After my mother’s stroke, I fell into depression and gained a significant amount of weight. I carried that weight for over 6 years before I found the strength to make a change. I finally decided I was done feeling terrible all the time. I was scared to make a change but I was even more scared to stay the same.
I lost 88 pounds in 15 months, and I’m still working on my last 12 pounds. My goal has always been to lose 100 pounds. Since there are some new readers out there, I thought you might like to hear my success story. I hope you can relate to it, and I hope sharing it helps you come to believe that you can do it too!
|Turning Point:||Sick of being miserable|
|Weight Loss Plan:||Weight Watchers|
|Weight Loss:||95 pounds (as of Dec 2014)|
|Biggest Change||Self Confidence|
What led you to being overweight?
There were many factors, but I believe the main issue was having poor coping skills. I used to eat my feelings and tried to use food for comfort and to stuff down my emotions. I grew up being taught not to cause conflict or “make waves.” I learned that you shouldn’t speak your feelings for fear of upsetting someone else. I didn’t have other healthy alternatives in place to process my emotions, so I turned to food.
What prompted you to make a change? Why did you start?
I had been simply existing for too long and not really living. As much as I wanted things to be different, I hadn’t actually taken the first step. I finally started thanks to a weight loss contest at work. I work in a small office and didn’t want to be left out. Once I agreed to join, I didn’t want to be embarrassed by not losing weight, so that motivated me to get started.
Why were you successful THIS TIME? What was different from your previous attempts to lose weight?
I was mentally ready for it this time. I wasn’t trying to lose weight for an event or to impress anyone else. I was ready to do it for ME. I had finally decided that I was sick of feeling bad and being angry all the time. I admitted to myself that my lifestyle wasn’t making me happy and that I had to make some changes if I wanted to get happy. Finally the pain of staying the same had exceeded the pain of change.
What program did you follow to lose weight?
If you follow Weight Watchers, what type of membership do you have? Do you attend meetings or follow the program online only?
I attend weekly meetings and also use eTools. I also use the WW Mobile app and the ActiveLink app on my phone.
The weekly meetings are essential for my success. For the first 15 months, I was COMMITTED to my meetings. I wouldn’t miss for any reason. I planned other things around my meeting, and it was nonnegotiable. Over the years, my dedication to the meetings waned as other things in my life happened. There were times that I didn’t attend regularly, and it was obvious in my results.
I absolutely love my leader and I get SO much encouragement and motivation from the meetings. After all this time, I know the plan really well. Some people think it’s odd that I still attend meetings. For me, the meetings are not about learning the plan. For me, the meetings are a way to get re-focused. It’s my time to hit the reset button and wipe the slate clean for the upcoming week. I am inspired by other members, and I love to feel like I can help someone else! I get something out of each and every meeting I attend.
How did you stay committed and focused after the initial honeymoon stage?
My success motivated me to keep going. Having supportive people around me made a world of difference too! Friends and co-workers would compliment me all the time, and I even had some people say they were motivated or inspired by me. Knowing that I could help others was a very rewarding feeling.
After losing the majority of my weight (88 pounds) and becoming a lifetime member, things changed. I still wanted to lose 12 more pounds, but it was much harder. The outside encouragement slowed down as others got used to my new normal. Many people felt I was already a success and that I didn’t need to lose the last 12 pounds. I had to learn to motivate myself more, and I had to be more intentional about asking for help and sharing my struggles.
Reflecting on where I started is a huge motivator for me. When I re-read my story, I can instantly remember how miserable I was. Just remembering those times in my life still brings tears to my eyes. When things get tough and I want to quit, I try to remember that I NEVER want to feel that way again. I don’t want to go back to being exhausted from grocery shopping and having trouble bending over to tie my shoes. I don’t want to be so self conscious that I avoid social interaction. I would rather work to overcome challenges in my weight loss journey than to go back to that miserable existence.
How do you avoid emotional eating and/or binge eating?
