My weight-loss journey wasn't one of those amazing stories like you see on The Biggest Loser where the pounds just melted off. Oh no. I spent years making the same mistakes over and over, which meant not losing a single pound. If you're on the quest to lose weight, learn from my story on what not to do and how I finally made the shift to where I am today.
Before — Circa 1999
- Skipping breakfast: I knew I needed to eat less, so I would hold off on eating until I was absolutely famished, which meant nothing until lunchtime. Not only did this slow down my metabolism, but I also ended up feeling so hungry that I ate a much bigger lunch than I normally would have. This weight-loss tactic of mine actually made me gain weight. When I started eating breakfast, the pounds started to drop.
- Nothing but yoga: When I was overweight, I felt really self-conscious wearing skintight pants in a group fitness class (my gym had huge mirrors), and I felt even worse running outside (it only took one rude comment out of a speeding car about my bouncing chest). Then, a good friend took me to my first yoga class, and I was hooked. The whole environment was so loving and supportive — it didn't matter what I looked like, and no one was looking at me. I started going three times a week but was puzzled that even after a few months, I wasn't losing weight. I didn't realize that not all types of exercise are the same, until another friend suggested I start including cardio. I started with some short 15-minute runs a few times a week, and it was like a light switch turned on. The scale numbers started going down, finally.
- I was a carb queen: Crackers, bread, cereal, pasta? Sign me up! I loved carbs, and even though I chose the complex variety, they were still carbs. I ate them for every meal and snack, which didn't leave much room for high-fiber fresh fruits and veggies. I finally took a step back and realized that my diet consisted of mostly bread. My belly was not happy, and I ended up going gluten-free for six years. Of course, I didn't do that right either, since I just replaced the carb-loaded foods I normally ate with ones that were gluten-free, but when I started eating more produce, that's when I noticed a change in how my belly felt and looked.
- Too much of a good thing: I inherited an enormous sweet tooth from my mother, and I knew I had to get that under control (and stop baking!). I started only shopping at health food stores and filled my kitchen with all the healthy foods I could find: cashews, dried mango, fresh juice, peanut butter, whole grains, and hummus. I cut out the cookies and ice cream, but it didn't matter because I never measured a single bite of the foods I was eating. Of course, I gained weight spooning peanut butter from the jar and didn't start losing it until I got a hold of some measuring cups and spoons to see what appropriate portion sizes really looked like.
See Jenny's amazing weight-loss photos after the break!
After — Circa 2008
I was never naturally thin or fit, so when I gained that 40 pounds, I was probably already 10 or more pounds overweight to begin with. My weight-loss journey lasted about five years, much longer than it should have due to the mistakes I kept making. Once I started keeping track of my calorie intake, focusing on fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains, and was running and doing yoga regularly five times a week, it took about a year, losing a pound a week, to get me to my goal weight.
Being on the healthy path was so fulfilling, not just because it made me feel comfortable in my skin, but I just felt so much more radiant, more energetic. I wanted to share that with others, to help them feel that joy, so I became a yoga instructor in 2000 and a health and fitness writer in 2007.
Even through two pregnancies, I was able to maintain a healthy weight and get back to my prebaby body; it just took time and determination. So don't give up. Stick with your healthy ways, and you'll soon have an "After" picture to show off too.