At my heaviest, I weighed 220kg and was eating at least 6,000 calories per day. Cooking at home was never the norm, and neither were vegetables. I was eating out multiple times a day, and because I Ioved anything fried, it was usually greasy fast food.
Yes, 6,000 calories a day sounds like a lot, but I don't think I'm exaggerating: Fast food breakfast sandwiches were usually my breakfast of choice (with hash browns and a large soda), followed by fast food tacos for lunch (and even more soda). For dinner, I could easily eat half of a large stuffed-crust meat lover's pizza, along with breadsticks, cookies, and, yep, more soda.
Nothing in particular sparked my decision to lose weight–I was honestly just fed up with being 220kg.
So, on January 1, 2016, my husband and I made resolutions to change our unhealthy lifestyle.
To help me meet my goal, my best friend challenged me to 30 days of cooking for myself (without cheat meals), cutting out alcohol and soda, and exercising five days a week—the complete opposite of what I was doing before. I figured I needed all the help I could get, so I accepted.
By the end of that month, I’d achieved every single goal she’d given me. I’d taught myself to cook, I was learning to count calories with MyFitnessPal, I was going to the gym and actually making progress using the elliptical (using it longer, adding resistance).
While, yes, I dropped some weight, the most important takeaway was that I had actually become addicted to my new, healthy routine.
During this time, I also started up my Instagram account, @FatGirlFedUp.
My account started off as a personal diary. Soon after, I started making T-shirts since a lot of us (me and my followers) couldn’t find clothing we felt good in, and my Instagram account just grew from there.
I consider my followers friends and family, and together we’ve created a community for people who, like me, were fed up with existing rather than living. I don’t ever want that to change. I make sure they know that it is okay to flaunt their bodies, as long as they’re being kind to themselves.
As I continued my new, healthy routine, my taste in food started to change, too.
As far as my current diet goes, I don’t restrict myself because that would make me want that food more. I just started taking the foods I loved and making them healthier (my go-to meal is oven-roasted blackened salmon and asparagus). I focused on tracking my calories to make sure I was eating more protein, a lot of vegetables, and fewer carbs. And because I wasn’t eating until I felt sick anymore, the weight just started coming off, and it still is.
Here's what I eat in a typical day:
- Breakfast: three hard-boiled eggs and two pieces of turkey bacon
- Lunch: blackened salmon with roasted asparagus and a side salad
- Dinner: a grilled chicken sandwich on a lettuce bun and a sweet potato
- Snack: almonds and a cheese stick
Maintaining all of this wasn’t easy. I had to start being able to say "no." If my friends wanted to eat out, I had to find different ways to spend time with them that didn’t revolve around food, like hiking or watching a movie.
I also enlisted my husband to join me at the gym—a once intimidating place for me.
There's no getting around it: When I went to the gym, people would stare at me—so I made sure to be the hardest worker in the room. I’d just remind myself that I was in charge of changing the rest of my life. I was there for me, not them.
When I first started out, the elliptical machine was my best friend—it allowed me to manipulate the intensity and incline of my workout. It was ideal because it didn’t hurt my joints like most other machines did when I was at that weight.
Once I got comfortable with that, I also started going to a local class called Pulse Fitness, which is like Zumba. I stood in the back of the class and did as many moves as I could. I challenged myself to be better every time.
Even today, at 78kg, I can’t say whether or not I’ve reached my goal—I’m still on my journey.
And it hasn't been easy: I've often had to rearrange my schedule in order to avoid adjusting my weight-loss goal. I was working 10-hour shifts, for example, which meant that I'd have to work out before, or try to incorporate creative ways to get in extra movement throughout the day.
For example, I would leave my phone on the other side of the room, which forced me to get up to turn off the alarm in the mornings. Other days, I’d lay out my gym clothes the night before, or take them with me to work and forbid myself from going home until I exercised. I had to have a game plan in order to save my own life.
Also, as a result of my weight-loss, I’ve been dealing with lots of excess skin. Right now, my next step is having my loose skin removed through surgery, which I'm actually getting done in the near future. I’ll be getting the skin on my stomach, hips, butt, and back contoured, removed, and lifted. I’m nervous, but excited about the result. (Yes, I’ll be posting about my recovery process for the FedUpFam to follow.)
Overall, it took a long time to feel confident enough to post photos of my body on Instagram, but I’ve gotten to a place where I’m comfortable in my skin. Now that I am, I can motivate my followers, in addition to myself. Though my journey, I've realised it’s not about the weight you lose, but the life that you gain.
Lexi Reed as told to Aryelle Siclait. This article originally appeared on Women's Health.