Name: Liz D.
Total lost: 59 lbs.
What was the turning point that motivated your lifestyle change?
Recently married, I was happily in love, starting a successful career and surrounded by great friends and family. Never very insecure or unhappy, it was simply a photograph of myself from a recent wedding that sparked me to action. The very next day, I did a Google search for online food diaries and never looked back.
How did MyFoodDiary.com help in your weight loss journey?
I like the precision of My Food Diary: calories in vs. calories out. Nothing is off limits – if I know that I'm going out to dinner, I eat lighter during the day or sneak in a workout. Additionally, when I first signed up I quickly joined a group of women for moral support. It has been over 5 years and we still conduct weekly weigh in's every Friday! We range in age from 30 to 60 and are located all over the US and Canada. Although I've only met a handful of them in real life, I consider these women to be family.
Describe your new, healthy lifestyle?
Growing up as the daughter of a doctor, we always ate healthfully with an emphasis on unprocessed foods, locally grown produce, lean proteins, etc. The difference now is portion control and an increased activity level. Confession: before signing up for My Food Diary, I never exercised regularly in my life. Initially, I joined a small women-only fitness center, which taught me the importance of working out three times a week for at least 30 minutes. Once exercise became a habit, I joined a larger gym and quickly became addicted to group classes.
What has been your biggest challenge along the way, and how have you overcome it?
Life is the biggest challenge. Life is full of holidays, showers, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other social celebrations. If you treat these events as "days off," you will never reach your weight loss goals. Now, I pick my splurges wisely and only eat food that I think is worth the calories. Personally, I don’t have a sweet tooth so I often pass on birthday cake or dessert at functions. For others, it might be alcohol or bread. I haven't learned to give those up yet.
What is one new healthy habit you didn't expect to like, but now love?
EXERCISE! Growing up, my family was not very active. We aren't full of athletes and we don't watch sporting events. As an overweight child and teenager, the few times I would join a friend at the gym or go on a big hike would leave me out of breath and gasping for air. Now, I work out 5 days a week and try to sneak in a walk on my off days! The key is doing what you love. For me, that means group exercise such as kickboxing, yoga or Zumba. One time, I tried training for a 5K but was so bored on the treadmill that I burnt out and quit. By mixing up my routine with different classes every day, I never get bored. That's what works for me.
What has been the greatest reward of your weight loss success?
Clothes shopping. I know. I know. I should say something like my health or teaching my child how to lead a healthy lifestyle. But what feels the best? Trying on clothes!! As a child, I could never go to the mall with friends because the stores only carried up to size 16. I would have to pretend to be looking around when deep down I knew that I wouldn't be able to try anything on or buy anything. In high school, my cousin took me back-to-school shopping and I had to sneak into the other section of the store to pick out men’s size 42 jeans. So, yeah, clothes shopping has been the biggest reward.
What’s next? Any upcoming plans that were influenced by your weight loss?
In 2010, I started The Lemon Bowl, a food blog focused on delicious, seasonal recipes that just so happen to be healthy. In our house, we rarely eat the same dinner twice because I love creating new recipes and experimenting with flavors from around the world. I believe the key to healthy eating is variety. After all, it doesn't matter how healthy the food is if it doesn't taste fantastic! To help others trying to live a healthy lifestyle, all of my recipes include complete nutritional information.
What is your best advice for others?
Experiment in the kitchen! On the weekends, take a few minutes to search recipes online, browse through a cookbook or explore a local farm stand for inspiration. By eating seasonal ingredients at their peak, very little needs to be done for them to taste delicious. Also, take 10 minutes to plan your week ahead. Cook extra at dinner and take leftovers to work or pop them in the freezer. By taking the time to plan, you won’t be tempted by fast food or end up at the grocery store starving and throwing everything in your cart.
Even if you don’t feel like moving, move. You will never, ever regret exercising. I've never once regretted taking the time to exercise. (Just last week I sprained my foot in kickboxing and I still don't regret going!)
Surround yourself with cheerleaders who are supportive of your weight loss journey. You will always encounter people who knock down your efforts or try to knock you off course. Spend your time with people who will help you reach your goals.