Last June, 34-year-old Amanda hit her heaviest weight: 281 pounds. And that wasn't even the worst of it — her doctor also diagnosed her with a weight-induced disease, nonalcoholic cirrhosis. The culprit? "Stress eating," she says.
She knew something had to change and she needed to get healthy. "I was at the point where I was going to hit 300 pounds, and just realized I couldn't let myself get to that point," she said. "My diagnosis freaked me out." Before she began her personal fitness journey, her doctor got her set up for success — then the rest was all on her and her will and determination to get in shape.
"I was going to hit 300 pounds, and I couldn't let myself get to that point."
Amanda is down to 195 pounds, working toward her goal of 160; here's how she's getting after her healthy goals and living a better life.
Step 1: Take Control
"My first step was talking to my doctor about what I could do," she said. "She started me on a medication to jump-start my energy and metabolism." From there, Amanda joined a gym and decided to start working out. She was ready to take action and capitalize on the effects of her new medication.
Amanda now, down 86 pounds
Step 2: Eat Healthier
Amanda told us she never thought much about healthy eating. "Growing up, my family did not eat in a healthy manner and it just wasn't something I thought about. I never really paid attention to calories or anything, and I just ate whatever tasted good. I realize now that sometimes I was eating as many calories in a single meal as I was supposed to have in an entire day."
She set out to make a change, but she wasn't sure where to start. "Changing my eating habits was something I didn't know much about," she admitted. "I started doing more research, reading articles, and talking to the other gym members." Amanda told us that on her own, she started eating less and started eating healthier. "I stopped eating fast food and sweets," she said.
Amanda noted that once she started eating healthier, her tastes and preferences changed, too. She stopped craving sweets and junk food as much. "Your taste buds completely change once you stop eating all the added sugar . . . quick snacks before would be cheese puffs and now I reach for a yogurt with fruit instead."
"Once you get away from the sugar for a while and then have it again, it tastes so different and sweet and rich that you can't eat as much and wouldn't want to," she said. But she also mentioned that she'll indulge now and then — "I did have tiramisu on my birthday though . . . that was my gift to myself."
"Your taste buds completely change once you stop eating all the added sugar."
One of her favorite healthy discoveries? "I found out that I love asparagus — I'd never had it before! How did I go my whole life without eating asparagus?"
Three months in and 30 pounds down — all on her own! — Amanda went to a weight-loss clinic and worked with a doctor who "'recommended healthy snacking, five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and keeping a food journal.' That's when I saw that one of my girlfriends had a Fitbit, so I started doing some research into what sort of options were out there."
Step 3: Step More
Amanda nabbed herself a Fitbit HR Charge so she could monitor her heart rate, track her movement, and log her food (on the app) as her doctor recommended. She set the initial goal of 10,000 steps a day, but today, Amanda is up to taking 14,000 steps per day, all while hitting the gym six days a week.
As the pounds fell off and she continued to get stronger, she sped up the walking and added running into her routine. She also credited her Fitbit for helping her be more aware of her sleeping and thus getting more sleep, which in turn has taken her weight loss even further. "I try and commit to a consistent bedtime to make sure I'm well-rested, and it's helped me better understand my habits so I can get into a better routine."
Step 4: Keep It Up
She's not stopping now! Her current routine: "I do yoga one night a week, cardio six times a week, weight training three times a week, and bench pressing two times a week with one rest day a week . . . I'm up to bench pressing 110 pounds!"
86 pounds down, 35 more to go!
Amanda has also kept up her healthy-eating habits: "I'll typically have a shake for breakfast with fat-free cottage cheese and an apple, a rice cake with almond butter on it for a morning snack, another shake with fruit for lunch, and then a low-cal recipe for dinner; we just bought a spiralizer so we've been experimenting with zoodle recipes."
And she feels better than ever: her liver problems have disappeared, she's in the best shape she's ever been in, and she's still working toward maintaining a healthy lifestyle — for life.