar foods I was eating regularly. I try to read labels when I buy food and avoid anything that’s processed or has ingredients I can’t pronounce. I eat a lot more fruit and veggies than I used to. Fruit is easy, but I’ve been learning to like veggies. I still hate onions and don’t care for peppers or mushrooms, but I’m getting better! I finally learned to eat tomatoes. I still don’t like them, but I can tolerate them. I try to limit my sugar, fat, and sodium intake.
- I work out regularly. This was something I have never done. Even when I was going to the gym, I went maybe 2-3 days per week tops. Now my goal is to get 5 days a week of some form of exercise! I also invested in an elliptical ($400, Amazon) so I could workout from home when I didn’t have time to go to the gym! Recently I’ve also added strength training to my workouts. My goal is to lift twice a week so I can build muscle.
- I walk almost every day. Walking is my favorite type of exercise because it’s low impact and I can do a lot of it. My goal per day is to get 10k steps at the least! (Fitbit helps with this!) Walking immersed in nature at my local Falls is also kind of a soul healing process for me, it makes me feel so alive!
- I sleep better. I make it a point to go to bed around 11 and wake up around 7:30 (average – earlier when I work and later when I’m off) every day. Getting up early was never easy for me until now. I feel so much better with a regular sleep schedule – less tired and more energized than ever before.
- I stopped making excuses. It was easy for me to fall back on the “I worked today, and now I don’t have the energy” excuse. I don’t do that anymore. I workout regardless of what else I’ve done that day or how tired I am. Even when I don’t want to go, I go anyway. Of course, there are some days where I just can’t do it because I’m so drained, but usually working out makes me feel better! Eventually it became a habit and it got to the point where I wanted to go!
- I bought a Fitbit.
The one tool that has saved my life
The main catalyst in my new lifestyle has hands down been my Fitbit! I had been wanting one for ages and finally took the leap back in May. I started with a Flex 2 – it didn’t have a display, but I needed a waterproof tracker for work and at the time, that was the only waterproof option that they offered. I didn’t like not having a display, so I relied heavily on the app to keep me on track. And it has been AMAZING!
On Fitbit, you can set reminders to move, participate in challenges with friends for motivation, and track everything including steps, sleep, calories in/out, miles, exercise, even water and female health! It has honestly been a lifesaver. I participate in the Workweek Hustle every week with 6-8 people and it keeps me motivated because (even though I was never a particularly competitive person) winning feels good. I have reminders to move on to make sure I get at least 250 steps per hour, a reminder of when I need to get ready for bed (getting regular sleep has made me feel SO much better), and I get notifications of calls and messages on there too!
With the release of the Charge 3, I was able to finally upgrade! It’s waterproof as well, but has a full display. I love having everything visible on my wrist (especially a watch)! It was more costly than the Flex 2 – $150 as opposed to $60 – but seriously worth every single penny.
I honestly can’t recommend it enough! Without the Fitbit I’m certain I wouldn’t have been so successful at staying on track.
Learning to love myself
I’ve finally got to the point in my life that I’m happy with the person I am. There’s always room for growth, but I finally recognize my strengths (and my flaws, too, and own them). It’s okay to love yourself. There’s nothing selfish, or arrogant, about knowing what you’ve got going for you and being proud of that. I’m not saying you should be self-absorbed, but there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first. Which is something that I’m slowly learning to do. I broke off relationships that were no longer lifting me up, but dragging me down. I loved those people, but I left because I needed to put myself first. To love myself first.
Physically, I still am not completely happy with my body, but I’m much more confident than I was when I started this journey. I can see clear results – not only have I lost 30 pounds and have gone down to a size 10/12 (I can wear mediums now!!!), but I’ve also built muscle and feel more fit than I’ve ever been in my life. I can walk two miles at a fast pace without feeling particularly winded. I can tackle the hills at the Falls where I walk frequently without feeling like I’m going to die. I don’t feel bloated and disgusting on a regular basis. As long as I stay on track, I feel great! And honestly, feeling like shit when I don’t is fantastic motivation. Once you do it for a while, it gets easier!
I’m trying really hard not to focus on numbers. I tend to obsess over the weight instead of looking at how much progress I’ve made. Altogether I’ve lost 2″ in my arms and thighs, 3″ in my bust and hips, and SEVEN inches in my waist!! That’s amazing! I actually have a photo of me from March 2016 – at the same exact weight, 165 lbs – and I look terrible. I still look big. I put the same exact outfit on and I look way smaller (and the pants are insanely baggy on me now!!) and I’m at the same exact weight. It’s amazing how much more fit I am this time around. So, it’s not always about how much you weigh!
My tips for you
Here’s a few of my own tips for anyone who wants to start their own journey toward a healthier lifestyle:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Weight loss is hard. Don’t be discouraged if your progress is slow, and give yourself some slack every once in a while! Do the best you can and stick with it, I promise you’ll see results.
- Start small. Set your goals low at first – if you set them too high and fall short, you will feel discouraged and likely give up. Set small goals that are easy to achieve because it feels great to reach your goals and it will give you confidence to do more!
- Follow fitness and healthy recipe newsletters. I subscribe to Popsugar fitness and it has a lot of amazing tips and tricks! Most of it is common sense, but I’ve learned a lot from them! I follow Kitchn for recipes (although not all are healthy), and Mickey @ Fruit So Hard has a lot of great gluten-free and vegan recipes!
- Don’t make excuses. It’s easy to fall back on excuses like “I don’t have the time to workout” or “I don’t have the energy today.” MAKE time. There’s plenty of quick workouts you can do. And if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. It’s really hard at first to push yourself to do things you don’t want to do, but if you just get up and do it, it will become habit. Once it becomes habit you will actually WANT to do it!
- Find your why. Figure out what motivates you and why you want to live healthier. For me, my why is that I want to feel better inside and out. And of course, I want to look good! (I also really, really want to be in my bookstagram photos.) But finding deeper reasons will help you stick to it! I love the way I feel when I eat healthier and exercise, so it’s not hard to keep doing it now that I know what it feels like. I feel like absolute crap when I don’t, and it’s just not worth it.
- Love yourself. Learn to be happy with who you are. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
- Cut out anything that doesn’t uplift you. If you have negative or toxic relationships in your life that drag you down or stress you out, eliminate them. I don’t care who they are, it’s not worth sacrificing your happiness for anyone else’s.
I would love to hear your own stories! Have you switched to a healthier lifestyle? Do you want/plan to?