• My Weight Loss Journey

    July 27, 2010

    I love food and I love eating. But, I don’t love dieting. Although I have always been a mostly healthy eater, I’m not one to turn down a piece of birthday cake or a glass of wine during cocktail hour. But indulging a little too much and a little too often resulted in a slow gain of 25 pounds by my early 20s.

    When I was younger, I’d managed to maintain my weight of 130 pounds by being active. I belonged to the dance team and played intramural sports, so it wasn’t difficult for me to motivate myself to exercise. After college, I started a desk job, and with that came long hours, pizza lunches, and plenty of happy hours. I continued to exercise almost every day, but it wasn’t enough—and my weight climbed to 153 pounds, which was too much for my 5-foot-4-inch frame.

    My Tipping Point

    I wasn’t happy at my heaviest, but I wasn’t really motivated to do anything about it until a ski trip with friends in 2004 put things in perspective. The vacation was a blast, but I quickly lost my getaway glow when I saw photos from our trip. Looking at the physical proof, I was embarrassed by how much weight I had gained. Every photo was a “bad” photo of me. I was so depressed that I threw most of them away.

    Soon after the ski trip, I left my desk job to pursue graduate school and took a part-time job working at the front desk of an upscale health club. One of the perks was a free membership, which was the motivation I needed to take control of my weight. I started exercising at the health club most mornings, taking Body Pump and spinning classes on a regular basis. Finding workout buddies helped too. I made some new friends who were avid runners and I began training for and participating in road races with them.

    Even though I was burning plenty of calories through exercise, I knew my eating habits were preventing me from losing weight. I wasn’t eating unhealthy foods—I stuck with salads, turkey sandwiches, and stir-fry dishes—I was just eating too much of everything. I started tracking my daily calories online at fitday.com. Counting calories really helped me understand my overblown portion sizes and just how many calories I was consuming.

    A New Life

    Almost a year and a half later, in the summer of 2005, I finally reached my goal weight of 130 pounds. My weight loss didn’t happen overnight—in fact it took a pretty long time—but that was because I wasn’t “dieting.” Through trial and error and figuring out what worked best for me, I made lifestyle changes, which have stuck with me to today. For example, I almost always have oatmeal with nut butter and a piece of fruit for breakfast. It helps set a healthy tone for my whole day, plus it keeps me full until lunchtime.

    Now I’m committed to maintaining my weight without missing out on any fun, like birthday celebrations or nights out with friends, which is the main philosophy behind Carrots ‘N’ Cake. Hopefully, my tips and tricks are helpful to you and you’ll share some of your own secrets and successes with me too.

    BEFORE

    December 2003

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    August 2003

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    AFTER

    July 2008

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    July 2010

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    What Worked for Me: My Weight Loss Tips

    Make an appointment to exercise

    Every Sunday I jot down my exercise goals on my Google calendar. Sometimes last-minute plans get in the way, but I generally stick to my schedule once I’ve put it in ink.

    Count calories—at least in the beginning

    I didn’t realize just how many calories I was consuming, so tracking what I ate helped keep me aware of what I was putting in my mouth. I don’t count calories anymore, but I track what I eat (and when I exercise) on my blog, which keeps me accountable.

    Eat fresh fruit with breakfast

    It’s such a small thing to do, but it sets a healthy tone for my whole day. Plus, fruit is low in calories and good for you!

    Reduce portion sizes

    This might seem like a “duh” tip, but just eating less of my usual servings helped me lose weight.

    Read a lot of health and fitness magazines

    These types of magazines are constant motivation and keep healthy eating and fitness interesting, especially when I really don’t want to get on the elliptical! Plus, I get tons of a great ideas for meals and workouts from them.

    Meal plan

    Every Sunday I sit down and plan a week’s worth of meals. I almost always make my own lunch, which means I have more control over how many calories are in my meal. I’m also able to save money by making sure I use up all of my fresh produce.

    Keep truckin’

    Maintaining my weight is all about balance. If I overindulge at a weekend barbecue or mindlessly munch throughout the afternoon, I don’t throw in the towel. I make sure my next meal is healthy and move on.

