Her story highlights that no matter your shape or size, haters will still have something to say. Read how she rises above it.
Alanda Joy Bisarek began struggling with her weight as soon as she entered her 20s—and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't find a way to make long-lasting healthy decisions. However, when her weight started to take a toll on her physically, she decided that time was up and that she really needed to make a drastic change.
"I would start a diet and exercise routine, and then give up two weeks in," Bisarek tells Shape. "This time, I was finally ready to be serious and take my health back, because I had a lot of pain in my knees and my back. I felt like a completely different person—and I wasn't happy with that person."
So, Bisarek started her road back to health on November 10, 2017. She first tweaked her eating habits: eating out less with her husband, making sure the house was stocked with healthy options, and controlling her cravings. "It was working because I think my body just wanted the weight to come off," she says. (Related: How Training for a 10K Helped This Woman Lose 92 Pounds)
Photo: Alanda Joy Bisarek
After seeing her body react so positively to such simple changes, she started doing research on how to live a long-lasting healthy life. And even though Bisarek had tried countless diets—including the keto diet, low-carb diet, and even cutting out gluten—her research helped her realize that restricting foods was not the answer.
"I just track how many calories I'm taking in and burning, so I'm not overeating—and I make sure the food I'm eating is good quality food," she says. (FYI: While that may work well for some people, calorie counting has its downsides, too.)
To complement her new diet, Bisarek also began working out at home. In the beginning, she used fitness apps that tracked her workouts and helped her stay accountable. Now she manages to incorporate several different types of exercises into her routine. "I alternate strength training and cardio, and do yoga throughout the week now," she says. (Related: How Hula Hooping Helped Kick-Start This Woman's 40-Pound Weight-Loss Journey)
As of today, Bisarek has lost 65 pounds and 39 inches—but her transformation hasn't only been physical. Changing her diet, exercising, and making healthier choices helped improve her mindset as well. "Mentally, I have never been in a better place, and I'm happy I've gotten my body to match that," she says. (Related: Real Women Share Their Favorite Non-Scale Victories)
This newfound positive mindset has also helped her ignore people who've made unwarranted comments about her weight. Turns out, Bisarek has experienced her fair share of body shaming both before and after her transformation. She opened up about the experience in a post on Shape's #MyPersonalBest Goal Crushers Facebook group. (Related: How Online Support Groups Can Help You Reach Your Goals.)
"I've had a billion haters in literally the last week at work," she wrote. "One guy who, before I lost weight, asked if I was pregnant, told me I was looking anorexic. Some other guy said "What happened to you? You used to look so good."
Regardless, Bisarek wasn't going to let any of that negative feedback get to her. "It really just goes to show, people will have something to say about you, no matter what," she says. "So you have to learn to let it go, and remind yourself that when a person goes around making negative comments like that, nine times out of ten, it's really about their own problems and insecurities, and not about you."
Women who commented on Bisarek's post backed up her sentiments. They complimented her for standing up to the haters and shared their own stories of being shamed. One woman wrote, "I had the same thing happen when I lost weight and got healthy. You look amazing and it's not even how you look it's how you feel! You feel strong and healthy? Rock it out! Great job and congrats on all you've accomplished." Another woman responded: "People are always going to say shitty things because most people haven't been through the blood, sweat, and tears you've been through, so they don't think before speaking. You're beautiful, healthy and a warrior. And the most important part is that you love yourself. Congrats on your success." Even Shape's own Jen Widerstrom joined the conversation: "GIRL!!! So happy for your success but most importantly, your strong mental headspace."
To all the people who still think it's okay to comment on women's bodies, just don't. "I definitely believe that if you don't have something nice to say, you shouldn't say something at all. I learned to walk away from the situation and not engage because it's not worth it." (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Still a Serious Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It)
As for her decision to share her experience in a semi-public forum (the Goal Crushers group is private, but any woman can request to join), she wanted members from this online wellness community to know that they're not alone and that they can do anything they put their minds to: "We can share our success stories, our frustrations, build each other up, and help one another on their journey. I think that's why I wanted to share. I want people to know that it's possible to change if you really want to."