My name is Aarika Chesky (@aarikas_journey), and I am 28 years old. I live in East Greenbush, New York, and I am an office assistant for the state. After having second thoughts about weight-loss surgery, I learned how to count macros for weight loss and stayed low-carb, losing over 70 pounds in 10 months.
Since I was a child, I can vividly remember my obsession with weight. Comparing who I was to each person around me was a daily occurrence. My mother and grandmother were always on some fad diet or weight-loss program, so the focus on the scale was a constant in my household.
As I got older, the weight continued to pile on. While I would try to lose weight, I just wasn’t educated or motivated enough on how to do it successfully and sustainably. I had an unhealthy relationship with food, which eventually turned into a binge eating disorder.
I became (unexpectedly) pregnant my senior year of high school in 2010, and I gained more weight. After I gave birth to my daughter, I reentered the cycle yo-yo dieting. For years I tried to lose the weight, even losing 30 pounds in 2014, just to gain it all back (plus some) shortly after.
In 2018, I made up my mind that I would pursue weight-loss surgery, but I got cold feet.
I thought I so desperately needed this tool to live a healthier life. I started doing all the pre-requirements for surgery: appointments, lab work, psych evaluation, sleep study, etc. But as I inched my way closer to becoming approved for surgery, an underlying fear kept surfacing. I’ve seen first hand the complications of weight-loss surgery and the downsides some people experience with it.
In the end, after all the time and money spent, I decided that weight-loss surgery wasn’t the path I wanted to take and walked away.
After that big decision, I decided to start my natural weight-loss journey in December 2019, and I finally found success.
If I’m being totally transparent, I was at a real low during that time. I was in the process of divorcing my husband, and as a result, my daughter and I had to move back home with family. I had hit my highest weight (278 pounds), had zero self-confidence, and my mental health was suffering.
After attending my best friend's birthday party on November 30, 2019, I decided it was time to take back control of my life and my happiness. I had been living in heartbreak and darkness for too long.
Over the course of my life, I have tried calorie counting, Weight Watchers, the Grapefruit diet, keto, you name it. I was unsuccessful with most. While I saw immediate results with the keto diet, I found that it wasn’t sustainable for me. I decided I would move forward with counting macros and eating low-carb (I stay below 100 grams of carbs per day). I’ve also stayed mindful of my sugar and sodium intake and do my best to keep those numbers reasonable.
As long as I can fit food options like bread and ice cream into my daily macros, I don’t feel any guilt from eating them. Finding balance has been key to my weight loss, given that I could never totally remove ice cream and bread from my life!
Here’s what I eat in a day.
- Breakfast: Three large cage-free brown eggs with either low-sodium bacon or maple sausage links on the side. I also have ketchup on the side for dipping.
- Lunch: Lately I’ve been eating sandwiches for lunch, either bologna and cheese or tuna with a cheese stick on the side. Soup is also a great lunch option.
- Snacks: Premier Protein shake, cashews and/or peanuts, or a cheese stick.
- Dinner: Chicken breast (seasoned with Frank’s Red Hot seasoning mix) and a side veggie, like spinach, carrots, or corn.
- Dessert: Dark chocolate.
I started off simple with my exercise routine, committing to two days a week.
I was obsessed with The Fitness Marshall (@thefitnessmarshall) on YouTube! I made a playlist of his videos and primarily used them as my main source of exercise.
After a couple months of home workouts, I decided I was ready to go to the gym. I had gone fewer than a handful of times before COVID-19 struck our country. But now, since gyms in my area have reopened, I find myself at my Planet Fitness three to four times a week for cardio and weights.
These three small changes have made a huge impact on my overall weight loss.
- I bought a food scale and weighed all my food. This alone was a game changer. You really don’t realize how much the serving size measurements on nutrition labels differ when being weighed in grams compared to measuring out cups or tablespoons. Using a scale definitely allows you to be more precise when tracking food.
- I stopped drinking my macros. I’ve never been a fan of coffee or hot tea. However, I love soda, sweet tea, and milkshakes. While I indulge in those drinks on special occasions, I’ve limited their presence in my day-to-day life. I would much rather use my daily macros towards food than beverages. I strictly focus on my water intake and aim for 130 oz. or more per day.
- I took progress pictures. Taking progress pictures was one of the *best* things I could’ve done for myself! It can become so difficult to notice body changes when you look at yourself every day. It’s not until you compare photos side by side that you begin to see yourself morph. After months of hard work, I looked in the mirror and felt defeated. I felt like I was getting nowhere. It wasn’t until I compared my day-one photo with my day-90 photo that my eyes opened.
I lost a total of 71.4 pounds in my first 10 months. But I've actually lost closer to 78 pounds total.
Losing weight has been incredibly refreshing. I feel like Aarika 2.0! I’m healthier, happier, and more confident than ever. This journey has taken a ton of hard work and patience, but it was 100 percent worth it. I’m able to be more active and keep up with my daughter. I was able to ride a rollercoaster over the summer without fear of fitting in the seat or fear of the safety harness not clicking shut. I’m living my life with less anxiety, and it’s absolutely incredible.
For those who are just starting their journey, be patient and kind to yourself. I was in your shoes once. But I’m telling you, if you dig deep, you’ll accomplish the goals you set for yourself. One of my favorite quotes is: “You were given this life because you’re strong enough to live it.” So go live it, babes.