I Finally Learned That Fad Diets Dont Work and Lost Over 100 Pounds

Before: 280
After: 152

The Lifestyle
I've always been big. I remember when I was little, my grandma took my sister and me Easter dress shopping, and she told the sales lady that her granddaughters were in the dressing rooms. She said, "The skinny one is in this one, and the chubby one is in that one." That was the first time I really saw myself as being different because of my weight. In high school, I was really active. I played softball and volleyball on top of being involved in band. I just assumed that my weight was caused by genetics, despite the fact that I was drinking Mountain Dew and having a cupcake with lunch every day.

When I got to college, I weighed about 230 pounds. I tried really strict "diets," which consisted of skipping entire meals. Though I would lose somewhere between 10 and 20 pounds at a time, I just put it back on by binge eating. The vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting lasted throughout those four years. 

I met my husband in graduate school, where I was pursuing a degree in music. On our first date, he asked me where I wanted to go to dinner. I told him that I didn't care, and he said he wanted to go anywhere he could get a good salad. I thought, "What man requests a restaurant that has salad?" I later found out that he had also been overweight most of his life and used the South Beach Diet to lose more than 100 pounds and keep it off.  At that time, I was still at about 230 pounds and was looking to lose weight. He suggested that I give the diet a shot, so I did. The diet eliminated certain food groups for weeks at a time and wasn't enjoyable. But it didn't require a lot of working out—which was great because I didn't think I had time to exercise. I ended up losing about 30 pounds on the diet, but my weight still fluctuated because it was hard to stick with.

After I graduated, my husband and I got married and I started my career as a band director. My schedule was packed, so I just ate whatever I could whenever I could. A lot of the time, that meant hitting up the drive-through window at fast-food restaurants after work. As a result, my weight started to climb again.

When I got pregnant, I basically threw caution to the wind. I decided to eat whatever made my body feel good in the moment. After gaining 50 pounds during my pregnancy, I weighed 280 pounds. I thought, "How did I get to this point?"

Not long after giving birth to a healthy baby boy, I weighed 267 pounds. Everyone told me that when I breastfed, I would easily go back to my pre-pregnancy weight, which was 230 pounds. But when that didn't happen, I got really frustrated

I tried doing the South Beach Diet again, but it just didn't work for me. I was too focused on my new baby to worry about all the phases and cutting out food groups.

The Change
A couple of months later, one of my friends called me and said that she was about to head to the local track to start this Couch to 5-K app program and invited me to come with. I had to make a split-second decision to go or not, and I decided to just go for it. When I got to the track and started running, I was hooked.

After starting the program with my friend, I realized that I shouldn't counteract the work I was doing burning calories by continuing my poor eating habits. I didn't want to lose a ton of weight; I just wanted to hit 230 pounds, or my pre-pregnancy weight. So I downloaded the Lose It! app and started logging my calories and activities. Keeping track of my calories and my runs started to pay off. I loved being able to compete against myself to run faster, and Lose It! helped me stay on track with my energy intake. It was actually surprisingly easy compared to the crazy diets I had tried before.

Nine weeks after starting the running program, I ran my first 5-K—and I crossed the finish line nearly 60 pounds lighter than when I'd started training for it. And get this: My race bib happened to be the same number as my weight (206)! I finally felt like I was doing something good for my body by losing weight the right way.

Since I was already below my goal weight of 230, I decided to keep setting goals to lose five or 10 pounds. Every time my app said I'd reached a goal, I would set another one. Two years after I'd started my journey, I'd lost about 80 pounds and decided to do a triathlon. I trained really hard and ended up losing 20 more pounds in the process. By my birthday, I had lost 100 pounds total. The last time I weighed that much, I was probably in middle school.

Today, I've lost 115 pounds and have maintained my weight of 152 pounds for two years. In this phase of my journey, I still track my calories and have done three more triathlons since my first. Now, I'm working toward completing an Olympic-distance triathlon to keep challenging myself.

The Reward
I teach band at the middle-school and high-school level, and I love it when kids see an old picture of me on my desk and ask if that's really me. I'm so proud to tell them that I used to look like that. And of course I love wearing clothes that I would have never thought I could look decent in, like dresses. I hated wearing them when I was heavier because my legs would stick together and I just felt so uncomfortable. Being comfortable in my own skin feels so good. 

Kelly's Tips
Set attainable goals. My weight-loss journey worked because I set small goals that I knew I could accomplish and rewarded myself with clothes when I hit them. Immediately after that, though, I'd set another small goal. It eventually snowballed into a big accomplishment.
Find an accountability partner. My husband has been so helpful throughout my weight loss. Since he knows my goals, he encourages me to stick with them, which helps me stay on track.
Be consistent. Before I started the Couch to 5-K program, I really didn't have a routine. I didn’t pay attention to what I was eating, and I wasn't active. I was just all over the place. But by being consistent with my workouts and tracking my calories, I started a good routine and the weight started to come off. 

Kelly Sorah is 5' 6" and is a band director in Wise, Virginia.


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