April 23, 2009

My weight problem was a product of a lifetime of unhealthful eating habits and a lack of exercise. Like many teen-agers, I was insecure about my weight, and my 215-pound body made me feel self-conscious and out of place among my peers. I wanted to lose weight and be a size 2, but I didn't know how to start.

When I turned 20, I started losing weight without putting much thought into it. I had just moved out of my parents' home and was on my own for the first time. One month, I didn't have enough money to buy as many groceries as I usually did, so I had to carefully plan my meals until my next shopping trip. In the process, I ate smaller meals and bought fresher, cheaper foods, such as fruits and vegetables. At the end of that month, I had lost almost 10 pounds.

My family and friends noticed the changes in me, but I didn't notice the weight loss until I found that my clothes were much looser. This is what prompted me to finally get serious about losing weight.

Taking a cue from my mom, who had recently lost weight, I started to exercise. My mom walked around a local lake and I joined her. It was not as hard as I thought it would be, and exercise left me feeling invigorated and full of energy. My family and friends noticed what exercise did for me and they joined us on our walks around the lake.

Nutritionally, I continued eating healthfully by adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet and using low-fat, frozen entrees to monitor my portion sizes. For snacks, I chose pretzels or low-fat cookies over a candy bar.

I didn't restrict myself from my favorite foods like pizza. In the past, I would completely eliminate such foods from my diet, which caused me to binge later. Instead, I treated myself to a moderate portion and enjoyed every bite of it.

In three months, I lost 30 pounds, which motivated me to stick with my new eating habits and exercise program. Next, I joined a gym and added weight training to my routine to tone my muscles.

I did not set a specific weight-loss goal. As the pounds came off, I realized that being a size 2 was not only unrealistic for my body type and height, it was also unhealthy. Instead, I ate properly and exercised regularly, allowing my body to dictate what my healthy weight would be. Every month I lost 8-10 pounds and by the time I reached 135 pounds, my weight loss leveled off.

Now I have kept the weight off for more than a year and I feel fabulous. I am a whole new person. I have the energy and confidence to try new things. I am finally happy with my body and my mind.

Workout Schedule

Weight training: 20 minutes/3 times a week

Biking, stair climbing or walking: 45-60 minutes/3 times a week

Maintenance Tips

1. Make gradual changes. Since you didn't gain the weight overnight, you can't lose it overnight either.

2. Exercise. You can't lose weight with nutritional changes alone.

3. Stay positive and keep your focus on being healthy and fit.