When I was in growing up, I was always fit and active. Then I went to college and gradually started to put on weight. My weight gain really reached its peak when I studied abroad in London and traveled all across Europe. While traveling, I didn't worry about what I ate at all—I just enjoyed the "dolce vita." At the end of the trip, which was the summer before my senior year of college, I weighed 189 pounds. That was 50 pounds more than I weighed my freshman year.
After getting back to the States, a friend and I decided to take on veganism as a way to lose weight. Although the diet was very strict, it forced me to learn about nutrition and how to cook healthy foods in a creative way. Before then, I had never cooked a day in my life. By the time I graduated from college, I weighed 128 pounds, which was very skinny for my 5' 8" frame.
I found that veganism was a hard lifestyle to maintain out of college, so over time, I began adding animal products back into my diet. On top of that, I let happy hours and work obligations take precedence over eating right. I wasn't putting myself first, and my weight started going up again.
In 2013, I decided to switch career paths and become a full-time healthy food blogger for my website Inspiralized. The transition from working in a corporate environment to working out of my apartment was rough on my waistline. I was always cooking and eating for my food blog and wearing yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt all the time—those fit no matter what. In January 2014, I was on track to gain back everything I had lost. I weighed 169 pounds.
Right after the New Year, I went to take a photo of myself for my blog, but after I saw the picture, I thought, 'If I saw a healthy food blogger posting this picture, I wouldn't be inspired by her.' I decided I really needed to make a change to motivate the people who followed my blog. I was upset that, though I had quit my job to develop my blog and even had a cookbook in the works, I had let myself go in the process. I decided I was going to commit to a lifestyle change and start practicing what I preached. No matter how long it took, I wanted to make my weight loss permanent.
When I first started, I was really strict about snacking and ate very few carbs. But then, I would find myself eating an entire bag of "healthy" snacks like pita chips or whole-wheat crackers. I realized I needed to eat more during the day so I wouldn’t give in to an entire bag of chips during a moment of weakness. So, I started replacing two meals a day with my veggie-based recipes from my blog and felt so much fuller. I also started incorporating protein shakes for breakfast and snacks like frozen grapes.
My workouts got a makeover, too. I was always a fan of cardio-based exercise, especially running, because I thought it got the quickest weight-loss results. But when I started searching online for ways to get toned arms, I discovered that I needed to be strength training as well. As I started weight lifting, I began to see muscle definition and got so excited! I also loved the fact that weight training helped me burn more calories throughout the day—that was a huge bonus.
One year later, in January 2015, I reached my goal weight of 140 pounds. Although it's not my lowest weight, I'm so proud of how far I've come with a sustainable diet. I feel like this is a weight I can maintain comfortably.
I was never into fashion. But when I started losing weight and my clothes didn't fit anymore, I did a lot more shopping and I liked the way I looked. Now, instead of just wearing yoga pants everywhere, I'm excited to get dressed up to go out.
Also, if I hadn't lost the weight, I don't think I would have the same creditability as a healthy lifestyle blogger. Today, I consider working out and eating right part of my job. I feel like I have a second shot at my dream.
Shop for cute workout gear. I never invested in workout clothes before I started trying to lose weight. But ever since I began wearing workout clothes that I looked cute in, I've been more pumped to go to the gym every day.
Get fitspiration from Instagram. I follow a lot of people like @RobinNYC and the Tone it Up girls, @KarenaKatrina. If I'm not in the mood to work out, I'll get on Instagram and look at my favorite accounts for motivation.
Take exercise baby steps. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll go to the gym and do a short workout. But I almost always end up working out way longer.
Don't let a bad day get you down. If I would go on a binge, I would feel horrible the next day and just keep eating badly. Now, after I have a moment of weakness, I think, 'Today is a whole new day and you get to start over.' That mantra has gotten me so far. It really helps me think of losing weight as a lifestyle change, not just a diet.
Ali Maffucci, 27, is 5' 8" and works as a food blogger (at Inspiralized) and author of the cookbook Inspiralized. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
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