LIVESTRONG.COM Member since: 2017
Age: 27 | Height: 5'8"
BEFORE Weight: 305 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 24
AFTER Weight**:** 165 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 10
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
My life before was completely different from my life now. I was, in short, miserable. I constantly felt weak, exhausted and ashamed of how I looked. I was embarrassed that simple tasks left me sweating and fatigued. I isolated myself socially because it made me so anxious to be around others and have them see me. I couldn't make myself happy, and I didn't want people to see how unhappy I really was.
My overall health was a struggle too. I was prediabetic at one point. I had thyroid issues, high cholesterol, insomnia, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, skin issues and a host of other "aches and pains." Some of these issues came and went, but, in general, I had constant health problems. In addition to my physical health problems, I had a long history of severe depression and anxiety, which did not get better with treatment. My outlook on life was very dark, and I was hopeless. I didn't think it was possible for my health to ever get better. And even though I was only in my 20s, I had given up on myself.
My eating habits were very poor. I had some knowledge about good nutrition, but I lacked the motivation and energy to make any changes to my diet. Sometimes I ate healthier foods, but I also ate a lot of unhealthy foods like ice cream, popcorn, chips and pizza without any sense of moderation. I was completely sedentary. I almost never exercised outside of a few very short-lived attempts to lose some weight. Those unhealthy and half-hearted attempts only resulted in the loss of 50 or so pounds over a period of four years. My weight fluctuated constantly.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration for making a change?
One of my biggest inspirations for making a change was my nephew. I had grown accustomed to my low levels of energy and feeling exhausted after basic activity. As much as it frustrated me, I had such little interest in life that my exhaustion alone wasn't enough for me to want to make a change. But then my nephew started walking, and it was so hard for me to accept that I was too obese to keep up with him. I pictured him getting older and realized how important it was for me to be able to run around and play with him. I wasn't sure if it would ever be possible, but I knew that's what I dreamed of being able to do.
In the fall of 2015, my mom asked me if I wanted to join a local 10-week weight-loss competition with her. My first reaction was to laugh and say no. I was so ashamed of my weight that I couldn't imagine being in a room full of people who would probably be looking at me thinking, "Wow, that girl really needs to be here!" My mom and sister reminded me that everyone else would be there for the same reason. At that point in my life, I was miserable, but I decided that I had to give it a try. I had given up on myself without giving weight loss my best effort because it felt so daunting and overwhelming. I didn't think I had the strength and power inside of me to make a change, but I realized I had nothing to lose (except a lot of weight). So I said yes.
It was an awesome way to start my journey, with a group of about 250 other people who were also trying to take control of their health. In those 10 weeks, I lost 16 pounds, which was an incredible breakthrough for me because I never thought I'd be able to do it. More important than those 16 pounds were the healthy habits I had implemented into my daily life. Drinking lots of water, cooking and eating healthy meals and regular (four or five times a week) exercise were all now part of my normal routine for the first time in my life. Losing that first bit of weight was all I needed to get started. I was hooked on this new inner strength I'd found and was incredibly motivated to keep going, so I did!
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
I've been a lurker on LIVESTRONG.COM for a several years. I didn't become a member until recently, but I've used the articles for several years now. I like to use the articles for nutritional information, workout ideas and inspiration. I also really enjoy the articles that share tips on staying motivated and on track with a healthy lifestyle. The success stories of others who have lost large amounts of weight or have made major changes to their lives in pursuit of health have been extremely inspirational to me as well. Seeing others overcome their biggest health battles made me feel like maybe I could do the same thing.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
My mom has been the foundation of my support system. She convinced me to join the weight-loss competition that jump-started both of our journeys. She's been my constant encourager, workout partner, cooking buddy and the person who is quickest to celebrate even the tiniest successes with me.
My whole family and group of friends have been really supportive of the changes I've made to my life and have never belittled my journey or progress. Strangers and acquaintances won't always understand what you are doing on a weight-loss journey. Having a strong support system has been so incredibly helpful to me. My friends and family inspire me and keep me going every day.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
Recently, I've gotten into biking. I really enjoy riding my bike with my mom, and we have started venturing beyond our neighborhood, looking for fun places to ride. I loved riding my bike as a kid, so this has been a fun activity from my past to get back into. When I'm sore from working out or just feeling like I need to decompress, I love going for a walk. I don't currently have a membership at a gym, so I also enjoy doing kettlebell workouts and HIIT workouts in my garage/home gym.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
My weekly workout schedule varies, but I try to work out out at least three out of five weekdays and get one or two good workouts in on the weekend because I have more time and energy then. I put most of my focus on nutrition and am a bit more flexible when it comes to workouts. In general, my workout schedule looks something like this:
Monday is a video workout at home. Tuesday I rest. Wednesday I do a two- to three-mile walk or three- to four-mile bike ride. Thursday is a HIIT or kettlebell workout. Friday I rest. Saturday I do a video workout or kettlebell workout. Sunday is a five- to six-mile bike ride.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
I eat three meals a day. If I am still hungry, I'll eat a snack too. I eat a ketogenic diet, so I mostly eat meat, green vegetables, nuts, seeds and high-quality fats like coconut oil, grass-fed butter and olive oil.