This is still a struggle for me. I do MUCH better now than I used to, but the urge is still there at times. My main triggers seem to be stress, feeling overwhelmed, feeling out of control, and simply being tired. Knowing that these are my triggers helps me to take steps to reduce their impact on me.
I’ve made it a priority over the past year to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I probably should go for 8, but it was a big change getting to 7 consistently! Simply being well rested has had a huge impact on all areas of my life. I try to limit my stress when possible, and I have learned to say no to things that will not be healthy for me.
When I feel overwhelmed or out of control, I try to talk about my feelings more instead of burying them under a mountain of food. I am also learning to make peace with things I can’t control. If they are beyond my control, worrying about them and dwelling on them won’t change anything. This doesn’t mean I stop caring. It just means that I recognize that I need to focus on the things in my life that I CAN control.
Most importantly, I try to remember my WHY as an anchor. Why did I want to lose weight in the first place? Why is it important that I don’t go back to my old habits? When I start thinking about all the ways that my life is better now, I am reminded that my quality of life is more important than eating a bunch of junk.
What were the key lifestyle changes that you HAD to make in order to be successful?
Tracking, tracking, tracking. I absolutely MUST keep track of what I eat. If I don’t write it down, it didn’t happen. If I don’t write it down, the calories don’t count. The times that I overeat the most are the times I’m not tracking. It’s like I try to pretend that I don’t know better. It’s silly but true. I am very good at being in denial when I want to be. I started out recording my food in a paper tracker that Weight Watchers provides. I did it that way for years. Now I use a combination of the WW Mobile app and the eTools website for tracking.
Speaking my feelings instead of eating my feelings has also been a huge change for me. So many of the problems I had in life could have been avoided if I was brave enough to speak my mind in the first place. I had to quit worrying about trying to be perfect on the outside when I was a mess on the inside. I had to quit worrying about what others might think about me and just be myself!
What online tools or apps do you use to manage your weight?
What are your most important kitchen tools?
My most important kitchen tools are my measuring tools like my food scale, measuring cups, and tablespoons. I have about 10-15 tablespoons so I never have to worry that I won’t have a clean one when I need it. I also have 2 or 3 sets of measuring cups for the same reason.
I also use plastic bags for separating snacks and meals into portions. I use different sizes for different things. You’ll typically find every size available in my kitchen: snack size, sandwich size, quart size, and gallon size. I also use the Ziploc vacuum bags for long term freezer storage.
My newest love is my stand up freezer that I purchased this year. It makes it so much easier to store and find things than my chest freezer. I love to have both meal kits and fully cooked meals in the freezer. I also portion out different components for storage like frozen berries and precooked chicken. That way it is easy to grab what I want at meal time without stopping to measure everything.
What do you do for exercise?
Most often running is my go to activity. I have completed the Couch to 5K plan several times over the years as I’ve stopped and restarted. I’m currently training for a 1/2 marathon in August, and I have several other races planned.
I also enjoy walking and will sometimes walk on the treadmill while working thanks to the homemade treadmill desk my hubby built me.
Fitness DVDs are my other main form of exercise. I have lots of them but seem to only use a handful. I like the videos by Weight Watchers and by Jillian Michaels. I use the Weight Watchers Time Crunch Training the most. I like that I can complete a run and then pop in the DVD for a quick arm or core workout. Of the Jillian videos, I use Kickbox FastFix, 30 Day Shred, and Ripped in 30.
How do you handle friends or family that try to sabotage your efforts?
If I had a friend that tried to sabotage me, they probably wouldn’t be a friend for long. It’s not as easy to distance yourself from family and co-workers. I have learned to be patient with others. People that do not struggle with food issues don’t think about how one meal might affect the rest of the day.
I have found that most people don’t realize if/when they are doing things that make it more difficult for me. I have had to learn to speak up and ask for what I need. I had to ask my parents to quit offering me candy. I had to ask my co-workers to stop eating donuts in front of me when possible.
