After losing around 60 pounds in just over a year, everyone wanted to know what miracle potion or crazy diet I was using to achieve results. If you’re looking for the same secret, I hate to disappoint you, because the real secret is shockingly obvious. I ate less, I moved my body more. The science is as simple as that, but the motivation and drive behind making it work is a completely different beast.
I had always been a chubby kid, always the biggest in my grade. I never had a great relationship with food. Most days after school I’d dig a spoon into a whole carton of orange sherbet. If my mom didn’t bring home fast food I had been craving, I’d get irritable. At family functions, there was always seconds, and thirds.
I resigned myself to the idea that I would always be overweight, that that’s just how my body was and there was nothing I could do to fix it. As I got into my teens, I tried to “diet”. I would eat a salad and congratulate myself with a burger. I tried the “master cleanse”. I tried not eating at all. I dreamed about liposuction and other quick fixes. I created a list of products I saw on infomercials, convinced that if I just buy this one product, my life would change.
In my early 20’s, I decided to crack down and join the gym. I took a few healthy meals I saw on the internet, picked up some meal replacement shakes, and ran with it. I was in the gym nearly every day taking cardio classes, I even got my parents to start coming with me. In 2 months, I lost about 20 pounds, I hadn’t looked or felt this great in a long time. “I am doing so well”, I thought, “I’m going to go to Wendy’s to celebrate!” The thing about fast food is that it’s a slippery slope, it acts similarly to a drug for me. One value meal leads to two, which leads to three, which ends up feeling too lazy to go to the gym. And the cycle repeats itself, I gained back all 20 pounds I had lost and then some.
I found myself in a serious relationship, oddly enough, with personal trainer who gave me all of the tools I would ever need to lose weight – apart from the one I actually needed. He would get frustrated that I wasn’t losing weight, although every week we’d find ourselves at breweries trying everything on tap. It confused me why he could be so lax with his caloric intake while a weekend of drinking and bar food would end with me gaining a few pounds. “Why even bother”, I’d say to myself. Nothing I did worked, I’d need some sort of miracle or tape worm to get the hot body I wanted. I wanted to do almost anything except that I actually needed to do.
For anyone trying to lose weight, the first rule you are given is to simply burn more calories than you take in. This basically means logging your meals and seeing how your calories stack up. This can go one of two ways (or both ways, if you’re me). You are either flabbergasted at how many calories you are truly consuming in a day, or you are lying to yourself about the quantities and types of food you are eating. Being honest with myself was the best thing I ever did for weight loss. I ate too many calories. Once I finally realized that, and realized that I had to change my entire life – it clicked.
I didn’t even do anything drastic. I still ate the things I wanted to eat, just less of them. I logged everything into an online calorie tracker (something I still greatly depend on). When going out to restaurants, I’d choose healthier options and I wouldn’t eat the entire portion served. I didn’t eat when I wasn’t hungry. I repeat, I didn’t eat when I wasn’t hungry. Just because someone offered me food or food was available, didn’t mean I have to eat it. Once I started noticing some pounds slide off, I started feeling ready to actually change what I was eating.
I introduced smoothies into my diet, drinking a smoothie packed with greens and a banana, some soy milk, cinnamon and vanilla for dinner. The banana was sweet enough to mask the taste of the greens and it was actually filling. I started playing around with the ingredients, finding joy in buying gorgeous, fresh produce. I began to crave healthier foods, and to my surprise, enjoyed it. I enjoyed meal planning, I enjoyed fueling my body with foods that were meant to be eaten.
In May of 2014, right before my college graduation, I weighed 188 pounds. Today, I tend to hover around 130. Am I finished? No, I have goals that I am constantly working towards. I am not ready to settle, I will never be ready to settle. Do I have bad days/weeks/months? Absolutely. Do I go over my calories? Do I skip gym days? Yes and yes. But whatever hiccups come along, as long as I keep moving forward, I’m unstoppable.