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Growing up, I never really struggled with my weight. I was thin, had an athletic build, and participated in rigorous activities like gymnastics and dancing. Through high school and even into college I was slim and had little problem maintaining my physique.
All that changed when I got pregnant. I was constantly sick, and it seemed the only thing that kept nausea at bay was a full stomach. So I ate. A lot. I stopped dancing and hung around the house, eating whatever tickled my fancy. My taste buds seemed so alive and everything tasted delicious.
Each week my weight went up and up, but I reasoned that as a pregnant woman, I could eat what I wanted and not worry about my weight. People around me encouraged this by saying, “Eat up! You’re eating for two now!” Near the end of my pregnancy, I was well over 200 pounds. I was in tears at my last doctor’s appointment. For most of my life, my body had never gone above 125.
Even after the baby was born, I still tipped the scale at close to 202.
I couldn’t bear to see old pictures of myself, and in between bouts of depression, I battled high blood pressure and episodes of intense vertigo.
I tried to lose the weight, but soon after giving birth, I had health issues and was diagnosed with appendicitis. After surgery, I was told that I could be up and about in a few weeks, and could exercise at my leisure. I ate less, but I was still eating foods packed high with fats, sugars, and salt and the weight refused to come off. I was mistaken thinking that the weight would just melt away.
My wake-up call came during a Thanksgiving holiday. I had been eating rich meals all day while visiting with family and friends. I hadn’t been feeling well, but insisted on sampling all of the holiday fare. At the end of the evening, we stopped at the home of my best friend who had recently given birth. We were saying our goodbyes and heading out the door when I suddenly felt an intense feeling of vertigo and dizziness. I remember screaming, “Help me!,” before falling over and passing out.
When I awoke, I was in a hospital and doctors were weaving in and out of my vision. My blood pressure was through the roof. As I came to, the doctor informed me that he’d thought I had a stroke. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, but they kept me for observation for two days.
It was then I had a revelation.
I had to take control of my health.
I had to start eating better.
Before I’d been passively letting genetics have a say in how I looked, but now I would decide how I wanted to look and feel.
I dedicated my life to becoming healthier and dropped more than 45 pounds within a year. I’m not at my pre-pregnancy weight, but for the first time in a long time, I am at a healthy weight. I’m not underweight like I was in my youth, but I’m not overweight either. I’d still like to lose a few pounds and tone up, but I’m working on it. When people meet me and hear my story, they automatically ask, “How’d you do it?”
Well, I can tell you that if you have a bookshelf full of fad diet books, a medicine cabinet full of pills to “melt,” the fat away, and a bunch of gadgets touting that “you only need 10 minutes a day!” Throw them away. Right now.
There’s no magical diet, secret technique, or other non-surgical method to lose the weight. South Beach? Ha! Paleo? Nah. You can try them, but the reality is this: eat right and exercise.
Everyone has different dietary needs, but for the most part, if you meet your caloric requirements by eating healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, don’t over-eat, drink lots of water (stay away from soda and other sugary drinks!), and exercise regularly–you will lose the weight.
Fad diets are short-term solutions, if they work at all. Often you’ll be hungry and miserable, eventually you’ll give in to your cravings and binge on junk food. If you do happen to lose the weight quickly, you’ll usually lose muscle mass. Believe me ladies–and gentlemen too–you don’t want to lose your muscle mass. You won’t have the toned gams or smooth looking thighs of your dreams.
If there is a secret to losing weight,
it’s all about muscle development.
There is a reason Madonna and Angela Bassett still give women half their ages a run for their money. They look fantastic, and much of it is because they maintain a certain amount of muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, but it’s less dense and takes up less space so even though Angela Bassett or Jada Pinkett-Smith may weigh more than a woman of a similar build, they look a lot slimmer.
Muscle burns more calories even when you’re sitting around doing almost nothing.
That’s the real secret no one may have told you. If you are going to lose the weight, lose the fat, not the muscle. Engage in an exercise routine that combines strength and resistance training (yes ladies, hitting the weights are for you too!) and cardio. I exercise about five to six days a week with a schedule alternating cardio and strength training.
In addition to working out and eating well, I often log what I eat on an app like myfitnesspal.com. Logging your calories and tracking what you eat goes a long way with helping you to shed the pounds.
If you want to lose the weight, toss the fads. Eat clean, hit the gym, take a jog around the block, or walk up and down some stairs. Lose the weight you want and go forth and be fashionable! And remember, you don’t need a fad to do it!