At age 24 and 485 pounds, I knew I was heading down the wrong path. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. My weight was holding me back from doing things I enjoyed and forcing me to live life on the sidelines. I couldn’t even walk a quarter of a mile or climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath. I couldn’t fit in a booth, couldn’t travel on an airplane because I didn’t fit in the seats, couldn’t get in a canoe, ride a roller coaster—nothing that involved a weight limit. I was as far from a fitness enthusiast as you can get, but I was fed up with the life I was living.
I started my journey as a New Year’s resolution in 2016, with my husband committing to get healthy along with me. I figured it would take me over three years to reach my goal weight loss of 300 pounds. That first month of our resolution, my best friend challenged my husband and I to not have any cheat meals—that also meant no alcohol or soda or eating out. She also had us start working out five times a week. It was a big ask, but we needed a big change.
My hardest struggle was changing my relationship with food. I hated cooking and at that point was eating fast food every single day. With a full-time work schedule and life on a budget, fast food was easy for my lifestyle. I spent many nights on the couch with my husband after work watching television and mindlessly eating. We had to completely change our daily activities and learn how to eat to live, rather than live to eat.
At first, committing to my friend’s challenge was a lot. To combat my hatred of cooking, I decided I would learn how to cook something new every day. I started by taking the foods I loved and making them healthy. Taco Bell was always my favorite, so I learned how to make healthier tacos with lettuce wraps or low-carb tortillas. I could still have pizza, but now with cauliflower crust and loaded with vegetables. If I craved french fries, I made sweet potato fries. I learned there was almost always a healthier version of anything I wanted, which helped me realize I could still eat foods I loved and not feel deprived. Some days were harder than others, especially driving past all of my favorite restaurants on the way to and from work. But I meal prepped every week, which was crucial to keeping me on track. Every single time I skipped the doughnuts and pizza, it got easier.
I try to eat high-protein/low-carb meals in general. I don’t follow a certain meal plan or diet, but focus on being healthy and counting calories. I don’t deprive myself and enjoy the foods I love in moderation. After that first month ended, I started having weekly treat meals and still do—Chinese food is one of my favorites.
Check out these cauliflower rice recipes that are all 250 calories or less:
When I started going to the gym, it was so hard. I had joint pain everywhere, but I knew it would only get worse if I didn’t lose the weight. I forced myself to stay on the elliptical for 30 minutes at first. I was blessed to have my husband there to keep me motivated. On the days I didn’t want to work out or my body was in pain, he pushed me to go anyway. Every single time I went back to the gym, I tried to push harder and beat my previous time. I was so determined to finish the workout that I pushed through and didn’t let me size hold me back—even if I was probably over the weight limit for the machine.
To be clear, I don’t live in the gym; finding balance and enjoyment is what has gotten me so far on this journey. I work out six times a week for 30 minutes to an hour, doing mostly cardio but switching up my workouts to stay motivated. I enjoy the elliptical, walking, biking, running, canoeing, Zumba, weight lifting—anything that gets my body moving and my heart racing. (For dozens of fat-blasting routines you can do at home, check out Salty Cat Workouts—the all-new site that features the world’s best video workouts for free!)
Every day it got easier, and slowly my relationship with food changed. The gym became enjoyable, and a replacement for food as my therapy. I lost 20 pounds in the first month and kept that pace for the first eight months. After losing my first 50 pounds, I was able to walk further, go hiking, and my endurance got better. After 100 pounds, I was able to do those things longer as well as fit into a booth and a movie theater seat. Pound by pound, I was becoming more confident and happy. I was no longer a prisoner in my body, and refused to waste any more time on my couch as I had before.
Also, I did two things for accountability at the start of my weight-loss journey: I started an Instagram account—which has transformed into an entire weight-loss community—and joined a monthly challenge program called Dietbet, where you bet $30 that you can lose 4 percent of your weight in a month. If you hit the goal, you split the pot with the other winners in your game. I’ve now played it almost every month of my journey and hosted eight of my own to help others in our online community reach their goals. It helps keep everyone motivated together.
I’ve lost 300 pounds in the year and a half since I made that New Year’s resolution. But more than the number, I’ve gained a life I’m in love with. I feel alive. Every single day is a reminder of how far I’ve come: when I get in my car and my stomach doesn’t touch the steering wheel, when I can climb a flight of stairs, when I can put on my shoes without a struggle. I didn’t expect to learn just how strong and capable I am and how beautiful life can be.
And doing it with my husband has improved our relationship and brought us closer together. Every day is an adventure and we are looking forward to a longer future together and having a family one day.
Everyone has good days and bad days, but the most important thing you can do is to never give up. Fall down seven times, but stand up eight. The good days out-weigh all the blood, sweat, and tears in the gym. There’s no feeling comparable to getting off the sidelines and actually living your life.
Source: Women’s Health Mag