Before my journey began, I felt like I was losing control. I was also an emotional eater. I started hiding when I was eating and being sneaky about food so that I could eat more when no one was watching.
I felt very uncomfortable around family and friends and was ashamed of myself, which caused more emotional eating—a vicious cycle. At my heaviest, I was just shy of 300 pounds, at 20 years old. At that point, my weight-loss journey began.
My mom really wanted me to get healthy, so she used good ol’ bribery to kickstart my journey.
She offered me her low-interest credit card so I could get a car, but only if I lost 80 pounds and saved $1,000 of my own money. So I did, and I lost 100 pounds and got the car I wanted.
However, not even a full year later, I unfortunately had to stop driving due to a rare eye condition I had. I went into a deep depression and put on more weight, feeling as if I was at rock bottom. A year went by, and I made a decision to hire a personal trainer in December 2014, which was the *best* decision I've made. I lost another 50 pounds.
When I originally lost the first 100 pounds, I did the South Beach Diet (no carbs), and it was no good for me. But when I started working with my trainer, we realized the IIFYM (which stands for if it fits your macros) approach was a better one for me. The concept behind IIFYM is super-simple, but it really resonates with me: It means I get to create meals that I enjoy as long as they fit into my number of daily calories and macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein).
I started planning and putting meals together that had high volume, but were compiled with foods that were lower in calories. This way, I was able to get the feeling of eating a lot, while avoiding overeating and getting too full or uncomfortable after.
Here’s what I eat in a day now:
- Breakfast: A piece of Ezekiel bread that I turn into a calorie-friendly French toast with some heated-up berries as jam, as well as another piece of Ezekiel bread that I toast and top with avocado and eggs.
- Lunch: Broccolini with mushrooms, chicken breast, and air-fried potatoes with a homemade tzatziki sauce.
- Snack: Coconut yogurt with some protein powder, topped with a healthy homemade granola, fresh strawberries, and kiwi.
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash with extra lean ground turkey and mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives, and organic tomato sauce—topped with some light feta cheese.
When I had lost the first chunk of weight, I wasn’t working out. But eventually I started working out at a kettlebell gym known as Punch Gym.
I worked out three times a week for 30 minutes, and it was the kind of workout that makes you sweat your butt off. I really ended up enjoying it.
I also got into competitive bodybuilding and figure shows in 2015. Right now, I usually go to the gym five to six days a week. I still like bodybuilding split training, where I train a specific muscle group a certain number of days a week. But I also love adding in work using a punching bag, kettlebells, and circuit-style training
These three changes helped me see the most noticeable results in my weight loss.
Change one: I spent time learning about nutrition. I learned about different foods, their benefits, why that matters, and how to read the nutrition label. I also learned about the ingredients and what they mean for my body.
Change two: I found an eating plan that’s a lifestyle. I slowed down and realized that weight loss is a journey. I now enjoy the process and am happy with daily goals. I don't consider myself on a diet.
Change three: I experimented with different foods. Don’t be afraid to try different foods and spices. Get creative, enjoy the process, and have fun with it.
Overall, I have lost roughly 150 pounds.
My weight-loss journey has spanned over a decade, and I’m so proud of myself. I thought I was going to hate changing my eating habits and miss all the foods I was giving up, but not at all. I found the *joy* in creating beautiful, healthy, savory and sweet dishes that not only danced on my palette, but that also made me feel full and satisfied.