In 2013, I had hit the heaviest weight of my entire life. If I am being completely honest, for a little while, I didn’t care at all. I thought that because I loved who I was on the inside my body didn’t matter.
Then I completely hit rock bottom. It was at rock bottom I realized that my body is a treasure. Your body is a treasure too. I learned that I loved myself too much not to take care of myself.
This shift in mentality led to a complete shift in my lifestyle. I was able to drop 17 pounds in four months. It wasn’t easy, it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was the best decision of my life.
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I grew up fat.
After the age of 6, my body turned on me and I became noticeably overweight. Okay, it wasn’t my body but the results of my many bad habits and love of food.
My worst habit was using food as a reward system or a pick-me-up. When something bad happened to me or I was feeling down, I would eat. Food was my emotional support system. It provided me with instant gratification and an easy smile.
I would also turn to food when life was good. When I won and award or got a good grade, I would eat. If it was my birthday (or someone else’s birthday) I would stuff my face with my favorite meal and then some cake.
It was even what I would turn to when I was bored. When my mind wasn’t occupied by something I would grab a bag of chex mix or chips. Then after that one was finished, it tasted so good and made me feel so food, I would eat another bag.
There was no stopping me. I loved food.
These bad habits led to weight gain which then led to constant yo-yo dieting. I had tried fad diets like The South Beach Diet at age 12. I also tried going no carb for a while. They worked but I naively thought that after I had dropped the weight, it would stay off so I went back to my bad habits.
The times the weight didn’t come off I got so disappointed I stopped dieting. Seeing the scale stay the same was discouraging. Food however always felt good immediately.
Because of how hard being healthy was I kept going back to my unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.
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After graduating from college and then quitting my first real world job. I had an existential crisis. Who was I? After a lot of introspection and a rude comment from a friend, I realized I really loved myself. I actually liked the person that I turned out to be.
The only problem was the body that housed the person.
I had become overweight from the stress and unhappiness from the job I had just quit. As always, my habit of eating to elevate my negative emotions had led me to my heaviest weight.
Seeing that number on the scale lead to a mini emotional breakdown. I couldn’t believe how far I had let myself go when I loved myself so much. It was that day I committed to taking care of my body. I know I needed a change and this time I was going to get it done.
I snapped a few before pictures of myself because I was prepared to say ‘goodbye’ to the unhealthy Angela I had become.
After some extensive research, I figured I would give calorie counting a try. It was the most recommended process to losing weight. I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app and off I went.
After typing in my metrics, the app told me that I should be eating around 1200 calories a day. Okay, I told myself, this was it. This time I was determined and I stuck to calorie tracking religiously. I would log in every single thing I ate down to the milligram of salt.
I attribute my entire weight-loss to this. Tracking your calories keeps you accountable on another level. You may think you know how much you are consuming but you have no idea until it’s actually tracked. When I first started tracking it blew my mind how much I was eating. In one day, pre-weight loss I could easily have been eating 2,000 calories and I thought I was eating significantly less.
Then there was the gym. While I was working I had fallen off going to the gym regularly. I was dreading going back in because I knew I had lost the stamina I had built up.
After the first couple weeks of hell, I did a complete 180 and fell in love with working out. I going to the gym six times a week and even had to force myself to take a rest day. I wanted to go everyday!
My body was in the best shape and strongest it had ever been in my entire life. After 4 months of strict dieting and non-stop working out, I had dropped 17 pounds and toned my body to a flat(ish) stomach.
Through this process I learned there was no magic formula or pill that make makes you skinny. It was just hard work and dedication; eating clean and working out.
When people would tell me that eating clean and working out was all it took, I didn’t believe them. There was no way it was that easy. Honestly, it is that easy the hard part is the dedication, commitment, and discipline.
That’s the secret sauce to losing the weight.
Why my method wasn’t healthy or sustainable
During my “change” and weight loss journey, I hit the point of obsession. Looking back, I think it may have been unhealthy to be that concerned with dropping pounds that rapidly.
I was restricting myself too much and being really hard on myself. I had to go to the gym everyday or there was something wrong with me. There were times that I would beat myself up, and make myself feel extremely guilty for eating too much or having a really bad cheat day.
I would calculate constantly how much I could eat and how much I couldn’t. I would make excuses to not see people because I didn’t want to eat too much or drink too many calories. You need to be able to allow yourself to relax and treat yourself.
You shouldn’t be thinking about anything 24/7. It isn’t healthy for you mentally, emotionally, or physically.
I naively believed that losing all of the weight would magically make me more confident about myself. It didn’t work that way. There were still residual scars of being overweight still hung over me. There were times when I would look in the mirror I think that I didn’t lose any weight.
I still hadn’t lost enough. I still wasn’t thin enough. I still wasn’t enough.
It did very little for my self-image. I didn’t realize that I would need to teach myself to be more confident in my new thinner body.
What Did I learned? It’s All About Balance
There’s no way you can eat 1200 calories and workout six times a week for the rest of your life. Even if you had the time, you shouldn’t do it. What you should spend your time on finding a balanced routine that works for you.
For me, the right balance is working out 3-5 times a week. I eat clean whenever I am at work, eating healthy snacks (these are my favorite almonds), and avoiding high-calorie and high-fat foods. I make a conscious effort to avoid food I know can be substituted for something healthier.
Instead of drinking sodas or sugary juices I picked up the habit of drinking tea. Not only does tea taste good but it is an all natural drink that aids in weight-loss. Green Tea helps to boost your metabolism (I love this mango flavored one)and Oolong helps prevent fat storage and promotes fat loss (I like this one).
I also try to keep a healthy mental balance. I never want to be obsessed with losing weight, I want to be able to think about food normally. Not as a source of comfort or as enemy #1, it is a thing that nourishes my body.
This keeps my weight maintained and my body feeling good.
You also want to reprogram your brain to realize that being healthy isn’t about being skinny or looking your best. It’s about taking care of your body. It’s about taking these habits and incorporating them into your lifestyle.
After making my routine a part of my lifestyle, I don’t even notice I am doing it. It’s become easy. After a bad weekend of greasy food, I crave a salad or an apple. Who would have thought?
No two people are the same so you have to find exactly what works for you. It may take some trial and error but it is worth it.
Don’t get discouraged by any bumps along the way because it is all in the name of being healthy. It is one of the only things that money can’t buy because it is the best form of wealth.
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