Category Archives: Weight Loss

Blog Weight Loss

How I Lost 70 Pounds and Kept it Off for 3 Years and Counting

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In early 2011, I was tired of being overweight, so I started what ended up becoming a 2-year-long journey to lose weight. Ultimately I ended up shedding 70 pounds.

I wasn’t really chubby as a child, but I gained a bit of weight around puberty and even more after I stopped playing multiple sports in high school. I ballooned to nearly 200 pounds after graduating college. Shortly before my 25th birthday, I vowed to finally do something about it.

I took it slow and easy, adjusting my goals several times over the course of those two years before I finally felt I had found a weight that made me look and feel great. I found out a lot along the way and cultivated a love for running.

Now, I’ve run four 13 half marathons, four I’ve lost track of how many 10-milers and more than a dozen 5Ks and 10Ks along the way. Today, I’ve essentially kept the weight off — while my scale numbers have crept up a tad, I’m more fit and muscular than when I reached my lowest weight and the vast majority of clothes I bought then still fit. And, I’m still stunned when someone makes a comment about how small and fit I am now.

Here are 10 tips for dropping the weight and, perhaps most importantly, keeping it off for good.

  1. Try a weight loss program: To get you started on the right foot, research different weight loss programs and groups. Pick one that is right for you. There are several out there, some of them controversial, all of them with their pros and cons. I used Weight Watchers when I started my weight loss journey, and near the end I switched over to MyFitnessPal for a simple, free way to keep track of what I was eating.
  1. Find multiple exercises you enjoy: Running is amazing — we all know that. But you need to find other activities you like to give yourself enough variety, particularly if you ever get injured. Try out a spin class or take your old bike out for a ride. Find a Pilates instructor you enjoy or go for a swim — every little bit helps you get toward your goal, and you may just find something you absolutely love doing along the way.
  1. Have a reward system: Have some sort of reward system, ideally one not based on a regular splurge day. It could mean simply giving yourself a huge pat on the back, having a small cup of ice cream at the end of the week or going shopping to buy new clothes to fit your slimmer frame. Find what works for you. I would advise against a “cheat” or splurge day each week that puts your calories well above what your body needs. It’s easy to make that into a cheat weekend, then week, then month and so on.
  1. Don’t go overboard in cutting calories: Diet is a key component in most weight loss plans, but don’t decrease your food intake too much. To lose weight, you need to eat less than what your body needs energy-wise each day. However, decreasing too much can put your body into starvation mode, decreasing your metabolism and conserving energy. Most experts recommend women never eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day. The recommendations for men typically trend a bit higher. (I would add that if you exercise, especially if you exercise a lot, you really need to eat more. The 1,200 calorie minimum would be for a day when all you did is sit on the couch (and even then it might be too restrictive!) — if you go for a 5-mile run, your minimum should be at least 1,700, for example (and honestly, that minimum is probably too low, too). MyFitnessPal is good about not suggesting you go below the bare minimum even when you add in exercise.)
  1. Consider weighing yourself more than once a week: This really depends on the type of person you are and can be controversial. Some experts recommend only weighing once a month. Most consider once a week to be a good goal. However, I found success with weighing myself multiple times a week — most often every day. I could see the little fluctuations where sometimes my weight would be slightly up from water weight or bloat, but because I was weighing so frequently there was never a week where I didn’t see some poundage drop, however little. (I would still recommend this, but at some point after keeping the weight off for awhile you need to consider weighing less frequently or throw the scale in the trash.)
  1. Everything in moderation: Cutting a specific food you love completely from your diet may not be the best idea. You could end up with intense cravings and may overeat. There really isn’t any specific food you cannot eat if you’re on a generic diet. It’s all about portion control. I find 100-calorie servings or lower-calorie snack packs to be particularly helpful. They even make them for things like ice cream. You can also try swapping out higher calorie foods for a lighter version — try using 1% milk instead of 2%, drinking light beer instead of a regular one, or eating reduced fat ice cream. Test out different products — not everything low-fat tastes great. (More and more research is showing that less fat isn’t necessarily better — make sure you check out how much added sugar and unpronounceable ingredients are on the label before switching to a food that touts it is “low fat.”)
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others: It’s easy to flip through a fashion magazine or see a photo of a supermodel and think, “I want to look like that.” But that’s not reality for the majority of the population, and sometimes the weight those folks are at is unattainable for them (hello, Photoshop) and others, as well as unhealthy. Figure out what weight you feel good at — you want to feel confident without always feeling like you’re depriving yourself. (Amen, and I am still working on this!)
  1. Occasionally splurge: Eating healthier meals will make you feel better both outside and in, but that doesn’t mean you should never even look at an Oreo again or go out to dinner at a nice restaurant. Have days when you aren’t particularly concerned about the calorie count — just make sure they’re not that often. For me, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners were days I didn’t log into my calorie tracker or care about overindulging. You can also look for ways to decrease your portion size (such as only eating half that meal at the restaurant and taking the rest home) so that you can enjoy your favorite foods without going overboard and undoing your progress.
  1. Don’t get obsessed with a specific number: It’s extremely easy to have a goal weight and get a bit too obsessive about it. When the scale doesn’t read that particular weight, you find yourself fretting that you’ve gained a miniscule amount of pounds. Instead, have a weight range where you feel comfortable and healthy. A range of about 3-5 pounds works well for me. (I am actually still obsessive about this at times. It’s something I’m still working on).
  1. Add and keep up a strength training routine: Strength training is a fantastic way to build muscle and stay fit. It helps burn more calories after your workout, too. I originally started with a personal trainer after I had shed about 20-30 pounds mostly through dieting. I wanted to have someone I had to go to each week and work out with. Once I had that one exercise a week on my calendar, I wanted to add more.

