Nicole’s Recipe for Success: Exercise and Healthy Eating*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Nicole Lagomarsino-Nguyen (LOSLUNAS)
Weight Lost: 89 pounds
Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
Occupation: Homemaker
What was life like before your weight loss?
I lost my father to cancer and, eight months later, suddenly lost my mother as well. Being an only child and not having any other close family, it was overwhelming for me to deal with the emotional stress and the strain of handling the family estate affairs. I developed severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. The panic attacks became so frequent that I had to stop working at the job I enjoyed for 18 years. I was prescribed anti-depression and anti-anxiety medicine. The medications left me emotionally numb and lethargic. The medication caused me to gain 10 pounds per month for a total of 85 pounds. After stopping the medication, I was 189 pounds, 44% body fat, and barely fit into my size 16/18 clothes. I was a shell of my former self, physically and emotionally. I avoided all social interactions, cameras, and mirrors. I was like a walking zombie, feeling as if something was propelling me through each day. I was going through the motions but not really living my life. I had a hard time with anything physical, including walking up and down the stairs. Being 5'2" and having a small frame, carrying an extra 89 pounds was like carrying around another person.
What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?
I thought about my husband who had been so supportive of me through my tough times. I thought about how he deserved a wife who was happy and healthy. I thought about my parents and how sad they would be to see me living my life so unhappy and unhealthy. I also thought about myself, about how I wanted to be the person I used to be and to become the person I was destined to be. After carrying around all of the extra weight and misery for about eight years, I decided to take control of my life on January 1, 2010.  I have never looked back.
Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey:
In one year, I lost 89 pounds and dropped 70 inches over my entire body. I went from a size 16/18 to a size 2/4. I was able to achieve these results by counting my calories and eating a balanced diet. I stayed away from processed foods, made meals in advance and froze them for the week. I used the SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker daily to help me manage my calories and nutritional goals. Each week, I ate this way Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, I allowed myself to eat what I wanted to avoid diet burnout. When plateaus would come in my weight loss, I would change my food plans accordingly. For exercise, each day I would do 60-90 minutes of cardio and 60 minutes of full-body strength training. These were the rules I set for myself daily: I would not go to bed unless I drank all my glasses of water for the day, completed all of my exercise, and kept to my food plan. I did not allow myself any excuses and never missed a single day of exercise or strayed from my food plans. SparkPeople was such a huge factor in my success. Their food and fitness trackers are amazing! Having a place to go to 24 hours a day for help, research, and support was key. I have been maintaining my weight loss for almost three years!
What is your typical exercise routine like?
I maintain my weight loss and body shape by working out six days a week. I perform one hour of cardio and one hour of full-body strength training daily. Exercise was a key factor in helping my anxiety and depression symptoms disappear; so I consider this exercise routine my daily medicine.
How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss?
Before my weight loss, I ate whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to without any idea of how many calories I was consuming. Now to maintain my weight loss, I keep within a certain caloric range and avoid processed foods. I still cook and freeze meals for the week and drink a lot of water during the day. I eat this way six days a week and allow myself a "free" Sunday to enjoy whatever I want.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight-loss program?
I have recommended to my friends and recommend to all newcomers to use the SparkPeople website with all of its resources available 24 hours a day! I would also recommend counting calories, daily exercise including cardio and a full-body strength training, drinking adequate water each day, having a free day and a developing a "no excuses" attitude.    

What are some obstacles that you experienced during your weight loss journey and how did you handle them?
When I would experience a weight-loss plateau, I would change up my food plans by introducing new foods and I would also switch up my exercise routines.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
I no longer hide from people, social events, and cameras. I am more outgoing and enjoy things I used to do and things I never even knew I would enjoy. I am happier, healthier, and look and feel better at 40 than I did at 30. I have always loved exercise and now it is such a huge routine in my life. Now my husband has the wife he deserves and I have the "me" I always wanted to be. I have helped many of my friends lose weight by sharing tips and providing support. I enjoy helping people and perhaps one day I may look into becoming a personal trainer.       
Way to go, Nicole!        

