Though I slimmed down to 170 pounds in high school, I was always overweight as a kid. After graduation, I went to school to be a pastry chef. When I got to college, I put on 20 pounds over four years. After graduating, I scored my dream job, but lost that position shortly after. When I was let go, I went through a bit of a depression and ate comfort food like grilled cheese and sugary treats to forget about how sad I was. Brownie fudge sundaes were my go-to.
In 2011, I decided to weigh myself. The last time I'd stepped on the scale was before losing my job. When I saw that I'd gained 15 pounds, I felt really defeated. Something clicked in my head, and I knew that I had to do something right then. So I put on some workout gear and went for a walk.
Not long after that, I joined a local gym and started running intervals on the treadmill. I began by running for one minute and walking for nine. As I progressed, I started running for longer periods of time and walking less.
I also started counting the calories of everything I ate. I used MyFitnessPal to track what I was putting in my body. At that point, I was eating a lot of processed foods because it was easy to see how many calories each thing had in it. I knew nothing about nutrition.
In the first few months, the weight came off pretty quickly. I was shocked by how easy it was.
After I started losing weight, my family signed me up for this three-day weight-loss retreat to learn about emotional eating, nutrition, and exercise. It was actually a huge eye-opener. I learned that I didn't need to count calories. Instead, I could just focus on the nutritional value of the food to make sure my body was getting the protein and carbs it needed. I also started eating three smaller meals and three snacks a day instead of the three meals I was eating before.
I discovered that I tend to cope by eating sugary and fatty foods and that I had to overcome that if I wanted to get healthy.
When I got home from the retreat, I was super-gung ho about putting these new strategies into action, but I ended up self-sabotaging by eating the cookies I'd bake at work.
I used to tell myself that, since I'm a pastry chef, I have to try everything I make. But that was B.S. Once I realized that, I told myself that anything I ate at work was stealing because that's kind of true (though my company didn't really see it that way). That mentality actually made me more efficient at my job because I tried really hard not to break any cookies, which I would eat because they'd be unsellable.
I also tried to give myself a little grace. I decided that as long as I could do a little better at eating healthy and working out than I did the day before, I would be on track to meet my goals.
I still eat the foods I like—like cookies—but I don't call it a cheat meal because I don't like that negative connotation associated with my food. I have one free meal or snack a week. I enjoy it, and then I move on.
A little over three years after setting out to lose weight, I've lost 85 pounds and weigh 130 pounds.
When I did my first 5-K in October 2013, it was really emotional because I couldn't run without having an asthma attack when I was a kid. So being able to run 3.1 miles in 30 minutes made me really proud.
In January of 2014, I started a motivational fitness platform on my Facebook and Instagram accounts to inspire others to lose weight. I started working out with people who wanted to get in shape like I did. Now, I'm going to school to get my personal training certification.
Set intentions. Each day, I set three intentions. And at the end of the day, I reflect on how many of those things I did. By setting small goals to accomplish, it keeps me motivated. And if I don't meet all of those goals, I remind myself that I'm trying to make progress, not be perfect.
Find a support group. My mom has been a huge supporter of my goals, and my work friends put my progress on their Facebook pages. They made me feel awesome about how far I've come. That helps keep me motivated.
Think about why you want to lose weight. It helps you stick to your intentions when times get tough. I know that when I eat healthy, I think more clearly. It's not just about losing weight.