Losing weight is never easy, and everyone is different. Find what you like, what motivates you and keep at it. (And don’t believe that because all the Biggest Loser contestants gained back weight that means you’re doomed from the start — the way they lose weight on that show is not sane or sustainable.)

I never thought I’d be where I am today, and yet here I am.


Blog Weight Loss

I Am a Size 2 and I Feel Fat: Dealing with Body Image After Weight Loss

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A version of this post appeared on RunHaven one year ago. I’ve updated the time references and a few other small points, but overall my feelings then are my same feelings now. Apparently I struggle more with weight in the summer (perhaps it’s the bikinis and skimpier clothes). I’m reposting this because body image is hard, and it’s something many of us struggle with. I plan to write a few more new posts on this in the coming weeks. And I’m making some small changes now that I’m in marathon training that I hope will help. More on that later!


I got a new bikini a year ago. My only other bikini – my first ever – was bothering me with its tie back. The knot would dig into my back when I laid out on the lounge chair by the pool.

The reason this new suit was only my second bikini is because I lost 70 pounds more than three years ago. Before I lost the weight, I topped out at nearly 200 pounds. I’ve basically kept it off – a few pounds have crept in but I’m trying to ignore them, for a few reasons that follow.

13340201_10110909483988524_1319904212426562301_oMore than half of my clothes are a size 2, extra small. The rest are a size four or small. Either way, they are sizes I never thought I would reach. Even with the little extra weight I’ve packed on, most of the clothes I bought when I reached my goal weight still fit. And I know part of the scale’s number creeping up is the result of muscle I’ve gained in the past few years.

Yet somehow, I felt fat when I looked into the mirror at myself in my new bikini. Actually, I feel fat on a daily basis regardless of what I’m wearing.

Dealing with my body image after shedding the weight has been an ongoing issue. I don’t see myself as a nearly 200-pound person (I actually never felt as heavy as I really was), but I’m still stuck seeing an overweight young woman when I look in the mirror or when I glance down at my stomach roll while sitting.

At one point, I was so worried about gaining weight after I reached my goal that I went too far the other way – I got too skinny, and I knew maintaining a weight below 125 would not work for me.

