Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not a Diet~A Lifestyle Change~

Diet leads us to believe that when we reach our goal, we are done...NOT TRUE! To lose weight and keep it off, you MUST change your lifestyle....

All of My Life:
All of my life I have been the "heavier" sister. I have been labeled "big-boned", "fluffy", and any other nice term used to describe an overweight person. I knew I was bigger, the size 14/16 on my pants told me that, but I didn't really see how big. In all honesty, while I was never comfortable with my appearance, I didn't think I looked awful either. I always said that I was the child who never lost her baby fat.  There were many times being the "heavier" sister was excruciatingly hard, especially when my sister has the opposite problem. She is a naturally thin person. I would resent her for this many times. (LOVE YOU NOW, SIS) Here is my theory on the difference between my sister and me: When we were in heaven, there was a line for metabolism. When we were standing in line, God accidentally gave her 2 metabolisms and me none. Duh, that HAS to be it, right? I knew I had to do something about this. I did not want my daughter ever struggling with her weight and appearance like I have. I wanted to be a better example of health. So I set my goal to lose 50 pounds. I wanted to do it right, no weird crash diets, no impossible "it thing" that I would never be able to follow through on for the rest of my life. So here is what I decided to do:

The Journey:
I started my journey almost 2 years to the day. This is me before:
I started out in January of 2010 at my heaviest weight of 190. I was trying to loose weight but it was not working. I was watching what I ate and exercised 3 times a week. Still, the weight did not come off.
Finally in March of 2010, I went to my doctor for an annual check up and explained what I had been doing to lose weight. He looked at me and told me  how to do it. He said it wouldn't be fun. It wouldn't be easy. It HAD to be a lifestyle change. This is what I did:

 *Reduce my caloric intake  to 1200-
   1400 calories a day
 *Exercise for 1 hour a day for 6 days a
  *Start a Food Journal to keep track of Calories, exercise, and weight
  *Eat off of a salad plate for dinner. Ok, what?!? Yes, a salad plate. He explained that all of the nutrition a woman needs per meal can be put on a salad plate (off to the side is what my place should consist of).
Of all of these, the salad plate was the hardest to get used to! I am going to be completely honest, it took me a couple months for my body to adjust to this.

My NEW Way of Eating:
Then the question arose of how to cook healthier. I always made the same dinner for my family that, I, myself ate. I was raised that my mom only cooked one meal for dinner. If we didn't care for something on our plate, we had to try it and make the best of it. I also believe in this mindset. I did not go overboard and revise the way everyone in my house ate. Lets be honest, I was the one who needed to lose weight. So what I did was make smarter changes. Light butter instead of regular, used my nonstick pan with nonstick cooking spray in place of sauteing/browning in oil, and added tons of fresh fruit and vegetables to the fridge.  At the beginning, I my goal was around 1200-1300 calories. As time progressed and I started hitting my goals, I upped my calorie intake to 1500 calories per day to still lose weight.

I am also fortunate that I am the grocery shopper in my family. I was able to buy treats that the kids love and should have in moderation, but I was able to buy the things that didn't tempt me. Lets be honest, if our weakness is Oreo cookies and they are in the house, we are more likely to fail. I also purchased a scale to weigh my food to get proper servings to mark my calories.

I started a Food Journal. I did this before I found sites like or (which is what I currently use). I searched calorie counter websites to make sure I listed every calorie of ever meal. This was very time consuming but a must. Now such sites as has a place to add your own recipes and they will calculate the nutrition counts for you. WAY.EASIER.

