A fateful doctor's appointment on July 1, 2015, provided Emily Amerson with the necessary nudge she needed to finally ditch excuses and lose some weight for good. At 301 pounds, Emily was struggling with lupus and thyroid autoimmunity, and she was having gallbladder attacks every week. "My body hurt constantly, the medications weren't working, my blood tests were getting worse, and my weight was out of control," she told POPSUGAR.
After reviewing test results with her doctor, Emily asked her what the next steps should be to get back on track with her health. Emily's doctor was honestly at a loss for words. "She literally looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and shook her head. She had no idea what else to do," Emily recalled.
While driving home from the appointment, Emily tearfully thought about how she would care for her then-2-year-old daughter by the time she got to kindergarten. And that's when she was struck with a divine inspiration of sorts. "It sounds crazy, but right then, with tears on my face, I felt so strongly my God, or my higher power, tell me, 'I intended you to be well — let me show you how,'" she told us. "I don't know how to explain it except that it was so real, so powerful, and so undeniable, I dried my face right then, put down my self-pity, and immediately walked into this process."
"If there was something processed and packaged that I wanted, I figured out how to make the real food version of it."
The first step of Emily's incredible 138-pound weight-loss journey? Completely revamping her dietary habits. The mother of one started by eating "real, whole, local food" instead of processed goods. "If there was something processed and packaged that I wanted, I figured out how to make the real food version of it," she told POPSUGAR before explaining how she once made homemade, organic corn tortilla chips from scratch when a sudden Mexican food craving struck. She later completely cut out processed sugar because "it had an extremely addictive response in [her] body."
After one year of simply eating cleaner, Emily dropped an impressive 50 pounds. Ready to take her weight loss to the next level, she joined Life Time gym in the Summer of 2016. Though Emily admitted that she didn't stick to one specific workout or routine in order to step up her weight loss, she did immediately dive into the gym's 60-Day Challenge program, which inspired her to try various group fitness classes and attend educational classes to learn more about nutrition. Emily noted how joining a gym where she could experiment with exercising was truly a vital component of her journey, second only to clean eating.
"An awesome gym, like mine at Life Time, can serve to motivate you and build strength, metabolism, and perseverance. It can provide encouragement to keep going, accountability, support, knowledge, and a community or like-minded fellows," she said.
"I mix it up so I don't get bored, but the main thing I do 'right' is that I move each day mindfully and with loving intention."
Between Emily's newfound gym habit and her steadfast healthy eating patterns, she managed to drop even more weight, losing a total of 138 pounds since when she first began two years ago. Now at 163 pounds, Emily admits that her current weekly workout routine is "surprisingly unimpressive."
"I've never been the person in the gym doing the awesome workouts — you know, the ones with fire in their eyes in beast mode grunting and leaping over things. Yeah, that's not me," she joked. "But what my routine is is consistent." Emily said she changes things up each day, sometimes training hard with weights and sometimes taking it easy with light cardio or yoga. "I mix it up so I don't get bored, but the main thing I do 'right' is that I move each day mindfully and with loving intention."
"I used to hate vegetables and now I absolutely LOVE my veggies! I actually get real cravings for vegetables now."
As for her diet these days, she still sticks to real, whole food, mostly eating fresh, seasonal produce and locally grown organic foods. "I used to hate vegetables and now I absolutely LOVE my veggies! I actually get real cravings for vegetables now." (Trust us — we were pretty shocked by this tidbit, too!) Emily added, "If you had known the old me, you would know how crazy that sentence is, but it's true and amazing how our taste buds and brain biochemistry change as we take out the processed junk food over time."
All in all, Emily has naturally dropped 138 pounds and went from a size 26 to 4 in pants. To date, she has participated in five of Life Time's 60-Day Challenges, and she actually won the most recent challenge in the "women's weight loss" category, beating out thousands of other competitors. Impressive stuff!
We asked Emily for any helpful tips or advice for others looking to similarly change their bodies, and she provided us with plenty of great suggestions. For one, she advised getting a food scale to properly measure food and keep those portions in check. She also mentioned taking progress pictures to document every step of your weight-loss journey, adding, "It's hard to do at first, but you'll be glad you did."
Another unique tidbit she offered was to keep a daily journal, which Emily used to track her food plans, record her exercises, and document her thoughts each day. "I journal first thing in the morning to get my heart and intentions right before I start my day," she said. After especially hard days, Emily does some nighttime journal writing as well to reflect on the positive parts of her day, what she could've done better, and what she's thankful for. "Getting those things organized on paper stops me from trying to eat the feelings of what is actually eating me up," she explained. "Regardless of what happens with my food, this writing is probably my very best tool because it keeps me present and honest with myself."
"For me, my body didn't really transform until my mind and my heart did."
While looking back on her remarkable transformation, Emily noted how it wouldn't have been possible without drastically altering her mindset first. "I know for me, my body didn't really transform until my mind and my heart did," she said. "Somehow now everything has changed in me, and I want to live in this new freedom and tell others that there's a way out of these powerful cycles that hurt us; there is hope! I believe when you change your heart and mind, your body will follow."
Emily wants others to understand that it's vital to grant yourself "grace" and be "kind" to your body as you attempt to change it, treating each possible screw-up along the way as something to learn from. "If you start today and mess up today, do it again. Be patient and kind to yourself, you are worth the effort," Emily advised. She added, "I have thrown out my old black-and-white thinking of all-or-nothing perfectionism. Now when I mess up with food, which I do, or any area of life, instead of beating myself up endlessly, I just pause and ask, 'What's the next right thing? What is the next right action I can take right now?'"