I can’t help but think of how much I used to hate women who felt they were fat at this size, let alone ones who said they were on a diet.

And then I start to think about why I set myself to some unattainable standard and I get angry. Ultimately, I know I am a fit young woman. Yet, none of the models I see in catalogs or magazines look like me. They’re sporting defined abs, prominent hip bones, slimmer waists and heck knows what body weight and body fat percentage.

13346496_10110889544702014_1203875030910145372_nNow, I will give some of them the benefit of the doubt – some folks are just born differently, with insanely gorgeous bodies. But the fact they’re put out there as a sort of symbol for what we should all look like is not OK.

When I thought about losing weight, I imagined myself looking like one of these women once I reached some magical number on the scale. I realized that was ridiculous and tried to focus on friends who looked fit and fabulous.

Still, I didn’t think of how small belly pouches are normal on women or how my stretch marks from gaining all the weight in the first place wouldn’t go away. Or that certain parts of my body are curvier than others.

It’s been more than three years since I lost the weight, and as you can see I’m still struggling. But I know that someday – hopefully soon – I will accept by body as it is: a beautiful machine that has powered me through hundreds of runs, dozens of races and 12 half marathons and counting.



Weight Loss

Those Last Five $%*#!@ Pounds — A Final Post

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I wrote a couple times last year that I was trying to slim back down to the 128-130 pound range that I felt was healthiest for me. (One post was in November, which was an update to a September one.)

In the last post, I noted that I knew I would lose some weight with my tonsillectomy — and I did. At the end of the recovery period, I was down to 133 from somewhere around the 137-138 mark.

I set my sights on getting down to 130 and I’m almost there. My current weight is at 131.5 pounds.

But more than what number the scale says, I feel better — healthier, fitter, more confident. On top of it, my running feels good. I finish most of my runs feeling strong — especially my long runs. My strength training sessions feel good. A recent 5-week swim class went extremely well.

Basically, it already feels like I’m in that range that feels great and healthy — even if the scale isn’t precisely where I’d like.

I’m no longer worried about losing the last 1.5 pounds I had set my sights on. It’ll come off with time as I continue to exercise and eat well.

To that end, while I’m still using MyFitnessPal to keep track of my calories, I’m not keeping a close eye on it or trying to cut a specific amount each day. I figure as long as I’m eating well and cutting out some extra calories most days — that’s a win.

I’ll likely always keep an eye on my weight. I think that’s simply what happens when you lose a lot and don’t want to go back. But that’s OK — so long as it doesn’t become obsessive.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to my extensive race schedule with the realization that this body can propel me through just about anything if I put my mind to it.

And that’s a powerful feeling.



Blog Weight Loss

5 Years After Deciding To the Lose Weight, I’m Staying the Course

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Five years ago close to this week — shortly before my 25th birthday — I decided I was done.

I was tired of being overweight. I was tired of not being able to walk up a couple flights of stairs without breathing heavily. I was tired of eating and snacking all the time. I was tired of buying the next size up in clothes, and then the next size up and the next size up.

The previous summer, I’d tipped the scale at 198 pounds at the doctor’s office. 198. Suddenly I was so close to the 200-pound mark that I should have realized was right around the corner. Still, it took me another six months to take action.

I moved back home with a new job in late December 2010 — right around Christmas. I adjusted to my new life and schedule and by February I started what would become a 2-year-long weight loss journey where I ended up shedding 70 pounds, about a third of my weight.

Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 5K

Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K

In the end, I would go too far the opposite way — eating only 1,200 calories a day — on maintenance and even when I exercised — out of fear I could simply not eat more and not gain weight. It’s something I’ve since learned is rather common in folks who lose a lot of weight.

Luckily, I quickly rebounded — particularly after a two-week vacation where I ate out every single day and didn’t gain a pound. It was the push and realization I needed to understand that it’s all about balance.

