Anja Taylor gained over 100 pounds in the first year after being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). After suffering a two-year menstrual cycle and extreme fatigue, among other symptoms, Anja made the decision to take control of her health naturally. Fast-forward to 10 months later, and Anja had lost over 100 pounds with consistent workouts and a commitment to eating healthy. For more on just how she did it, keep reading.
POPSUGAR: What was the moment or motive that made you decide to start your journey?
Anja Taylor: For as long as I can remember, I have been overweight. I had attempted to lose weight countless times throughout my life, but would become frustrated early in the process and revert back to old habits. In February 2016, I made a bet with two coworkers. We each set a goal for the month, and whoever achieved their goal would be the "winner." Of course, my goal was to stick to a healthy diet and exercise. And, well, I did. This was the beginning of my weight-loss journey. I believe this short-term goal allowed me to form positive habits, focus on the "now," and build confidence in myself as I reached small milestones.
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
AT: My favorite way to work out is by having fun. I remember rushing to the closest gym to purchase a membership every time I attempted to lose weight. I was very naïve to fitness, so I would stick to the treadmill or elliptical. However, this time was different. I waited a month before purchasing a membership to a fitness facility. I attend indoor cycling classes at CycleBar, as well as group fitness classes at Life Time Fitness. I have formed many friendships throughout this journey, and the support from these relationships helps me stay motivated in the gym/studio.
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
AT: My weekly exercise schedule varies. For the first eight months of my weight-loss journey, I was not in school. Therefore, I focused solely on my job and fitness. However, I am now a full-time student at Texas Tech University. As a result, I don't always get to exercise and attend the fitness classes I'd like. I am not a morning person, so I exercise in the evenings after work. I have my rest days on Wednesdays and Thursdays when I attend classes.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
AT: I change them up. A lot. You can find me at various fitness classes throughout the week: Zumba, barbell strength, indoor cycling, dance jam, and more. Incorporating a variety of exercises allows me to focus on different parts of my body. In addition, it keeps exercise exciting.
PS: How much weight have you lost?
AT: My highest weight-loss amount was 103 pounds.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale that really made you feel proud and excited?
AT: The first big difference that made me feel really proud was when my clothes became looser. I remember putting on my favorite work outfit one day, and the shirt seemed bigger than usual. I went to work and before I even sat down in my office, one of my coworkers noticed the difference in how my clothes fit. This made me feel really proud.
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
AT: I have a love-hate relationship with my Withings scale. I use my scale, as well as the corresponding app on my phone, to track my weight loss. I am able to view every weigh-in I've had since beginning this journey. This is great because it allows me to see the progress I've made. However, the scale isn't always my friend. As a result, I also use small goal achievements, body measurements, and the fit of my clothes to track weight loss.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
AT: As I previously stated, being a full-time employee and student keeps me busy. This is why I rely on places such as Snap Kitchen, Simply Fit Meals, and Icon Meals. These stores offer healthy prepackaged meals for active lifestyles. In the morning, I begin my day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries and almonds. My lunch consists of one of the delicious prepackaged meals. I drink Shakeology (a nutritious meal replacement) for dinner. My favorite snacks consist of KIND granola bars and vanilla Greek yogurt.
PS: Do you count calories or anything else? Why or why not?
AT: I do not count calories or anything else. This is because I do not want to focus on numbers, but rather lifestyle changes. I know that as long as I am sticking to a healthy nutrition plan and exercising on a regular basis, the weight loss will follow.
PS: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
AT: I probably consume approximately 1,200-1,500 calories per day.
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
AT: Unsweetened vanilla almond milk for my Shakeology and Greek yogurt.
PS: How do you strategize when you eat meals out?
AT: It is easier for me to stick to my nutrition plan during the week. This is because I schedule my meals around my work, and my mind stays occupied during my shift. However, the weekends tend to be more difficult because I have more free time. As a result, I have to utilize the extra determination within me to not stray from my routine. I keep myself busy, make sure to exercise, and stick to my weekly nutrition plan as closely as possible.
PS: Do you use a fitness tracker? Which one? Has it helped you?
AT: I purchased an Apple Watch a few months ago. This allows me to track my workouts, heart rate, and calorie burn. Although I did not have this when I lost weight, I do think it is a useful tool.
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
AT: Set short-term goals. This helped me focus on the present, rather than becoming frustrated with the long journey ahead. Build relationships, because the more support you have, the more likely you will succeed. Do something you love. If you aren't excited about exercise, you won't be motivated in the gym.
The scale does not define you. Trust me, I have cried over the number on the scale many times. The scale has had me so frustrated that all I wanted to do was drive to Wendy's or McDonald's (or both) and binge-eat. This is why you cannot let the scale define your success. Instead, try focusing on other milestones: looser clothing, compliments from others, lower blood pressure, etc.