Those who know me know that I am not a lover of exercise. To this day, 2 years later, I still don't "love" it per say, but I do feel so much better when I do it. I started out doing aerobics, yoga, and pilates (to equal an hour) 3 days a week (via video since going to a gym in not really an option). On the other 3 days a week I would walk for an hour on my treadmill. I would make myself get up at 5:10 so I could get my workout done and over for the day. Since Matt was still not in school, exercising during the day really did not work so well. Come evening time, there was really no energy to expend on exercising, so that didn't work for me either. I was stuck getting up early. It was not easy, but I found that after I got out of bed and put my workout clothes on I was fine. When I found that my weight was plateauing, I started a new video and/or walked at a faster pace. Eventually, I was able to jog a mile and walk the rest. I just built up from there. I had to learn to push and challenge myself every step of the way. I also weighted myself daily, and still do. This way I could see my trends better. My wii fit is my best friend when it comes to this. I love being able to see the graph going down. Snotty Sara, I mean my wii fit does get a little sarcastic at times which would make me want to prove her wrong...yes, sometimes it is the little incentives that make the difference.

My Mindset:
I started noticing results right away. I was generally losing 2 lbs. a week. Now there were times that I would splurge ie holidays, birthdays, graduations, but I would always "get back on the horse" the next day. If I had a bad day, I would try not to beat myself up too hard, I just made the resolve to do better tomorrow. My guiding force was (and still is) being a healthy role model for my children. To show them how to be healthy and teach healthy habits. When I was exercising to my videos, I would always have a picture of my kids in sight so I would remember my goal.

After 2 long years, I have lost over 50 lbs and kept them off. I went from a 14/16 and XL tops to 4/6 and medium tops. Not only did I lose weight, but I gained and defined muscle along the way.  My current workout routine is X-Factor videos 3-4 times a week and running (yes, running!!) 4 9-minute miles 2-3 days a week.

I am now just really maintaining and firming. I eat TONS of fresh fruit daily now an I am trying to make better grain and dairy choices. I use which lets you set your weight goals. When you set them, it will break down how many calories you need for the day. You record what you ate, your weight, your daily exercise, etc. It is wonderful and I strongly suggest you give it a try. It has shown me different aspects of my daily nutrition breakdown that I am now trying to fix, such as sodium.

 The strangest hurdles I have had to get past were when people would comment about how much I have lost and being able to look in the mirror and actually see the changes. When people would come up and say how great I look, it would make me extremely uncomfortable, especially when they would state "not that you looked bad before". I know people meant well and that they were definitely words of encouragement but I wasn't prepared to deal with them. In time, I have learned to simply say "thank you" and leave it at that unless they continue on with the conversation. I was not prepared to have so many people ask me how I did it. It seemed that my life centered around this with people I knew. Looking back, I think it is great that people were curious. Maybe I helped them make a change of some sort, net necessarily just about weight.

The second was even harder~seeing what others saw. I went through a long period of time where I just didn't see the results in the mirror. I knew that my scale and clothes said differently, but it wasn't matching my perception in the mirror. I didn't know how to be skinny~I knew how to be fat.  It is still hard to sometimes get the "skinny" concept through my head. I am just now seeing my own results when I look in the mirror. I absolutely love what I see.

I was talking to a friend that I just pretty much got to know this past fall. We were talking a few months ago about weight, nutrition, and excercise. She is also in the process of losing weight and she is going about it in a similar manor as I did. She was amazed that I was actually 50 lbs. heavier. She just assumed that I have always been skinny. To me that was a great compliment. I feel that shows that I lost weight in a healthy way and toned areas, too. She just recently asked to see a photo of my "before". This is the first time I have really looked at it! OMG! I figured that it was about time to actually look at an "after" picture of myself so here goes!!

This is why I decided to share my story with anyone who is interested.  I am proud to say that I am the healthiest and happiest I have ever been. It is like a weight is lifted off of me (no pun intended). I have a new confidence when I go out in public. Most importantly, I feel that I am the best role model that I can be for my children.


  1. Shanna, you have done an amazing job and I thank you for sharing your story! You are a reminder that hard work and dedication pays off. I am back on the bandwagon myself and you really have given me an extra push! Thank you!!

  2. Wow - you look great! What an amazing story you told, keep up the great work, I am sure your husband and kids are proud of you!

  3. That is wonderful!! I know the weight loss journey and nothing feels better than getting there!=)