Meet POPSUGAR Select Fitness blogger Katie Dunlop of Love, Sweat, and Fitness, who started her weight-loss journey in 2012 after years of yo-yo dieting. "I would lose some pounds but gain them right back; nothing was sustainable for me," she tells us. "I was unhappy with how I looked, but more importantly with how I felt every day. I finally decided it was time for a change and set out to find a healthy way to get fit." Now, she's learned healthy habits that have helped her lose fat and gain muscle. Check out her Before & After story and advice below!
POPSUGAR Fitness: What made you decide to start?
Katie Dunlop: After years of failed fad diets and constantly fluctuating weight, I knew there had to be a better way. It wasn't about a size or a number on the scale. For the first time ever, it was truly about feeling good and creating healthy habits that would last. I got to a point where I refused to let myself feel unhealthy and unhappy!
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
KD: I love creating new workouts for myself that incorporate strength training and HIIT exercises. I see great results and don't have to spend hours at the gym.
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
KD: You can find me in the gym three to four days a week weight lifting, circuit training, or running sprints on the treadmill. The other days I like to take my workouts outside for some bodyweight HIIT exercises, a run, or even yoga!
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
KD: For me, music and mixing it up are key! A good playlist can push me to workout harder and longer than I ever thought possible. I also think it is important to find workouts you love and incorporate them throughout the week. If I tried doing the same style of workout every day I would get incredibly bored and unmotivated. I do something different everyday to help keep me on my toes — literally.
PS How much weight have you lost?
KD: Proud to say I lost 45 pounds!
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
KD: My biggest accomplishment was being able to finally feel in control. For years I was consumed by my body image, constantly stressing about every bite and missed workout. For the first time in my life, food didn't control me. I could easily say "no, thank you" without stressing over the desire to overeat. It was also incredible to realize that because I worked so hard and have created such healthy habits, I could splurge from time to time without the horrible guilt I had once had.
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
KD: This was a big change for me. In the past, I had always weighed myself weekly, especially when trying a new diet. When I finally decided to truly make a change I weighed myself and chose not to do it again for two months. The focus had to be on getting healthy. Now, I check my weight every few months but realize it is all about how I feel and how I am fitting in my clothes. I always tell clients to take a beginning weight and measurements. The weight is a good marker, but measurements will help you truly see the physical change in your body.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
KD: Breakfast is usually an egg omelet with two egg whites and spinach. For lunch I often have chicken breast with broccoli and avocado. One of my favorite dinners is grilled salmon with spinach, butternut squash, and grilled onions. My favorite snacks include hummus and veggies, peanut butter with celery or apple.
PS: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
KD: During my transformation, I was eating around 1,400 calories a day. Now, I range from 1,500-1,800 calories a day.
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
KD: Chicken breast, hummus, spinach, sweet potato, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and fresh berries.
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
KD: When eating out, I always consider the rest of my day: what have I eaten or what am I planning on eating later. I am a big believer in balance. I don't think it's good to go crazy and say, "That's my meal for the day." I always make sure I get a veggie and a protein and ditch unnecessary carbs like bread, rice, fries etc. Also, if I plan on having a cocktail, I always stick to clear liquids with soda water and fresh lime.
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
KD: While we all wish it was easier, there is no magic pill or quick fix that will get you the long-lasting results you really want. It takes time, dedication, and a whole lot of patience. The excess weight didn't come on overnight, so we shouldn't expect it to disappear that way. No matter what the scale shows, know that if you are making healthy meal choices and exercising regularly, you WILL see your body begin to transform. Not in a day, not in a week, but it will happen.
The most successful habits that I have formed in order to help me lose weight have been retraining how I thought about my nutrition. I use to believe that simply cutting out "fatty" foods would be enough or that as long as I kept daily intake under a certain calorie count, I could eat anything. I now know the importance of fueling my body the right way with proteins, whole foods, and removing hidden sugars and sodium. The other important habit I found is of course my consistent workout routine, one that I actually enjoy doing. It makes it difficult to stay on track when your workouts feel like a chore. Not everyone enjoys running or weight lifting, but there is usually something that makes them feel good. For me, yoga sculpt, barre, and light weight training became enjoyable, which was a huge step!