Today, I’m 50 pounds lighter than I was when I started my own weight loss journey.
This story is not one of overnight success. There was no magic pill. The results achieved were not from a fad diet or a product from an infomercial. The journey could be best described as a roller coaster ride of trials, many errors, and a collection of small milestones along the way, eventually leading to more than I ever expected to gain.
From a young age growing up in the Canadian suburbs, the number on the scale ebbed and flowed as did my relationship with sport and performance activities. At age 12, I was a competitive dancer training a minimum 5 days a week, going up to 7 days a week leading up to competition season. Despite feeling excited by my extracurricular activities, I began feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable in my own body as I was immersed in the toxic diet culture.
Here are just a few of the many things I tried BEFORE I even turned 18:
Weight loss pills
Body sculpting creams
Stomach shrinking wraps
Severe caloric restriction (<1,200 kcal/day)
This carried on to university, and like many, I gained the freshman 15—or perhaps the freshman 50 would be more accurate. I was studying for a health-and-fitness-related degree, yet going on binge drinks that followed with a pizza before bed. After graduation, I moved back to my hometown and continued the vicious cycle. I got an instructor job in group fitness, but also had to keep a serving job at a bar to pay the bills which escalated my drinking and poor eating habits.
In 2019, I made a huge life decision and moved to the UK to be with my fiancé. I quickly noticed the vast difference in the food quality and portion sizes that Europe has in comparison to North America (which is much better and a lot smaller). One morning I decided to step onto a scale after several years of rejecting it. After what felt like an eternity, waiting for the screen to populate, the number that glared back at me from the floor took my breath away. I was forced to come to terms with a harsh reality: I had to change. While I believe that people can find health at different sizes, for me—I was definitely not healthy or more importantly, happy. I knew that making changes wouldn't be easy, but even so, I was ready to start.
Over the next year, I lost 50 pounds through making healthier eating choices and learning what type of exercise I loved doing. Today, movement is my medicine, enabling me to better show up both personally and professionally. Now an award-winning fitness instructor, certified personal trainer and health coach, and entrepreneur with my own wellness business, I've learned a handful of lessons along my journey that empower me to give back to others and help them determine what wellness looks like for them. Here's what I learned during my personal transformation.
1. You've got to meet yourself where you're at.
Especially in the age of social media, it's easy to compare yourself to others. Your journey is just that: Yours. Instead of being made to feel like you're not good enough based on what you see someone else doing, focus on where you are and progress from there. This is important in all aspects of wellness, whether it's trying out a new strength training routine or shifting your eating habits. Just because you can't do a difficult movement like a dumbbell snatch, for example, doesn't mean you won't get there one day. Have some grace, embrace honesty, and the rest will come with time.
2. Never eliminate anything completely.
Many popular diets advertise cutting things out—at least in small portions—like carbs or sugar. When we eliminate things from our diet, it's almost guaranteed that you will crave them more. In my experience, I'd binge the very thing that I told myself I couldn't have (the restrict/binge/repeat eating cycle has been long examined in research). Instead of eliminating things from your life, the practice of moderation and portion control is a much safer alternative. It's a practice that truly helped me along my journey. Instead of eliminating my favourite ice cream completely, for example, I let myself have Haagen-Dazs ice cream mini cups after every dinner. By embracing the foods that made me happy in smart amounts, I was able to enjoy the process without feeling like I was missing out.
3. Your get-moving options are endless.
I went through phases over my weight loss journey dabbling in a slew of different fitness modalities. I've done it all, from running to a spin class to dance cardio and even bought a Peloton. Some of these love affairs lasted longer than others, but what I most enjoyed about the process was that I had the opportunity to mix up my routine as often as I liked. There was no reason to stick with something that didn't bring me joy or light me up. By diversifying my go-to sweat method, I had a lot more fun, and even made some great friends along the way. Plus, research has shown that adding variety to an exercise program can improve adherence.
4. Reward yourself for the small wins.
When I started my weight-loss journey, I didn't set out and say "I want to lose 50 pounds." Rather, I set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals that helped me go in the right direction. For instance, a goal like "I want to drink three bottles of water every day before 6 pm". If I made it through two weeks of this goal, I would take some time to celebrate the positive progress, whether that be purchasing a new gym outfit or simply setting aside some "me" time to take an extra-long walk come the weekend. When the journey is long, the small wins are what keep your tank fuelled up and help you stay motivated for more.
5. You will not be perfect.
How many times have you told yourself "OK, today I'm going to have a good day of eating," and then a few bites of a chocolate bar later, you feel as though you've completely blown it? We've all be there. But here's the thing: That all-or-nothing mentality isn't going to do you any good. Have some grace with the idea that from time to time, things aren't going to go as planned. There will be slip-ups. Rather than get angry and throw your hands up in the air, be proud of yourself for prioritizing your own wellness in the first place. Every single second, you have an opportunity to start with a clean slate.
6. Water is your best friend.
I've never been "good" at drinking water. I like the taste of it but making sure to get enough always felt like a total struggle. However, water accounts for up to 60 percent of our total body weight and is essential to every cell. When I made getting healthier a priority, I started downing at least six glasses each day. With that, I started to notice a real difference. I felt better, my skin looked better, and I performed well when it came to my regular workouts, staving off that ever-annoying headache that likely was a result of previous dehydration.
7. The mental transformation is just as important as the physical.
When a big transformation happens on the outside, it's important to take the time to really think about who it is that you are, what's important to you, and who you want to be going forward. I find that regular journaling and making time to reflect on my feelings helps me stay grounded. I'll never forget about the teenage girl who had trouble finding jeans or dresses in every store she went to. But I know, now, that she's not who I am anymore.
8. If you want lasting, permanent change—it's about your lifestyle.
This is something I can't stress enough. No amount of exercise will help you against a bad diet. Remember how you feel once you hit your goal weight. Returning to that feeling of pride and happiness will empower you to continue to make healthy decisions going forward. This makes maintenance easier, and helps you keep a level head when it comes to the occasional overindulgent meal or streak of exercise-free days (and those can be important, too!). You want to focus on lasting change and better health for years to come.
This year, give yourself the gift of getting off the emotional roller coaster thinking "I can't do this", because you can! It's your own choices and self-doubt that hold you back. Find some love for yourself and go turn your dreams into reality because YOU ARE WORTH IT.
If you need support and guidance while on your weight loss journey, book your free consultation with me today.