My name is Kaylin Lynn Gealy (@walkingandcounting). I live in Greenville, South Carolina, and I am a data and document management technician. I lost 96 pounds in about two years with the CICO diet rule and walking for weight loss.
Before starting my weight loss journey, I was constantly tired and struggling to find energy. I found myself canceling plans and not participating in events that required exerting energy or moving for long periods of time. I found comfort in going to the store and indulging in sweet treats by myself.
My doctor was also concerned about my diet and lifestyle. My blood pressure was high, as well as my cholesterol, and health problems related to both of these issues run on both sides of my family.
While the health issues scared me, my motivation eventually came mainly from watching Youtube videos, looking at Instagram transformation pictures, and hearing testimonies of women just like me who had lost weight and how their lives had been positively impacted. I had gotten a new job transitioning from waitressing to office work, and I wanted to change even more in my life.
I vividly remember driving home from work one day and seeing a treadmill by a trash can. It had a sign on it that read “FREE”. In my eyes, it was a sign that now was the time to start.
I couldn’t keep telling myself I will start next Monday or make any other excuse. It was now or never. And that treadmill came home with me! The day I decided to start was May 10, 2018.
Diets have always been trial and error for me. I saw many people have success with watching portion sizes, but I like big plates full of food.
Once I realized cutting down on portion size wasn’t going to be sustainable for me, I read up on intermittent fasting. Eating only between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. worked well for the first few months. I could still eat what I wanted but in a smaller window of time. But after some time, I realized I would feel hungry in the morning or later at night, and would feel like I let myself down if I ate before 12 p.m. or after 8 p.m. Not a healthy mindset.
I decided I needed to try something else because I wanted to improve my mental health, not only my weight. That’s when I discovered calorie counting, or the CICO rule.
CICO stands for "calories in, calories out." I read so many documents and listened to many dietitians about how in order to lose weight you have to be in a caloric deficit. I loved vegetables, so I downloaded an app where I could track what I ate and started learning about the volume of food and how different kinds could fuel my body differently.
I was able to eat when I was hungry, eat bigger portions, and still lose weight by eating more vegetables, fewer carbs, and more lean proteins. It was awesome! I would put together some of the best salads and come up with awesome recipes by simply replacing some of the high calorie low volume foods with vegetables and other low calorie high volume foods. The bulk of my weight loss came simply from being in a calorie deficit.
Recently, I have been experimenting with low-carb, keto eating to see how my body reacts. So far it has been the best eating plan for me energy wise, but I am still contemplating what eating habits will be the most sustainable for me in the long run.
Here’s what I eat in a day.
- Breakfast: Scrambled egg bowls with veggies (mushrooms, peppers, onion, tomato); bacon; omelettes with hot sauce; chaffles with sugar free maple syrup; and coffee with sugar-free Torani and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
- Lunch: Chicken and broccoli; grilled salmon salad; pimento cheese sandwiches; roasted Brussels sprouts with parmesan and bacon bits.
- Snacks: Babybel cheese, almonds, pork rinds, celery, paninos, blackberries, Quest bars (Birthday Cake is my favorite flavor).
- Dinner: Lettuce wrap cheeseburger; air fried wings; cream cheese, jalapeno and bacon stuffed chicken breast; ribeye and green beans; sugar free Sweet Baby Rays on BBQ with cauliflower rice; zoodles with marinara and meatballs.
- Dessert: Smartcakes; Bake Believe chocolate; whipped cream; Rebel ice cream; Halo Top ice cream; almond butter on toast; 90 percent cocoa bar.
I started with exercising just by walking. My goal was to walk every day, and I have stuck with it.
At first it was hard because I was used to sitting down on the couch, snacking, and watching TV. I made the switch to walk on the treadmill at first while still watching my favorite shows, and now I will walk around my neighborhood listening to podcasts. True Crime podcasts are my favorite, and I find that if I am watching or listening to something interesting, it makes time fly by and it’s more enjoyable.
I try to walk five days a week. Walking is free, good for you, and effective. In addition to walking, I do yard work and gardening. I have added in push-ups and crunches to my daily exercise, but nothing major. I once heard that weight loss is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise, and for me that has proved true.
These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.
- I started eating more vegetables and reduced carbs and sugar. Finding substitutions for things you love is easy and can reduce caloric intake. You don’t realize how little volume a serving size of pasta is until you read the serving size on the box. It is mind blowing to realize what 100 calories of pasta or bread versus 100 calories of vegetables or fruit looks like, almond milk instead of regular, cauliflower and cheese instead of macaroni; and water or seltzer water instead of soda or juice.
- I started moving. Parking further from the door of a store or work helped me get in more steps/movement throughout the day. Half way through my lifestyle changing I purchased an activity tracking watch and I would feel so proud hitting my step goals for the day.
- I set small goals and rewarded myself when I hit each one. All progress is good progress, and even if you have a stall or mess up sometimes, you have to remember that it isn’t a failure. For me, weight loss was never linear. I decided to reward myself when I hit a goal with things like buying a new piece of clothing for every 20 pounds I lost or taking a weekend trip whenever I hit a goal.
Overall, I have lost 96 pounds. It took around two years to lose it, and I have been maintaining it over the past year.
You start feeling like yourself more and more when you set a goal like this and achieve it. My confidence, happiness, anxiety, health, stress, sleep, energy and so much more has improved more than I could have ever imagined.