OK, this is the blog post where I get really vulnerable. For anyone who really knows me, they know that for the majority of my adolescence – and really my life – I was overweight. In fact, at my heaviest I was nearly 100 pounds overweight. It has been a long road, but it’s something I don’t talk enough about.
Looking back, food was always a culprit for me. I was an emotional eater to my core most of my childhood, and my weight hit an all-time high my freshman year of college: nearly 250 pounds. My dad had stage 4 colon cancer, I was attending my #2 college pick (didn’t get into my first), I was hundreds of miles away from my friends, I was struggling with cystic acne and to put it simply, I was miserable. Food was my comfort and I lost control.
I don’t remember my “ah ha” moment, I wish I did. I think at some point I looked in the mirror and decided enough was enough. But that moment happened dozens and dozens of times – every Sunday morning or first day of the month. Every January 1st when I told myself that year would be different. It took me years for any serious weight loss to occur, and looking back I’m glad it did. Losing 100 pounds was a journey. I lost the weight slow and steady, and for that reason I’ve been able to maintain it.
So how did I do it? I wish I had an easy answer for you, but here’s my best advice:
- I got moving. This was the first hurdle for me. At my heaviest I hated working out in front of other people. I hated sucking myself into yoga pants or wearing tank tops. Gyms were so intimidating and distracting. During college my weight slowly started to fall off when my roommates and I would mindlessly ride elipticals while we’d watch two hour episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (you know the ones – seasons 1-5). But I didn’t begin to lose serious weight until I took exercise seriously.I decided that I hated gyms, so I took my exercise home. I lost 40 pounds doing two spouts of Insanity and various attempts of P90X at home. I loved the strict deadlines (Insanity= 60 days, P90X= 90 days) and the variety of movements. I was able to push myself in private. Once I got comfortable, I started taking classes and finding other types of exercise I liked. After losing so much weight, I knew I needed to start lifting weights. I started Crossfit three years ago and it’s changed my life!
- I learned how to portion control. The next hurdle for me was (and remains to be) a big one: food. No matter how much you exercise, it doesn’t matter if you’re eating crap. Even though I started “working out” in college, most of the hard work I put in at the gym was eliminated by cocktails, beer pong and late night munchies. Weight Watchers was a great first step, because it taught me portion control. Whole30 was great because it taught me how to read food labels and only eat ingredients I could pronounce.I also followed random advice I’d read in magazines, like Oprah’s no-food-after-8pm rule. I realized that if I didn’t have bad food around me, I wouldn’t eat it. When I would slip up (which happened a lot), I’d pay attention to how I felt afterwards. Not the guilt so much (that was inevitable), but if my stomach hurt, if I slept awful or if my skin broke out. I’ve come to truly understand that food should be fuel, it should be medicine. If it makes you feel sick, bloated or tired, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.Another game changer for me has been My Fitness Pal, where you can track everything you eat. In the app you can set your goal weight and track your progress. It’s worth upgrading to the premium version!
- I drank water, lots of water. Learning the difference between being thirsty and hungry was so significant for me. Always keep water nearby and try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day – if not way more! When I feel hydrated I’m in a better mood and have more energy. Pssst… you can also track your water intake on My Fitness Pal!
- I stopped weighing myself. I can’t say this enough. Weight really is just a number, and if you weigh yourself on a daily basis you will go crazy. Try to focus on how you feel, how tight or loose your clothes are, how your skin looks or how much energy you have. I only weigh myself every two weeks and sometimes only monthly. Be gentle with yourself. It took me five years to lose 100 pounds.
- I celebrated little victories. No matter what your goal is – 10, 20, 50, 100 pounds, you have to be realistic. Allow yourself to celebrate little victories. I’ll never forget when I first saw definition in my jaw line, or when my collarbone started to pop out. Give yourself little incentives so you can focus on one small, attainable goal at a time.
- I surrounded myself with positive people. This is so important in your life, no matter if you’re trying to lose weight or not. Who do you surround yourself with on a daily basis? Who are your “people” who you rely on for advice or support? If they’re not a positive influence in your life, you may need to reevaluate your relationship with them.
- I learned how to love myself. This was a big one. At some point along my journey, my perspective changed. Most of my life I played the victim, but it became very clear to me that I was responsible for my body. I was the one not taking care of it. You can’t help circumstances that you come from, but you can control today and your future. Once I shifted my thinking, the weight loss became more about self-love. I love myself and my body. I want to fuel it with the proper nutrition. I want to give my body what it needs to be strong, energetic and healthy.
- I adopted a healthy lifestyle. OK so I’ve lost the weight, I’m done now right? NO (insert laugh crying emoji). I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss because I vowed to change my life, and my daily lifestyle. Losing weight can be very difficult, and sometimes you might feel like you need to avoid social situations, like happy hours or parties because of it. For me, life is about balance. If we’re flying across the country to go to a wedding, you best believe I’m eating a slice of that cake. And probably a few glasses of wine. You should indulge from time to time, but the important part is to remember it’s just that: an indulgence. I don’t eat wedding cake every day. I don’t drink wine every day. For the most part I aim to eat well Sunday-Friday. If we want to go out on Saturday and try out a new brewery or get froyo, we do it! But when Sunday rolls around, it’s back to healthy eating. That’s a lifestyle. Don’t forget to live.
I feel like I barely scratched the surface on this, but I hope these tips can be helpful. If you have any thoughts or questions, leave a comment! I’d love to keep talking about this.