Its time for another motivating weight loss success story! Today’s interview is with Heather from Setting Her Free. Hers is one of the first weight loss blogs I remember reading when I first started out. She is 70 pounds lighter than she once was, so we can definitely learn from her.
Weight Loss Story:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 26 year old Industrial Organizational Psychologist living in Chicago trying to find a way to balance work, relationships, and a healthy lifestyle.
What moment or event started your weight loss journey?
I have been trying to lose weight since my later college years. I tried just about everything out there, but one day just had enough of sitting here wishing for things that I felt I could not achieve. I saw a commercial for LA Weight Loss, had never tried it, and gave the center a call the next day to get in there as fast as possible. I didn’t know if it would be any different than other plans I had tried before. What I realize now is that I was the one who was different – I was finally really ready to focus on me.
What was your starting weight? What weight are you at now?
When I first started losing weight, I was at 226 – my heaviest. Now I am some where between 156-158.
What would you say is the most important factor in your weight loss? Changed eating habits? Exercise? Changed thinking? Something else?
I think its a combination of all of that. Eating habits is probably the biggest change, as I completely cut out most processed foods that I still had been eating while “dieting” in the past. I realized how much of an addiction to sugar I had and once I could cut that out, all of the cravings I used to have disappeared. I started eating fruits and vegetables – food groups that previously never existed in my daily set of meals. Exercise was always a struggle but I kept searching for things that I did enjoy and while I still have a hard time actually finding the time to exercise, I am strict to keep at it. Mostly, I learned to forgive myself for all the years I didn’t stick to a healthy lifestyle, or felt that I had “failed”. I learned the importance of positive self talk and believing in myself. Even on weeks where I gained, I stopped believing that it meant I would gain all my weight back and started believing that it was the past and I could just keep moving forward.
What is your current fitness or exercise goal?
My goal is to get about 4-5 days of exercise in a week. Some weeks I am better about this than others.
What methods are you using to achieve your goal?
I think blogging helps me stay accountable for these goals. Even though all my readers are so supportive no matter what I do, I want to be able to make them proud so I know if I blog that I haven’t exercised or have only a few days that I will hear about it! I also like to find exercises that I enjoy doing so that it doesn’t feel like a chore when I do them.
Are there any obstacles you had to overcome to begin exercising / keep exercising?
Time is definitely an obstacle for me. I am someone who often works 10-12 hour days and it wears on me to the point where exercising when I come home is the last thing I want to do. I also become bored with exercise as well so staying interested in a type of exercise is hard for me because once I become bored, I don’t find it as easy to continue to do it.
What’s your favorite exercise?
My new toy, the Wii Fit, is definitely my favorite right now as it combines strength, cardio and yoga! Yoga and Pilates are definitely my other favorites.
How do you deal with boredom in your exercise program?
I keep looking for new exercises to try. I used to really believe that there were just two types of exercises out there – cardio and strength. While both are very important and are part of my routine, I mix that with exercises I do enjoy so that I can be engaged in whatever exercise I might be doing. Belly dancing is one that I am looking into currently to try next!
Describe the diet or healthy eating plan you’re following. What is the main focus of the plan?
The basis of my eating is around the food pyramid. I believe in eating from all food groups and that it is not necessary to cut out any types of food as they are all important, even good fats. The main focus of the way I eat is balance – it definitely is key. If you can eat the right balance of food at every meal, you will feel full and satisfied, and less hungry throughout the day. I make sure at every meal to include fruits and vegetables and some lean protein at the very least. I eat often, about 5-6 times a day so I am rarely hungry in between meals. I drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. I also do eat natural since most processed food is not part of the food pyramid. I realized just how addicted I was to processed foods once I could cut it out. I also eat things that I enjoy – I don’t see the point in making a meal that I am not interested in or feel I will enjoy. I try a new meal about every week so I have lots of variety and rarely get sick of what I am eating.
What is one cardinal rule of nutrition you have learned that you always follow or never break?
That you need to eat to lose weight! I never feel bad about eating and eating often. As long as you are choosing the right foods and ones that can fuel your body, there is no reason that you should not be eating. I don’t think calories or points should deter you from eating when your body tells you its hungry.
