I wasn't overweight growing up. I would drink and eat whatever I wanted, and I never once thought about calorie intake. Exercising was something I had zero interest in.
I was on the curvy side in college, but I never felt uncomfortable with my size.
Then, a year after I graduated college, I moved from my hometown in upstate New York to New York City to be with a guy I was dating—and that's when I really started to gain weight. The relationship became toxic, and I started using food to cope.
I started feeling noticeably worse. I was constantly tired, my back hurt, and simple things like getting off the couch became a struggle. I was overweight, extremely anxious, and depressed, and I had no idea how I was going to pull myself out of this hole I felt like I'd dug for myself.
Then, after a particularly scary outburst from my ex, I left him. It was 2015, and I had gained around 16kg at that point. I stayed with a close friend of mine who ate nutritious foods and would cook us lunch and dinner. Without much effort, I started to lose weight. But a month later, once I got settled in my own place and started dating someone new, I returned to my unhealthy habits—and my new boyfriend followed suit.
'We Didn't Like What We Saw In Photos'
It wasn't until April 2017, at my cousin's wedding, that my boyfriend and I both saw ourselves in full-length pictures. I had gained around 14kg back at that point.
We made a pact that we would start eating better and working out once and for all. At first, I was so nervous since I had failed at so many other things in my life. But this time around was just different. I was in a better headspace, and I was living on my own. I had easy access to supermarkets and could afford to spend a little bit more on groceries than I'd been able to in years past. Plus, I had the support of my boyfriend.
'Weight Watchers Was A Game Changer'
In May of 2017, I joined Weight Watchers. It was across the street from my job, and they were having a sale. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to lose weight the right way, without crash dieting or starving myself.
When I told my boyfriend that I was joining Weight Watchers, we had already started the process of eating healthier together—so he was totally on-board. Although he didn't officially join Weight Watchers with me, he followed along with the program, thanks to my help. We started cooking WW-friendly meals every night.
Of course, he's a dude—so he dropped weight faster than me. But that just pushed me even more to stay focused and keep going.
Skinnytaste.com was a lifesaver. All of the recipes clearly spell out the serving size and Weight Watchers points, which is super-helpful.
'I Tried Different Workouts Until I Found A Few I Loved'
I joined a gym in June of 2017, after I had already lost about 5kg, and I began taking group fitness classes after work three times per week. I wasn't picky about which classes I took, so I tried a wide variety and figured out what I liked (high-intensity interval trainingand zumba!).
After three months of working out and following Weight Watchers, I had dropped around 11kg.
In November of 2017 (when I was down 23kg!), I joined a different gym and started taking some new classes, along with strength training. Following this routine helped me lose an additional 7kg.
'Losing Weight Has Been Different This Time Around'
Going to a weekly meeting and learning more about nutrition was a real eye-opener for me. Weighing in once a week also motivated me—watching the number on the scale go down week by week was exhilarating! Of course, there were weeks that I didn't lose any weight. But I took those opportunities to look back on my week and make adjustments if necessary to stay on track.
The support from other members and my boyfriend was also key (he's lost 32kg since we started our weight-loss journey).
'Gaining Confidence Has Been The Biggest Reward'
Waking up every morning with a healthy body is the best gift I could have possibly given myself.
If I could give advice to other women trying to lose weight, it would be to just keep going. You will have days where you feel like you can't go on. You will have a stressful day or week or month, and you might have to put losing weight on the back burner—and that's okay. You didn't gain weight overnight, and the same goes for losing weight. It is a long journey, and it is beautiful and hard and transforming—in every way possible.
As told to Danielle Page. This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.