In June 2017 I was at my heaviest weight, over 300 pounds. I tried to go on hiking trip with my mother and sister in Kentucky at Lockegee Rock. There was one point in the hike when in order to get to the top of the rock, you had to lift your body up to the next part. I saw people do it in seconds and I remember standing there in line, dreading my turn.
I didn’t have the arm strength to pull myself up and knew it would take me longer than everyone else. When my turn came, I began to maneuver myself up onto the rock, using my legs in any way that I could to push myself up, because that was the only way I would’ve been able to make it.
After 45 minutes of struggling I made it to the top of the rock, but I felt so embarrassed. In that moment I knew had to change or I’d continue to feel less than when it came to physical activities—and life in general.
I started my weight-loss journey by dramatically changing my eating habits.
Two weeks after that hike, I dove into my journey. I went from overeating, binge eating, and not caring about what the quality of food to getting serious about portion control. I started off with some trial and error, figuring out how many calories I should eat and what foods I should buy. I eventually decided to stick to a low-carb, calorie-controlled diet.
I went through my cupboards and kitchen and threw out anything that was unhealthy. But the most important thing that I did to make sure I’d stick to my eating regimen was find the healthy (but enjoyable!) swaps for some of my favorite foods. I would eat reduced-calorie bread or tortillas and make sure to buy cauliflower rice instead of normal white rice.
I didn’t want to completely restrict myself to the point that I felt deprived, of course. For me, I knew pizza would be my weakness. So I found a healthier way to make it. Instead of ordering a carb- and cheese-filled pie from the closest restaurant, I make a two-ingredient pizza dough at home using Greek yogurt and self-rising flour. It's a much healthier alternative that tastes great and I don’t feel like I'm missing out on one of my favorite foods.
Here’s what a typical day of eating looks like for me now:
- Breakfast: A Danon Light and Fit yogurt, light string cheese, and/or a protein shake.
- Lunch: Egg white omelet using one egg, four egg whites, four slices of turkey bacon, a little bit of cheese, and some fruit.
- Dinner: Either stuffed green peppers, taco salad, chicken and vegetables, chicken and rice, or homemade pizza.
- Snacks: Sugar-free JELLO, snap peas, Nutrigrain bars, light string cheese, veggie straws, Skinny Pop popcorn, fruit, protein shakes, Halo Top ice cream, Enlightened ice cream, or sugar-free pudding.
I began exercising daily, starting small with the elliptical and working my way up to weight training.
Before starting my weight-loss journey, I never exercised. I tried to lose weight once before my 2017 decision but was unsuccessful, and when I stopped trying, I stopped exercising completely. I also had two ACL surgeries when I was in younger, so my knees aren't the strongest, and working out has always been a bit of a challenge. Plus, my weight didn't make it easier.
So when I decided to lose weight for good, I knew I’d have to start small. I only did 30 minutes on the elliptical a day. And I didn’t add in weights until a couple months into my journey. I knew I wanted to run but I had to wait until I lost a decent amount of weight, in fear that my knees would give out or that I’d risk developing an injury.
Now my workouts involve 30 to 40 minutes of cardio a day, plus weight training and usually some form of work with resistance bands. I also love working my abs. But my favorite workout or exercise is the Arc Trainer; it’s a great tool to use when you want to get in some fun cardio. Plus, it’s easy on the knees.
The key to staying motivated for me was focusing on goals beyond the scale.
I knew I wanted to lose 150-plus pounds but that it wasn’t going to happen over night. And I didn’t want to dwell in how far I had to go. So I made smaller goals that helped me get there and made sure they weren’t all scale based. Instead I celebrated little wins like going down in pant sizes, ring sizes, shirt sizes, and losing milestone numbers like 25 pounds, 50 pounds, 75 pounds, etc.
Taking pictures was also so motivating for me when I felt like I hadn’t made any progress or changes. But when I compared my first picture to my current one, my success and progress became so evident.
I started out June 2017 at 340.8 pounds. Since then I’ve lost a total of 153 pounds (!). And guess what? I’ve got the awesome pics (and positive, confident attitude) to prove it.