Three years ago, I declared I was done with dieting. That’s only been partially true.

I’ve “dieted” — or cut my calories by a precise amount each day — off and on since then, especially in the past year after my weight ticked up a bit beyond what I was comfortable with.

It took awhile, but I’ve rediscovered that balance of eating healthy (or health-ish), filling food that gives me energy and drinking without the weight gain. I still splurge — whether that be during a holiday or on my birthday week or just a random day or couple of days in the year where I go a bit overboard. And that’s fine.

Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

I don’t schedule so-called cheat days. I know there will be times I eat beyond what my body needs and that’s OK — as it doesn’t happen often.

It’s happening less and less frequently this year as a result of my newfound love of cooking. That’s what’s really behind my recently weight loss — where I’m now close to the range I determined in my mind three years ago to be optimal for my body.

At the same time, I’ve rejuvenated my love for running and been more focused on strength training and yoga — key components to obtaining and keeping a lean body.

I turn 30 on Friday. 30. The BIG 3-0.

As much as I will hem and haw about being old, I can’t help but think that my 30s will be better than my 20s.

I will be fitter, I will continue to run and then some, I will finish a marathon, I will continue to love cooking.

And, most importantly, I will love my body and all it can do.



Blog Weight Loss

Where I Stand On Those Last Five Pesky $%#$!@*& Pounds

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Nearly two months ago, I wrote about how I was trying to get back to a weight range where I feel healthiest. That means it’s high time for a little update.

First off: I haven’t reached that goal, yet. And every week I don’t lose weight has me thinking whether I really need or even want to.

Second off: I am going into surgery later at the end of November to have my tonsils removed. The recovery is not exactly easy, and weight loss is a normal side effect.

Let’s start with the first point. I think the main reason I haven’t reached my goal is some days off — including a week staycation — and just lack of drive to make it happen. Losing weight is hard work, and I just haven’t wanted to put in the effort.

I did set 5 mini-goals: 1) Eat 1,500 calories on rest days and at least 1,700 on days where I workout; 2) Strength train twice a week and do fewer reps with more weight; 3) Don’t wait until I’m starving to eat and have more (healthy) snacks; 4) Cut back on alcohol; 5) Eat more whole foods.

Of those goals, I’ve met many of them. There’s been a lot of days I’ve been good about sticking to the calorie limits I set; I’ve been good about lifting more weight with fewer reps, snacking healthier and eating more whole foods. Where there is room for improvement is strength training twice a week and cutting back more on alcohol (granted a stay-cation is hard to resist indulging a bit more and the week before I was good about moderation).

On the second point, I’m still wavering between not cutting any calories and eating back everything I burn the next month with keeping my pretty moderate cutbacks in place ahead of my surgery. While some people have lost 10 or more pounds with a tonsillectomy (according to a cursory Google search), I’m guessing that amount will be a bit out of my reach and that 3-5 pounds is more likely — which would put me right near my goal weight anyway.

At the same time, I don’t want to get into the mindset that I can eat without abandon — or even with a little abandon — in the next few weeks because I have the surgery coming up (the exception is Thanksgiving, of course). I would like to either maintain my weight or lose a pound or two leading up to the surgery so I can feel healthier going into my 1.5-2 weeks of recovery.

Blog Tips Weight Loss

5 Epiphanies from Losing the Weight

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More than 2 1/2 years ago, I closed my weight loss book, having dropped 70 pounds. I learned a lot in the two years it took me to lose the weight and a lot in the 30 months since dropping it.

Here are just five of my insights:

1. The scale isn’t the best weight-loss tool or indicator of health: As I’ve written about recently, the scale is not where it was at when I reached my goal weight of 125 pounds 2.5 years ago. Some of that — probably about 5 pounds, according to my doctor — is from gaining muscle. I didn’t exercise at all before I lost the weight — now I’m regularly logging at least one strength training workout, 4-5 runs and a yoga class each week.