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.                                                                                                                                                               
Have you lost weight and kept it off using We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com

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LEANJEAN6 3/15/2018
inspirational Report
PAULAJEAN659 1/10/2018
You're an inspiration! Thanks for sharing! Report
I love SparkPeople too and use the cal counter and charts. I have bragged about it to friends and my medical team. My only set back is knees. I want to workout but the treadmill or bike are not my friend. Can someone give me advice so I can get to work physical? Report
Impressive! Congrats! Report
I love your story! I too suffer from depression. I am 5'3 and 185 pounds. Glad I found this website. I am just now starting my journey and have the same goals for myself. I have a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful children and want to be active in their lives. I want to live again. Before depression I used to be active and outgoing. My goal is to get back to my old self. Thanks for posting your story so inspiring. Report
Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story!
Great Job Very Inspiring! Report
Very inspiring...thank you for sharing. "No excuses" attitude really hit home, thank you! :) Report
Way to go, Nicole ! Well done !!! Report
Thanks for sharing your story. I can really relate to where you say you started your journey. You are great inspiration! Report
WAY*TO*GO!!! You are my inspiration! Report
Wow, you have done great, and you look great Thanks for sharing! Report
Awesome, Girlfriend! You are an inspiration to us all. Report your success and happiness. Your story is truly an inspiration.... Report
Congratulations! Thank you for sharing. Report
Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration! Report
That is a great journey. Congratulations! Report
Wow!! Report
Thank you all for all the lovely comments! For those of you that mentioned a battle with depression, I feel for you, its a tough battle but it can be done! Report
BAM ! THIS IS HOW to do it ! AMAZING ! I admire your self discipline & NO excuses attitude ! You are a great role model for us that aren't the after & struggling . CONGRATULATIONS ! You look AMAZING ! Report
Inspiring, thanks so much for sharing your story. Congrats on finding your way to happiness. Report
I am glad you said exercise is your daily med for depression. I am limited with exercise due to medical conditions and on my good days I feel better when I can do a little. I still have to take my anti depression med for now but you give me hope. Report
This was really helpful. Report
I especially appreciate your comment about seeing exercise as medicine. That is really smart thinking. I have been on anti-depressants for 15 years. When I started on them, I was 246. At my highest weight I was 339.7. So, I can totally relate to the weight gain from being on these pills. It's so discouraging. But to view exercise as medicine since it helps with panicky feelings and depression is so insightful. Thank you for that. Report
I especially appreciate your comment about seeing exercise as medicine. That is really smart thinking. I have been on anti-depressants for 15 years. When I started on them, I was 246. At my highest weight I was 339.7. So, I can totally relate to the weight gain from being on these pills. It's so discouraging. But to view exercise as medicine since it helps with panicky feelings and depression is so insightful. Thank you for that. Report
You are fantastic Report
Great strategy!: I consider this exercise routine my daily medicine. I think I'll use this. You're an inspiration! Report
Incredibly inspiring story. Report
Very encouraging to read. Bless you. Report
Very awesome. You are so inspirational. I've seen a change in your self confidence since I've known you. I will take a look at this site for my extra 10 pounds per decade at my does creep up! Thanks for sharing your story. Report
Congratulations on all your accomplishments!!! You are an inspiration!!! Report
fantastic job Nicole! You look Great! Report
Awesome job Nicole!! You are an inspiration to all! I feel very fortunate to have a friend like you. I love your goal to become a personal trainer, sign me up. Report
Wow, you are so strong. Bless you! Report
I am so sorry for your loss. Congratulations on putting your life back together again and maintaining your health! Report
Wow - you look amazing! I, too, am an only child and lost both parents within 8 months of each other. The stress of that, on top of other things in my life, has led to depression and anxiety as well. Reading your blog gives me hope that I, too, can reach my goals. Thank you for this - very inspiring!! Report
Great job. I hope you will come back to SP to spread the spark and help others with your experience! Report
You are such an inspiration!! I recently suffered an anxiety attack after my mother almost died. Thank you for sharing your story. Report
Wow! Look at those amazing arms! You were beautiful before but now you are so healthy and confident looking. Congratulations on achieving this goal! I hope one day soon you do look into becoming a personal trainer. It would be so motivating to have a trainer that has accomplished so much! Report
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