A typical day of meals includes a breakfast of coffee with one tablespoon of coconut oil and some creamer, two eggs and three pieces of bacon. For lunch I'll have a spinach salad with four ounces of grilled chicken, cucumber, sunflower seeds and ranch dressing. Dinner is usually a bunless cheeseburger with Brussels sprouts roasted in olive oil. If I snack I'll have one ounce of roasted salted almonds or one tablespoon of peanut butter.
The ketogenic diet has been amazing for my health and has been very sustainable for me. Find something that works for you and is sustainable for your lifestyle, not just a quick fix. Read labels on foods. If you have a lot of changes to make to your diet, use a tool like MyPlate to track your food and get instant nutritional information on the go. Spend some time measuring out exact portions as they're listed on food labels. When I first started measuring my portions, I realized that I had often been overeating by two to three times the recommended portion size.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
This varies by how often and how hard I'm working out and if I've recently been at a weight-loss plateau. My calories typically have ranged between 1,200 and 1,600 per day. I track everything I eat and have specific macronutrient goals I try to meet each day, but I listen to my body and what it needs. If I have extra calories "left over," but I'm not really hungry, I won't eat them just because my phone says I can. On the other hand, if I "run out" of calories for the day and I'm still hungry, I'll eat a snack anyway.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Healthy snacks like almonds, cheese sticks and low-sugar peanut butter are always around. I also try to keep a good whey protein powder and unsweetened almond or cashew milk on hand for a great post-workout meal or breakfast. I try to use fresh produce as much as possible, but frozen vegetables are awesome and easier to find sometimes. Bags of frozen green beans, broccoli and riced cauliflower can always be found in my freezer. I eat a high-fat diet, so I always have good, quality fats around like coconut oil, grass-fed butter and olive oil.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Most of my grocery shopping is done on the weekends. When I was first starting out, I did a significant amount of meal prepping, menu planning and strategizing before grocery shopping. Once I got used to the ketogenic diet and had developed healthier eating habits, I spent a little less time planning and repeated more meals week to week.
Now I make a list of the basic things I need to make my favorite meals for the week and try to look for a new recipe to add into the mix each week. I do some prep on Sundays, such as marinating and grilling a big batch of chicken breasts, chopping or cooking large amounts of vegetables or cooking bacon for breakfast. I take my lunch to work every single day. It's usually either leftovers of something I've had for dinner or some lunch meat, cheese, nuts and pickles or a salad. Taking my lunch keeps me from getting into a situation where I want to eat whatever is easy rather than healthy.
LIVESTRONG.COM: Were there any supplements that you took during your journey?
I have taken several different supplements. A few that I have stuck with are fish oil, magnesium, a probiotic, turmeric and a couple of other supplements for immune support. The magnesium has really helped me sleep, and the turmeric has helped with inflammation. The probiotic has helped me with digestion issues. I also use a whey protein shake as a post-workout snack and sometimes a meal replacement for breakfasts. I really relied on protein shakes when I was first starting out and needed something to supplement my meals.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
At first, my biggest challenge was getting out of my own way. For so long, I saw infinite obstacles between me and a healthier version of me — so many obstacles that I thought the journey was hopeless and impossible. It took me years to realize that I was holding myself back more than anything else. Once I got out of my own way and started trying to help myself, I found the biggest challenge was that not everyone else was on the same journey I was on. My mom was also beginning a weight-loss journey when I was, and that helped tremendously. Not everyone will understand what you are doing and why, and some people will say things that can make you feel isolated on your journey.
It can be a lonely journey at times, but no matter how much support you have, this journey is your own. I've learned that I am a huge part of my own support system. When things get really hard, I have to remember that I am doing this for me. Even if you have reasons for improving your health that involve other people, this is ultimately about you, so the focus and your biggest support has to come from within yourself.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Build habits for your health that are sustainable. Don't go on a liquid diet for two weeks in hopes of magically dropping 30 pounds and then go right back to eating whatever you ate before. Simple but smart changes and consistency are the only secrets to success when it comes to your health.
Do your own research and find something that's sustainable for you. For me, it was the ketogenic diet, but it will be different for everyone. Don't focus on the scale alone for an indication of progress. Celebrate every success, no matter how small. Be brave enough to put in the work that your physical, mental and emotional health deserves. Fight for your health. You deserve to be healthy and happy.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
My life is very different now. Exercise and a healthy diet have become regular parts of my life. My life is more balanced than it's ever been. My body has changed a lot — and in some ways I didn't expect. But I truly feel better about myself and my body now than I ever have. I'm on a journey to becoming strong, not skinny or small. I feel proud of my journey and the strength I'm building.
Emotionally, I'm in a different world. I've learned that I am fierce and a fighter. I took a dark, hopeless situation and fought hard to get where I am now. I sleep so much better than I used to. I cope better with stress. I am depression-free — something that many doctors never thought I would be.
Food has so much less control over me, and my habits are much healthier. I'm more resilient and motivated to keep growing and improving in all areas of my life. I'm constantly trying to learn more about health and fitness, and the articles and resources on LIVESTRONG.COM have helped me with that.
I can play with my nephew without getting exhausted, and I have so much more energy to have fun with him! I have a completely different outlook on life and am much more optimistic in general. When I was just a few months into my weight-loss journey, I had hoped that I would come out physically healthier. However, I never anticipated how much my entire outlook on life would change.
I am so excited to see where this journey leads me next. I have about five to 10 more pounds to lose. Then, I'll shift my focus to building muscle and getting stronger. I will keep working on my health, meeting new fitness goals and maybe even explore a career related to this journey someday!
What Do YOU Think?
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