While I am trying to lose a few pounds, it’s clear that the number on the scale isn’t the best indicator of health — or even weight loss. There were times during my weight loss journey where I was surprised by how much my measurements had decreased when compared with my weight.

So if I give you one piece of advice if you’re starting — or in the middle of — losing weight, it is to have multiple measurements of success. They can include your scale, your measurements (such as waist and hips) and whether your clothes fit better, but they should also include how you feel inside — whether you feel healthier, more confident, sexier. Those latter three adjectives are things that cannot be quantified but are just as — if not more — valuable.

2. Food is fuel (but also more than that): There’s a saying that’s been floating around runner and fitness blogs that food is fuel. But if we only think of food as fuel, we lose the ability to see it is much much more than that. Afterall, if it was just fuel, we wouldn’t indulge in the occasional treats or enjoy how certain spices just taste better or that meal that just makes us go “aaaaahhhhh” and want to go back for seconds. If food were just fuel, life would be simpler but also a lot less fun.

Food was meant to be savored and enjoyed. That certainly doesn’t mean we should eat cake with every meal or overindulge like every day was Thanksgiving, but there is definitely room to enjoy food and fuel our bodies as well.

3. Exercise is a huge stress reliever … and fun: Before I lost weight, I really didn’t exercise. I had a few false starts — where I tried to workout a bit more, whether that was for a a walk or to hit the cross-trainer while at Penn State. But I never stuck with it.

What finally made it stick was scheduling. I started out by having an appointment for an hour each week with a personal trainer. That was one hour that was dedicated each week to working out.

That led me to want to exercise more all the other days — at first just two more times a week and then beyond that. Running certainly helped — especially once I got over the 3 mile/30-minute hump where I could run for that distance/amount of time outside without stopping.

The rest is history, as they say. I wanted more distance, more time, more workouts. I loved how accomplished I felt after every run, even if it was 3 miles — I had worked up a sweat, I had burned calories, I felt good about the rest of the day ahead.

4. Lifting weights is a huge benefit, and you won’t bulk up: When I started strength training with my personal trainer, I quickly learned about the rumors that adding weight as a woman would make you bulk up to Hulk size. I also just as quickly learned that those rumors were completely false. As women, we lack the testosterone needed to make those changes happen (unless you’re supplementing and spending 3 hours a day lifting), and we should work toward lifting more weight for fewer reps — say 10 reps x 2 instead of 15 x 2, for example.

The increased reps help us build muscles and will not add bulk. Trust me, you will not look like the Hulk. In fact, you will end up feeling better and your clothes will fit better, even if the scale isn’t dipping lower.

5. Try lots of new things: More than anything, losing weight taught me to try new things. I had never tried Zumba or kickboxing or pilates or strength training or yoga or swimming or rock climbing or spin before I lost 70 pounds. Those things just seemed out of reach or potentially embarrassing.

Today, I revel in all my body is able to do and routinely try a new class (i.e. Crossfit, SolidCore, OrangeTheory … basically the entire month of August) to get a better idea on what I enjoy and what helps move my fitness to the next level.

Blog Weight Loss

About That Scale Break-Up: I Only Lasted Three Weeks

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At the end of last month, I broke up with my scale with the goal to stay away through the end of October.

In actuality, I only lasted three weeks. And I cheated before that — a handful of times. Only one time wasn’t my fault (doctor visit).

I discovered the scale on the tippy-top shelf of my closet wasn’t actually tall enough to not reach. I didn’t need a stepladder after all.

There were many days I didn’t even think about the scale or my weight, but at the same time I often found myself still unhappy with my weight — even though I wasn’t measuring it anymore. And that probably includes days that had I weighed myself, I would have been a bit happier with body.

At the end of the day, I wasn’t completely free of feeling I was a few pounds more than I should be — or that I should cut out 100-300 calories each day to lower the scale and feel healthier (I wrote about losing those last 5 pesky pounds at the beginning of September).

