Knowledge is Power
Having been overweight for most of her life, Eclaireg realized she had the power to change her lifestyle. She simply started by analyzing what foods she was consuming and self-educated herself on proper nutrition. She’s lost 100lbs this past year and is perusing her career to become a Registered Dietician.
She contacted us through our Share Your Story feature and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an "Aha!" moment?
Like most "big losers", I had been overweight my whole life. I grew up an outcast- commonly taunted for my size. During my first year at college, I was forced to eat all of my meals in a cafeteria. It was during this time that I began watching what others ate, which made me realize the ways in which my own eating habits were contributing to my "more to love" factor. Now that I was an adult living on my own, I realized I had to take responsibility for what I put in my mouth and that I was the only person responsible for the way that I look.
2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I tried NutriSystem during high school. I lost 20 pounds, but ended up gaining it all back once I stopped buying the plan. At the beginning of my weight loss, I also tried the Weight Watchers Points program. Finally, I realized that I was paying someone else to simply count my calories for me! I already had the motivation, as I lost 20 pounds during my freshman year (so much for the "Freshman 15"... ha!) and now I was learning how to plan my meals according to their calorie content on my own.
3. Please describe how you reached your weight loss goal. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude? Did you implement any other strategies besides Calorie Count? What was the most important change?
Once I started dropping the pounds, I spent lots of time researching the calorie content of foods and finding healthy alternatives for calorie-laden fare. I was hooked! I was inspired by "Hungry Girl" Lisa Lillien's e-mail newsletter, which came bright and early every morning. Not only did it help me by reminding me each morning that I better be watching what I eat, but it also gave me tips to survive the hurdles that come along with weight loss.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
During my weight loss, I used Calorie Count multiple times a day to look up the calorie content of each and every morsel I put in my mouth. I would then record everything down in a notebook, which I still carry around with me now to stay on track. Before eating out, Calorie Count helped me figure out what to order so that I could stay within my calorie budget, but still have fun and eat out.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
It's very easy to get carried away with calorie counting. A growing dilemma in our country is the rising rate of eating disorders. An innocent diet can quickly spiral into an eating disorder, especially if the dieter is going through a rough time or has other contributing characteristics. When I would have a bad day or "messed up", I would find that I would take it out on myself and, as punishment, not allow myself to have a full day's worth of calories. It is so important not to starve your body of the calories it needs. Not only will your body begin to eat its own muscle mass (the stuff you want to keep!), but your metabolism will slow down and make weight loss much more difficult. I recommend that each person utilizes a calculator that calculates the number of calories he or she needs each day to reach their goal (or maintain). Then, stick to your number and watch the transformation begin!
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
I began seeing results almost as quickly as I began changing the way I ate and actually paying attention to what I consumed. I realized I was a success once I had lost 60lbs and was at about 160. My family was raving about how good I looked and, upon hugging me, my aunt said, "Oh my goodness! Now when I hug you my arms go all the way around!" Since I lost my mother when I was 16, my aunt has become a second mother to me. It was in that moment that I realized weight loss was not only changing the way that I looked, but also my life.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
There is no such thing. If you eat an entire pizza (from Pepe's, New Haven CT of course), followed by an entire pumpkin pie, and then realize you still NEED Taco Bell... then do it. You only live once and I'm a firm believer in enjoying every moment of it. Give yourself a day to have everything you're craving, and then get back to your normal lifestyle- and that means eating the amount of calories your body needs, no more and no less. Adding in some extra cardio wouldn't hurt either.
8. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?
My life has changed dramatically since I lost weight. Before, I was introverted and hid behind my clothing; now, I'm outgoing and get to show off my love of fashion. Before losing weight, I felt invisible. Since I've lost the weight, I've met so many new and amazing people that I would have never come into contact with otherwise. At the age of 20 and at about 60 pounds lost, I had my first kiss. And last year, upon achieving my current weight, I met my current fiance. I also switched my major so that one day I can become a Registered Dietician and help others to achieve their nutritional goals. I've never been happier than I am now at my current weight, and every day I am thankful that my weight loss journey built my amazing future.
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
Next month will be one year! I fluctuate up and down by about 5 pounds, which is normal. It's important not to beat yourself up about the couple pounds that mysteriously come and go. It may be TMI, but I always tell new dieters that it's better to blame not having a bowel movement than to feel guilty all day about a few extra pounds!
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- I'm a water addict. I constantly have water with me, and actually have to make sure I don't drink too MUCH water. However, my best advice is to take a sip of water in between each bite during meals. The water will fill you up, making you feel much more satiated and satisfied.
- Exercise. Even if it's just a walk around the block, exercise is great to rev up a sleepy metabolism. It can also help to prevent constipation (common during dieting), keep you motivated, and help you achieve your weight loss goals quicker.
- Never cut out any food groups. Those who eat no carbs, no fat, etc. are losing essential nutrients and vitamins found in the food group which is being cut out. Instead, strive to eat the healthiest choices from each group and integrate all of the groups into your day.
- Always decide what you're ordering at a restaurant BEFORE you get there. You're much more likely to make a wise, healthy decision at home than you are when you are ravenous and surrounded by calorie avalanches. Plus, when you do this you get to see all of the options available to you and their caloric content- not all restaurants provide nutritional information for customers.
- Find an online calculator to calculate the daily caloric intake you need to achieve your weight goals. Like the one available here on Calorie Count, these calculators will help you find that "sweet spot"- the amount of calories your body needs to function and lose weight, without still feeling hungry.
If you would like us to feature your success story, you can submit it here. The most insightful stories will be featured on this blog and in the weekly "Success Stories" newsletter.