How I Finally Took Control of My Weight

I was never skinny as a child. I had an insane love for chips and salsa, sugary soda and chocolate bars. Working out seemed like torture to me. If you handed me a couple of movies and a bag of Doritos, I was content for hours. The lack of interest in my health didn’t mean I wanted to be chubby. I was always jealous of the girls that, no matter what they ate, always looked so petite and skinny. It just physically felt like I couldn’t change my lifestyle.

My weight fluctuated throughout middle school and high school. I weighed less at some points and more at others. My junior year of high school was when I hit my all time high – 140 pounds. This might not be much for some girls, but for a short, 5-foot-tall girl, it felt like a ton.

I remember the day I decided to lose weight. I was at a concert with two of my friends. I had already downed a chicken nugget meal from Wendy’s, a sugary lemonade slushy and a personal pizza. When we asked someone to take a photo of the three of us, I was shocked by what I saw. I looked absolutely awful. My face was greasy and my complexion looked like it was tinted green. I looked huge. I had never felt or looked unhealthier in my entire life. I knew I had to make a change.

It was extremely tough at the beginning. I struggled with getting into a weight-loss routine. I tried so many different techniques: eating gross store-bought soup to limit my calorie intake, drinking detox beverages and taking up jogging. As a girl with exercise-induced asthma, the last technique was definitely not for me.

After this initial period, I found a few strategies that worked for me. In less than a year I had gone from 140 to 115 pounds. The key to successful weight loss is using techniques that fit your lifestyle and to not push yourself too much out of your comfort zone. Here are a few changes I made that helped my weight-loss journey:  

I started drinking smoothies for breakfast
Smoothies actually helped my health transformation incredibly. Instead of grabbing a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, I started my day with a fruit and veggie smoothie. They’re such a treat when I wake up, and they are so good for you. During the summer they were super refreshing. My go-to recipe includes a cup of frozen mixed berries, an individual container of nonfat Greek yogurt (any brand works, but Trader Joe’s has amazing flavors!), a whole banana, a handful of spinach and a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I swear, every morning I seriously looked forward to having a smoothie. They’ll be sure to keep you full until lunch, too.

I worked out with a friend  
The summer I decided to lose weight I got a gym membership. However, I would rarely work up the motivation to actually get to the gym. Eventually my friend Jessica and I decided to start working out together. We would make it a point to get to the gym almost every day. Just having someone to talk to on the treadmill made working out so much more enjoyable. We definitely motivated one another, and it actually turned out to be a lot of fun.

I found healthy foods I could tolerate
I was definitely a pickier eater as a kid. At restaurants, quesadillas and chicken tenders were my typical meals. I knew I couldn’t lose weight if I stuck to my usual diet, so I started researching healthier foods I would like. I found amazing recipes that tasted good and were actually healthy. My favorite was a pasta dish with whole grain linguine, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, onions and basil. I also loved making homemade burrito bowls with a ton of veggies and kale caesar salad with grilled chicken. These recipes were definitely within my food comfort zone, but they also helped change my taste buds to enjoy fresher, healthier foods.

I stopped going on random fast food runs
In early high school, I would always stop with my friends at Tijuana Flats or McDonald’s for an after-class snack, only to go home after and eat dinner with my family. Or on my way home from a friend’s house, I would stop at Steak ‘n Shake for a milkshake. This snacking was completely unnecessary. Half the time, I wasn’t even hungry when I went to these places. I just ate because I was bored or wanted to socialize. Once I made the change, if I wanted to go out with my friends, I recommended we go to Starbucks for tea or iced coffee, which would usually be less than 100 calories. This made a dramatic transformation in my overall health. I easily cut out 2,000 calories a week just by making a small difference in my daily routine.

I drank a ton of water
When I went to summer camp growing up, I learned that it is healthy to drink at least three liters of water a day when you’re active. This wasn’t hard for me, as I love drinking water and I’m never caught without my Camelbak bottle. Increasing your water consumption truly does wonders for your health. At three liters a day, my skin looked so much better and I felt more alert. I recommend buying a reusable water bottle and carrying it everywhere you go. I know that if you don’t like drinking water, three liters can seem like an impossible task. A great way to still get all of the health benefits of water while enhancing the taste is to add fresh fruit to your water bottle. Berries and citrus fruits will make your water taste great. You can also add herbal tea bags to your water to make it taste better!

These tricks made losing weight so much easier for me. The key is finding little ways to be healthier and sustainably implementing them into your lifestyle. Deciding to randomly go vegan after eating a burger the day before probably won’t work out in the long run. After almost three years, I can happily say I have not gained any of my weight back. I still work out multiple times a week, and I try to create balance with what I eat. I can honestly say I’ve never been happier with the way I look and feel. I finally feel like I’m in control of my weight and life.

Photo credit: Kelly Hatton