STARTING WEIGHT: 200 pounds
CURRENT WEIGHT: 133 pounds
WHY I DID IT: I was born prematurely; my lungs weren't fully developed and I was severely asthmatic. I have been hospitalized more than 20 times. I've suffered from severe allergies, been on numerous medications and have had difficulty breathing throughout my life. The medications I took helped to keep me extra plump. I was overweight starting at age 11. I have always been ashamed of my large size and knew I had to make a life change or I would continue to get bigger.
HOW I DID IT: I decided when I was 31 to make some changes in my daily exercise routine. I know persevering through a physical ailment in the gym is not always an easy task. However, my asthma and allergies are not exercise induced, so when I started running and doing other forms of high-intensity cardio, it didn't cause an asthma attack. I started running 2 miles on the treadmill every day and gradually increased my speed until I was running 5 miles a day in about 35 minutes. I also changed my weight training routine to 35 minutes a day, doing cross sets and jumping rope in between two to three sets to constantly have my heart rate go up and then down. Later, I did double workouts five days a week to get more cardio. It was time-consuming and strenuous but completely worth it.
Meanwhile, I had to change my diet. I began by cutting back about 300 to 500 calories a day, but I soon realized I had to monitor everything and not just the calories. I began eating more organic and non-processed foods, which made a tremendous difference in how I feel every day. I take in about 1,100 to 1,200 calories a day, but I burn 1,400 to 1,500 calories a day, which is how I lost weight and now maintain.
I exercise seven days a week because I really enjoy it, and I enjoy eating healthy, but I also found for my body type and genetics, this is what works for me.
HURDLES: I experienced several minor injuries, hit at least three major plateaus and struggled some in changing my diet. Once I lost 35 pounds, my hips, lower back and knees hurt to the point where I almost couldn't walk. I worried that I would need surgery on my knees because of the pain. I didn't stop my daily exercise routine, but I did visit a chiropractor who gave me an adjustment because my hips were out of line from the enormous weight loss.
It takes three to six months to permanently change to healthy foods and to not crave sugary or salty foods. I don't ever have "cheat days," as some do. Eating at restaurants is not something I do anymore. I go out with my friends and family, but I always order bottled water and occasionally a glass of red wine. I don't drink much alcohol, I don't smoke, and I'm not hungry all of the time. I eat the right foods at the right time of the day to fit my body and workout routines.
GOING THE DISTANCE: Being healthy is a choice I make every day. I never really had a specific number in mind when I set out on this journey, but I did want the scale to be under the 150-pound mark. Once I got below that, I wanted to be under 10 percent body fat. (I am now around 8.8 percent with calipers.)
BEST ADVICE: There is no specific diet or exercise plan for everyone. Look at numerous plans and take a few tips from each one, then make your own plan that fits your needs. Here are a few tips that really worked for me:
If you need to lose more than 30 pounds, focus first on getting a good exercise plan that includes a lot of high-intensity cardio. As you lose weight, your stomach will shrink, and you will make smarter and smaller food choices.
For women: RUN,RUN,RUN! Women store fat more than men, and running is the one cardio exercise that will get the weight off and keep it off. Also, spend possibly up to an hour a day doing cardio five to six days a week to get the initial weight off.
Change your workouts and diet as you lose weight and then maintain it.
When you are at the gym, always stay moving! Keep your heart rate up, don't be afraid to sweat, and always maximize your time. Don't talk or hold onto the cardio equipment when you are on it. I got this tip from "The Biggest Loser," because when you hold onto the treadmill, you are only burning about half the calories it says you are.
Remember some people will compliment you as you lose weight, but others will become jealous and sometimes very negative toward you. I have learned to not allow that negative energy in my life, and I continue to work out every day and eat healthy.