If you think you have too much weight to lose or you've tried everything or it's just too hard, Erica Lugo's story is the inspiration you've been waiting for. Once you hear about her journey, you'll know you can do it, too. Not only has she dropped 150 pounds, but she's now coaching other women to become healthier.
POPSUGAR: When did you start your weight-loss journey? What made you decide to?
Erica Lugo: I started losing weight in 2013. I was 322 pounds. I remember to this day. My son Connor was playing on the floor as I was on the couch eating some kind of snack food like Goldfish and he asked me to get down and play with him. I told him no. I told my own son that I didn't want to play with him because the thought of lifting my body off the coach and getting energy to play with him was too exhausting. It was like a light bulb moment for me.
How much weight have you lost so far? How did you do it?
EL: One hundred and fifty pounds! I lost 122 pounds in 13 months and the total 150 in two years. I started with basics. Less calories in and more calories out. I downloaded MyFitnessPal and it told me how many calories to eat for my weight to actually lose weight, which for my weight at the time was 1,800 to 2,000 calories (goes to show how much I was actually eating!).
I own a size 8! Coming from a size 28, that's crazy to me!
I started eating smaller portions of things I cooked for the family. I picked healthier options and started by getting to a gym and walking on the treadmill. I almost want to hug people now who are starting to lose weight. There's so much info out there and people want all answers now when they can just get started with basics and learn over time like me!
PS: Do you follow a specific diet?
EL: I do now because I lift a lot and my body needs certain fuel to allow for muscle growth. Before I just ate within my calories, healthier, and moved!
PS: What's your specific workout type or schedule?
EL: When I started, it was a mix of cardio and low-impact HIIT routines with weights. I honestly know lifting early helped reduce loose skin. Now I'm on a structured lifting plan six days a week, with about 20 minutes of cardio sprinkled in two to three times a week.
PS: What are some nonscale victories you've experienced?
EL: Watching my son witness this journey! Living healthy is all he knows! He knows working out and eating right is normal!! Being a part of people's journey is also huge for me! I get emails saying people talk to their husbands or family about me like I'm their best friend because I'm that real on social media and that I've impacted their life.
Oh, yeah! I own a size 8! Coming from a size 28, that's crazy to me!
PS: How do you stay motivated?
EL: I fell in love with it. And just like any relationship, it takes work. I truly look at this like a relationship. I wonder why so many of us take time nurturing our marriages, friendships, family ties, but forget the most important, ourselves. I have to live with me and the relationship I have with myself daily, why wouldn't I tend to it?!
PS: What does a typical day of meals look like for you?
EL: I'm so boring!
- Egg whites mixed with a whole egg and gluten-free bread
- Protein shake
- 6 oz. of lean meat
- 2 cups of veggies
- Serving of almonds
- 6 oz. of lean meat
- Complex carb serving
- 2 cups veggies
- 2 tbsp. peanut butter
- Protein shake
It changes throughout my journey, but right now that's my intake. I'm at about 1,600 to 1,800 calories, maybe more.
PS: Any advice or tips for people on their own journey?
EL: Be patient and be kind with yourself but don't make excuses either. Life happens. I have a son. I get it. Sometimes I wake up with a child who's sick and have to miss the gym. But when he naps, I sneak in 20 minutes in my living room. Don't forget this is a lifestyle. What clock are you racing against? A timed goal is great, but when it becomes obsessive, be careful — it won't be maintainable. Your mental health is just as important, and if having some pizza sprinkled in keeps you going, I'm game. Mine is doughnuts.
Have fun and remember this is your journey. Stop scrolling your social media and comparing. It'll drive you crazy. Your journey is just as amazing and unique.