Healthy Weight Loss: My Story (and Tips!)

My drivers license (obtained at age 15 and a half) states my weight as 113 pounds.

Also, I looked like this.

With a 5’5″ frame, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never be that size again – and also that I never should be that size again. Actually, let’s just not go back to any of the qualities I possessed at the time of this photo. I mean, come on, I was wearing a puka shell necklace.

College was a tumultuous time. I frequently went up and down in weight…but mostly up. I graduated college weighing nearly 25 pounds more than my license said I did.

I moved home, jobless, with nothing to do. I started doing exercise videos or jogging in the morning, and watching Food Network all day until I cooked dinner. I learned about different foods, their benefits, and healthy ways to prepare them. I downloaded a calorie counting app to control my portions and snacking.

Within 9 months, I had lost nearly 12 pounds (but obviously not my goofiness). I looked better and felt better. I didn’t have an ideal weight in mind, I just wanted to be in shape and feel healthy.

When I started dating my junk food-loving boyfriend, I got off track. Darn him for saying he loves me even if I get fat! But with his support and a diligent lunch time jogging routine (plus his willingness to eat salad every once in a while), I’ve kept off all the weight I’ve lost. I know that I was not severely overweight when I started, but I also wasn’t satisfied with myself. Now, I can honestly say that I feel good about my body…and that’s the most important goal you can have.

Today, this post is an ode to progress. The post is primarily an ode to healthier living, but today is also a day to celebrate progress, as it is move-in day at my new apartment!

Here are some important things I’ve learned about how to keep a healthy weight.

This may or may not be how I exercise. Hey, if trying to catch that ball wasn’t exercising my *real* muscles, at least seeing this picture of me forced me to exercise my *laugh uncontrollably* muscles…

1) Exercise. If you’re having success with the strictest of diets without exercising, your body is probably suffering. The best way to feel healthy and good about your body is to create a balance of giving it what it wants while also kicking its ass every once in a while! I try to exercise at least 3x a week, whether it be running, using the elliptical, doing crunches (What up 8 Minute Abs?!), or even playing dodgeball. I’m pretty sure dancing at the club counts too. Yes…dancing definitely counts.

2) Learn about nutrition. Something I learned early on was that fiber plays a key role in weight loss, and is also a factor in your overall digestive health. Making sure you include things like vegetables, whole grains, healthy greens, and beans in your diet will not only keep ya regular…It will also keep you lean! Learn which foods are high in fat, and try not to indulge in those too often (or allow yourself a handful of chips, not the whole bag!).

Your best friend……..and worst enemy.

3) Calorie counting is not always best. I have used a calorie counting app (Lose It!) for a long time. Though it’s helpful in learning which foods are high in fat and fiber, it’s easy to become obsessive. Sometimes I’ll be on the verge of not allowing myself to eat a cookie because it would send me “over my limit”. This isn’t what finding a healthy weight is about. It’s about eating what you want and finding a balance…NOT depriving yourself! I never calorie count on the weekends — Friday through Sunday I indulge, guilt-free!

4) Portion control. This is key, people. My mom used to use an entire box of pasta to feed 2-3 people. There are 7+ servings in that box! Unless you plan on needing leftovers, only make what you know you can eat. When you go out to eat in a restaurant, stop when you’re full! Save the 2nd half of the sandwich for later! Substitute fries for a salad! Or, the dreaded alternative…….

5) Just don’t eat out. This one is hard. Boyfriend & I love going out to dinner. But I feel like a lot of people eat more than they usually would when they eat out. I mean, this is Amurrica, and the portions are all Amurrica-sized. Being as such, I try to limit myself to one meal out per week. It never happens that way, but I can at least say I tried, right?

They don’t call it a beer belly for nothin!

6) Drink less alcohol. Once again, another difficult one for most people. I am always stunned to see how many calories are in a pint of beer. (maybe that’s why I like IPA’s…stronger beer, more bang for your buck!) I think a common theme here is moderation. Allow yourself what you want, but not more than you need.

The moral of the story is: eat well, eat what you want, and eat in moderation. What are your philosophies on weight loss and body image?

18 thoughts on “Healthy Weight Loss: My Story (and Tips!)

  1. Hi Katie, congrats on looking great and feeling happy about your weight (though I never thought you were overweight to begin with)! I had a similar weight loss experience in college, albeit mine was not really planned. From the time I started ucla to graduation, I lost about 15 lbs (and on my small frame (*almost* 5’2″), that’s quite noticeable). The two factors that I think contributed most to my weight transformation:

    1. No snacking. When I lived at home in high school, and to a lesser extent my first two years in college, it was so easy to snack between meals. I would have a snack when I got home from school, I would snack as a pick-me-up while studying, I would snack when I met up with friends, etc. At ucla, snacking mostly took the form of fatty drinks and pastries from coffee bean/bruin cafe after class and before dinner. I’m convinced that one of the reasons that French people are in general skinny is because they don’t graze between meals (“pour votre santé, évitez de grignoter entre les repas” haha). Which brings me to reason two:

    2. Being a study abroad student. When I was in Lyon, my snacking habit came to an abrupt halt (with the exception of the irresistible pastry). I was two poor to buy chips and other snack foods, and no such thing as coffee bean exists in France. I mostly ate three “starving student” portion meals a day, and eating out at a restaurant was a treat that I could afford only a few times a month. Also, I walked a lot more than in LA. Everywhere.

    So moral of my story- a healthy lifestyle and change in environment is a great way to lose weight without going on a diet

    • Mara- That’s so interesting that you lost weight when we were abroad! I ate horribly (nutrition-wise) when we were in Lyon…barely any fresh fruits and vegetables, and entirely too much cheese :P

      You’re right though, snacking is the bane of my existence! Especially when I sit at the front desk of my office, with a candy bowl in sight ;)

  2. My philosophy:
    1) Cut out the all-you-can-eat buffet style portions (plates with food hanging off the sides) if you want the extra free food, simply stuff your pockets for later.
    2) Always remember your eyeballs & brain are ahead of your stomach, so slow down the process and see if you can eat less.
    3) Exercise in any fashion, but do not forgo exercise, even if it’s only walking.
    I weigh the same that I did when I graduated H.S., but that’s probably due to high metabolism not a lightweight diet and exercise.

  3. As someone who lost 65 lbs extraordinarily slowly (almost 5 years to get it off and keep it off), I would say that any long-lasting weight loss (at least for me) was dependent on never feeling like I was dieting. I was simply creating a new normal.

    Starting out, I focused on small changes that I enjoyed, such as walking (eventually walking 6 miles a day to and from grad school) and cutting out foods didn’t actively enjoy (you can take in a lot of calories from sauces, spreads and add-ons that really don’t necessarily enhance your dining experience). After that, redefining normal portions sizes (woefully distorted in this country) and significantly reducing alcohol consumption became the next battles.

    Since I’ve started a desk job, eliminating snacking has become my biggest challenge.

    I’ve been around 120 (I’m 5’2″) for over 2 years now–my lowest was 114, but it wasn’t sustainable–and it feels strange/mildly disconcerting not to be losing anymore weight. When you spend so many years wanting to change your body, it’s very hard to learn to accept it. Becoming more fit (I ran a half-marathon two months ago) has been helped me see my body in terms of what it can do rather than how it looks.

    Thanks for the post (and the blog in general; I’ve definitely stalked some of your recipes :) )

    • What a great story! I definitely have heard a lot of weight loss success stories related to walking daily, and I wholeheartedly agree that America has a big (har har) problem with portion sizes :-P

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