I’ve always been heavier, and I just never did anything about it. Growing up, we ate a lot of southern comfort food for dinner every night, like fried chicken and mashed potatoes. When I started making money and could buy my own food, I began to eat out a lot at fast food restaurants.
In high school, I was in marching band, which is actually a lot of work, but after practice I would just watch TV or talk on the phone with my friends. Sitting down was like my favorite thing to do. Old habits die hard, so as I got older, I didn’t have an exercise routine, really. I had a social life, but doing activities outside of that wasn’t important to me.
In March 2016, right before my 31st birthday, I realized that my jeans were really tight. I knew the difference between who I was and who I wanted to become would require finally doing something about my weight. I decided that I needed to find a healthy-eating plan that I could do forever, not just until I lost the weight. I have three kids and a husband, so I wanted to do something that set a healthy foundation for my family.
Once I decided to lose weight, I signed up for Weight Watchers because I knew it was something that wouldn’t restrict what I was eating. If I wanted a cupcake at work, I could have one. I didn’t have to choose between becoming healthy and eating foods I liked.
When I saw the point values for the foods I ate all the time, I realized that chicken tenders and fries weren’t worth how many points it cost me. I knew if I kept doing what I was doing, I would look the same.
I decided to revamp my eating habits from the get-go, and went to the grocery store to buy things I could meal prep. Now, I get fresh fruit every week for snacks and a whole chicken that I can make in a crockpot. I also grab lettuce so I can make salad and low-calorie bread to make sanwiches with my chicken. For dessert, I like to use powdered peanut butter and mix it with Cool Whip and put it on these wafer cookies—it tastes like a peanut butter cup.
I also like to make pizza for me and my family with wraps as the crust. I top them with pizza sauce, cheese, and veggies.
Another important part of my diet is that I started incorporating water into my daily routine. I used to drink coffee, soda—literally anything but water. But now I make sure I drink 110 ounces of water a day. That helps me stop mindless eating. For example, instead of walking into the break room to take a breather and grab snacks, I take my water bottle and fill it up.
A week after I started eating healthier, I started feeling better. I had so much energy that I would wake up before my alarm. That feeling motivated me to keep it up.
Though I was eating so much healthier, when I wanted something fried, I would just have it. I don’t call eating a cupcake an indulgence. If I had a cupcake, I had one. I just write it down and track it. And while I don’t limit or restrict myself in any way, I crave a healthier lifestyle more than I crave unhealthy food. That makes it easier to eat right.
The tracking part of Weight Watchers has been really helpful because it holds me accountable for what I’m doing and what I’m eating. I look at my points as money, and I budget my food accordingly. I am really good about honestly tracking, even if that means I go over my points. I’m a human, I have days when I go overboard. I just look at each day as a fresh start.
I’ve never been a gym person, but I like to go outside to walk and run. A month after setting out to lose weight, my husband got me a Fitbit for my birthday, and since then I’ve been trying to get at least 10,000 steps per day. When I used to go to the grocery store or mall, I refused to walk from the back of the parking lot, but now I do that so I can get more steps in. I also take my kids to our local trampoline park and jump. Sometimes I even walk up and down my basement stairs. I want to show my kids that being active is a good thing, and it doesn’t have to be work.
We went on a family cruise in May, just two months after I set out to lose weight, and I could enjoy myself while eating right. Not restricting myself with a diet has helped me stay on track. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, yet I’m still focused on my goals. I’m still myself, but a smarter, healthier version.
Almost a year later, I’ve lost 51 pounds and I’m the smallest I’ve ever been in my adult life. I feel confident, comfortable, and energized. So many cool things have happened to me after getting my health in control. I feel like I can do whatever I set my mind to. As long as I have the right tools, I can do it.
Know that you’re worth it. I used to think, “Well, I have three kids, I don’t have time to get in shape.” But once I realized that I was worth getting healthy and putting myself first, I could go after it. I knew that I deserved to be the best version of me for everyone in my life.