Basically, while taking away the scale took away my daily tally on whether I felt more or less happy with myself based on the number starring back at me, it did not take away my belief that I need to lose a little bit more weight or the fact that I was still counting the calories I was putting into my body — and using that as a guide for how I felt that day.

Part of my concern I think comes from the fact that a lot of people who lose a significant amount of weight gain all it back — some 85% percent, if a recent article I read is to be believed. So when I think that I’ve gained 5-10 pounds of the 70 I lost — even when calculating in the muscle gain — I feel like a failure and worry that more pounds will come, despite being pretty steady for the past 2.5 years and being super active compared to my previously sedentary self.

This little experiment has highlighted that I need to do more to gain body acceptance — and that it all needs to be done mentally — than I thought. I’m definitely a numbers girl — whether that be how many miles I run during a single workout or the week overall, what number is showing on the scale or whether I stayed within my caloric needs for the day.

And knowing that reveals I have a lot to do to reach a point where precise numbers don’t matter and it’s more about a healthy range that I can accept.

In the meantime, the scale is back on my bathroom floor. I hope to take a different approach and only weigh myself once a day at the most, and strive to weigh myself just a few times a week in the future.

At some point, I’d also like to give up MyFitnessPal for a while as well as the scale and try to live life in “maintenance” mode without the constant tracking.

Blog Weight Loss

I Am Breaking Up With My Scale

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We need to talk.

We’ve been together for a long time — more than three years, in fact.

But now it’s over.

It’s not you, it’s me.

No, seriously.

I just can’t take it anymore.

We’re over.

We’re through.

We’re breaking up, Scale.

For the next month, I am saying goodbye to my trusty scale. While I’ve espoused the benefits of going scale-less before on RunHaven, I’ve never really been good about following my own advice. I tend to weigh myself everyday. Sometimes — oftentimes, if we’re being honest — multiple times a day.

What I weigh when I get home from work can foreshadow what my “real” weight — aka, what the scale in the morning reveals. What I weigh right before I go to bed can also help me predict what the scale will say when I get up in the morning. Yes, it’s a bit — or a totally, completely and utterly — obsessive pattern, and it’s become an ingrained habit. I don’t even think about it anymore — I just do it.

It’s fascinating and revealing to see how much the scale fluctuates in a day, and it’s valuable knowledge anyone watching their weight or trying to lose should know. If you weigh yourself in the morning before you eat and record that as your actual weight, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised when you step on the scale some other day midday after lunch and record that.

And don’t forget that water, while it doesn’t have calories, adds weight. Don’t believe me? Weigh yourself. Drink a couple bottles of water in a half hour. Weigh yourself again. Scale’s higher, right?

When I was in the middle of losing 70 pounds, I weighed myself every day. It kept me accountable and introduced me to the little — and sometimes big — fluctuations that happen from day to day. Eat some greasy food? Even if you stay within your calorie goal for the day, you could end up showing a 1- to 2-pound weight “gain” in the morning, at least according to the scale. Random bloating episode? Scale shows that too. If I had only weighed myself once a week, there would have been times I didn’t see any weight loss because of such factors.

Checking the scale showed the little bit of progress I was making from day to day. Sometimes the scale would dip just 0.2 pounds, other times a full half pound. Either way, seeing that number drop was  magical as well as affirmative — I knew my hard work was paying off, I could clearly see it.

Now that I’ve been in “maintenance” mode for two years, it’s time to re-evaluate. The scale has crept up. I’m currently stuck around 135 pounds, a good 10 pounds more than my original goal weight of 125. But I realize that 125 was a bit too low, and not sustainable — or perhaps even healthy for me. I’ve been trying to get down to 130 for months, but with little to show for the effort.

Recently, I re-evaluated my diet and calorie intake and decided that instead of trying to cut 500 calories a day from my diet — whether through exercise or diet, I would focus on eating 1,500 calories on days I do zero exercise, 1,700 calories on days I run a few miles or do strength training, and proportionally more when I run several miles or do other workouts. I’ve also been eating healthier foods focused more on clean eating.

