LIVESTRONG.COM Username: spicysmom85 -- member since 2014
STATS: Age: 30 Height: 5 feet 5 inches
BEFORE Weight: 170 pounds Pant Size: 12/L
AFTER Weight: 131 pounds Pant Size: 4/XS
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Julia: I pretty much ate whatever I wanted, and I led a very sedentary lifestyle. I didn’t exercise much, and while sometimes I didn’t see anything wrong with being heavier because I was curvy, I always had issues with shopping for clothes. I’d pick up something to try on and end up needing a bigger size. I got winded very easily when I walked and could basically live on cereal and milk.I ate a lot of fast food, and I was always tired.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Julia: I wanted to be healthier and learn how to take better care of myself. Initially, I didn’t realize how prevalent diabetes was in my family. My mom has been a diabetic for 20 years and always warned me about it, but I didn’t really listen. I didn’t think it was something that would happen to me. Now I look back at specific situations and points in my life and easily recognize where I was headed. As it turned out, a lot of people in my family are diabetic. Being diagnosed as pre-diabetic last year during my annual physical was a wake-up call for me because I realized that even though it was serious, there was time to make healthy changes and do better because Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Julia: I was inspired by success stories others had shared in the community, so I shared my own story on the community message boardsin the hopes that I might also inspire someone.My mom emailed me LIVESTRONG articles, and that is how I first started using the website.Although I didn’t track 100 percent of the time, I did initially track my calories using LIVESTRONG’s Calorie Tracker (formerly known as MyPlate).Many of the articles really helped me, particularly those that discussed the merits of apple cider vinegar and its effect on blood sugar.I drank it with water with all of my meals while I was losing weight and found it to work very well.I also found the walking workouts to be very helpful.It took me seven months to reach my original goal of 130 pounds.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Julia: My Aunt Grace was a really big and proactive part of my weight loss.Aside from reading about apple cider vinegar on LIVESTRONG.com, her encouragement was probably the main reason I decided to try it. My cousin Kirk was very encouraging when I would share updates about my weight.My Auntie Marcie introduced me to almond milk, which I now substitute for the dairy and soy milk I drank before.My mom was also constantly behind me and my efforts to push myself to do better.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your favorite way to work out?
Julia: I walk whenever I can, and I love to dance. Good music is important, and “The New Workout Plan” by Kanye West and “Funky Sensation”by Gwen McCrae are two of my favorite songs to move to. I do 100 squats, leg lifts and arm raises three days a week. I do this for an hour aday every day, with the exception of the squats.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your weekly exercise schedule?
Julia: Monday I dance and do my leg and arm lifts; Tuesday I dance and do squats; Wednesday I dance and do my leg and arm lifts; Thursday I dance and do squats; Friday I dance, do leg and arm lifts, and then squats; and I take weekends off.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s a typical day of meals and snacks?
Julia: I eat three meals a day, and I do eat snacks. Breakfast is Cheerios sprinkled with dried cranberries and unsweetened almond milk, and I have tea or water to drink. Lunch is usually chicken or turkey that I prepare and freeze in advance. I also sometimes have turkey meatballs with cranberries, spinach and cheese. Dinner starts with my protein, which is chicken or turkey again (sometimes I have beef, but rarely). I typically eat apples and strawberries or nuts for snacks. If I eat something ‘’unhealthy’’ like chips or cookies for a snack, I only eat half of a serving size. I drink bottled water all day long as well.
One of my best food tips is to eat when you’re hungry, and if you’re craving something,eat it — but in moderation. Depriving yourself is only going to make you want it more and overeat later, which will make you feel bad. It’s a vicious cycle.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the range of calories you eat per day?
Julia: I try to pay attention to my hunger cues and eat when I’m hungry rather than counting calories, so I’m not sure. I pay attention to the scale and try to keep my weight at 135 pounds. Originally my goal was 130 pounds, but when I got there I realized I was too small and am more comfortable at 135. I do my best to not go above or below that weight if I can.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Julia: I always keep mixed nuts and pistachios, low-calorie, low-sodium canned soups, yogurt and bottled water in my kitchen.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Julia: I don’t typically plan my meals in advance. I try to have a list when I go grocery shopping, which I do three times a week. I try to eat at home, and I pack my lunch when that isn’t possible.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the biggest challenge you faced?
Julia: I think it’s still a challenge for me to get out of the mindset that I’m a size 12. Even after my weight loss I sometimes still feel I’m the previous, heavier size in my head. Another challenge was changing how I ate. I realized that I have to put things in my body that benefit it, not harm it. It was harder in the beginningbecause much of the food that’s bad for you is delicious, and you’re sort of looking at changing your eating habits like,“What am I supposed to eat now?”
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Julia: Don't compete with other people. Find something you love doing then turn it into exercise. It will be easier to lose weight that way. Apple cider vinegar works. Once you get over the smell, it’s amazing. To me, it tastes like unsweetened apple juice.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
Julia: My knees don’t hurt anymore, and I don’t get winded when I walk. I have a lot more energy and an eagerness to go out. I also had GERD for some time, and I don’t anymore.
Since my weight loss I’ve been able to fit into clothes I couldn’t before, and my self-confidence has greatly improved. I feel pretty and like I can do anything. I still read articles on the LIVESTRONG.COM website and the ones I receive in their email newsletter. I’d say that the improvement in self-image quieted down the uncertain and self-conscious girl I was in high school. I appreciate my body for what it is now, and I try to do right by it. I also understand that curves don’t make you a woman. How you feel inside and about yourself does.
In terms of diet I try to stay away from things like juice, dairy milk and soda. I still eat cheese and probably always will. We’ve had a long-standing relationship, and I don’t see that changing. Fast food is limited to weekends only. Saturday is usually what I like to call my “Fatterday” — I eat something I usually wouldn’t, but in moderation.
My workout stays consistent. Dancing, squats, leg and arm lifts. In terms of improvements to my health, my blood sugar is down two points.
Ann Rusnak is LIVESTRONG’s Sr. Community Manager. Her quest to lose the “baby weight” before the “baby” finished elementary school sparked an interest in health and fitness that continues to be a passion to this day. She loves hiking and yoga, and thinks the best exercise is one you can do with a good friend. Over the years, Ann’s desire to fit into a certain size has evolved into what she feels is the more important goal of feeling good and having energy to live life to its fullest.