My name is Alexandra Ostrow (@ao_losin_weigho), and I am 28 years old. I live in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I am a sixth grade science teacher, cheerleading coach, and dance fitness instructor. I lost 95 pounds with 16:8 intermittent fasting using the Zero app and dance workouts.
I gained weight really fast, over 100 pounds in two years. I loved food and it started to control every aspect of my life. I would think about my next meal while I was eating and would sneak fast food into my room so my roommates wouldn’t see. I started to pay for food with cash so my dad was unaware of any charges, and I would hope that my friends wouldn’t finish what was on their plate so I could have it. I had a full-blown over-eating disorder but didn’t know it at the time.
I wanted to lose weight but I wasn’t mentally ready to give up the amount of food I was eating. I tried Weight Watchers (at least five times), Jenny Craig, and Whole30. I went to weight-loss centers, tried fat-burner pills, and did so many other programs but never changed my mindset or how much I was eating. I tried to lose weight for over eight years but was never able to. At my heaviest at 23 years old in August 2015, I weighed 261 pounds.
In 2014, I started having terrible anxiety and panic issues. I went to the doctor and was put on medication for an underactive thyroid. Two years later, in 2016, my anxiety came back—but it ultimately was a big part of what helped me discover that I feel my *best* when I stayed active and eat healthy.
My anxiety led to my turning point. On June 17, 2016, I woke up and had a full-blown panic attack.
This panic attack situation ended up lasting an entire week. I knew that I needed to make a change. I was at a point that I thought I would never feel normal again. So I immediately gave up alcohol and started incorporating intermittent fasting into my life after talking about my health issues with my ob-gyn.
I downloaded the fasting app Zero and started tracking eight hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting (the 16:8 intermittent fasting method). I was blown away at how much energy I had and how good I felt after doing it for just a few days. The fact that I was in control of some part of my diet was enough for me to keep going.
In addition to intermittent fasting, I made sure to always be in a calorie deficit. I was using the app MyFitnessPal to track my meals in the beginning to help make sure I was in a deficit. This was sustainable to me because I saw results and I knew that it was working.
Here’s an example of what I eat in a day now.
- Breakfast: Regular or sparkling water until my fast is up.
- Lunch: Dr. Praeger's black bean veggie burger, three eggs, avocado, and cottage cheese in a 50-calorie Ole spinach wrap.
- Snacks: Veggie straws with hummus.
- Dinner: Breakfast burger bowl (one ground beef patty, slice of cheese, over-easy egg, avocado, tomato, onion, pickles, all topped with mustard in a bowl with shredded lettuce). I will sometimes add bacon or sub out the ground beef for a meatless option.
- Dessert: Banana "nice" cream (one frozen banana blended with almond milk), topped with rainbow sprinkles and chocolate chips.
When I first started my weight loss journey, I worked out with a personal trainer two times a week.
I also eventually found a dance studio and started doing dance fitness one to two times a week. I focused more on my diet than exercise, but I fell in love with dance fitness and found it to be an amazing way to get in cardio without the feeling of working out in the traditional sense.
Now I walk three to six miles every morning when I wake up and I still work with a personal trainer two times a week. I also became a dance fitness instructor and teach class once a week and attend classes on the other days. I usually take one day off for my rest day.
These three changes have made the biggest impact on my overall weight loss.
- Change one: I implemented intermittent fasting from the start. Intermittent fasting has helped me mentally because it helps me feel in control of when I eat. Intermittent fasting helps by putting me in a calorie deficit by eliminating a meal of the day. It also helps me keep my energy levels high throughout the entire day.
- Change two: I started weightlifting. Weightlifting has helped me build muscle, burn fat, and maintain elasticity in my skin. Weightlifting has helped me become stronger and gain confidence in my body as I lose weight.
- Change three: I found my love for dance cardio. Dance fitness has helped make my journey successful by giving me an amazing cardio workout that is good for the mind and body. It has made doing a straight hour of cardio feel like fun and not a tiring workout. I have met amazing people that have turned into family and gained so much confidence. As an instructor, I get to help women gain confidence and empower them.
I have currently lost 95.6 pounds in two years.
I am still working on losing a little bit more—but I want other women to know that it is possible to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I used to think to myself, maybe I’m just supposed to be overweight forever or this is just my life now, but I am so much happier and healthier.
There is no magic trick that will help you lose weight. A healthy diet, exercise, and never giving up are the keys to success. I wanted to quit so many times, but I am so happy that I started when I did and never gave up on myself.
There were times in my journey that I needed to be selfish to help accomplish my goals. I have the best support system in my corner who cheered for me the entire time. Most days at work I would skip lunch to go for a 30-minute walk and eat during my planning time just so I could get some cardio in. I never once regretted putting myself first. Do this for yourself, and you won’t regret it.