In high school, I weighed 175 pounds. I was super active and played a ton of sports, but when I went to college, I gained about 20 pounds. That was probably because I totally stopped working out and my eating habits changed dramatically. Um, hello cafeteria food and take out.
After graduation, I moved to California and started working three jobs. At the same time, I began dating this guy who loved to go out to eat. Most of the time we spent together was focused around going to restaurants, and we’d always end up at places like Denny’s or a Mexican spot. Over the course of our five-month relationship, my weight went up 40 pounds, bringing me to 235 pounds. I could tell I was gaining and didn’t like the way I looked.
After we broke up (for reasons that had nothing to do with my weight), I went on a four-day hike through the Grand Canyon with some of my family. By the end of the trip, my cousins said it looked like I had lost some weight—and I had! When I got home, I weighed myself and saw that I’d lost 10 pounds. It felt really good, so I tried to incorporate the habits from that trip into my daily life. I stopped drinking soda and started sipping water, cutting back on fast food, preparing my own meals, and exercising at least five days a week.
It was tough trying to find the time to make healthy meals at home, but I decided to simplify the process by making my meals ahead of time. I bought a food processer and juicer and started making veggie-packed juices every morning. For dinner or lunch, I made soups in my food processor and ate one batch throughout the week. To prevent food fatigue, I added in grains and other ingredients to the soup base at every meal. That way it didn’t feel like I was eating the same thing every day. After four months, I was down to 182 pounds. The last time I’d weighed that much was in high school!
Soon after that, I started my own photography business, and the stress of it had a huge impact on my body. Over the course of two years, my good routine started to fade, and my weight constantly fluctuated about 15 pounds. Instead of trying to stick with my healthy habits after gaining weight, I started trying new “diets” that consisted of cutting out carbs or only drinking juice for a month. I always ended up making unhealthy choices again. It was a bad cycle for me.
I knew I wanted to keep the weight off for good, but I didn’t know how to do it. One of my friends told me that she’d started this program called the Jenny Schatzle program. It’s six weeks of high-intensity interval training classes, a consultation with a nutritionist, and a meal plan to follow. I was hesitant at first because the program was kind of pricey, but after I tried the first class, I decided to do it.
The workouts were really addictive. They changed all the time and kept my body guessing, which was so much better than my go-through-the-motions gym routine. It was easy for me to stay with a consistent routine since I was looking forward to each class.
The dietician told me that I actually wasn’t eating frequently enough, so I started incorporating more healthy snacks into my diet in addition to following their meal plan—which focused on eating more fruits and veggies instead of cutting out entire food groups, like I was doing before. After six weeks, I’d lost 10 pounds and decided to do a second session. I lost another 20 pounds! By getting into a consistent routine with the program, I’ve learned that my weight and diet and exercise routine should make me happy—not be something I dread thinking about. That idea has helped me stay motivated to stick with my new habits.
Though I’m still doing the program, I work out on my own when I can’t make it to class and focus on the moves I learned there. I’ve also kept up my healthy eating habits and even allow myself some indulgences from time to time. Today, I weigh 160 pounds.
By losing weight, I’ve come out of my shell and gained a ton of confidence. It’s actually helped me a lot in my career as a wedding photographer. I’m better equipped to connect with clients at the beginning of our sessions as opposed to easing into it—it helps the pictures come out better.
Work out whenever you can. Even if I just have 10 minutes to work out, I do it. Most of the time, I end up exercising longer than I’d originally planned to. It’s helped me stick with my good habits even when I’m feeling lazy.
Don’t say “diet starts Monday.” I used to do this all the time. I would make healthy choices at the beginning of the week and then slowly slide back into my old habits. I learned to stop thinking that eating something unhealthy gave me permission to keep making bad choices. Now, I go back to my healthy ways after every satisfying meal or snack.
Don’t underestimate yourself. I never thought I would weigh less than I did in high school, but after I hit my goal of 175, I realized that losing weight was easier than I thought. You just have to stick with a healthy routine, and you’ll get there.