My Weight Loss Journey

SO here is how I went from this:

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to this in the year 2012:

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{this is a long story- bear with me}

Growing Up
As you may have gathered- I’m from Massachusetts. The South Shore to be exact (directly in between Boston and Cape Cod). I’m convinced there is no better state in the world- which I didn’t realize until I later decided to leave and go to school in the mid-atlantic region.

Massachusetts is the best really. What’s not to love? It’s hard to explain this love to people who aren’t from there/don’t get it. But I’m from a wicked small blue-collar town where people value hardwork, Dunkin Donuts, and Boston sports teams (red sawx forevah). There are so many little things I love about home- it would require a completely separate blog.

Most importantly, it’s where most of my beloved family resides. I’m from a BIG and complex family that all lives really close by to one another. Food has always been such an important part of everything we do.

I grew up with half of my family being Italian. Saturday morning piano lessons ended with giant plates of shells, homemade pasta sauce, and meatballs. Plus cakes and sweets and whipped toppings. Every moment family was together, whether it be two people or twenty, food was required to be present. I’m not complaining.

On the other side of my family is more good cooking. With a Mom who knows how to make solid classic homecooked meals, a Grandmother who can bake like no other (breads, pies, love), an Aunt who specializes in mouthwatering cheesecakes, a cousin who is cupcake obsessed, an Uncle who makes slow cooker buffalo wings on the reg, AND a family who loves sports and the food that goes along with games (think dips, chips, nachos, cheeses, finger foods)… in terms of dieting/healthy eating- I was screwed. But again, I’m not complaining.

Food was comfort. Food was love. Who am I kidding? It still is.

Now I’m not blaming my lovely family for me being overweight. If I had just eaten things in moderation and exercised more- I wouldn’t have had a problem. I am THANKFUL for their amazing food and love. In fact, my Mom always has encouraged me to take pride in how I look and care about how I carry myself. But I didn’t know what I was doing and was good at eating, playing the sims, and watching tv (and didn’t have many friends- sad but true). So. That’s what I did.

Middle School/High School
Woof. Rough times. Middle School… blech. I had shitty friends and had no idea what I was doing.  I did do cheerleading in eighth grade (which I had done in elementary school) and played softball all three years of middle school. That goes to show you how unactive and how much I was eating outside of these activities.

By the magic powers of puberty (sorry if that’s weird…) I naturally lost some of that weight late in high school without really doing anything. I wasn’t really exercising- unless you counted my waitressing job. I wasn’t watching what I ate. I looked better, but I didn’t feel better and I didn’t know how to control myself around food still. I just didn’t. Waitressing in an Italian restaurant with a lot of down time and cannoli filling to be had didn’t help the situation.

I FINALLY had a solid group of great friends by the time 11th grade rolled around, but we went out to eat a lot. Ate ice cream a lot. Drank a lot of soda. I judged my friends who ordered Diet Coke as I chugged multiple Mountain Dews at any chance I got. Not good Allison, not good. There’s not much to do in a small town and I still worked in the restaurant industry. Not to mention, I was a really emotional teenager and used food to solve my problems a lot. There. I said it.

Angsty high schooler Allison thought it would make sense to pack up and study history at American University in Washington D.C. I fell in love with the school- the city- everything. I was hooked. My family drove me the eight hours, helped me move in, and then drove back to MA. I was alone- completely alone- for the first time in my life and was left to figure out it all out.

Eating right was NEVER on my radar. I just didn’t even think about it to be completely honest. It was not a concept I was familiar with. I didn’t understand food really- I just ate what I wanted when I wanted. The problem really lies in the fact that I didn’t just eat when I was hungry, but I ate when I was bored, I ate when I was sad, mad, happy, etc. I just ate way too much and there was a huge emotional connection to it.

Mountain Dew and Cheetos were a staple from high school that rolled over to my college life. I would buy mini cans of soda (for my mini fridge) and lunchables… and just sit in my bed and eat them. The life. The amount of bagels I was eating was ABSURD. All-nighters happened along with pizza, more soda, more cheetos, energy drinks- – – the list goes on.

