Transformation of the Day: Jessica lost 73 pounds by working out and using the LoseIt app to track her nutrition. She was dissatisfied with how she looked and felt in her own skin, and she wanted to be a healthy example for her family. Also, she became aware of her postpartum diastasis recti and umbilical hernia, which influenced her exercise choices.
What was your motivation? What inspired you to keep going, even when you wanted to give up?
An overall dissatisfaction inspired me with the negative ways my weight had begun to affect other areas of my life, particularly my parenting. I was lethargic. I had a hard time getting down on the floor to play with my kids. I also had some postpartum medical concerns (diastasis recti and an umbilical hernia), which were exacerbated by the extra weight I carried on my midsection.
I was self-conscious about the fit of every piece of clothing I owned. I wanted better for myself and to set a much better example for my children. I knew that would require a long-term commitment rather than a quick fix or fad diet. I knew I needed to embrace sustainable lifestyle changes that would reflect the kinds of healthy eating habits and body positivity I hoped would be the norm for my kids, not just in the present but for the rest of their lives.
So, my kids also became my continuous inspiration to keep at it when I was ready to quit (and now that we are expecting again, I have one more little inspiration to work for!) My mom and husband noticed some early success with my efforts and decided to join me in trying to eat better and get healthier. Their involvement and support have been invaluable motivators to keep going.
How did you change your eating habits?
I started by searching for the best weight loss apps and resources. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for. Still, I had an idea of what I wanted to avoid (expensive programs, crash and fad diets, elimination diets, extensive or intense exercise regimens, “magic pills,” and supplements).
I stumbled upon Lose It! pretty quickly and decided to download it and go through the set-up process. I was really drawn to the types of questions the app used to determine a plan that avoided my list of “no thanks” diet stuff and which, instead, focused on helping me become more aware of my eating habits and relationship with food.
My personal program involved setting a calorie intake budget (based on a reasonably sedentary lifestyle) and maintaining a 500-a-day calorie deficit to lose 1 pound per week. Then, as I lose weight, the app adjusts my daily calorie budget. I also incorporated low-intensity exercise to help “buy” myself extra calories for special occasions (like birthdays, holidays, date nights) or on days when I just had a bigger appetite.
The most significant changes to my eating habits have been embracing moderation and portion control and measurement and eating consciously rather than reflexively. No foods were/ are off-limits, per se, but I had to consider if any food was nutrient-rich and filling enough to warrant inclusion in my calorie budget on a given day. Some foods, like my favorite fast-food burgers and cake or pie (I have a HUGE sweet tooth), were just not a good fit for my calorie budget, so I started eating them much more infrequently and in smaller quantities. Other foods, like leafy greens, veggies, leaner proteins, and eggs, started naturally popping up again and again as the best options for rounding out my meals. Because of the enormous calorie trade-off, I’ve started substituting cauliflower rice more for white rice and Greek yogurt bars for ice cream. But I still get to enjoy all of my favorite sweets and treats.
On days when I wanted to splurge a bit, that just meant I needed to get up and move to earn that extra indulgence! The Lose It! app’s food log and food database help me balance my hunger levels and cravings and allow me to plan and eat meals that are satisfying and filling without having to completely avoid any of the things that I love (carbs, dairy, sweets).
What did your workout routine consist of? How many days a week did you work out?
I became aware of my postpartum diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation) and umbilical hernia a few months before starting my weight loss journey. These were huge factors when I determined what type of workout routine I could reasonably and comfortably sustain. In the past, when I tried to lose weight, my go-to workouts always involved a lot of core work and higher intensity exercises (balance ball, plates, sit-ups, and crunches, using the elliptical). Now, all of that was off-limits.
My fitness routine involves just finding ways to be more active. For example, I try to take the stairs more. I park a little further from the store to get some extra steps in. We try to take the kids on long walks or to the park a few days a week. Also, I purchased a sit-and-cycle machine to use four or so evenings a week while I watch TV and have a snack. I hope to increase my activity levels once my medical limitations have been resolved.
What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
My starting weight was 268 pounds. My current weight is 195 pounds.
What is your height?
I am 5’6″
When did you start your journey? How long did your transformation take?
I started my journey in April 2021. I’ve had to take a slight detour from my focus on weight loss due to my pregnancy (due August 2022!), but my initial weight loss of 72 lbs took about eight months.
Is weight loss surgery part of your journey? No.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
My biggest lesson has been to make eating a more conscious activity. Before, my eating habits reflected a lack of concern for my overall nutrition. I told myself my eating “wasn’t that bad” without really looking at my food choices. I ate what sounded good without thinking about how well it fueled my body or its long-term impact on my weight.
Now I assess food much differently. For starters, I actually think about what I’m eating! I think about what I eat in terms of how filling it is and how satisfying it is. I consider how many calories it “costs” me and whether or not eating a serving of one food, like a few cookies, is worth missing out on a few servings of other enjoyable foods, like yogurt with berries and granola.
I measure my portions, even when it feels tedious, and I’ve been logging my meals and snacks for 334 days and can count on one hand the number of times I have really gone over my daily budget.
I’ve also learned that I can sustain the kinds of changes I’ve made. Losing weight quickly is great, but knowing that I can keep the weight off because I can keep up with the changes I’ve made has been so rewarding, even if the results have been slow at times.
What advice would you like to share with women who want to lose weight?
Start small. Figure out what you want to accomplish and set a goal. Then, set a reasonable, sustainable trajectory. Aim for slow and steady, and progress over perfection. Choose foods that taste great and are filling. Keep trying new foods and recipes. Eat the things you love.
Also, make sure you pay attention to how much and how often you indulge. Don’t let one “bad diet” day spiral into a weekend or weeks on end. Give yourself lots of grace. And, if you can, take the stairs.
I hope anyone who finds themselves unhappy in their bodies and ready to make a change has the courage to take the leap. Even if you’ve started and stopped many times before, even if you’ve struggled for a lifetime, even if you aren’t entirely sure where to start this time around, you deserve to give yourself another shot. You deserve to feel healthy and confident. You are absolutely worth every ounce of effort it will take. And you are not alone.