By Sarah Klein
Before Weight: 380 pounds
How I Gained It: I led an extremely sedentary lifestyle. That inactivity combined with vast amounts of my favorite foods — including pastas, breads, cheeses, chips and virtually any other carbs I could get my hands on — contributed to years of gradual weight gain.
Breaking Point: A vacation with the family to sunny Florida was evidently enough to flip the switch. That, and the fact that I was entering my 30s and heavier than ever. I wasn’t getting any younger, but I was getting quite a lot heavier. That was going to stop one way or another, whether it was the death of me or whether I took control. Above all, health became my primary concern.
How I Lost It: I simply decided to focus on calories. I’d had some temporary success in the past with various, relatively complex weight loss programs, but I decided to make things as simple as possible. I downloaded a free nutrition app on my tablet, and I began to catalog everything I ate, adding up the calories as I went. I set a healthy calorie cap and paced myself throughout the day to stay under my maximum.
I’ve never been much of a sweets eater, and the only meats I eat are chicken and the odd bit of turkey, so my transformation was less about drastically altering the foods I eat and more about changing my portions and making some healthier tweaks here and there.
I’ve always enjoyed vegetables, even when I was at my heaviest, so I embraced veggies in an even bigger way. Rather than drowning them in oils, batter and ranch dressing, I began to appreciate, and eventually even crave, the raw flavor of vegetables (hello, Brussels sprouts). I traded calorie-loaded chips for healthier alternatives, including flavored rice cakes (my go-to snack). I traded large amounts of pasta drowning in cheeses, oils and salt for smaller amounts of whole-grain pasta (even tofu or kelp noodles on occasion) in an array of herbs and spices and some healthy oil. I traded high-calorie breads and cheeses for whole-grain and lower-calorie options. I pace myself with spray butter, I periodically use ketchup in place of BBQ sauce, and I use mustard in place of heavier condiments such as mayonnaise. (I love condiments, and I consider it a great quest to find the best-tasting, lowest-calorie ones I can.) I cut back drastically on salt. I traded fried chicken for grilled. I traded salad dressing over my broccoli and cauliflower for vinegar and herbs. I eliminated regular sodas entirely, instead favoring teas, flavored water and diet sodas. My taste buds slowly began to come around and the weight fell away.
It has been about a year and a half since I started, and it’s clear I’ll always have my difficult moments. Some days are easier than others, but I don’t panic. I’m not a slave to the scale, and if I have a bad couple of days, I calmly take stock, I readjust, and I begin tempering what I eat again. The key is not to panic, not to give up on myself. So what if I eat too much today? I try to do better tomorrow.
As the weight came off I naturally became more active. I’ll never love exercise, but I get around better and so I get around more often now. I’ve lost about 160 pounds so far, and I plan to lose a bit more. How much more will depend on how I feel. I’m taking things slowly, day by day. I’m in a great place now and, health-wise, I don’t lead as threatened an existence. To me, that has been worth every effort.
Current Weight: 220 pounds
The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers. As told to Sarah Klein.
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