Amanda (Mandie) Wood began her weight-loss journey in the Fall of 2015. She shared with POPSUGAR, "There honestly wasn't any 'aha' moment. I just got tired of feeling invisible all the time. One thing that I don't think a lot of people realize is the larger you are, the more invisible you are to others." Mandie had no energy from carrying around so much excess weight all the time, and said, "I was just tired of being tired."
At the start, she was a size 28 and weighed 375 pounds. She said, "It makes me sad to even say that. I have never actually admitted to anyone how heavy I had been." A family doctor referred her to a nutritionist, who helped her determine more appropriate portion sizes, how to lower her calorie intake, and how to incorporate tips to get her started with overall healthy eating habits. In just over two years, at age 37, Amanda was able to lose 150 pounds!
Mandie tracked everything she ate and drank by using an app on her phone. As the weight began to fall off, she did more and more research on her own and started tracking her daily macros while maintaining a specific target for daily calories. Amanda said, "I follow balanced macros, which for me means that I try to ensure I am getting 35 percent of my calories from carbs, 25 percent of my calories from fat, and 40 percent of my calories from protein."
Here's what a typical day of food looks like for Mandie:
- Breakfast: eggs or overnight oats
- Morning snack: protein shake
- Lunch: chicken caesar salad with low-fat Greek yogurt dressing, turkey meatballs with spaghetti squash, or chili
- Afternoon snack: some crackers and cheese, yogurt with some fruit, or a pepperoni stick and an apple
- Dinner: lean protein (mostly chicken or seafood) and some veggies
What about exercise? Mandie admitted, "To be honest, I had tried the gym a few times before and just never felt comfortable. I didn't enjoy working out and felt that everyone was judging me, so I always ended up quitting." She waited until she had lost over 60 or 70 pounds before she really started exercising. At that point, she noticed she had a lot more energy, but was worried she didn't know how to do any exercises because she had never really exercised before.
"I ended up hiring a personal trainer, which was a great investment!" Mandie recalled. "She was able to show me lots of different bodyweight exercises, teach me proper form for different exercises, and overall just gave me so much more confidence in going to the gym." Her trainer also showed Amanda a lot of exercises using free weights, which it turns out she really enjoys! "Now going to the gym is one of my favorite times of the week — I love pushing myself to try new things and heavier weights!" She adds that on the days she works out, she eats a few hundred extra calories.
This journey for Mandie is totally about finding balance. She wants to build a healthier relationship with food and learn to love herself right now, not only once she gets to her goal. "I will go out for drinks with friends or have a grilled cheese for lunch if that's what I want to do, but I won't do it every day," she said. "I can indulge within reason without throwing my goals completely off track. For me personally, I would rather take longer to get to my goal weight (losing at a slower speed) but still enjoy life than miss out on a lot of my life to quickly get to my goal."
A few times now, I've been folding the laundry and wondering whose pants are coming out of my dryer before realizing they are actually mine!
Amanda is a huge fan of the nonscale victories because they help to keep her motivated.
"Traveling on an airplane and no longer needing to use a seat belt extender, shopping at any store in the mall that I want, having so much more energy to do things, and seeing the size on my clothing regularly dropping to sizes I haven't seen since I was kid have all been so amazing," she beamed. "A few times now, I've been folding the laundry and wondering whose pants are coming out of my dryer before realizing they are actually mine!"
In order to stay motivated, Mandie is all about setting mini goals. So instead of focusing on the huge number of pounds she has to lose, she focuses on how much she needs to lose until her next goal. "Keeping it in bite-size chunks makes it not seem as daunting," Mandie explained. "Five pounds is much more manageable than the 200 pounds I started out looking to lose!"
Mandie also started an Instagram account, mandies_transformation, to keep her accountable. She posts a lot of recipes and information about her workouts. "I also use that account to follow other people who are also physically active and many that have lost a substantial amount of weight. There are so many inspiring people that share amazing information and keep me motivated to keep going," she said.
If you're on your own weight-loss journey, Mandie reminds you to "be kind to yourself." She said, "No one is perfect. You will have days where you want to give up, where you get off track, or where you struggle — that's normal! Just don't give up. Grant yourself grace and get back on track with your next meal or next workout."
"Also, don't compare yourself with others," she suggested. "Every single person is different, so you can't expect that you can do the exact same things as someone else and get the exact same results. Weight loss is such a personal journey and it's different for everyone. So learn from others, but know that you are on your own journey, and while it might not happen as fast as it will for others, it will happen if you focus on consistency with your diet and exercise!"