I've been dieting since the third grade. I don't remember how, exactly, but I remember being larger than the other girls and that I wanted to be smaller.
Of course, that was just the beginning of my years and years of yo-yo dieting and obsession with unhealthy food. At 16, when I got my first job, I was finally able to pay for my own fast food (and even drive myself there), so gained even more weight.
I figured I was eating about 5,000 calories a day—mostly from multiple servings of fast food, sugary beverages, and junk food snacks. At my heaviest, I weighed 139kgs.
I wish I could say I had a dramatic turning point that kickstarted my weight loss, but the truth is, it was gradual.
I tried (and failed) for years to lose weight, until once day I finally felt so fed up with myself that it just clicked: I had to find a diet I could stick to in order to see any real changes. And once that happened, there was no stopping me.
I implemented lots of small changes that helped me break bad habits. At first, I started cutting back on sugary beverages and fast food until they were totally out of my daily meal plan. After that, I started tracking my meals and holding myself accountable for what I ate during the day. I set a 1,500-calorie limit for myself and stuck to mainly low-carb, low-sugar, high-protein foods. Here's what I typically ate—and still eat—in a day:
- Breakfast: coffee with sugar-free creamer and a cup of greek yoghurt.
- Lunch: a turkey and cheese lettuce wrap with a cup of fruit.
- Snacks: string cheese, fruit, or a protein bar.
- Dinner: protein (usually chicken), a veggie, and a cup of potatoes.
- Dessert: strawberries with fat-free whipped cream.
I started to exercise as soon as I started my new eating plan.
I was extremely out of shape when I started going to the gym. The first week I tried running and high-intensity workouts, but they were horrible on my knees and back.
Instead, I switched to just walking on the treadmill for an hour a day. (Not even at a fast speed or high incline, just walking.) I would put on a show or video and watch that while walking and the hour always flew by.
As I began to get more comfortable at the gym, I started to incorporate different exercises like strength training, but mainly stuck with cardio. My goals moving forward are to tone everything up and become stronger with weight lifting at the gym.
I lost 71kgs since January 2018.
My number one tip for women who want to lose weight: Be selfish. Learning to become your own best friend and number one fan is crucial to being successful on your journey.
Also important: You can't beat yourself up about making mistakes or not losing weight as quickly as you want to. Everyone's different and you will feel discouraged once in a while, but it's important to keep rooting for yourself. This journey has moulded me into not only a smaller size but a better person because I made my health and happiness my number one goal.
By Daniella Piovesana as told to Emily Shiffer. This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.