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    { 93 comments… read them below or add one }

    Amara July 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Tina, thank you so much for sharing this. Do you really find that cutting back a little for just the next meal is enough for you if you indulge? Maybe you just mean get back on track for your next meal. I just heard that a few places today. It seems like calorie-wise if I eat out or go to a party, it would take like a full day of really restricted eating to make up for it. Do you have certain strategies for that sort of thing so it doesn’t feel like a punishment? It’s hard for that to become a downward spiral for me.

    Reply

    Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter July 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I love this post. You have such a great story and great tips for everyone.

    Reply

    Lisa (bakebikeblog) July 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    What a wonderful post Tina! Thankyou for sharing :)

    Reply

    Amber K July 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Great post! I think the tips are very sane and I have to second counting calories. You don’t have to do it forever, but it really helps to get a reality check! I track mine on SparkPeople, but it can also just be written down. Definitely helped me lose 95+ pounds!

    Reply

    Kristina July 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    How did you figure out the calories in vs. calories out ratio? A simple online calculator?

    Reply

    Mary @ Bites and Bliss July 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    AWesome story and tips :) Although I’ll admit, I’m not big on the fitness magazines. I used to be..but just the other day I read a story about how this one actress tays thin and it was by eating ~1300 calories a day, never snacking, and exercising her butt off. That’s just not right..

    Reply

    Krystina July 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    You look fantastic now. Hard work does pay off. :)

    Reply

    Jay July 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I’m 5’4″ and 130 pounds too! Thanks for showing that! I get so frustrated reading Health, Self, Shape, Fitness etc with them ALWAYS showcasing 5’4″ girls who weight 120 pounds or less. I’m like WTF?! When I weighed that little I had a severe ED- so it’s GREAT to see you healthy and happy.

    Reply

    stephanie@Avocado Nation July 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I love reading your story! I also love how you don’t down-play the amount of work you put into losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I mean, it is hard work, but it is so worth it!!

    Reply

    Nicole July 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I loved this post. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and although I was familiar with your story it helped to see it again, it’s that little bit of motivation I needed today. Thank you!

    Reply

    Felicia July 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’m struggling with the same issues (in grad school, gained quite a bit of weight over the last year from poor eating and overindulging), and I have roughly the same amount of weight to lose. It seems impossible but stories like yours make me hopeful.

    Reply

    Lacy July 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    This is so inspiring Tina!!! and may I just say your arms look AMAZING in that bikini pic.

    Reply

    Becca July 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I love this post. I struggled with both ends of the spectrum with weight (I was overweight as a kid, diagnosed and treated for hypothyroidism, and ended up with anorexia when I became too obsessed with losing weight). Now, I’m at a healthy weight, I’m happy with the way I look, and I’m also a lot more reasonable about exercise.

    I love hearing stories about people getting healthy :)

    Reply

    Cynthia (It All Changes) July 27, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I love that you didn’t treat it like a diet. Living life helped me reach my goal weight too and maintaining it for over a year. I’m happy because I’m enjoying my life and enjoying my food.

    Your tips are the kinds that the magazines always give but hearing it from someone who has actually used them makes them so much more real.

    Reply

    Shanna July 27, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    We have similar stories. I’m about 5’4.5″ and got to 144 but my healthy body weight is around 115. Pretty big difference!

    Reply

    Tina July 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    @Kristina: I started out with an online calculator, but then I tried different calorie ranges to see what best satisfied me. I also incorporated workouts into that 1800-2200 range.

    Reply

    Wei-Wei July 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Hmm, this is a repeat post right? Not that I mind reading it again… It totally makes my morning :)

    Wei Wei

    Reply

    Whitney @ Whitinspired July 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story! Reading all the healthy lifestyle blogs help me get inspired, so thank you!

    Reply

    Jessica @ Rawtumn July 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I love stories like this! <3 Thanks for sharing yours, Tina. You look like you're glowing from within in all the after shots.

    Reply

    amanda July 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Very great advice!

    Reply

    Callie July 27, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    You look AMAZING in the last few photos! :)
    Thanks for the advice, you’ve come a long way.

    Reply

    Ann July 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Great advice
    Less of Me

    Reply

    Staceyhttp://stacey-healthylife.blogspot.com/ July 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I feel like I’m reading the story of my own life and tips that I have used. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply

    Heather July 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    great post! it does take a long time if you do it right. I struggle with the whole “I just ran 7 miles so i can eat whatever I want” mentality!

