Food was my comfort during this time — it made me feel better when I was stressed or sad (which was often). And none of my go-to foods were healthy in the least: McDonald's breakfast sandwiches (and lunch sandwiches), sugary cereals, pizza — I loved anything greasy or sweet.
Then, one day my grandmother asked me if I was pregnant — I wasn't.
This happened on Easter Sunday in 2017. I had struggled hard to find something to wear that day (I was a size 3x or 4x at this point), and was shocked by my grandma's comment. But honestly, it was the wake-up call I needed to get my weight in check.
I started researching diets—specifically ones that wouldn't make me feel deprived. When I came across the low-carb Atkins diet, it felt like something that I could stick to.
The Atkins diet forced me to start planning my meals in advance—and to actually read nutrition labels.
My first trip to the grocery store, I really had to plan ahead and research nutrition information in order to make sure the sugar, protein, and fibre of the foods I wanted to buy fit within the plan.
It was (and still is) time-intensive, sure; but doing that helped educate me on what a balanced diet looks like, and what my calorie intake should be–two things I had never paid attention to before.
Here's what at typical day of eating on Atkins looked like:
- Breakfast: Eggs
- Lunch: An Atkins meal like meatloaf with portobello mushroom gravy or beef merlot.
- A small steak or pork loin paired with mushrooms or broccoli and a salad.
I started monitoring my physical activity too — I even bought a Fitbit.
I decided to start tracking my daily steps and activity in an effort to move more. On work days, I made sure that I got in at least 15,000 steps per day, and at least 10,000 steps on my days off.
I have never been big on the gym (I prefer the outdoors), so I started taking more walks as well–about three to five times a week, lasting for about an hour. When the weather wasn't cooperating, I used my at-home treadmill while watching my favorite re-runs of The Golden Girls.
I also started stretching for 15 minutes a day, every day—I found that it helped me feel less sore before, during, and after walks, so I would actually want to keep exercising (instead of being in pain).
As I saw results, I got more excited about my weight-loss journey.
Getting to watch my body transform (both in how I looked and how I felt) as I was making these lifestyle changes helped keep me going. The positive feedback from friends, family, and even strangers on social media has been powerful too—people actually tell me that I inspire them.
Since starting this journey, I've lost 109 pounds (I still want to lose 35 more, too). But just because I've successfully lost weight doesn't mean I haven't had bad days or days when I wanted to stop. In those cases, I've allowed myself to have that moment (or that slice of cheesecake), and then get back on track after.
My advice: Don't give up. Don’t throw in the towel because of one off-track choice. Small steps (even missteps) can lead to big victories when it comes to improving our health and eating habits.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US