In honor of the fact that I have kept my 50lb weight loss off for an entire year, I thought I would do a post on just exactly how I managed to lose weight in the first place. For me, once I made up my mind to lose weight it actually came very easy. I never starved myself on crazy diets and I never worked out so hard that it felt impossible. I believe that I managed to balance healthy eating and exercise in a way that felt good to my body and therefore it rid itself of the excess weight that was bogging me down. I have said before that moving to Colorado gave me the push I needed to start living a healthier lifestyle. Apparently I am not alone! Just this morning I read an article on The 8 Best U.S. Cities for Weight Loss and the top 2 cities were in Colorado! It is a whole lot easier to want to be healthy in a state that is surrounded by endless outdoor adventures and other fit and healthy people.
But Colorado was not the only reason that I decided to lose weight once and for all. In December of 2009, I got engaged and I was determined to feel happy and confident on my wedding day. Too much of the time, women are so self-conscious that they forget to take time to enjoy themselves. I had spent too many days worried about how I looked that I wasn’t actually present to enjoy my life. I did not want to have any “I feel fat” thoughts on my wedding day or honeymoon. So it was in the beginning of 2010 that I resolved to lose weight, get fit, and get healthy for good.
Although I now enjoy a plant-based, whole foods diet,, I did not lose the weight by being vegan. In fact, my veganism happened after my weight loss (and I have not actually lost a single pound since I became vegan!!). The main thing I did when I first started to lose weight was make small and easy healthy tweaks to my diet. If I had started out saying “I’m going to give up all meat, fish, eggs, and dairy” I don’t think I would have lasted very long!! Instead, I started bringing healthy snacks to work and eating at set times throughout the day. My morning snack would usually be a piece of fruit with an ounce of nuts and in the afternoon I would have veggies and hummus. I increased the amount of vegetables and fruits I ate and started to gradually decrease my meat intake. Instead of drastically changing the way I ate, I learned about portion control and simply decreased the size of my main meals. You would be surprised if you actually measured out a serving of breakfast cereal or pasta…it’s a whole lot smaller than you think!!
Which brings me to the next thing I did….I counted calories. I know this sounds terrible and time-consuming but it really worked for me. It let me see that the foods I was eating that were way too caloric to promote weight loss and it let me understand portion control in a more visual sense. I could see what 1 serving/200 calories of pasta looked like. You only have to count calories for so long before you can remember healthy portion sizes. Let’s face it, I know I don’t eat that varied of a diet. I tend to stick to the same foods like oatmeal, smoothies, sandwiches, pastas etc…Just a month or so of calorie counting was all I needed to teach myself which foods and how much I should eat. There is no way I could count calories forever!! But it is a great tool in the beginning of weight loss. Keeping a food journal also allowed me to better understand my eating habits and how they could be made healthier. Writing down everything I ate allowed me to really see how much I was eating. I am a snacker through and through, but too many snacks (no matter if they are healthy or not) will eventually end up in weight gain.
Once I felt like I had the food side down, I started exercising. When I first started out, I would do 3 miles around my neighborhood a couple of times a week. I would walk/run and it could take me up to an hour to complete the loop!! But, I stuck to it. I would run as much as possible, but I still walked more than anything. Along with that, I added various workout DVDs like Biggest Loser Yoga, a pilates DVD that I still love, and anything else that I actually enjoyed. If you hate to run then find something else you can do! It’s all about finding what works for you as an individual – don’t think that you have to run to lose weight.
Once I had lost 35lbs, I sprung for a personal trainer. I wanted to tighten up and tone and learn more about strengthening my body. I only used a personal trainer for about 3 months (one month of which was free!!) and in those 3 months I lost another 15lbs!! I began to feel stronger and more confident and I learned new moves and routines that I took with me and still use to this day. I met with the trainer twice a week and on weekends would do a long strength/cardio routine in my apartment gym with my friend Noel. Being in shape is paramount to being able to do the things I enjoy now like running and hiking.
It wasn’t until after I lost 50lbs that I made the decision to give up meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. I decided to do this in January of 2011 as a 1 week experiment. I ended up feeling so great and full of energy that I have been doing it ever since!! And it wasn’t until spring of 2011 that I really started running. It just goes to show you that you don’t have to make drastic changes to lose weight. I feel incredible every day and that is the encouragement I need to maintain my healthy lifestyle. If you would have told me two years ago that today I would be vegan and would have completed multiple half-marathons, I wouldn’t have believed it!! But here I am and I am so thankful that I finally put in the effort to become healthy. I enjoy life so much more these days and am very grateful that I decided to change my life for the better.