My weight has fluctuated a lot in the past, mostly because I've been an emotional eater who used to treat my anxiety with binge eating. At the end of 2016, I had hit rock bottom, and I was at my heaviest weight. I had just gone through an intense period of my life where I survived a fire that nearly burned down my house and left first- and second-degree burns all over my face and body. Additionally, I moved across the world and finally ended a toxic relationship. There was a lot going on, so it was hard to take care of myself. I didn't ever get on a scale, but my guess is that I tacked on about 20 pounds. More importantly, though, I felt like an empty shell of myself.
When 2017 hit, I was ready for a serious change. I wanted to work hard, feel better every day, and get physically stronger. All my weight-loss attempts in the past had fallen flat (I've tried everything from raw to Paleo), so I knew I had to do something different this time around. These are the four changes I made that helped me achieve all my weight-loss and fitness goals.
I Started Lifting Heavy Weights
Ever since I started lifting weights, my weight hasn't fluctuated at all. It's been nothing but a steady, sustainable gain of muscle and loss of fat.
I had always liked strength training in the past, but I was too afraid to work with heavy weights. I thought it would make me look "bulky," but I soon discovered that weightlifting was the very thing that made me lean, toned, and curvy.
I started out with a few strength-training sessions a week, but when I started to see change, I increased it to six sessions a week. You certainly don't need to do this many weightlifting workouts a week in order to see results. My trainer and I just decided I was ready for the challenge, and I was lucky enough to have the time to devote to it.
Within a few months, I saw a significant change in my body. My legs got smaller, my belly shrunk, and my arms and shoulders looked much less bulky. Ever since I started lifting weights, my weight hasn't fluctuated at all. It's been nothing but a steady, sustainable gain of muscle and loss of fat. I've since dropped a dress and pant size as well, and I feel stronger and more confident than ever!
I Began (Part-Time) Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is known to help prevent many diseases, improve digestion, and aid in weight loss. I decided to start IF because I wanted to get rid of my bloating and see if it affected my not-so-great eating habits (I'm a professional late-night snacker). Within just two months, I was seeing a transformation in the size of my belly, the amount of bloating, and my energy levels.
I am much less likely to overeat since I started IF; it's as if I have a better relationship with food than ever before.
I chose my eating window to be between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Many people like to have their eating window later, but this works much better for me because I work out in the morning, and I'm usually starving after a big weightlifting session. However, while many people follow IF seven days a week, I only do it Monday through Friday so that my weekends aren't affected. Even fasting five days a week made a huge difference in my life, both physically and mentally. I am much less likely to overeat since I started IF; it's as if I have a better relationship with food than ever before.
I Adopted a Plant-Based Diet
You'd be surprised at how much the people around you affect your physical fitness and overall health.
I initially decided to return to a vegan lifestyle for ethical and environmental reasons. It wasn't long, though, before I found out that there are countless other benefits to eating a plant-based diet. Eliminating dairy and meat (as well as processed and packaged foods) from my daily diet reduced my bloating, increased my fitness performance, and helped me shed the excess pounds. Most importantly, I have much more mental clarity than I ever did before, which makes it easier to be productive and work out efficiently.
I Ended Some Relationships With Toxic People
You'd be surprised at how much the people around you affect your physical fitness and overall health. When you're constantly hanging around people who stay out late, eat fast food, and drink excess amounts of alcohol, it can feel impossible to adopt healthy habits. Not only did I (finally) break up with my ex-partner, who liked to party a lot and discourage me from pursuing my professional goals, but I also moved farther away from toxic friends who were making it hard for me to engage in healthy activities on the daily.
Once I cleaned up my relationships and surrounded myself with people who were interested in taking care of themselves, I felt confident that I had a support system that would be there for me no matter what. So I really went for my goals — and I smashed every last one of them.