Are there any foods you outright avoid and DO NOT eat?
Just about anything that is processed or contains HF corn syrup. Anything in that chip or candy aisle at the store is off limits. If I cannot say the name of an ingredient on the label, I don’t buy it!
If you diet, do you allow for a regular reward meal (cheat meal)?
There are times where I eat more than I normally do, such as a party or a special night out. I don’t consider this a reward or cheating – its life. We cant be perfect all the time and we should enjoy food – while realizing that its not the solution to lifes problems, not the reward to every good thing that happens to us, or the feel better method to the bad things.
What about supplements? Which if any supplements do you add to your diet?
I take calcium supplements since osteoporosis runs in my family, but that’s about it.
Is eating healthy expensive for you? How much do you spend on food in a given week / month?
I spend about $60-$70 dollars a week on food. I would say that it is expensive as I always have to stock up on fruits and vegetables at least on a weekly basis so they are fresh, but to me, its a fair trade off. I would much rather eat and live like this and pay a little bit more money and go to the store more often, than eat the way I used to. Junk food wasn’t cheap either.
What are 3 of your best eating or dieting tips you would like to share?
1. If you slip up and eat off your plan, its ok. It doesn’t mean that you have failed and you don’t have to beat yourself up about it. Just jump back on plan and let it be a thing of the past.
2. Set yourself up to succeed. Plan your meals out when you can. Pack a healthy lunch for yourself the night before so you have something healthy to eat at work/school wherever. Keep healthy snacks around you so you have something to grab when you feel hungry.
3. Find whatever it is that works for you. It may not be a diet plan that works for everyone, and it may not be anything that is commercialized. Find the best way that you can live and balance your healthy lifestyle with the other responsibilities. I cant tell you what that may be for you, but once you find it, you will be able to succeed.
How did you first become interested in blogging and can you tell us a little bit about your blog?
I used to blog about other events in my life, but wanted a place to specifically talk about my weight loss. A place where I could be honest and share my weight and not feel ashamed. Another blogger, Teale started a blog on blogger and I figured it was a good place for me as well. I post to keep myself accountable and to provide support to others who are going through the same thing I am. Even though I met my goal, I still need that accountability and place to be honest, and my blog is the best way I have found to do that.
Has your weight loss blog helped you with losing weight?
Oh yes. I used to be able to check in with a counselor when LA Weight Loss was open. Once they closed, I didn’t have that accountability and really turned to my blog. I have joined many challenges with others to post my weight, and just reading others blogs has helped me when I sometimes feel alone.
What are your top 5 favorite weight loss/fitness blogs?
1. Tippy Toe Diet
2. Sybilized Living
3. Scale Junkie
4. My Peace: Vegan Living in Vermont
5. I Don’t Want To Die Of A Heart Attack When Im 25
5. Journeying to Lose 200 Pounds… The Triumph of Perserverance
Do you have any favorite sayings, quotes, or anything that inspires you to be better, train harder or be more diligent with your eating?
The quote on my blog is probably my favorite: “What lies before us and what lies beyond us is tiny compared to what lies within us.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)” I used to underestimate myself and never realized how much I am capable of. This quote inspires me because I now realize I can do anything I want to because I do have the strength inside no matter how hard and long the journey seems.
If you were to give advice to anyone considering starting a weight loss journey, what would you say?
Find what is right and works for you. Research the different options out there and see what fits best for you and your life style – not what is popular at the moment or has worked for your best friend/mother/sister/whatever. By doing this, you can incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your life as it stands, rather than having to make drastic changes for something that you dont feel comfortable with and ultimately cannot continue doing for the rest of your life. Go into it with realistic expectations and realize that this is for life – its not a quick fix. Even when you hit your goal, you will still have to work every day to stay there.
What tips would you offer someone trying to lose a significant amount of weight?
It wont be easy and it may take months and years to accomplish, but stick with it and never give up. Each pound you lose is a step towards getting healthier and getting to your goal. Set small goals that can lead up to your bigger goal so you don’t feel you are trying to achieve something bigger than possible.