I struggled all my life with being overweight. I had tried all sorts of fad diets, teas, supplements, even acupuncture, and nothing got rid of the weight.
Most diets worked in the beginning, but when I started to go back to a more “normal” lifestyle, the weight slowly crept back and sometimes I’d gain more than what I had lost.
In college, I came to terms with the fact that I was just going to be overweight all my life. So, I stopped caring and ate what I wanted: fast-food, desserts, sodas, and lots and lots of chips. I barely did any physical activities because I was just lazy and most days stayed in and did nothing.
As each year of college came and went, so did the pounds. I was told by doctors that I had PCOS, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and cholesterol. On top of that, I was diabetic and taking meds for it.
I was upset about the diagnosis, but it came as no surprise since I wasn't make an effort to care for myself. Discovering my health issues didn’t make me quit my bad habits because I had tried and failed to lose weight so many times that I just didn’t care anymore.
In my mid-20s, I hit an all-time high of 325 pounds. When I saw that number on the scale, I knew it was time to do something about my weight. I decided I wanted to start working out, so, I joined a gym, but I found it hard to stick to a routine. Also, I felt I wasn’t losing the pounds fast enough, so I got discouraged and stopped trying for a while.
Around that time, I had some family issues, and spent the next three years taking care of different family members, including my 84 year-old grandmother. In August 2012, my grandmother passed away. She and I had been extremely close and she was someone I could always talk to who would never judge me.
It took about a year to get over her death, but then that’s when I decided I wanted to put myself first. For three years, all I had done was put other people’s needs in front of my own and I knew that if I wanted to be successful at losing weight, I’d have to start putting my needs first. I told myself I was going to be selfish and focus on myself and I was going to do this for me and no one else.
In July of 2013, I committed to working out and eating healthy. I decided I would exercise at least six days a week. I joined a gym that offered a fitness trainer with my membership at a very reasonable price, and so I worked out with the trainer two days a week and the rest I worked out on my own. The trainer was gave me ideas for workouts, which I found really helpful. Another source of inspiration was Instagram. To this day, it's something that I use religiously to find different workouts and get inspired. It took me a little while to get used to being comfortable enough to work out on the gym floor, in front of strangers, but when I decided to stop worrying about what others might think, I had the confidence to own every workout I did.
I paired my workout routine with a Paleo diet. I had already been eating very clean when my cousin suggested I switch to Paleo. My thinking was, why not give it a try? I was very optimistic at first, but as I continued with the diet, I fell in love with it.
With Paleo, I have yet to feel the need to cheat, which has always been a weakness with other diets I’ve tried. I typically eat an omelet with some veggies and a side of bacon for breakfast; for lunch, I'll have rotisserie chicken, cauliflower mash and broccoli with the occasional sweet potato; and for dinner, I’ll eat some sort of protein, and lots of vegetables.
To date, I have lost a total of 139.8 lbs. The majority of the weight that I’ve lost has been since last July. In the beginning, I set out to be skinny but along the way, I realized that skinny isn’t necessarily healthy, so now my goal now is to be as fit as I can be, and my goal weight is 175 pounds.
The best part of my journey so far (besides the weight loss) was when my doctor gave me the OK to get off all of my medications and told me that I no longer had high blood pressure or high cholesterol and that I am no longer diabetic! It was such a wonderful feeling and I never thought good old- fashioned diet and exercise were the secret all along.
I’m currently working out six days a week with one day of hot yoga. I lift weights three days a week with a little bit of cardio at the end of my workout. On the other three days, I do ab workouts and cardio for a total of 90 minutes. Besides my intense workout schedule, the key to my success was definitely my diet. When I first decided to try Paleo, I thought I would do it for a little while and mix it up, but since I started it in July of last year, I have stuck to it and it will probably be how I eat for the rest of my life.
The funniest thing about my transformation so far has been all the questions. People at my gym always come up to me and the first thing they ask is: What are you taking to lose weight? They're always amazed when I say just diet and exercise.
When people ask me how to transform their lives, I say that the key is to stay positive. No matter how big or small your progress may be, slow progress is better than none at all. Don’t let the number on the scale get in the way of your goal. Find other ways to gauge your success. I always go by how my clothes fit, when others notice change, and how I feel physically.
It also helps to reward yourself occasionally during your weight loss journey. I've treated myself with all things workout-related: new exercise clothes, new sneakers for the gym, or even workout gear.
It definitely helps that I documented most of journey on Instagram so I could see where I started and how far I’ve come. Also, posting on Instagram held me accountable for things like meals and workouts. In the beginning, I didn’t want to show my pictures to anyone since I was ashamed of how big I was, but posting on Instagram has helped me overcome that fear and makes me want to inspire others with my story because I know how hard it can be.
One surprising struggle has been mentally accepting the fact that my body has made a drastic change. Even though I know I am much smaller than I used to be, I still feel the same inside and I grapple with that daily. I still feel like the 325-pound person who I once was and it's definitely encouraging when I hear comments from others on how much I’ve changed and how much weight I’ve lost. I think a small part of me will always be the “fat girl.”
My journey is ongoing and probably will be for the rest of my life, but I do not regret a single thing I've done to make this lifestyle transformation. I want to inspire others and give them hope that making a healthy lifestyle change is completely possible and can be achieved with a little dedication.