Name: Elizabeth Tiedemann
Weight Lost: 153 pounds
Hometown: Chesterfield, VA
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom
What was life like before losing weight?
I started to gain weight in the first grade, and I continued to gain throughout most of my life. For me, I ate when I was sad, anxious, lonely, or any emotion in between. Growing up in a family where almost everyone was overweight didn't give me much motivation to be different. It was who I was supposed to be. But, deep down, I was not happy. I loved my family and had everything I wanted, except for control over my weight. After the birth of my kids, I was exhausted and would sometimes go all day without eating. By the end of the day, I was starving and would eat everything in sight. I didn't believe in myself and didn’t take care of myself, which is why I allowed myself to gain so much weight.
For so long I missed out on things I wanted to do. I couldn't ride a lot of the rides at theme parks. When we went out to eat, I could barely fit in most of the booths. During the day, I started to have pain in my legs and feet when I'd stand a lot. I went to bed worrying that every little ache or pain meant I could be dying. I love bird watching, and I'd hear of bird walks at parks but not go because I knew it would exhaust me. I'd sweat profusely and be out of breath. It was awful. I rarely felt comfortable in my own skin.
What was the main motivation behind your weight loss?
My biggest motivation was, and still is, my family. I wanted to live life with them! I wanted to ride bikes with my kids, play at the playground and fit on the rides at amusement parks. My motivation has mostly been to feel good and be healthy, because when I was so much heavier I felt tired ALL the time and generally unwell. I finally I decided that I’d had enough of being overweight and unhealthy. I wanted to change my life!
Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey.
I read the blogs of people on SparkPeople who had lost a lot of weight or went on to run marathons. "If these people did it (and they are just regular people like me, not paid celebrities promoting some diet), maybe I can do this too," I thought. When I first started out, I was scared, but I felt determined.
By gradually changing how I ate, exercised, and thought about food, I have been able to lose weight and get healthy. It hasn't been easy, but in less than three years I have lost 153 pounds. I haven't been on a strict diet, taken diet pills, had surgery or done anything that involves gimmicks. I realized I would have to be patient, and that this would not happen overnight, and that was OK! At first, exercising was challenging. I started out walking and just gradually increased the time and distance. I remember when it was hard for me to walk a mile, and now I’ve run in 5Ks, a 10K and a half marathon!
What is your diet like now? What was it like before you started your journey?
I eat a lot more whole foods than I did before, and my diet is more varied than it was. One of my main breakfast foods is oatmeal, and I eat a lot of fruit at meals and snacks and have vegetables every day. Before I lost weight, we ate out more, and I ate a lot more fast food. Now, most of my meals are made at home. My soda addiction was bad, but I drink soda very rarely now. I eat more complex carbs and have found healthier alternatives for a lot of things—like frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. My diet isn’t perfect, and I don’t try to be, but overall it’s healthy. I still enjoy treats in moderation.
What is your typical exercise routine?
Over the last three years I’ve tried: Zumba, elliptical, bike, workout DVDs at home, yoga, and various strength training machines at the gym. My routine now is mostly running, and I do strength training at the gym, or Jillian Michaels workouts that combine both. Typically, I exercise five times per week for at least a half hour.
What was your biggest obstacle while trying to lose weight, and how did you deal with it?
Binge eating. This is something I still struggle with occasionally during times of stress, although I’m able to manage it better than I did before. What has helped me is keeping trigger foods (sweets for me) out of the house. When I feel the urge to binge, I try to find something to do to take my mind off of it. I’ll go for a walk, exercise, or find some sort of project to work on. I’ve also learned that just because I slip up, it doesn’t mean that I’ve failed. I’ve only failed if I give up, and I refuse to do that. So, I take it one day at a time and realize that one day isn’t going to make or break me, and I just keep going and doing what I know I need to do.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
The main thing that has changed is that I believe in myself. I used to be scared to do things or try something new, and now I feel like there are no limits to what I can do if I really want to! I feel so good, physically and mentally. Everyone comments on how much energy I have and how much I am able to get done. Now I can ride bikes with my kids, fit on rides, run, jump, climb things, and just live life and have fun without worrying that I am too big. It feels great to be in control of my health and life and feel more comfortable in my own skin. I have learned so much, and for the first time in my whole life I know I will not gain this weight back.
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