I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. For me, behavior change is more effective if it’s something I decide to do on my own, not because of a societal tradition. So when January 1st came around this year I made no promises to change anything. However, two weeks later I randomly decided to work out for the first time in a ridiculously long time. Then this crazy thing happened: I lost 50 pounds in six months.
Without getting too deep into my life story, I can tell you that I fell victim to the Freshman 15 in college and never stopped gaining weight in the years after graduating. The bigger I got, the easier it was to stop caring about what I looked like and how unhealthy I was. Looking back at that mid-January day, I’m honestly not sure what made me get up and go to the gym. I do remember that it felt different than other times I had gotten the motivation to workout. Something clicked and I had had enough. But I had no way of anticipating that six months from then I would be 50 pounds lighter.
So how did I do it? It was a lot of a work but the answer really is simple: I ate less and worked out more. And I did it all on my own, without a trainer or nutritionist.
I believe your diet is the most important element of losing weight. You can only burn so many calories a day so portion control is crucial. I started by cutting out fast food, which made an immediate impact. I’ve also done a better job of grocery shopping so I have food that’s healthy at home. I use the MyFitnessPal app to track calories; it’s especially helpful when I go out to eat since I can look up nutrition information and plan my meal ahead of time. MyFitnessPal has made me more conscious of my food choices. While there are times I feel like it’s judging me, I’ve been able to eat what I want within reason. I’ve just scaled back the amount of what I eat to keep my overall caloric intake at a certain number.
With my diet under control, working out has helped me shed pounds faster and feel healthier in general. I was really out of shape when I started so I just walked on the treadmill for an hour a few times a week. Over time I kept pushing myself until eventually I was able to run a little. I hate running so I was really proud when I ran (okay, maybe jogged) a mile without stopping for the first time in forever.
I hit a weight loss plateau around May or June and realized I needed to change up my routine. I started doing sprint intervals and lifting weights. The results were insane and I crushed through my plateau. Even though I hate running, I love sprint intervals because I can manage running at a higher speed for one minute at a time knowing I’ll get to walk for a few minutes in between. Recently I’ve changed up my routine again to include walking at intense inclines. I’ve gotten up to 15 percent, which is the most I’ve ever sweat while working out.
My weight loss journey has also required an overall change in my lifestyle. Instead of coming home and vegging out on the couch watching TV for hours, I go to the gym at my apartment complex. I actually look forward to working out and miss it on the days I don’t do it (crazy, I know). I sometimes make sacrifices like occasionally saying no to going out to eat or temporarily avoiding booze to reach a weight loss goal, but it’s worth it to know how much healthier I am now.
It’s honestly hard to believe how far I’ve come in the last six months, especially knowing I still have a long way to go. But it’s been really exciting tracking my progress and I’ve truly appreciated the support from my friends and family along the way.
Are you thinking about making a lifestyle change? I know firsthand how hard it can be but I hope my story can inspire you to at least try!