How did your weight loss journey begin/what lead you to begin (health problems, low energy, joint pain, etc.)?

It seems like my weight loss journey began at birth. I was an overweight child who struggled with serious body image issues at a very early age. My initial motivation to begin losing weight was always how I looked at that time. As I got older, it became more about how I felt. Little health issues started adding up making me realize that something was very wrong with how I was living. These issues were always dismissed with a prescription from a doctor who treated each problem as an independent concept instead of seeing all of it as a deeply rooted problem with a very real core. At a young age I was put on birth control pills because of painful and erratic periods, anti-depressants to control severe PMS and so many rounds of antibiotics through the years that my immune system was basically non-existent. This was compounded with daily eating of overly-processed foods full of additives and preservatives, meat from inhumanely raised animals pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, and living a life full of stress from being in a horrible marriage, divorce and then becoming a single mother to two children. I didn’t know how to manage and I found myself at 267 pounds crying because I felt there was no way out of my own bad habits.

Did you try any diet programs? How did they work?

I was never one to just sit back and let negativity control me. I wanted desperately to find out why those health issues were plaguing me and I wasn’t satisfied with the standard answers of “you’re just getting older”, “these things just happen” and my favorite, “it’s all in your head”…I have spent hundreds of hours studying different schools of thought when it comes to health and weight control, but never trusted any one persons idea of what was best for me. I need to try things in my own life to gauge whether or not it’s right for me. So over the years I have tried a myriad of diet programs that include Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, behavior modification by Paul McKenna and my own, sometimes harsh and crazy, ways to lose weight. They all taught me some very important health lessons that eventually lead me to the sane and harmonious lifestyle of clean eating. Once I realized how phenomenal I could feel by eating mostly raw, natural food and cutting out all the crap, I never looked back.

Explain the process that you went through (in detail) to lose weight. What lifestyle changes did you make and how hard were they?

I was a serious junk food junkie my whole life. I was addicted to sugar to such an extent that I felt powerless and completely out of control. Food for me was complete comfort. My life at so many times was out of control and food made me feel so satisfied in the moment, but my body completely rebelled. The moment I stepped on the scale and saw the number 267, I was terrified. I stepped into a Weight Watchers that day and knew I could never go back. I had to use several different methods to lose weight because I would become complacent quickly and hit plateaus. So for the first 15 pounds or so, it was Weight Watchers. Then I tried Jenny Craig for a while which taught me how many servings of vegetables I needed daily, a concept that was completely foreign to me before. Next, was Paul McKenna who taught me I had to put my fork down after every bite and not pick it up again until I had swallowed what was in my mouth. This was actually life changing for me because it made me realize that I was eating more than two times what my body actually needed to be satisfied.

During all of this diet reconstruction, I also made it a point to begin a workout regimen. I signed up at a local gym that was a few minutes from my job and made myself go during lunch because that time was all mine. At first I could only get on an elliptical machine for five agonizing minutes, but I increased my time by a minute each week and now I go everyday during lunch for 30 very intense minutes and rotate between the elliptical and the treadmill. Running is one of my favorite activities and I never thought that it would be. It was painful and awful at first. I also love to walk, lift weights, play tennis and live an active lifestyle.

One of the key components of my success is planning. I have cultivated solid routines that are second nature now and are what keep me at a reasonable weight. These routines include preparing breakfast and lunch jars on Sunday for the week ahead. I make sure my fridge is stocked with all the ingredients I need to prepare healthy, easy weeknight dinners so I’m not tempted to eat out. If I do eat out, I make much wiser choices in where and what I eat.

Another issue that lead to my weight gain that had to be tackled was stress. Very early in the process I learned how to meditate and it helped me immensely along the way.  So many things have happened in my life that could have completely derailed me like working three jobs to make ends meet, trying to raise two children by myself for 17 years, and the most tragic, losing my son to suicide at 21. Even though I will never fully recover from these events, I feel that my health and persistence in nourishing my body are what have allowed me to lead a full, productive life now.

I am also now dating someone who helps me to be organized and committed to health so that is a true blessing that I will never take for granted. For someone like me, it would be impossible to be with someone who ate junk food around me because the temptation would be just too great and I’m not willing to live like that. I’m also not willing to ever see 267 on the scale again…

How much weight did you want to lose and how much did you actually lose?

I wanted to lose a total of 120 pounds overall. I ended up losing 100 pounds total, but the journey isn’t over yet.

Is your journey over? Do you still follow the same lifestyle guidelines that allowed you to lose weight in the first place?

My journey will certainly never be over. Being healthy and fit is a lifestyle for me and I can’t fathom ever changing. I have cycled through so many different guidelines throughout this journey to lose weight, but the concepts that have stuck revolve around eating clean, organic food as close to their natural state as possible, removing toxic chemicals from every day products in my home, insuring my overall immune health with probiotic-rich fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, raw kefir, and homemade kombucha, and taking measures to reduce stress daily.

A huge part of the journey is exercise and I love the way it makes me feel. I dreaded it when I first started, but now I crave it.

Have you been able to maintain your total weight loss?

I have been able to maintain my 100 pound loss within 10 pounds for more than five years now.

What advice can you give fellow LOVE&Loss members that might help and encourage them?

It’s true that health is a lifelong commitment. Understand that you are worth making positive changes for. Don’t look at the finish line, because there isn’t one. Take your time, make small, manageable changes daily and watch a beautiful life unfold. Make sure that you have positive influences to motivate and encourage you every step of the way. Being involved in support groups and a site like LOVE&Loss has been instrumental in helping me along my path.

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