How did I lose 40 pounds and 5 clothing sizes to get to my goal weight?

How did I do it? It is the question I get asked most frequently. I wish I had an easy answer, but it took a lot of work to change bad habits and create good ones. But, it can be done!

I was on my holiday break in 2003 and I had just gotten my Christmas pictures developed. I was looking through them and saw one picture of myself that still sticks with me. I was wearing a red turtleneck sweater and saw stomach rolls and chubby arms that couldn’t possible be mine. My cheeks were very bloated and I was counting chins. The picture is long gone, but the horrible memory is still there!

I was approaching age 30 and kept thinking, “If I go into my 30’s this unhealthy, how will I be going into my 40’s?”. I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what to do. I had grown up skinny and ate pretty much whatever I wanted to. Health and exercise were not really promoted in my house, but I never really had to worry about weight. By the time I turned 21, I had developed very unhealthy eating habits in college, but was always active in danceline and took cardio classes at the gym. After I got married at age 27, I still had terrible eating habits and I dropped exercise altogether. I had tried so many diets Atkins, South Beach, Slimfast, etc., but they never worked. I decided I would try Weight Watchers. I’d heard good things about it and I had never tried it before. So, I ordered the materials to do the program at-home on my own.

When I received everything from Weight Watchers, I was excited, yet very overwhelmed. I was too embarrassed to go to meetings or ask for help, yet I wasn’t sure how to get started. I decided that for the month of January, I would spend time learning about Weight Watchers first instead of diving right in. Instead, I took the entire month and studied the plan. I also gave up Cherry Coke (I was drinking two liters per day or thereabouts) and practiced a 30-minute pilates DVD three times per week. For the month of January 2004, I lost five pounds just doing that. I couldn’t believe it!

In February, I began the Weight Watchers plan in full swing. I tracked my food intake accordingly and increased my exercising. By April, I had reached my 10 percent loss goal. I couldn’t believe I went from 180 lbs. and a size 14 to 160 lbs in just four months. I was feeling very confident. Perhaps, I was feeling a bit over confident.

Over the summer months I let things slide a bit. I was less strict about my tracking and allowed myself more freedoms to break the rules of the plan. But, in September 2004, I decided to join a gym and learned to lift weights which has attributed to much of my weight loss. Over the next year, I tended to follow the Weight Watchers plan on weekdays, but not on weekends. I kept up with working out, which allowed me to maintain my 10 percent loss. But, I learned a tough lesson. A 300-calorie burn at the gym does not allow you to intake thousands of calories in pizza and beer over the weekend. So, by the end of 2005, I had moved back up a clothing size.

In January 2006, I was feeling defeated and overweight again. I had found success in weight loss and realized how great that feels. But, I let it slip away. I knew where I would be if I gave up completely. The only thing left to do was to try again. This time, I got brave and joined Weight Watchers meetings with a friend. This was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I had the support of my friend and a room full of people that struggled just like I had. I worked on creating good habits again like tracking my food, not “lying” to myself about what I was eating and rejuvenated my exercise program by continuing to lift weights and started a 5K training plan.

On May 12, 2006 I reached my weight goal of 140 and made Weight Watchers Lifetime status six weeks later. At the time of goal, I was a size 6. A year later, I was at my lowest weight and size (135 and size 4). I became a Weight Watchers leader at this time to a great group of people who helped inspire me! Since leaving Weight Watchers employment, I’ve had some gains, then some losses. Today, I continue to focus staying at my goal of 140 pounds – or close to it - and follow the Weight Watchers plan by tracking in a journal, keeping accountability by checking in with friends who also follow the program and constantly rejuvenate my exercise routine. Sometimes I fall back into my old bad habits, but now it’s easier for me to snap back quickly to the plan. I’ve made a lifestyle change!