My name is Ashley Kincade (@ashleyloveebugg), and I am 25 years old. I live in Chandler, Arizona, and I am an operations manager. I was tired of having knee pain and no energy, so I worked with my doctor to create a calorie deficit to lose weight and did at-home YouTube workouts and gym classes to lose over 100 pounds.
Before my weight loss journey, I struggled with overeating, food addiction, emotional eating, and yo-yo dieting. I was always too fatigued to workout, and I would end up giving up on working out because I thought it was too hard.
My feet and legs hurt all the time, and I was in my early 20s. I also had a knee injury, and moving around on it at my bodyweight prevented it from fully healing. I knew if I lost weight it would take the pressure off of my legs and my knees. I felt uncomfortable and out of breath even doing simple activities like running errands, like my body was entirely drained of energy.
I went to the doctor and she explained to me that I may develop other health issues. I didn't want to be unhealthy at only 23.
So, I decided to make a New Year’s resolution in January 2018, and it was the only New Year’s resolution that I actually accomplished.
What made this resolution different from the others is that I shared with everyone that I knew that I was starting a weight loss journey. Telling all of my friends and family is what helped keep me accountable. I just wanted to be able to look in the mirror and feel good about myself again.
I'm allergic to dairy and soy, so I struggled when I first started my weight loss journey because I wasn't sure what to eat. I would always go for unhealthy foods because it was the quickest and easiest thing that I could just grab and not have to think about.
When I began my health journey, I talked to my doctor about what types of food I should try incorporating into my diet, and she told me to always stay in a calorie deficit. I now try to stay away from as many processed foods as possible, and I also try not to eat a lot of carbs. (I don't necessarily follow a low-carb diet or anything, but I try to stay away from unnecessary carbs.) It took a lot of trial and error to find what would keep me full and what I could make quickly, since I work retail.
I started by changing what I ate for breakfast every day. Once I got the hang of that, I changed what I ate for lunch, followed by snacks and dinners.
I now been eat a well-rounded diet of about 1,400 to 1,600 calories a day. (I talked to my doctor and asked her what would be a healthy calorie amount for me, so it might be different for someone else.)
I also have two cheat meals (not days!) a month. I put the meal on my calendar and I look forward to it and enjoy it. I always make sure it's something exciting. It helps me eat healthy knowing that I have built in indulgences and never feel deprived of the less-nutritious foods I still love.
Here’s what I eat in a day:
- Breakfast: A Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich, which is egg white and turkey sausage on a wheat bun (I take out the cheese). Or, I'll have a slice of wheat toast with half of an avocado and three egg whites.
- Lunch: A turkey wrap on a low-carb tortilla and a vegetable side (like green beans, broccoli), or a salad with grilled chicken and sliced almonds.
- Snacks: I usually eat two snacks a day, one after breakfast and one after lunch. My favorites are: a packet of plain oatmeal with a serving of protein powder, Orgain pre-made protein shakes, Think! protein bars, a rice cake with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or a banana with peanut butter.
- Dinner: Cauliflower rice or brown rice bowl with seasoned grilled chicken, half of an avocado and lemon juice. Or, I make seasoned chicken in the air fryer with a side of vegetables.
Exercising in the beginning was a little difficult for me. But I’ve come to love it.
I had no stamina and was tired constantly. I also had a knee injury, but I didn't let that hold me back! I started out really small and just did the elliptical for 15 minutes each day. I built it up every week until I was doing the elliptical for about an hour every day.
After about two months, I started doing at-home workout videos on YouTube (I was still too shy to go to the gym). Every single day I would do a 45-minute or hour-long workout video, ranging from dance and calisthenics to kickboxing and bodyweight exercises.
After a year of working out at home everyday, I lost 90 pounds. After that year of working out at home, I decided to start going to the gym. I now do cardio, weightlifting, running, and gym classes. My favorite gym class is High Fitness, and I'm actually about to get certified to be a High Fitness instructor.
The best advice that I can give for working out is that any workout is better than no workout at all.
These four small changes have made a huge impact on my overall weight loss.
- I didn’t get discouraged if I ate something that wasn’t healthy. I always reminded myself that I could start fresh again tomorrow. This was a lifestyle change, and it takes time to get used to it. It's all about the baby steps.
- I found ways to cut cravings. Anything with mint or green tea helps me with cravings and helped keep me from overeating. I love chewing gum to keep my mouth busy. And if I got late-night cravings, drinking mint tea helped them subside.
- I tracked my food intake. You don't realize how much you're eating until you see it right in front of you. It also helps keep you in a calorie deficit. I use the Samsung Health app and track everything that I eat. It also helped me to stay away from binging because, once I would put it into the app, I would realize details like a whole bag of chips is the amount of calories I should eat in an entire day. Tracking has given me a lot of perspective and knowledge.
- I threw away my scale. Doing this prevented me from obsessing with the number on the scale and seeing my accomplishments by the way I looked in the mirror, my body measurements, and how I felt versus a number. It also made me excited for weigh-day because it was only once a month, and I saw a bigger progress versus once a week.
I have lost a total of 109 pounds.
I went from 254 pounds to 145 pounds, and it took me about a year and a half. I have now been maintaining it for a year and a half.
Losing weight is probably the best thing I've ever done in my entire life. The process was hard, but the aftermath is amazing and so worth it. The biggest obstacle I overcame was training my brain to eat only when I was hungry, and to not overeat and binge.
I have never felt so energetic and beautiful. I want other women to know that you are beautiful just the way you are, but it is okay to work on yourself and have things that you aren't happy with. Just don't forget to still love yourself at the same time while going through the process. Try not to be so hard on yourself—we're all trying our best! Going through this journey, I learned how to love myself. I put myself first with my health and well-being. Building confidence is the best feeling in the world.