Amount of weight lost: 105 lbs
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Occupation: Stay at home mom
Amanda gained weight while dealing with years of medications and illness. Although she would eat healthy portion sizes and exercised regularly, she kept getting sick and kept gaining weight. The larger she got, the more shame she felt because of her size. She avoided photos and going to public places. She found it especially difficult to face people she had known before her illness, when she was more than a hundred pounds lighter. Amanda's body hurt all the time and she was extremely depressed.
Once she had fully healed from her illness, Amanda admits that she only tried halfheartedly to lose weight. She was angry, depressed and overwhelmed, and didn't really want to face the long journey ahead of her. Many people dealing with illness find themselves in the exact same situation. Learn how a dream and a slow and steady approach helped Amanda reclaim her life and her health.
What was your "light bulb moment" that made you get serious about losing the weight? Over Thanksgiving week in 2010, I woke up from a dream that I was writing a memoir about the four things fat women can't do without being ridiculed: eat, exercise, think or enjoy life. I was so embarrassed and ashamed about my body and that dream helped me realize just how strongly that shame was affecting me and the way I was living (or NOT living). I decided that I had to get serious and lose this weight, to get away from that place of shame and self-consciousness.
Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey: My weight loss journey was slow. I decided right away to take my time and to lose primarily through exercise while continuing to eat regular portion sizes. In general, I ate around 1700-2100 calories a day and exercised 30-60 minutes per day, 5-6 days per week. It was much easier for me to sustain that lifestyle than to eat at a more restricted calorie level. I lost around a pound per week while I was obese and half a pound per week after I crossed the line into the overweight category. Throughout my journey, my diet steadily improved as I learned to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, cut out many processed foods and gave up fast food altogether.
Did you encounter any obstacles during your journey and, if so, how did you deal with them? I hit quite a few obstacles, actually. Things went pretty smoothly until I'd lost about sixty pounds, and then it was like I hit a wall. I started having severe insomnia nightly, and that continued for about six months, and intermittently for another year after that. Around the same time, I injured my ankle while out walking/running, and eventually that led to a stress fracture and a twelve-week exercise ban. Later, I began having lots of bone/joint pain that was eventually linked to gluten intolerance. I dealt with all of these things in pretty much the same way: continuing to eat well, keeping careful records to try to find the root cause of my symptoms, experimenting with different treatments and consulting doctors/therapists when necessary.
What tools, routines, habits, and motivators did you find most helpful to help you stay motivated? The two biggest things that helped me throughout my journey were learning how to understand my body's hunger cues and finding a good social support system. With the first, I was able to recognize when I was truly hungry, and what sort of nutrients my body was asking me for. Being able to read my hunger cues has helped me to stay on track when I don't have access to a calorie tracker or nutritional information. The second, a support system, has been my lifeline. I found SparkPeople.com in early 2011 and met others going through the same journey, found friends who provided motivation through their success and had a daily built-in reminder to stay on track.
Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? In the last year of my weight loss journey, I ran into a major plateau. I kept eating at a deficit and exercising regularly, but the scale stopped moving. Every few months, I'd manage to drop a pound, but mostly, I was stuck. I tried every plateau-breaking trick known to man and none of them helped. Honestly, I can't say that I ever "overcame" the plateau. I never did start losing again at a rate that matched my calories-in-vs-calories-out ratio. Eventually, though, because I never stopping trying my hardest, I managed to lose the last couple pounds I had left to reach my goal--they just took much, much longer to lose than they should have (5 lbs in 9 months, despite a deficit equal to 2-3 lbs monthly). So I may not have overcome the plateau, but I consider myself successful in the battle, because I never let it beat me. I never gave up, no matter how difficult and frustrating things got.
What is your typical exercise routine like? These days, I work out anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes a day, five days per week. Generally, I work out in the mornings, and I don't really have a go-to exercise. I love so many different types --pretty much everything except HIIT--and enjoy variety. If I do the same thing day after day, or week after week, I get bored, so I tend to choose my exercise when it's time to work out, instead of planning in advance. One day I'll dance, the next I'll go for a walk, the next day I'll put on an aerobics video.
How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss? The biggest thing that has changed about my diet is the amount of fruits and vegetables I eat. I was one of those kids who grew up hating all fruits and vegetables. Even as an adult, though I tried and tried to learn to like them, I just didn't. When I got serious about losing weight, though, I forced myself to eat a fruit and a vegetable daily, and continued to do so long enough (about nine months) that my tastes started to change. It was nearly a year before I found a vegetable that I actually liked, and it was eighteen months before I could eat the recommended five servings per day, but these days, fresh produce is a regular part of my daily diet.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight loss program? Treat weight loss as your job. You don't need to be "motivated" to go to work every day. You go because you have to, whether or not you like it. It is the same with weight loss. If your weight-loss journey is your job, something you must do every day whether or not you feel like it, you won't need to rely on motivation to keep you going. You're also less likely to quit when things get tough. Also, don't start off trying to do everything all at once, or you're likely to burn out or quit pretty quickly. Go slow. Make a few small changes, and after you master those, make a couple more.
Did you experience any other benefits in addition to losing weight? Most of my weight-loss journey has been tied to trying to reach my previous standards of size, health and fitness. Many of the extra benefits of my journey simply involve returning to the way I used to be pre-illness. In two ways, though, this journey has given me additional health and fitness benefits that I've never had before. In health, I've learned to eat fruits and vegetables regularly, so that my diet is better than it ever has been. In fitness, I learned to run properly and have run full 5ks and 10ks--something I'd never thought possible for me.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?Everything about my life has changed since losing weight! My self-confidence is a thousand times better. I'm far less shy and reserved now, and I'm more likely to go out and live life than to stay shut up at home all the time. It's fantastic to be able to run and play with my three sons in a way I couldn't before, and to participate in races and fitness events with friends and family. I've gained back a lot of the strength I had from my pre-illness, athletic days, and in some ways, I'm even fitter than I was then. Most important, I've come to love and appreciate my body for the first time in years.
Congratulations Amanda! You are a wonderful inspiration to those dealing with illness and believing like they can never feel like they used to!
Have you lost weight and kept it off using SparkPeople.com? We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com
*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.
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