College. That is where my weight loss story starts. I was an athletic young person and never had weight issues before pizza and beer became the only 2 food groups I knew. My mom tried to teach me to eat my vegetables (Thanks Mom!). However, those first few years out of the house, I didn’t always make good food choices. Caught up in the college life, exercise was simply something I didn’t make time for as well.
When I moved onto grad school, I started to realize my weight issues. I had climbed from 124 pounds to 176! I started seeking out healthy habits. Vegetables became a regular part of my plate again. I tried to cut back on high fat/high calorie foods (cheese and pizza to name a few). But that wasn’t enough. I started to try and eat smaller portions and save indulgent meals for the weekends only. I started running again. It used to be my favorite exercise, but I found it so much more difficult with my extra weight. Even with all of my efforts, I had only stopped gaining weight.
A friend of mine shared her weight loss story with me. She said “I always thought that I was going to be fat. I had accepted that I would be that way forever.” However, that was not the case for her. She had lost 50 pounds by counting calories. I spoke with others I was close to about the idea of calorie counting, but they all thought it would be too hard to maintain over time.
I read an article in a cooking magazine about a scientist that wanted to prove a point. He took up a diet of only Twinkies, cutting back calorie intake to only 1800 calories. In the article, he lost 10 lbs in a month! If you look past the ridiculous idea of only eating Twinkies, there is an important point. If you don’t burn off the calories you put in, your body will store them as fat. I decided I had to try calorie counting because my healthy eating habits and exercise were not enough. I was tired of my overweight self and lack of confidence.
In all obviousness, this is a weight loss story, so by now you realize that I did manage to loose most of my weight. Calorie counting was the tool that helped me to realize and develop heathy habits that I could commit to long term. I counted calories for 2 months, never exceeding 1400 calories in a day. Some days I was really hungry, but that was an important part of the learning experience. I needed to learn which foods I could indulge in, and which to avoid because they were not filling for the calories (hello, my old friend pizza). After those 2 months, I had only lost 12 lbs, but I now had a standard for how much food was enough. I knew how my body needed to feel when I was full.
Exercise became sooooo much easier once I had started to shed some pounds. Running became enjoyable again, instead of feeling like I was punishing myself. I started dating again, and fell in love with a pescetarian that supported my healthy eating journey. I decided to join him in a meatless diet (except for the occasional fish and seafood) because I loved how it made my body feel, and I felt good supporting the earth by consuming less energy. We started working out together and he taught me all about strength training, which I enjoy far more than running now!
I continued to lose weight until I hit 133 pounds (Total of 43 lbs lost!). I never expected to get back to the 124 lbs that I was when I started college. After all, I am a mature woman now, not a teen. I’m also 5’10”, so according to the BMI (body mass index) I would be underweight at 124 lbs. On another note entirely, I have gained a lot of muscle mass from strength training. Muscle weighs more than fat, so I should weigh more than I used to. Over the last 3 years, I have actually gained 8 lbs of muscle by strength training. The number on the scale isn’t the important part anymore. It’s what comes after.
My story of confidence
I am at a healthy weight for myself. However, it is a factor I always keep an eye on now. There is always a slight fear of gaining weight again, but it is also about recognizing my achievement. Many out there have tried to lose weight and have struggled. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But with the struggle, I gained a lot of strength. If I put on a few pounds, I know that I have the power to lose them again. My confidence in myself, and in my body, have become ten times stronger than before. This is the reason I wanted to share my story. Confidence makes us all strong. Each person can find a way, no matter how big or small, to improve their daily habits to gain that confidence.
Many people out there are starting their New Year’s resolutions. To encourage those of you trying to incorporate more healthy habits, and potentially some weight loss, I plan to continue posting about my experiences with building a healthy lifestyle. In future posts I plan to share more details about my success with calorie counting, how I incorporate strength training, my quest for whole foods, and how menu planning strengthens my healthy habits.
Are there any other healthy habits you would like to hear about on the blog? Let us know in the comments. Be the most confident you that you can be in the New Year! Cheers -AA