I grew up as a chubby kid.. turned into an overweight teenager, and would have been an obese adult if I hadn’t joined Curves – the gym for women only – with my sister and mom January of my senior year of high school. I can’t remember what my body size measurements were way back then, but I had something like 32% body fat and weighed 277 pounds. Any body mass indicator (BMI) calculator will tell you that is not a very healthy situation, even if I am six foot, one and half inches tall… The philosophy at Curves was simple, eat a little less junk and work out at least 30 minutes, three times a week. I started adding nightly walks around my neighborhood and was down to 230 pounds in September.
The transition to college was fairly easy. For a few months, just walking to class and having the most amazing salad bar ever at The Commons (cafeteria) was enough to continue losing. When I realized I needed to actually do some strength training or else I would just be flabby thin at my goal weight, I joined Curves again. Except for summer months, when the temperature would skyrocket to above 105 degrees most days, I walked the mile there and back at least four to five times a week. The gym became my escape from overwhelming classes and drama with friends. I stayed there for a little over two years, hitting my goal weight of 175 pounds, 19-21% body fat and maintaining there with ease. When my Curves closed due to lack of clientele, I floundered around a bit before returning to my nightly walks. It only took a week of that routine to realize that I seriously missed cardio workouts, so I joined my first “real” gym. 24 Hour Fitness was like my second home senior year of college. I was there all the time and I still have not found a gym that can beat their cardio or weight floors.
I knew way back in Senior year that I would need to lose 100 pounds, but I did not think about it very often. Everything from how I ate, to how much I would work out was day to day. I still went out with my friends at 9pm to get fries and a milkshake at In-N-Out, still celebrated birthdays with cake and all that. I am not saying I didn’t struggle. Food has always been a problem for me, since I was a little girl. I emotionally eat if I am not careful to pay attention to my body. During those years my weight was at an overall steady decline, but I still felt unhappy much of the time. I felt guilty for gaining it all in the first place, depressed because I thought I had ruined my body and would never look perfect, and overwhelmed by the thought that I couldn’t eat “right.”
Calories in versus calories out is not an exact science. I wish someone would have educated me on how your basal metabolic rate works. Every day, our bodies require a certain amount of energy just to think and breathe, and this is known as your basal metabolic rate. For me, that is about 1,600 calories. I wish someone would have said, “just make sure to hit your calories and then go work out as much as you want to, don’t worry about how much or little you burn.” That is the piece of advice I give everyone who asks how I lost the weight. You won’t shock your body by burning 1,000 calories, but you will by only eating 1,000 day after day if your BMR is higher than that. Maintenance, however, has its’ own set of rules; ones which I am still – three years after hitting goal – trying to figure out.