I was overweight my entire life. Thinking back, I can’t remember a time when I felt comfortable in my body. I even remember having stretch marks in elementary school and cutting the sleeves off my shirts in order to help my arms fit comfortably.
My exercise habits were nonexistent. I was not a fast runner and I couldn’t do a single pushup. I wasn’t raised in a nutritionally-conscious home either. Growing up in a low-income household meant my mom worked hard just to put whatever she could on the table. I was a fast-food junkie with a taste for McDonald’s and pizza and a strong aversion to healthy foods.
When I met my now-husband, then-boyfriend in late 2013, he’d recently lost 18 kilograms and loved hitting the gym. He never pressured me to go with him or lose weight, but I saw how great he felt after going there. One day I decided I wanted to feel that way too. I was tired of being uncomfortable.
That day in January of 2014, I signed up for a membership and just started going with him. I walked on the treadmill at an incline for an hour every day for the first two months. In that time, I lost 6.8 kilograms without changing my diet. People started taking notice, and I was motivated to keep up my healthy habits.
Once I felt more confident at the gym (after about three months), I wanted to begin running. But I knew in order to do that I needed to lose more weight, which meant changing my diet. I had no idea what proper portions looked like or which nutrients I should be consuming each day, so I started searching for info online. I also downloaded MyFitnessPal, which was a great tool for me because it made my goals feel achievable. I entered in that I wanted to lose about 1 kilogram a week, and it told me that I needed to keep my daily kilojoule count between 5439.2 and 5858
I kept my meals pretty low-carb. For breakfast, I’d have egg whites and a high-protein bread with avocado. Next, I’d grab a Greek yogurt as a mid-morning snack. Lunch was a salad with strawberries, goat cheese, and chicken or another protein. My next snack was either string cheese with nuts or a protein shake. Dinner was a protein with veggies like broccoli and squash.
By making my meals at home, I got to experiment with cooking methods and try out new combinations. I learned a lot during this time because up until this point most of my meals revolved around creamy pasta. This was also when I began my Sunday meal prep routine with my husband. Every week we scour Pinterest, hit the grocery store, and eat dinner together while we meal prep for the week.
I’d always have one treat meal Sunday night, which got me through the week. After those meals, I usually felt uncomfortably full. And that served as a reminder of why I don’t eat like that all the time.
I remember the first day I could run for a full minute without stopping. It was about three months into the process. I jumped off the treadmill and cried. That was the moment I decided to really go after my goals and transform my body. After that, I got the courage to get off the treadmill and try other workout routines, like lifting weights. Today, I still work out five to six times a week. Five of those sessions are in the gym, where I focus on weight training and incorporate one-minute sprints on the treadmill between moves. The sixth day is something that gets me outside, like going on a hike.
STICKING WITH IT
Every time I was close to losing another 4.5 kilograms, I hit a plateau. And each time I had to remind myself not to get caught up in the number and just take weight loss one day at a time. I find that if I treat each day as another chance to try my best, the easier it is for me to accept the process. My weight gain didn’t happen overnight and neither did my weight loss. It was important to me to lose the weight and keep it off the healthy way.
I’ve also found that documenting my journey on Instagram keeps me honest. If I’m feeling discouraged, I look back at who I used to be and realise that I'm not the same girl. It reminds me of how far I’ve come.
Losing weight has changed everything for me. I’m a more confident person, which makes me better at my job. I find that I’m more approachable now, too. Old friends message me asking about my story, and I get to share the knowledge I’ve gained with them. That inspired me to become a personal trainer. I finish my tests next month!
I want to play my part in giving back to my community. It’s important for me to help people to feel as good as I do.
MY NUMBER-ONE TIP
Set small, achievable goals because losing 2.3 kilograms is way less intimidating than losing 18. And when you hit those goals don’t hesitate to reward yourself, as long as it isn’t with food. My reward was always a fresh gym outfit because it keeps me motivated and confident. You just have to find what the best reward is for you
It’s also helpful to let your friends know that you’re trying to lose weight. A support system will hold you accountable and offer encouragement when you need it most.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.