I’ve been trying to avoid getting crazy hungry during the day in between main meals by relying on healthy snacks — usually a banana, cottage cheese and applesauce.

Now it’s time for the next step — kicking the scale to the curb, determining what I feel like on a day-to-day basis — not just based on what numbers I see in the morning but on how I actually feel.

A part of this process will be relying less — or completely eliminating — calorie counting through MyFitnessPal. That will allow me to evaluate how I actually feel — how hungry I am, how full I feel, without counting every single calorie that goes into my mouth.

One of the reasons I’ve forgone taking that last step for so long is because I fear I will under eat by underestimating the calories I’m actually taking in. It’s not uncommon for me to enter what I’ve eaten or plan to eat on any given day and be surprised that I need to eat 100-500 more calories than I would have thought just to get enough in my body.

What brought about this sudden urgency to literally tip the scale? The idea began percolating when I saw little progress on the scale’s decline this summer. Then again when I began to rethink everything I was eating.

Finally, it is that I am just tired. I am tired of living and breathing by the scale. Of waking up each day hoping the number on it will be a little less than the day before. Of categorizing my success or failure at being healthier at what number it beams back at me.

So it’s time to — literally — take a step back. To step off.

The scale is going high up in my closet — where it would take a step ladder to get to it.

MyFitnessPal is staying around for now, but I think we’re going to start seeing other people.

It’s time to live, and just be.



Blog Tips Weight Loss

6 Hurdles You’ll Experience During Weight Loss

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Dropping massive poundage is hard. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be a million fitness and diet companies making billions of dollars a year off the fact that some – perhaps many — of us will want to drop weight at some point in our lives.

Whether you’re trying to drop 10 pounds or 100, there are several phases you’ll experience during your weight loss journey. But guess what, they’re all ones you can overcome! Take it from someone who was overweight for years and finally dropped 70 pounds.

Here are a few hurdles to prepare yourself for:

OMG I’m starving phase: Your body will feel it the first couple weeks that you’re cutting back on food or exercising more without eating all those calories back. You will be hungry. Sometimes a lot. Be strong. Once your body gets used to the reduced overall calories, you won’t feel as hungry. Plus, eating healthy, low-calorie foods can really help – think fruits and veggies, plus fiber-filled foods that’ll keep you feeling fuller longer.

Not feeling like exercising: I have a magazine cut-out on my fridge that says, “I regret that workout – said NO ONE EVER.” It’s become my mantra on the days I wake up to run before work and feel like hitting the snooze button. There will be days sticking to your new exercise routine will seem impossible, so focus on just getting out the door and running for 10 minutes. Chances are you’ll get in a groove and want to keep going.

The dreaded plateau: The pounds will be coming off nice and steady, until BAM. Suddenly it seems that no matter what you do, the number on the scale won’t budge. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including reaching your body’s ideal weight even if it’s not the number you’d like to see. If you still have plenty of weight to lose, try changing up your eating and exercise routine.

But my friends are having a party: One of the hardest lessons for me to learn – and something that can still be difficult for me today – is to know that no one meal or night out is going to undo all the progress you’ve made. The key is your habits overtime. Still, it’s best to not completely overindulge – you’ll only feel horrible the next day – so focus on keeping alcohol and food in moderation when you do go out.

I miss cheese and sweets: What do you mean – you haven’t been eating these all along? While ridding the house of tempting foods is a great way to kick off healthier eating, that doesn’t mean you should eliminate them completely from your diet. Figure out ways to have your favorite foods in small quantities so you don’t feel deprived.

Losing weight takes time: There is no quick fix. There is no silver bullet. Dropping pounds doesn’t happen overnight or in a week or in a month and – if you have a lot to lose, not even in a year. It took me two years to lose 70 pounds. I did it slowly so I didn’t go insane. The steady loss helped me be able to keep the weight off too because I had time to adjust to my new eating and exercising habits.