My Complete Lifestyle Change
Over the years Leelyn1216 had allowed her weight and diet to get out of hand and she knew that her health was suffering as a result. Inspired by her mom, she set personal goals and was determined to make this lifestyle change a priority. She has lost 93 lbs and with 7 lbs to go to - we know she’ll succeed!
She contacted us through our Share Your Story feature and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.
1. What made you decide to lose weight this time?
I was very unhappy with myself. After struggling with the family monster of impulsive overeating for years, I was now 22, a new college graduate, and my weight had peaked at 258 pounds. It seemed like the longer I let myself continue as I was, the more I spun out of control in a lot of areas of my life. My mom had hit her peak weight of 316 pounds and, fearing for her health, had started exercising like crazy to get it off. Even though I live 1200 miles away from her, she had still been my excuse -- "Well, I may weigh this much, but my mom still weighs more!"-- and suddenly, she was encroaching on me. I hadn't thought she'd really do it, and now we were only 30 pounds apart. I started to fully realize how far I'd fallen, feeling it in my joints and overall lethargy. I've had two hip surgeries; I knew that weight could only be wearing on my overall health. A frustrated desperation overtook me, and instead of sitting and working on my computer when I got home from my part-time job, I went for a walk.
2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
My mom and I had joined a women's circuit-training club, but that ended for me when I moved away to go to school. My sophomore year of college, a membership to the Y was included in my tuition, and we worked out three days a week as a class. But... it was at 6:30a.m. (not my favorite hour), and my heart was hardly in it. The most I could say at the end of that year was that I had “only” gained three pounds according to the doctor's office scale. I still found physical activity overwhelming, and even found myself in tears when some friends did a high ropes course and I couldn't participate. Hiking left me in their dust. I dropped a couple pounds before graduation just by adding occasional exercise. But it just wasn't consistent enough, and it was way too easy to excuse it away -- "I'm too tired," or "I have too much homework." Why couldn't I get a handle on this?
3. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?
It took about 20 pounds before I finally realized I was sticking with this, and that's when I called my mom to tell her that I was joining her on her drastic "weigh down." It was time to, as my mom put it, "do just one thing differently." So it became a sort of sisterhood. As we attacked our personal goals with serious determination, we could talk to each other about the healthy choices we were learning to make. It was a new kind of openness and accountability-- one that I desperately needed.
I started strictly limiting my calorie intake, aiming for 1200-1500 calories in a day. To keep that goal, I cut out liquid calories, realizing that I would rather eat than drink my nutrients. I also drank a lot of tea, ate a ton of fruits and veggies, and set goals for myself about how many calories I should have had by a certain point in the day. I didn't cut out my favorites-- like ice cream and chocolate-- but I did think more than twice before I ate them, and I started making allowances on the days I knew I was going to splurge. I went to the gym for 2-3 hours every day, doing plenty of cardio as well as some weight lifting, basic calisthenics, and flexibility exercises. Probably the most important change for me, however, was realizing that everything I did was a trade. I could trade 1/10 of a pound lost for eating that candy bar. I could trade a workout and burning more calories for that nap. If I wanted to see results, I had to make a healthy lifestyle a priority: I could trade in the lethargy for energy, and my fatalistic self-image for one that was so much better.
4. How did Calorie Count help you to lose weight?
I only joined Calorie Count this October, but I've been using it for more than a year as I tracked my calorie intake in a spreadsheet. I've loved having all of the nutritional information for so many foods at my fingertips. It's been a huge help in learning the kinds of choices and substitutions I can make, helping me be honest with both my record-keeping and myself. Besides... it's fun! I joined now to help me maintain-- and hopefully get the last seven pounds off so I can say I've reached my ultimate goal: losing 100 pounds.
5. What was most challenging about losing weight?
Probably my own self-doubt. I'd tried so many things before, and even succeeded in losing 25 pounds in high school at one point. But it always came back, leaving me right where I started. I wasn't sure I could actually stick with anything long enough for it to change me and become a true lifestyle instead of just a rule to attempt to live by until I broke it. With that track record? Sometimes going to the gym was a mindset difficulty.
6. How long did it take you to see results?
I dropped almost fifteen pounds in the first month when I really started regularly counting calories and walking, which eventually increased to jogging and doing the elliptical when I joined the gym. And I suddenly felt so much healthier! I had more energy and the conscious knowledge that I was doing something that was really, really good for me. That's when I realized-- there's absolutely nothing more motivating than seeing results and knowing you're making your own personal goals. That's what kept me heading back to the gym almost every day. Now, I’ve lost 93 pounds, and my mom’s lost 115. I’m six feet tall, so I’m now at a healthy weight for me. And there’s no way I’m going back!
7. When did you realize that you were a success?
It's taken a while for the image I see in the mirror to match the “me” other people perceive. I loved knowing I'd met my initial goals on the scale, and I loved wearing these healthy new sizes and more chic styles. But I still didn't look that different to myself. I was explaining to a new friend how much I'd struggled with my weight, and she gave me such a puzzled expression. "But you're THIN," she emphasized. "If you lost more, where would it come off of?" “Thin” is not a word I ever thought I’d hear applied to me. Granted, I know my body, and I know I can stand to lose this last seven pounds without being unhealthy. But for me, realizing that I'd reached a healthy weight and that others would no longer see me as heavy was a huge revelation and a huge victory point. And going hiking with my friends this summer? I was now in the middle or the front of the group as we trekked through the mountains instead of bringing up the rear a mile behind. The determination and perseverance? So, so worth it!
8. How do you prevent relapse?
I'm still counting! And I'm really only just now entering the maintenance phase of this, trying to tone my muscles and build my strength and endurance more than actually losing weight. Thankfully, this change in lifestyle has been going on over the last year or so, and that's long enough to build some positive habits and "addictions." For instance, working out is totally a part of my everyday routine. And I look forward to it as being one of the best parts.
9. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?
For the first time in my life, I feel my age instead of like someone two decades older. I'm less clumsy, I feel prettier, and others treat me better-- mostly probably because I treat myself better. I hadn't realized how many of my insecurities stemmed from my weight and negative self-image. I love buying smaller clothes and wearing skirts and heels. I love knowing I'm helping my body work for me longer and better-- and feeling like my weight now more accurately represents who I am to people who don't know me. I also set higher goals and expect more from myself. My goal now? I want to climb Pikes Peak. I think I'm physically capable, so I'm training toward it for next summer. It's going to happen!
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- Take the first step today. Don't wait for tomorrow to start treating yourself well. Just "do one thing differently".
- Set reachable goals. You don't have to start out trying to lose 50 pounds. Start by trying to lose 5. When you get there, you'll realize that your goals are attainable, and that can motivate you to keep going.
- Find other people around you who can encourage you to persevere. Even if they're not dieting with you, like my mom and I were, they can let you know when they see results or even just hold you to your expectations.
- Don't deprive yourself of the things you love. Just make sure you make allowances for them in your overall calorie intake!
- Reward yourself for a job well-done. When you reach your next small goal, buy a new clothing item or plan a fun activity with friends. If you keep the rewards coming, it'll make the next one seem that much more attainable.
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.