Name: Lisa D.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: Delreyl (member since: 2014)
Age: 39 Height: 5'9"
Before Weight: 192 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 14/16
After Weight: 150 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 4/6
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Lisa: A couple of years back I was miserable with myself and how I looked. I worked at a high-end advertising agency, and I was the self-proclaimed queen of yo-yo crash dieting. If there was a fad diet out there, I would try it -- without fail. Inevitably, I would eventually gain all the weight back -- and then some. I tried diet pills, liquid diets, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slimfast, Atkins and the list goes on and on. I had yo-yo dieted the same 50 or 60 pounds off and on for the past 20 years, and it had taken a toll on my body and mind. I was hiding behind pounds of makeup, hair dyes, nail polish and designer everything, but nothing could help me hide from how I felt about myself and the way I looked. I felt weighed down and insecure. My stress level was through the roof, and my busy life had me feeling like I could not possibly fit any sort of exercise into my schedule. Health? What health? I felt like I was on a train heading nowhere fast.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What inspired you to make a change?
Lisa: I had two turning points that prompted me to begin this weight-loss journey. The first was after having my fourth operation due to digestive issues as a result of my poor eating habits (yo-yo and crash dieting can lead to health issues). My second moment of truth came when my family and I went on a mountain hiking trip. After the first 30 minutes on the trail I was completely out of breath and just couldn't keep up with my kids. I had to turn around and wait for them to finish the hike. I couldn't believe I had allowed myself to get so out of shape.
These were my "aha" moments. I told myself that I'm way too young to be feeling like this and that something needed to change. I decided that I really needed to get serious about making a healthy, lifelong change -- and the key word there is "lifelong."
I made the decision to live completely natural. Mind you, I took baby steps during this process, but over time I ditched it all: processed foods, diet pills, potions and shakes. I also got rid of the expensive makeup, hair dye, fake nails and nail polish, beauty creams -- all of the expensive "stuff" advertisers told me that I needed to make myself look beautiful. Why did I ditch it all? Because I didn't need all of that junk, and it wasn't making me feel beautiful!
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Lisa: LIVESTRONG.COM was not only instrumental in my success, it was really the key to my success. It offered me accountability, support, encouragement, motivation and inspiration. All these things gave me the determination to not give up on myself and continue to strive and reach my goals no matter how unachievable they felt at the time.
I tracked my calories on the LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Calorie Tracker. It kept me accountable for what I was putting into my body. I became aware of what was working and what wasn't. I slowly started to add more "clean" foods into my diet, leaving less room for processed and sugar-laden foods. This gradual move towards eating mostly vegetables, fruit, healthy grains and protein was very effective and started me down my current path of weight loss. I started to see results within the first two weeks.
After losing my first 20 pounds I plateaued for about a month. I read articles on LIVESTRONG about others who broke plateaus by adding exercise, so I decided to give that a try. I started out by simply walking 30 minutes a day. Sure enough, I started to lose weight again.
I think the most important change was keeping track of everything I was putting into my body. That accountability was something I had never tried before, and it really opened my eyes to what I was doing to my body. When I needed encouragement and motivation I would read stories of those who had reached their goals, and that gave me an extra push to keep going. Those success stories and words of encouragement is what got me through the rough patches -- and there were many of those. It took me seven months to lose 40 pounds and reach my weight-loss goal.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Lisa: My main support system was the LIVESTRONG.COM community message boards. It was so comforting knowing that my struggles weren't mine alone. We are all in this together and heading towards the same goal: to live longer, healthier and happier lives!
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
Lisa: I started with walking for the first two months, but then I fell in love with running. It is very meditative for me, and it releases all of those delicious endorphins into your system, which make me feel awesome. I also incorporate barre3, which is a combination of Pilates, yoga and ballet all rolled up into one amazing workout that anyone can do. This really transformed my body in ways I never dreamed possible after having three kids. I have a hard time getting dressed because I love what I see in the mirror naked!
