I dieted from time to time because I felt it was the socially acceptable thing for someone of my size to do. I did Weight Watchers in 2008 and I lost 9 kilograms, but I returned to my old eating habits and gained it all back (plus more). I tracked my calories via MyFitnessPal on and off for several years. When I did that, I lost weight—but I was also starving.
Then, one morning I stepped on the scale and it read 126. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe I was that heavy. I knew I had to do something. I was only 32, but my life depended on losing that weight. I needed to learn better eating habits and start exercising and be a better role model to my kids.
That’s when I decided I needed help.
Since I didn't know the first thing about healthy habits, I joined a gym called RevFit. There, I saw all these side-by-side transformation pictures from people who had taken their bootcamp classes. Women of all sizes were losing weight through this program, so I signed up.
THE MEAL PLAN WAS HARD, BUT THE WORKOUTS WERE HARDER
In the bootcamp program, you’re matched with a trainer and you exercise three times a week with a group of women. The workouts are a mix of cardio and heavy weight lifting. We were also given a meal plan that focused on lean proteins and complex carbohydrates.
When I started bootcamp on May 29, 2017, it was leg day. I couldn’t walk for a week afterward.
I cried every day in the beginning. The soreness I experienced was indescribable.
But I was losing weight. I lost two kilograms my very first week, and within the first month, I had lost eight kilograms and 8.5 inches.
I started noticing definition in my muscles. My pants got looser. Two months in, I'd lost 12 kilograms—and five and a half months in, I was 27 kilograms down from my starting weight.
JOINING A WORKOUT GROUP KEPT ME MOTIVATED
I still go to 4:45 a.m. bootcamp classes three times a week. One day is designated for legs, one is for back and biceps, and one is for chest and triceps. We always work out with a partner, and we exercise for 60 minutes, alternating strength circuits with cardio moves like mountain climbers, step ups, or burpees.
THE DIET PROGRAM WAS STRICT, BUT IT WORKED
The plan was salt- and dairy-free, and I love salt and cheese. Giving both up was tough, but I was determined to see changes.
Now, I eat five times a day. For breakfast I usually have oatmeal and a protein shake. For my a.m. snack, I have a protein bar. Lunch usually consists of a low-carb tortilla, vegetables, and chicken or fish. My p.m. snack is a protein shake and berries. And dinner is usually jasmine rice, chicken or eggs, and more vegetables.
I'M LESS THAN 5 KILOGRAMS AWAY FROM MY GOAL WEIGHT
It’s been nine months since I started working out, and I am currently 45 kgs down from my heaviest weight—and five kilograms away from my goal of 80 kilograms (that's lighter than I was in high school!).
At 32, I am the strongest I have ever been in my life. My arm muscles blow my mind. My mindset about food is completely different than it used to be—I eat for fuel now.
But I'm proudest of is the healthy choices I'm teaching my kids. Hopefully they won’t have to struggle with weight the way I did when they're adults.
MY ADVICE FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO LOSE WEIGHT
Stop making excuses for yourself. You can do anything you put your mind to. Find your why, write it down, and refer back to it when you're losing sight of that goal.
Follow Lauren’s journey on Instagram: @southern.teacher.gets.skinny.
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This article originally appeared on Women's Health US