While saying “no thank you” should be enough, I find that people are more satisfied (and leave me alone quicker) if I provide a reason. People don’t want to feel like they are doing something wrong. If I turn down a food, they start to question if they should be eating it and maybe they feel guilty. No one wants to feel guilty, so they want me to eat with them so it seems normal. If I simply say “no thank you,” people assume I have some super human willpower (which is definitely not the case) and they may continue encouraging me to eat something I don’t want to eat. If I say “no thank you, I’m saving my calories for pizza tonight, etc.” people tend to accept it and move on.
What is the biggest difference in your life since the weight loss?
There are SO many differences, but the biggest change is definitely in my confidence. I feel less self conscious so I’m more social and I engage with others more now. I’m not afraid to try new things, and I’m not letting fear of failure hold me back from anything.
What do you still struggle with?
My two main struggles are emotional eating and exercise consistency. I do MUCH better now than I used to, but it’s still a constant work in progress.
I have learned to process my feelings and not be afraid to speak my mind. That has made a huge difference in my emotional eating, but sometimes it’s still there. I’ve also been able to identify some triggers to avoid, and I’ve forced myself to open up about my urges. If I feel like eating and I know I’m not hungry, I might talk to my husband or start a conversation in my Facebook group.
I also struggle to be consistent with my exercise. It seems like that is always the first thing to get cancelled when life gets overwhelming. Scheduling it on my calendar helps and committing to it on Facebook or with friends helps even more.
This year I created a running motivation board that has a calendar with key race dates on it. I put star stickers on every day I complete a run. That has helped me stay focused on my goals. I have already signed up for one race per month for the next four months. I guess I should start looking for October and November races!
What would you say to someone who thinks they cannot be successful with their own weight loss?
YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN DO IT! Focus on small goals. I did not set out to lose 100 pounds. That would have been overwhelming. I just focused on the next 5 pounds over and over again.
Our biggest obstacles are usually our own thoughts and feelings. If you take the time to really identify WHY you want to lose weight, it will be easier to make the tough choices when you are presented with them.
The most important thing is to not give up. You WILL have struggles. You WILL gain some weeks. You WILL think about quitting. Don’t quit! Find a plan that fits your lifestyle. Find a support system. If you try something that doesn’t work, try something else. Just don’t ever stop trying!
It might be hard at times, but it is SO worth it! I would MUCH rather struggle to lose or maintain than to go back to the girl I was in 2009. That girl was sad and angry and miserable.
What mantra/quote/scripture do you rely on when things are difficult?
Just Keep Swimming
I used to tell myself this when I was first running and wanted to quit. I would argue with myself and tell myself it didn’t matter how slow I was as long as I didn’t stop. At times I would just repeat that over and over with each step. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
I Got This
I picked this up from Jennifer Hudson. This is my way of reminding myself that I can handle anything. It’s a way to reassure myself and give me the confidence I need to succeed. No matter what the situation is, “I Got This” reminds me that I can do it. I’ve developed strong healthy habits. I have succeeded in losing weight. I can do it. I GOT THIS.
Embrace the Suck
I heard this recently in a running article and thought it was hilarious. No matter how great one run is, the next one could be miserable. Sometimes I’m tired and don’t feel like running. Sometimes it’s humid or raining. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it sucks.
But when I’m done, the pride I feel makes it all worth it. I can’t explain the feeling of crossing a finish line of a 5K or a 1/2 Marathon, but it is amazing.
This mantra is to remind me that it’s worth it in the end. Instead of quitting when things are tough, I’m trying to embrace the suck and remember that the next run will be better!
This mantra could be applied to many areas of life. There are things that are difficult that we cannot control. Stressing out about them doesn’t help anything. If we can learn to accept the fact that it sucks and have faith that it won’t always suck, maybe we will be more relaxed and peaceful.
How can people connect with you online?
If you’re reading this story, you’ve already found my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I’m most active on Facebook, but I try to participate in the other networks when I can. I also started a Facebook Group so we can motivate and support each other.
I hope you enjoyed hearing my story and take comfort in the fact that I have my own struggles just like everyone else. You don’t have to be perfect to be successful! If you want to read more about my background, you can read my full story or check out my progress!
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