April 23, 2009

Seven months before my wedding, I was shocked to find that I had to squeeze myself into my "baggy" size-14 jeans. It shouldn't have been surprising, since I had struggled with my weight since my early teens and it fluctuated between 140-150 pounds. After meeting the man who eventually became my husband, I gained 20 pounds in less than a year as a result of eating out. With my wedding fast approaching, I wanted to look and feel good about myself on my big day.

I started to exercise four times a week by running in my neighborhood. Running was the easiest form of exercise for me because I didn't have to go to a gym or buy expensive equipment. It was hard at first and I felt awkward and ungraceful doing it, but I kept at it; half a mile turned into a mile and soon I was running two to three miles a day. I did this for three months, but my weight still didn't budge.

Then I talked to a nutritionist friend who analyzed my diet and exercise habits. He found that I was eating huge portions of unhealthful food and consuming too many calories. I started to keep a food journal to track my calorie and fat intake, and after just a week, I was amazed by how much I was really eating. We created an eating plan of about 1,500 daily calories of health, nutritious foods with adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. I didn't cut out any of my favorite foods and instead enjoyed them in moderation.

I also started a weight-training program, which I resisted at first because I thought I would become huge and manly. My fiancé, a former personal trainer himself, dispelled these myths, and I learned that building muscle would not only shape my body, but it would also boost my metabolism and help burn calories. With all these changes, I shed 30 pounds by my wedding day. I had to get my wedding dress altered from a size 14 to an 8, but the expense was well worth it. I had a wonderful day filled with happy memories.

Once my wedding had come and gone, I needed a reason to stay motivated to work out, so I trained for a mini-triathlon, consisting of a ½ mile swim, 12-mile bike race and a 5k run. To prepare, I joined a masters' swim team, where I received support from fellow swimmers and invaluable advice from my coaches. I completed the race with great success, and all the training I did helped me lose another 5 pounds, keeping my weight at 125 pounds.

Since then, I have run in many races and completed another triathlon. Each race is a personal victory. My next goal is to finish a half-marathon, which, with my healthful new lifestyle and attitude, will be possible.