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
Lisa: My workout schedule is not written in stone, and I allow room for flexibility because life happens! Monday is usually a 40-minute online barre3 workout. I can do it anytime and in the comfort of my own home; and I can also split my workout into 10-minute segments. Tuesday is a 40-minute online barre3 workout followed by a three-mile run. Wednesday is a 30-minute online barre3 workout followed by a five-mile run. Thursday is a repeat of Tuesday, and Friday is usually a 40- to 60-minute online barre3 workout. Saturday and Sunday are usually spent doing something active with the kids, and I try to fit in another three- to five-mile run.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
Lisa: I eat three times a day, and I do not have snacks. For me, snacks are a trigger for overeating, so I stay pretty consistent with sticking to three meals a day. I usually incorporate a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, fats and proteins. Rice and pasta are treats, and my breads are usually free of gluten or wheat.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
Lisa: Since I move around a lot all day and am now working at maintaining my weight (rather than losing), I usually eat around 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day on days that I rest and 2,300 to 2,500 on days that I exercise. When I first started losing weight my calorie goal was much lower; around 1,500 per day.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Lisa: I have healthy raw protein bars with me at all times. I usually carry a protein bar in my purse, and if there are not healthy options where I'm at, I eat a bar instead. My rule is: If I don't want to end up eating something I'll regret, I don't buy it -- because if it is in the house I will likely eat it.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Lisa: Well, I am not a planner, and I usually fly by the seat of my pants to a certain extent. However, I do make sure to stock my home with all of the healthy options when I go grocery shopping. That way, when it's time to eat, there is no temptation at hand and plenty of good choices.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Lisa: I encountered many difficulties during my weight-loss journey. Much like our journey of life, it was a roller-coaster ride filled with highs and lows, ups and downs -- and sometimes upside-downs! I had plateaus that lasted weeks. I had days I would binge and times when I just lacked all motivation and drive to continue. But for every low there was also a high, and that is what kept me going.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret(s) to success that you want to share with others?
Lisa: This journey starts, but it never really ends because it's all about the experience. You're always learning how your body works best with certain foods and exercise regimens and how to work smarter, not harder. The secret is perseverance and consistency. Once you reach your fed-up point and apply these two principles you will be able to transform your body, mind and soul.
Tip 1: Don't make it a diet because that will backfire. Instead, make this a lifelong healthy lifestyle change. A "diet" is something you follow temporarily, and obviously that doesn't work and will probably make you miserable. Make this a choice focused on living healthy and happy for the rest of your life.
Tip 2: This is not a race! In today's society we are always looking for instant "microwave" gratification, but that doesn't work when it comes to weight loss. It's a learning process, and you will learn what works for you. You are getting your Ph.D. on a better you, so know that it isn't going to happen overnight. Changing what you do and incorporating more exercise into your day is a gradual process. Be kind to yourself. Your body and mind will thank you.
Tip 3: Mistakes and bad days are part of the learning process. Instead of beating yourself up over mistakes, learn from them. Try to understand the reason you had a bad day and take steps to avoid them in the future. It's all part of the journey.
Tip 4: Eat "clean." Try to incorporate quality foods like fresh vegetables and fruit into every meal or snack you have. The more of these foods you eat, the less room you'll have for the processed, sugar-laden foods that do nothing for your body and just make you hungrier.
Tip 5: Listen to your body -- this is so important. In the beginning it may be difficult to understand what it means to really listen to your body, but once you start feeding it what it needs and giving it the right amount of water, then you will know what it means to listen to your body. There may be days you're not very hungry, and there may be other days when you're starving. Your body will let you know what it needs: fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy proteins and fats -- and water. Lots and lots of water.
LIVESTRONG.COM: Can you describe what your life is like now?
Lisa: My life has changed dramatically. I am a different person, and I don't think I can ever go back to the way I was before. I'm happier. I move around all day, and I really enjoy my healthy eating. I still indulge on special occasions, but all of the cravings and bad habits have disappeared, which is a great feeling. I still track all my meals and activities, and I make sure to exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
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.