That July, I got engaged, which was really the catalyst for change. It was one of the happiest moments in my life, but once I saw our engagement photos, it became bittersweet. The pictures were devastating—I didn't even recognize myself! I knew then that if I didn't want to be ashamed of my wedding pictures, I had to do something. (Get the secret to banishing belly bulge from WH readers who've done it with Take It All Off! Keep It All Off!)
I began making small, gradual changes. Starting out, two of my biggest problems with food were eating late in the day and eating out all the time. So those were the first habits I focused on breaking. I decided that I would only eat out twice a week and stop eating after 8 p.m.—something I still stick to today!
In order to achieve this, my now-husband and I started cooking at home a lot more. At first, we used Blue Apron a few times a week to help teach us about new foods and how to make healthy dinner recipes. After a few weeks of that, I got to where I was actually having vegetables a few times a week, along with fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and tons of protein. My snacking habits, which were also terrible, changed a lot too. I started eating mixed nuts or peanut butter and celery instead of bags of chips and candy bars. I also did the 21-Day Fix about three months in. This plan focuses on creating the perfect portion sizes by using these special containers and emphasizes fresh veggies and protein over refined carbs. That helped me get a firm grasp on healthy portion sizes. If I ever feel like I need a reset, I’ll break out the containers.
Now, I try to stick to balancing my food groups, eating out as little as I can, and just making conscious, healthy choices about what I eat. A typical day for me starts with a protein shake for breakfast, grilled chicken with kale for lunch, and something similar for dinner, like a pork chop with broccoli. I definitely still indulge my taste for snacks and dessert—I’m practically addicted to chips! But it’s all about balance and at the end of the day. I’m just trying to make good decisions that outweigh the bad ones.
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When I first started working out, I used a Couch to 5K app as a tool to get myself jogging a few times a week. Over time, jogging led to more running and eventually, after three months, I started incorporating at-home workouts with my husband. We’ve done Insanity, P90X3, and the 21-Day Fix workouts. Then, about six months after our engagement, we both got gym memberships. Again, I started slow at the gym, working out a few times a week.
But before I knew it, I was in the gym at 5:30 in the morning six times a week and throwing cardio sessions in some afternoons. By summer 2016, my husband and I were regulars and began really enjoying our mornings there. To this day, I have dedicated lifting workouts by body group for each day of the week, and I try to get in some form of cardio—elliptical, running, biking—about every other day.
My Instagram followers have been especially motivating for me. It feels like they’re on this journey with me. I’m currently finishing up a project I call my "Year of Runs" where I ran one 5K every month—I even decided to cap it off by hosting my own virtual 5K with them! There were so many times I wanted to call the challenge off, but I knew letting them down would cause me to let myself down. My followers are so supportive and encouraging, and that community really helps keep my healthy lifestyle at the front of my mind every day.
Throughout my whole journey, I’ve been tracking my daily and monthly habits, which has also been super motivating. I love getting to check off a box for the day when I know I did something that brings me closer to my goals. Seeing the boxes I missed makes me want to do better the next day.
And, of course, the thought of walking down the aisle helped keep me motivated to hit the gym every morning.
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My weight loss has impacted my life in pretty much every way possible. I have so much more confidence now. Now, when I go on vacations, I don't have to sit things out because I feel too uncomfortable or literally can't do something. I feel so much more in-control of my life, which feels amazing because a lot of that control had slipped away before my engagement. Today, I’m living a life that I actually enjoy and don't feel the urge to hide from.
The best advice I could give to other women is just to start small and take it slow. Hard and fast diets or workout routines are too difficult to stick to for any extended period of time. Because this is a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix, you have to be able to make those small, habit-breaking changes little by little. Take it one day at a time.