Reader Jennifer Piccolo's weight never bothered her; in fact, she was a successful athlete in high school. "I was confident in myself, liked the way I looked, and obviously really enjoyed all of the horrible crap I was putting into my body," she says on her blog, JenTheFitFoodie. "I was actually pretty fit for being overweight. I worked hard (most of the time) and enjoyed every second of it, even going to Florida multiple times to compete at the national level with other dance schools around the country." But a desire to take better care of her health eventually led Jennifer to begin her weight-loss journey. Read about her story below, and then check out the rest of our before-and-after series here!
POPSUGAR Fitness: What made you decide to start?
Jennifer Piccolo: I decided to start losing weight at the end of my senior year of high school. I wanted to feel better about myself, be healthy, and fit into all the cute clothes that my friends could wear.
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
JP: I love to work out at home. I own a treadmill and an elliptical. I really enjoy doing high-intensity interval training on the treadmill! It's quick and effective. I also own a lot of The Biggest Loser DVDs. I love Bob Harper!
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
I work out five days a week for 45 to 60 minutes. Cardio: three days; strength training: two days.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
JP: I like to work out with someone. My mom and I always work out together! It definitely keeps working out fun and exciting when you have someone else to motivate you. We love to go on long bike rides together in the Summer! My mom has lost 80 pounds!
PS: How much weight have you lost?
JP: Since I started on my weight-loss journey, I have lost a total of 70 pounds and am currently working on my last 10 pounds.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
JP: I've always hated running, because I was so out of shape. I actually cheated on the mile-run part of the physical fitness test at school. We had to run around the track four times to complete one mile, we grabbed Popsicle sticks each time around to represent every lap, and on one lap, I cheated and grabbed two just so I wouldn't be the last one to finish. So for me, a nonscale victory was being able to jog on the treadmill for a mile straight and not be completely out of breath and wanting to give up. I felt awesome. I was so proud of myself!
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
JP: I keep track of my weight by weighing myself once a week. However, I don't focus too much on the number. I like to track my progress by how I fit into my skinny jeans.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
- Breakfast: one egg, two egg whites, one slice Ezekiel toast with 1/4 mashed avocado on top.
- Snack: Kind bar.
- Lunch: brown rice tortilla wrap. I'll load it up with lean turkey, tons of veggies, and use hummus in the place of mayo.
- Snack: dried unsweetened fruit and a handful of almonds.
- Dinner: four ounces of a lean protein (chicken or fish), roasted brussels sprouts, and 1/2 cup of quinoa.
PS: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
JP: I eat around 1,600 calories a day, and I find that works for me! I feel completely satisfied but still create a calorie deficit to help me reach my weight-loss goals.
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
JP: I ALWAYS have hummus in my fridge. Like I mentioned before, I completely cut out mayo and replace it with hummus. I use it on sandwiches and for my tuna salads. Canned tuna mixed with a little hummus and Dijon mustard is so delicious. I also love it with baby carrots: the perfect snack.
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
JP: I try to do research and look up nutrition info; however, if that's not available, I do my best to use my own judgement. I will load up on lean protein and veggies and have a smaller portion of any type of starch that comes with the meal. Sometimes I will just order what I want if I'm really craving it and just eat half!
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
JP: For anyone beginning a weight-loss journey, the best advice I can give is to not cut anything out completely. Don't change your diet so drastically, because you will get overwhelmed, and you won't stick to it. Slowly make changes and transform your life. Remember: it's not a diet; it's a complete lifestyle change. It will take time, and you will get discouraged, but I promise you it will be worth it and you can do it — I believe in you! I never thought that I would be able to lose 70 pounds. If I can do it, you can too!