Renee Hernandez (MIAMI_LILLY)
Weight Lost: 100 pounds
Hometown: Miami, FL
What was life like before your weight loss?
I was an overweight child. Although I was always active, I loved junk food and sweets and had a grandmother that always overfed me. As I got older and had four children, I gained weight from each pregnancy. I was so busy taking care of my family, I didn't have time to take care of myself. I was extremely depressed. I had no energy, and would sit on the couch feeling sorry for myself. One time, I remember our vehicle breaking down, and I had to walk to the supermarket. My hips and ankles hurt so badly on the walk home, I could almost cry.
What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?
My biggest motivation was being healthy for my family, and for myself. I already had high blood pressure, and my triglycerides were higher than normal. I was on a very dangerous road. It was my birthday, and my size 24 jeans were so tight, they were uncomfortable to wear. I had to make a choice, either spend my birthday money on bigger jeans or finally take control of my life. I decided to give myself the best present...a healthier body.
Tell us a bit about your weight loss journey:
SparkPeople was essential to my weight loss. The thought of possibly having to give up my favorite foods was difficult. So in the beginning, I really didn't give up anything, I just ate smaller portions. As the weight came off, I would try healthier recipes and added new fruits and vegetables to my diet. I used to drink a lot of sweet tea and diet soda. I began drinking four glasses of water before I would let myself have a diet cola, and would increase the glasses before I rewarded myself. I ended up not drinking the sweet tea at all anymore; I just didn’t have the desire for it. It was important for me to learn that there were no "bad" foods, and that mentality made it so much easier. I ate whatever I wanted, but watched my portions and tracked the calories. It's also so important to receive encouragement when you're feeling down. Everyone gets to a point where they think they can't do it, and there was always a cheerleader on SparkPeople when I needed one.
At the start, I had severe pain in my hips and ankles when I exercised, so I began with the no-impact elliptical trainer. I started by committing myself to 20 minutes a day, five days a week. When I lost about 30 pounds, I moved on to using the treadmill.
It took me one year to lose 70 pounds and then I lost 30 more pounds the following year. I've been doing well maintaining the loss, but eventually I would love to lose another 10 pounds.
What obstacles did you encounter during your weight loss journey and how did you deal with them?
My biggest obstacle was my family. After all, the kids didn't have a weight problem, so why should they change the way they eat? I wasn't going to cook separate meals for myself, so the entire family got a diet makeover whether they wanted it or not. In the end, they are healthier children, so I did them a favor.
What is your current typical exercise routine like?
I joined a social running club where we run 3.5 miles every Wednesday evening. I also run four miles on Saturday mornings on my own. Three days a week, I exercise using cardio machines, like the stationary bike and elliptical trainer, along with some strength training.
How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss?
I used to eat whatever I wanted without any thought to the consequences it had on my body. Now I try to choose wholesome foods that feed my body and soul, not just my taste buds. Eliminating all of those simple carbohydrates, watching my portion sizes, eating every few hours to keep my metabolism up and drinking plenty of water is my ‘new’ normal. When you put good foods in your body, you just feel better!
What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight loss program?
My biggest advice would be to not do too much at once. Some unhealthy habits we have are years, maybe decades, in the making; so don't try to overhaul them overnight. You will feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Also, know that everyone has bad days and plateaus. Stick through them, be patient, and you will reap the rewards in the end.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
The journey has been long, but so rewarding! I'm not the same person anymore. I know that anything is possible if you work hard for it. There were times I was frustrated because the scale wouldn't budge, or I just wanted to sit down in front of the TV and binge eat, but I also knew how good I felt compared to where I was. I never gave up. I'm now 42, and healthier than when I was 24. I'm confident and outgoing, and I love it when people don't recognize me due to my weight loss. I'm like a fine wine; I just keep getting better!
*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 SparkPeople.com? We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com
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