There was a McDonalds on campus. Enough said. Double Filet O’ Fish Sandwiches for 99 cents?! SAY NO MORE. Oh, it’s the time of the year where they give out Monopoly Boards- better go every other day. I won’t gain weight, it’s fine (I told myself).  And I convinced myself that all the Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwiches I ate from Subway were healthy because it was Subway afterall. How could THOSE be bad for you?! (I’m crying in hindsight)

Not to mention the introduction of alcohol. Oh dear God. I didn’t drink in high school and I didn’t even really drink in college till the end of freshman year. Calories in alcohol? Non-existent. Again, it was literally something that never even crossed my mind. I chugged sugary mixers and alcohol that was cheap but went down easy. I didn’t care what I was consuming when I was going out as long as I wasn’t getting sick and I was getting wasted. Then there was the drunk eating… yikes.

I loved my amazing college friends and I loved my cheap food. I was definitely a poor college student. My meal plan was something I relied on and we all know its wicked easy to slip into bad habits with college food.

Summer Before Senior Year
I don’t know what it was- but something hit me. I’m pretty sure it was seeing some unflattering pictures of myself. I had slowly gained a lot of weight over the past three years of college and I was miserable. At a doctors appointment I was told I weighed 210 pounds. I was upset. I was sad. Over 200 pounds? WHAT AM I DOING (I asked myself). I wondered why no one had said anything, my friends, my loving boyfriend. Well, they were good people and told me I was beautiful all the time anyway because they loved me (and weight doesn’t determine beauty). But I was hurt- I was upset with myself, the world, food, etc.

That whole summer I cried in front of the mirror (as emo as that sounds). Getting dressed was the most painful thing in the world. I hated me. Even that’s an understatement. Losing weight seemed impossible- I dubbed it as such. It was something I just couldn’t do. I was convinced of that fact. I was doomed to be unhealthy and unhappy forever. Body image and self confidence were never my forte, but they were now at an all time low. Break downs were a daily thing.

I knew I needed to change. I was scared to try.

Senior Year
The fall semester of my senior year I attempted to go to the gym every once and a while. I altered what I was eating ever so slightly. I lost probably 10-15 pounds? I never weighed myself out of fear but I could see it in how my clothes fit me and how my face looked. Overall, however, nothing really happened and I was still as unhappy as ever.

Spring semester was when it alllllll changed. I was back for school, frustrated, bored, scared to graduate, all these things. I was riding the bus to work at the crack of dawn reading the local Express newspaper and came across the review for a book called: Chubster- A Hipster’s Guide to Losing Weight While Still Looking Cool by Martin Cizmar. I wouldn’t call myself a “hipster” by any means but the whole point was a weight loss book for people who felt like idiots going to the gym, buying workout gear, and were turned off by fad diets, quinoa, kale, and green tea.

I was at the point where losing weight was what I wanted more than anything and his book gave me the tools necessary to do so. He basically provides what you can find all over the internet in regards to dieting but in one little book full of sarcasm and tough love. CALORIE COUNTING. I was convinced. I cut my calorie intake to about 1,700 calories (which was calculated through my BMR… google that or get his book asap). Within weeks I was noticing differences.

I wrote down everything I ate and calculated every calorie (thanks to the internet). SO TIME CONSUMING. But worth it. And I didn’t have internet in my apartment. SO think about that for a second. I became a better planner and much more organized.

Also important- I joined a two day a week fitness class at my school. Luckily the professor was a personal trainer who loved nutrition and crossfit. She gave me healthy advice, tips on eating, pushed cutting carbs and eating more lean protein and fats, and gave me the tools to create my own crossfit workouts. I will forever be grateful to this fabulous woman.

Not going to lie- even though I was so ready to lose weight, I was afraid it wouldn’t work for me. I was afraid to take pictures of my weight to show myself when I lost it for fear that I wouldn’t lose all that much. I regret that choice now.

I lost most of my weight through diet changes. They always say weight loss is 80% food and 20% exercise. I’m convinced of this whole “abs are made in the kitchen” thing. I didn’t work out outside of those two day a week, 45 minutes classes. I just really started eating smaller portions and food that was better for me. As I learned more about nutrition from research I was doing along the way, my weight loss became less about purely losing weight for aesthetic reasons- but more about being healthy overall.

