A MyFoodDiary Success Story
What was the turning point that motivated your lifestyle change?
I started off as a naturally thin person. I never had issues with my weight until young adulthood. Prior to that, I was a pesco-vegetarian who was also very active. But then, I started eating meat and lots of junk food, quit smoking (which was a good thing!), and WOW did the pounds just pile on. My self-confidence plummeted, and I believed that I would never get the weight off. I started having a series of heart issues that landed me in the hospital about 5 times during 2008 alone. My doctors told me that the sudden weight gain wasn't helping and that I needed to lose it if I wanted to minimize my chances of having prolonged heart issues.
So, there I was in 2008 weighing about 55-60 pounds more than I had previously. (My absolute heaviest was 188 pounds and I'm 5'4".) It was around this time that I had a dream that changed my life. In the dream, I was looking into a bathroom mirror and a healthier version of me looked back at me. This other version of me told me that I was not living up to my fullest potential and that I was using my weight to hide who I was. I felt this large amount of unconditional love emanating from this healthier version of myself. This other version of me looked vibrant, alive, and full of peace. It was such a remarkable feeling.
I awoke from the dream feeling renewed. The dream moved me emotionally, and I jotted it down in a journal. From that point onward, I became completely driven. I read everything I could get my hands on regarding weight gain, weight loss, heart health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How did MyFoodDiary.com help in your weight loss journey?
I was committed to maintaining my new healthier lifestyle. In the past, I tried fad low-carb diets and while I lost the weight, eventually I had to eat carbs and gained it all back, and then some. So, I decided to really get serious about changing my lifestyle. I found MyFoodDiary.com in January of 2010 and never looked back. It was through counting and recording calories, and tracking my physical activities on MFD that really changed my eating habits. I started paying more attention not only to how many calories were in the food, but other aspects of the food's nutritional value, such as fat content, fiber, protein, etc.
Describe your new, healthy lifestyle.
Prior to using MyFoodDiary, I rarely ate breakfast, I didn't pay any attention to how many calories were in the food I ate (or the nutritional value of the food), I exercised sporadically, and I didn't have any real plan for losing the weight. Now, I eat 5-6 small meals each day, including breakfast EVERY day. I also exercise 5-6 days a week, which includes 5-6 days of cardio and 2-3 days of strength training.
What has been your biggest challenge, and how have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been not falling back into old habits during periods of high stress. I've been in maintenance for over two years now. The second year was easier than the first. During the first year I found that it was harder not to give in to old habits. Now, I focus on the fact that I really do love feeling healthy. I missed this version of myself and I'm not willing to let it go. So, whenever I do experience high levels of stress, I actually focus on exercise as a way to relieve it. In the past, I relied on food. BIG change!
What is one new healthy habit you didn't expect to like, but now love?
I never thought I would have such a love for mushrooms. As a kid I hated them and now I find they add flavor to so many dishes. I also have developed a taste for cilantro!
What has been the greatest reward of your weight loss success?
The greatest reward of my weight loss success is that I'm able to help others achieve their weight loss goals. Prior to going through this weight loss journey, I owned a personal development and motivational coaching business. Since losing the weight, I have obtained two personal training certifications and I am working on a third. I have added a fitness component to my business and have already helped several people reach their own fitness goals.
What's next? Any upcoming plans that were influenced by your weight loss?
I'm working on obtaining a Master's degree in Exercise Science, and I would eventually like to get my PhD in the same field. I'm also training for a half marathon!
What is your best advice for others?
Regularly monitor your weight. I have weighed myself every morning for the past 3 years. For some people, this may be too much. Minimally, I would say weigh yourself once a week. It's important to catch weight deviations and notice weight gain trends.
Find healthy alternatives to your favorite foods. In the past I tried diets that required that I completely eliminate certain food groups. For me, it led to failure every time. Now, I find healthy alternatives to the foods I've always enjoyed.
Find a support group. It's important to connect with others during this journey. MFD was wonderful for me in this regard. It was nice being able to learn and share with others as well as offering and receiving support.
Don't give up! Remember that you are your best asset and there is nothing more important than caring for your own health and fitness. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel and revert back to your old ways. But remember that you are worthy and deserving of being healthy and fit.