Like many girls my age, at 22 I cared a great deal about how I looked, fashion, and what others thought of me. And as a mom to be at that same age, I started my journey with pregnancy at a healthy average weight, thinking this will not stop me from dressing the way I wanted or feel any different. Never did I imagine that a few months later I would gain more than half my weight, and change my life forever.
Not knowing much about nutrition at that time, I let myself slip into bad eating habits like making the wrong choices and eating late at night, thinking it will fade away as soon as I give birth. Almost 4 years later, and another beautiful child and I had not lost more than merely the babies’ weight.
At 26, I hated the way I looked, my low energy levels and the fact that I can’t really dress for my age. I was always depressed and didn’t want to meet new people (unlike my old social self). I hated picking up the last size on the rack and always asking if there were other sizes available. It constrained me in every way possible and hurt my usually confident self-image. I tried a million fad diets for short periods of time and they got me nowhere. I kept losing a few pounds and gaining them all back the minute I stopped. I was tired, fed up and thought that I had such a long way to go that it was impossible.
A friend of mine suggested I try a high protein diet (which even though honestly gave me a huge jump-start, I don’t recommend very much) to lose the weight fast. And so I did, and I really shed some good pounds in a short period of time. It gave me a huge push and hope that I can really do this. However, I looked pale, drained and did not feel very healthy. That’s when I started doing my research, reading more into nutrition and how to eat right. From that day on I decided to work religiously for a better body and a healthier life.
For the first time in my life, I made time to work out daily. Physical activity became an important part of my day. As a person who never worked out regularly I decided to start slow. I joined Jazzercise classes, which are classes that combine both work out and dance. It completely changed the way I thought of exercise. Instead of being just tough and hard work that you’d want to get over with, it was a whole lot of fun. It turned me into this positive, active person, always in a good mood. It made me feel better, sleep better, more active and surprisingly manage my time much better. Now I choose to walk more, use my bike whenever I can. By then, I had switched my mindset from even wanting just to lose the weight, to wanting to eat healthy and feel good.
My diet changed to include lots and lots of greens, fruits, good carbs and lean proteins. I didn’t have to starve myself anymore and keep getting crazy cravings. Many simple alterations made a huge change. No more packed goodies and snacks, no more sodas or sugary juices. Instead, I started snacking on nuts, fruits and veggies and drinking more water and homemade fresh smoothies. I learned that small baby steps and changing habits really get you to where you want to be. Some of the changes have been so simple yet very important. I switched my drink with any order out to be just water with lemons. Always ask for my salad dressing on the side, to control how much I add onto it. Whole wheat or multi grain rather than white carbs. Baked sweet potatoes instead of fries. Always grilled instead of fried. More lemons and herbs instead of salt. Fresh rather than packed. Fruit instead of dessert. Frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Raw dark chocolate and raw nuts instead of other kinds of chocolate. So many simple alternatives instead of just starving myself and always having to say no to my cravings.
Here is an example of what I would eat on an average day:
Breakfast (before workout): Green juice (mix of blended veggies & fruit) or a bowl of oats with
Snack (after workout): a protein bar, a hand full of raw unsalted nuts, a banana or 2 hard-boiled eggs
Lunch: a bowl of salad (lots of greens, with lemon and seasoning only as the dressing)
a grilled salmon steak, fish or chicken. (more seafood than meat or chicken) and
2 or 3 tablespoons of freekah, quinoa or whole wheat pasta.
Dinner: a fruit or Greek yogurt.
Those with lots of water and a couple of green tea cups a day.
After lots of trials and errors, I figured out that there is no magic pill. The journey is not going to be easy, but it’s worth every step. The key is to always plan your meals ahead of time, don’t starve your body, cook yourself and eat at home as much as you can.
Now at 31, I feel better and healthier than ever. I dress the way I want. I’m back to the old confident me and I’m living my life to the fullest. I definitely make some bad choices every now and then, but I don’t let it control me anymore. I always go back to eating right.