Name: Rebecca L.
Age: 45 Height: 5'3"
Before Weight: 199 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 20/22
After Weight: 146 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 9/10
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Before I began my journey I would try to follow one "diet" or another only to find myself discouraged and heading in the wrong direction. I continued to try program after program, denying myself and having incredible cravings as a result.
I cannot express how wonderful it feels to have accomplished this weight loss. My overall health has improved tremendously. I feel better, sleep better and have gone from being unable to climb a flight of stairs to running 5Ks with my daughters. If someone had told me a couple of years ago that I would be where I am today I would've said they were crazy!
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
I was originally inspired by my oldest daughter. She started making healthy changes and losing weight, and I noticed how much better she looked and felt as a result. Another significant turning point was when I went to the mall with my daughters and couldn't try on anything because I was so overweight.
I felt sluggish, depressed and tired all the time. My lack of exercise and poor eating habits were taking a toll on me, and I knew I had to make changes. Especially being over 40, I could tell that my body was not going to just bounce back as the result of a few small changes.
With the encouragement of my daughters, I started slow — going to the gym a few times a week and avoiding some of the foods that were making my weight loss difficult. I kept going, challenging myself to push a little farther each time, and soon I could feel myself getting stronger and my clothes getting baggy!
I knew that I had to stay committed if this was going to happen. Now I no longer dread exercise and instead look forward to it as an essential part of my routine. I feel great after a good workout, and having an excellent resource like LIVESTRONG.COM for ideas and inspiration helps with this as well.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
I found the LIVESTRONG.COM Calorie Tracker to be an excellent way to keep track of my calories and exercise. Tracking calories is a critical part of maintaining a healthy weight for me.
LIVESTRONG.COM is an absolutely excellent resource for anyone trying to lose weight and get healthy. I counted on it for great tips and healthy choices, and I found myself there daily looking at the latest exercise suggestions, advice to target certain areas, healthy recipes and more. I find immersing yourself in healthy ideas and content is an important part of staying on track and keeping your goals in mind. It has taken me about a year and a half to lose 53 pounds.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
My support system has been absolutely critical during my journey. My children have supported me 100 percent in going to the gym multiple times a week and changing my diet. My oldest daughter has been especially supportive, and she continues to encourage me to keep up with my workouts and find new healthy recipes. I find that people around me respect my eating choices and are inspired by the incredible changes they've seen in me, which feels great.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoy running! I've completed several 5K races, which makes me feel very accomplished.
I love to ride my bike with my children, even if it's just a leisurely trail ride. I also enjoy playing tennis or other leisure sports with them. Every little bit helps, even doing a dance-fitness video with the kids for fun.
I love having a membership at Planet Fitness because it gives me 24-hour access to a gym that's easy to find anywhere in the country. I try to mix strength training with cardio to get a good overall workout.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
I typically go to the gym or the YMCA between four and six times per week. While at the gym I do strength exercises specifically targeting my arms, legs, back and stomach (sometimes I do them all and other days I focus on one or two areas). I also challenge myself on the StairMaster or treadmill.
The YMCA offers group classes that I like to mix into my routine for variety and to work my muscles in different ways. I really enjoy the comradery of group exercise, and other times I prefer to just put on my headphones and really get into my solo workout at the gym. I find variety to be important, so it never feels like I'm getting bored with doing the same thing every time.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
Changes in eating have been a critical part of my success. First, I realized I was an emotional eater. When I got stressed, bored or depressed in the past I turned to food for comfort. I started to recognize my triggers and worked at finding ways to relieve my stress — like working out instead of turning to the doughnuts. I treat it like an addiction, and I avoid sugar-laden foods like cake, cookies and sugary drinks.
Instead, I love finding new ways to make healthy foods fun. I often drink a smoothie for dinner, and I avoid eating within two to three hours before bedtime. I eat protein for breakfast, which helps me feel full and energized throughout the morning. I do snack, but primarily just nuts and fruit. I indulge from time to time, but I find I don't crave unhealthy foods and feel better when I avoid them. I see them for the "salt-fat-sugar" they are.
I grocery shop a bit more often these days to keep fresh fruit and vegetables on hand. LIVESTRONG.COM has been an excellent source for great recipes and diet suggestions.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
I will typically eat between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day. Using the LIVESTRONG.COM Calorie Tracker helps keep me in balance with my calorie intake and my exercise.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
I always keep fresh fruit and vegetables (also plenty of frozen fruit for smoothies) on hand. I keep a variety of nuts like cashews, almonds and pecans as healthy options to add to things like oatmeal and as a high-protein snack option. I always have lean meats and all-natural healthy options like Ezekiel bread. I avoid foods that are processed or have lots of additives.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
I nearly always pack a lunch for work. Healthy choices can get expensive when dining out every day. It's cheaper and healthier to pack my own. Plus, then I have a preset amount of food so I'm not tempted into overeating when ordering if I'm really hungry. I keep my freezer stocked with meat, but I shop more often for fresh items. So I do most of my shopping once a week with some smaller trips throughout the week, depending on need.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
My biggest challenge was overcoming my food addiction. I no longer have the strong cravings for sugary, fat-laden foods that I did before. This was a huge challenge for me to overcome, but conquering that has made a tremendous difference for me.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
The first tip I would offer to those trying to make positive changes to their health and weight is just to get started. Start going to the gym, taking classes, walking, anything — just get moving. Then stick with it. Find your happy place while getting exercise of some sort. Make it something you enjoy and look forward to. Exercise has become like a therapy for me. I feel so much better after I've worked out. I feel my body getting stronger and looking leaner and better too.
Second, avoid eating at night. This was critical for me to lose (and maintain) my weight. As an extension of this, eat your biggest meal during the day and keep dinner light. Avoid processed and fat-laden foods. Try to keep healthy options close so if you feel a need to indulge you can have something less damaging to your diet
Third, recognize your overeating triggers. If you are an emotional eater like me, try to pause and check if you're eating because of emotions rather than hunger. Others may be used to you eating with them in an unhealthy way. If so, you'll want to ask them to understand your struggle and help you with the changes you're trying to make.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
I love getting the LIVESTRONG.COM newsletter and reading all the wonderful tips and information provided there. I immerse myself in health and fitness information like that because it helps to keep me on track and my mind in the right place. I feel good about eating healthy and finding healthy and tasty new things to eat.
I love that I can now go shopping with my daughters and actually try on clothes at any store we visit — single-digit sizes even, which I haven't fit into since I was a teenager! I feel tremendously better with my new body and the improved energy level that resulted from my weight loss.
My family and friends are very proud of me and tell me how much I've inspired them to make positive changes as well. I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me with my weight-loss journey and look forward to what tomorrow will bring, including my next 5K!
Ann Rusnak is LIVESTRONG's Sr. Community Manager. Her quest to lose the baby weight before the baby finished elementary school sparked an interest in health and fitness that continues to be a passion to this day. She loves hiking and yoga, and thinks the best exercise is one you can do with a good friend. Over the years, Ann's desire to fit into a certain size has evolved into what she feels is the more important goal of feeling good and having energy to live life to its fullest.