For a while I was losing two pounds a week, then as I lost more I aimed to lose one pound a week. And I was doing it. It was hard. I limited sweets. Stopped buying shitting foods. Cookies (my weakness) and yes, Cheetos (another major weakness). Experimenting with cooking. Eating less carbs. Eating more vegetables and protein. Drinking less alcohol and cutting out drunk/blackout eating (yeah I said it). Cutting out the fast food trips.

This is not to say that I didn’t indulge in the occasional burger, beer, glass(es) of wine, pizza, cupcake, etc. Like I said, I love food. And I’m a sucker for food that is not all that great for me. Whatever. BUT. What I did was just try and plan better. If I knew I was going to a happy hour, I just ate healthier the rest of that day/week. I ordered burgers without buns and less cheese. I still got french fries (I will never replace fries with salad- sorry I’m not sorry). But I drank less alcohol at said happy hours. And I drank smarter. I found out which alc gave me the most alcohol content for the least amount of calories.

Additionally, I found healthier ways to make food I love. Football season was a trying time but I learned how to make healthy buffalo chicken pizza and lighter mexican layer dips. It’s possible- I promise.

I became SO AWARE of how many calories were in certain foods and portions. I am a calorie expert/pro. I can guess pretty accurately what is in my food because I’m just aware of it now, which I never had been before and was my number one weakness.

People started to notice. Complimenting me. This added to my will power and reserve. If I’m making this process sound easy- I’m sorry- it wasn’t. Being around other people who eat like animals is hard. But you can do it. I promise. I did it. My boyfriend can eat like 3,000 calories a day and still be a stick. You really have to want to change your life and if you’re at that point- you can do it.

Never a diet. Always a lifestyle change.
I’ve been out of school for two years now and I can honestly say- this is a lifestyle change. When I was losing weight, people would ask me when I was going to “stop” living the way that I do. This made no sense to me. Over time I had cleaned up the way that I ate and found foods that I loved that were also good for me. I didn’t want the foods I once craved- my taste buds changed my food interests changed. Yes, I had goals and check points along the way of my losing weight path (fitting into my old clothes, not feeling sad buying a bathing suit, fitting into a size eight pants, etc.) BUT I just eat better now. And I exercise. It was never about me reaching x weight and then just reverting back to everything I used to do in terms of food and fitness. My journey started as one to simply lose weight and it evolved into a quest for me to increase my overall well-being.

I know all of this is a long term thing because I genuinely enjoy the way I live. I enjoy the food I eat. I enjoy the exercise I participate in. I love my life and do things that I feel good about. I made changes that made sense to me and that I believed in.

I do not calorie count anymore (since September 2012). I’m working on trusting my instinct/knowledge that I’m eating an appropriate amount of calories. I’m slowly learning to eat more intuitively- eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. I developed some disordered eating/food anxiety issues due to months of calorie counting and being in a restriction mindset. I’m trying to eliminate them and just retain the positive gains I made through calorie counting and getting healthier.

I still think about my meals, look up calories for unfamiliar food sometimes, and measure out portions (I have BIG eyes when it comes to plating and serving myself), and plan out my weekly eats. This helps me make sure I’m eating healthy, balanced food. BUT calories now are only one of the things I think about when I think about food. Calories are a useful measurement but there is SO much more when it comes to food- sodium, sugar and carbs, types of fat, etc. etc. Determining the “healthiness” factor of foods is a much bigger picture than just calories.

I also now try and eat as cleanly as possible. And by that I mean eliminating processed foods as much as I can. When calorie counting was my definition of “eating right” I was eating lean cuisines and a lot of “diet food.” Again, as I continued along my journey, I learned more about nutrition and realized the flaws in this thinking. Why was I filling my body with weird chemicals and modified foods? Bodies know the difference between the 100 calories in a banana and 100 calories in weird diet snack pack crackers. I slowly saw how much better I felt when I was focused on whole, nutrient dense foods.