    Reply

    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    I love that your philosophy is to maintain your weight while not missing out on any fun. I’ve missed out on way too much fun because of my food fears and it’s something I really want to conquer. You give me inspiration though. :)

    Reply

    Emilyeatsclean July 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Great story! Thanks for sharing!! :)

    Reply

    Hannah July 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Did you find it hard to stop counting calories once you started? It seems like a slippery slope to me sometimes :(

    Reply

    Tracy July 27, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Your a great inspiration, thanks for all of the great tips and your blog is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story! ~ Take Care

    Reply

    Tina July 27, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    @Hannah: No, I never liked calorie counting to begin with, so when I met my goal weight, I stopped.

    Reply

    Madeline July 27, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and didn’t know this story! I’ve actually been following a slow, get-back-to-my-”happy”-weight journey, and your blogs (and many of your blog friends) have been great motivation and inspiration for me. Thank you–I’m almost there!

    Reply

    Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear July 28, 2010 at 1:28 am

    You’re really very inspiring and I can relate to the story – at least a bit. I have never been overweight but I have had periods in my life when I have been gaining weight because of bad eating habits. Now I’m fighting cholesterol and will make it better (and also lose the few kg I have extra around my waist ;)) and I really hope look as stunning as you do when I’m done!

    Reply

    Megan July 28, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Im jealous, you lost weight and still have great boobs!

    Reply

    Jackie (Peaces of Earth) July 28, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Thank you for sharing your story!! I don’t think I knew it all from start to finish. Truly inspiring. Balance is key!!

    Reply

    Orla July 28, 2010 at 5:39 am

    It drives me nuts that exercise and healthy isn’t enough to stay at the weight you want…..stupid portion sizes! It’s bad enough that I dont get to eat the fun stuff without having to eat less than I’d like to of the allegedy good-for-me things!

    Reply

    Amy July 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I enjoyed ur story. I’m 5″4″ as well and eat 6 small meals a day and weight train and can’t seem to get over 106 pounds. I want to gain 5 more. If u don’t mind my asking what weight are u now? I consume about 2200-2500 calories a day and weight train 4 times a week and 30 minutes of cardio 2 times a week. This seems like it should be enough food. Any suggestions. Oh, and I just found ur blog not that long ago. Love it.

    Reply

    Anna July 28, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I felt like I was reading my own story on this one. You look fantastic!

    Reply

    Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun July 28, 2010 at 9:29 am

    What a great story – very inspiring! PS – You look great! :-D

    -Erika

    Reply

    Andrea @ Thin Thighs & Sweet Potato Fries July 28, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for sharing this story! I reached my weight loss goal by counting calories, exercising, and I’ll admit being a little strict on myself at least in the beginning. Now that I’ve reached “maintenance mode,” I am trying to slowly (but surely) ease into not counting calories (my boyfriend was shaking his head at me just the other day for counting out a serving of crackers!!) but I can’t help myself. Since I know it works, it’s hard to let go. So many people keep telling me I need to up the amount of calories I eat in order to stop losing and simply maintain and relax on the calorie counting, but the fear of gaining the weight back is almost paralyzing! Did you deal with this in the beginning and if so, how did you overcome it?

    Reply

    Wendy (Give Love Create Happiness) July 28, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Beautiful Girl! I think reading motivational articles is a HUGE help! I loooved dance team with you!! Hey, I’d still do it now!

    Reply

    Ashley July 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for posting! Love the blog and this story was just so inspiring. Also- SO PROUD of the 23lb weights with bicep. You go girl!!!

    Reply

    Chase @ The Chase Project July 29, 2010 at 9:08 am

    These are great. Thanks for posting!

    Reply

    Kelly Olexa August 2, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Girl!!! What a great story. You have always inspired me and now even more so. I would really LOVE to feature you and your story on an upcoming “Wednesday Woot! Factor” post on my blog. I know you would inspire all of my readers big time!! I’ll shoot you a note, or email me at kellyolexa at gmail if you would be able to participate!
    Keep up the awesome blogging. ;-)

    Reply

    mirundap November 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Like the guy above said it’s true

    Reply

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