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I am someone who has struggled with my weight for most of my life. I first realized I was overweight when I was in the second grade, at age seven. At that time, I didn't feel or see myself as fat, but I started to receive signals from my peers that I was. It took me a while before I developed a self-image of being overweight, but it definitely happened over time. Because I just wanted to fit in with my peers, I desperately wanted to lose weight, so I went on my first diet when I was about eight years old. Of course, at that age, I was still growing and I definitely didn't know what I was doing, so I just ended up disappointed when I didn't magically become "skinny," which to me represented the ideal of beauty.

Over the years, in spite of my determined efforts to diet and exercise off the weight, it just continued to add up on me. At one point in college, I know I broke the 200-pound mark. Along the way I had picked up several bad habits, including drinking as much Pepsi as I wanted on a daily basis, smoking, and going out of my way to avoid exercise. I ate out of boredom or to make myself feel better, and I had terribly low self-esteem. When I graduated college in 2001, I knew I had a decision to make. I could either choose to change my life, or I could choose to miss out on life. The latter choice seemed worse than I could bear, so I chose to start making changes.

At first, I didn't have much of a plan. I joined the local YMCA, and I went there several times a week. I usually used the treadmill or elliptical, and I would throw in some work on the weight machines sometimes too. Unfortunately, I was that person who walked out of the gym, got in my car and lit a cigarette, and then proceeded to drive down the road and through the Burgerville drive-through. Needless to say, my results were not dramatic. I still had some work to do.

In the summer of 2002, things finally started to come together. I saw an infomercial for The FIRM's Body Sculpting System, which consisted of three workout videos, a nutrition guide, and a gadget called the "Fanny Lifter." The testimonials on the infomercial were touching, and the before-and-after pictures were amazing! What really appealed to me about this system was its emphasis on strength training with dumbbells. I had learned that the best way to slim down was to combine cardio and weights, but I didn't know how. I decided to purchase the system and give it a try.

Soon after I ordered my FIRM Body Sculpting System, a coworker of mine at the library told me about a book called The Zone, by Dr. Barry Sears. I had heard of the Zone diet--I knew Jennifer Aniston followed it--but I didn't really know much about it. I decided to check out the book from the library. During a Labor Day weekend road trip to California with my family, I read the book cover to cover. It was a little heavy on the science, but I appreciated that the dietary principles this doctor recommended were grounded in a strong scientific foundation. The book's recommendation to eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat at every meal or snack appealed to my common sense. I decided to give the Zone diet a try. I figured it couldn't hurt, and if the diet was really as effective as Dr. Sears claimed it was, then I could potentially achieve a goal that I'd had since a very young age. So the day after we returned home from our trip, I started on the Zone diet.

In addition to changing the way I ate, I had to make a couple of other dramatic changes in my life. Dr. Sears strongly advocated giving up caffeine and smoking, two things to which I was definitely addicted. That first day, I challenged myself to get through the whole day without having a cigarette. I didn't say to myself, "I'm going to quit smoking." Instead I said, "I am not going to smoke a cigarette today." The next day, having gotten through the first day without a cigarette, I said to myself, "I am not going to smoke a cigarette today either." After a few days of not smoking, I knew that if I did smoke, I would be negating all those days where I didn't smoke, and that propelled me forward. I am proud to say that I have never taken even so much as a drag off a cigarette since that fateful day back in 2002.

On the same day that I started on the Zone, I started doing my FIRM workouts. I started out doing the workouts every other day, and it was tough! During the cardio portions, I would get so winded that I would have to pause the video while I rested for a few moments and let my heart rate come down. I felt great when the workouts were completed, though! I kept at it, and by the end of the first month, having started on this program at a weight of 197 pounds, I lost 15 pounds! I was on top of the world about my new diet and exercise program, which actually worked!

Over the course of about a year, I lost over 50 pounds total. I began to enjoy shopping for clothing in my new, smaller size, whereas before I had dreaded it and had often come home in tears. My friends and family were amazed at my transformation. I decided that it was time to embark on a new phase in my life, and so following a month of travel, I moved from my hometown of Battle Ground, Washington to a new city: Seattle. I have been living in the Seattle area since then.

People who have been through the weight-loss journey will tell you that maintaining the loss can be just as difficult as losing the weight, and I would have to agree. Over the years, there have been times when my life got busy and full and I started to skip workouts or neglect my diet and I started to see the weight creep back on. Luckily, I have never allowed myself to gain too much of the weight back. I always recommit to my workout regimen and healthy eating, and my weight starts to come back down. But it does require determination, effort and focus to maintain a healthy weight, especially if you are like me and not naturally thin.
Having a support system such as SparkPeople in place is invaluable.

Member Since: 12/29/2009

Fitness Minutes: 48,248

My Goals:
-To achieve a healthy BMI
-To build muscle and burn fat
-To maintain a healthy diet
-To do both strength training and cardio workouts consistently

My Program:
Eat To Live - eating a nutritarian, plant-strong diet.

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    emoticon It's great to get the support. I hesitated about putting it out there as many people caution about not getting enough protein or no olive oil etc.
    BUT I have tried this before and feel good. Just never would stay on it-
    Today I am tired but it turns out I just got my TOM- but of course emoticon but no headache so a bit of tiredness I can live with. One thing I don't like is the well um stinky cloud that seems to happen after about day 3 or 4 when my body is getting used to the higher fiber... emoticon but that too will pass... emoticon Glad to have your help! and happy to keep you going too!
    2250 days ago
  • v DS9KIE
    Thanks for adding me as your friend

    Have a great day emoticon

    2255 days ago
    I believe Eat to Live is the secret I have been looking for. I sound like an infomercial. Such a night & day difference when I follow it. Welcome to the team. emoticon
    2257 days ago
  • v DS9KIE
    Hi Iā€™m glad you have joined Eat to Live team. Feel free to look all the message boards and ask many questions. You can also check out the link and the announcements for more info.

    Come and eat lots of fruits and veggies.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    2260 days ago
  • v no profile image NAYNAY69
    Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful day! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2945 days ago
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