Fruits, veggies, animal protein, and healthy fats- those are my staples. I’ve realized how many foods I love that I never even gave a chance a couple years ago. I continually surprise myself with how many things I enjoy that I had written off in the past (see: kale and kombucha).

I workout somewhere in the range of 3-6 times a week. It depends on how I’m feeling- what my body is up for- what my schedule is. I walk everywhere and try not to use public transportation when possible. I take the stairs and walk up escalators. I try and do active things. This city is full of opportunities to be healthier and I try my best to take advantage of them all.

Make swaps here and there- again, it’s a lifestyle change. Not a fad diet. Skip the soda- grab water. Eat a smaller portion of something you love (like pizza) and then make it a real meal by adding a big ol’ salad to it. Little things here and there add up. It’s all about the small decisions you make everyday to be healthier.

I hate using the term “real person” but I don’t have crazy expectations or methods to healthy eating and weight loss and exercising. I wasn’t a maniac, took the slow and steady route, and now I feel really good about my level of health.

I still have body image issues- who doesn’t. I’m learning how to be proud of myself and embrace my new body (which I’m still not used to). I’m learning how to accept compliments and to not be so hard on myself all the time. I’m constantly learning how to be better. I’m learning how to deal with the inevitable pitfalls and challenges that come up due to my new lifestyle. I’m constantly learning to let go and be more carefree.

I’m still trying new recipes and new workout routines. This blog isn’t just here to help other people it’s here to help me. I need the motivation too sometimes. I need the love and support from other people.

I’m learning more and more about this world of nutrition and exercise each and every day and part of that learning comes from this blog and the people who stop by. You might think that you learn from me- but I learn from all of you.

So everybody, thanks for reading. Even if I don’t inspire anyone- just getting my story out there has helped me personally on my journey through healthy eating, exercising, and living a more balanced life.

23 thoughts on “My Weight Loss Journey

  1. You’re absolutely great girl. Told my office about your blog, so you should be getting even more viewers. Keep it up!!
    Also, I’ve been trying new work outs that my gym offers, you should try Turbokick if you can find a place in dc that does it. it’s combo kickboxing and dancing.

  2. Pingback: Get Healthy- Stay Healthy | Wicked Healthy Washingtonian

  3. This is fantastic. You should be so proud of yourself, on so many levels- to be so brave to share your story, to be so determined to be healthy, to be so smart to know being healthy is about changing your lifestyle. You are such an inspiration.

  4. Allison this is amazing! I’ve been reading you for a while (obvs) but I’m seriously going to check out that book. I love it all! (also you’re a really good writer)

    • Thank you Eden! I thought I responded to your comment the other day but it looks like it didn’t go through. Thanks for all the blog love- I really appreciate it. If you ever need anything or want to talk about the book, you know how to find me 😉

  5. you are hilarious and your story is so awesome! i actually dealt with an eating disorder for about 4 years and so i understand how much body image and your head can get in the way of living a healthy ilfestyle! i love your blog and your positivity is truy inspiring!!

    • Awww thank you so much! Your comment means so much to me. It’s always comforting knowing there are people out there who understand and get everything I’m going through. Thanks for checking out my blog and for all your kind words- you made my night 🙂

  6. Hey, congratulations. doesn’t matter if its loosing weight or try to gain muscle its all about approaching it with a balanced approach to training and nutrition./

  7. Thanks for sharing your story! It seems we have a lot in common. I’m currently trying to lose weight and change my lifestyle as well. So far I’ve lost 50lbs and would like to lose 40-50 more. I don’t work out but I try to walk as much as I can and stay active. I definitely agree with the 80% diet 20% exercise thing! Thanks again for tell us your story 🙂

    • I just realized I never responded to your thoughtful comment made way back when! I’m so sorry. Thank you for checking out my blog and valuing what I have to say. I hope everything has been going well with you and that you’re finding success in the things you want to accomplish.

  8. Just came across your blog and I am sooo inspired, especially being a fellow Washingtonian!!! 😀 I literally feel the same way about every aspect about what you are talking about which is why I started my blog this past February. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

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