Trying to lose weight or maintain your weight can be very challenging and sometimes you might feel that you want to quit. That’s how Andrea Barlow felt before her weight loss journey, but when she learned how to lose weight effectively, she went from feeling completely hopeless to successfully shedding all her excess weight.
Battling with weight loss wasn’t something new for Andrea as she dealt with weight issues all her life. “I tried to establish healthier habits through programs like Weight Watchers, but had no luck.” Andrea gained most of her weight when she started having thyroid issues during her pregnancy.
After she had her baby, she weighed 375 pounds. “I struggled through some of the simplest parts of life.” she says. “I couldn’t fit behind the steering wheel of our car. I had to take breaks going up just two flights of steps. Getting dressed was a chore, I couldn’t tie my own shoes.”
Andrea became incredibly depressed. “I felt miserable and trapped,” she confesses. One day, she had a nervous breakdown after weighing herself on the scale and scared her baby who started crying. Andrea took that as a sign that she had to make a change.
Andrea’s Weight Loss Journey
To help focus her weight loss efforts, Andrea participated in the Beach Body Challenge. In fact, her dedication won her a nice chunk of change! Here’s what she modified to help reach her fitness and wellness goals:
She Improved Her Food Habits
Andrea followed a meal plan that did more than just control the amount of food she was eating. “This plan taught me to remove unhealthy foods from my diet and replace them with healthier options. Before this program, I didn’t realize that some foods are nutritionally more dense than others.”
Cleaning up her diet also helped her realize that some foods were harmful for her. “I not longer eat red meat, pork, or dairy. When I tried to begin incorporating these back into my diet, I started to experience a lot of inflammation and rashes, so now I know that they’re a trigger for me.”
What Meals Andrea Ate
Andrea’s days would always begin with the same meal. An omelet with sautéed veggies and toasted Ezekiel grain bread. For a morning snack, Andrea would turn to her go to Greek yogurt with pineapple, chia seeds, and cinnamon. Mixing chia seeds into your diet is an excellent way to supercharge your daily nutrition.
For lunch, Andrea would dine on a big salad with shredded chicken or roasted turkey, vegetables, and balsamic dressing. An afternoon snack would look something like carrots and hummus with some almonds. How does Andrea describe her eating preferences? “I like to keep my meals simple,” she says.
After usually eating the same meal for breakfast and lunch, dinner consisted of a little more variety. “Dinner is where I incorporate more variation. It could be whole-grain spaghetti or grilled turkey burgers, or chicken” she adds.
A staple of Andreas diet was Friday night pizza. Andrea details pizza night saying “instead of ordering from the pizzeria, I make a wheat or cauliflower-based crust, which makes a big difference”. Andrea points out a few healthy options anyone can try, another healthy recipe offering taste and nutrition is low-carb zucchini.
Andrea started exercising gradually and her workouts got more intense as she went along. This is a key part to her success: She started with workouts she could handle, and as she got more fit, she made her workouts harder. This allowed her body time to adapt and for her not to get injured. This is what her routine looked like:
- Andrea initially started working out for 30 minutes every day, but did a less intense workout once a week. After she completed a round of workouts, she rested for two to three days.
“These at-home workouts were great for me at the start of this journey because I felt self-conscious anytime I went to the gym.”
A great place to start is with low-impact, body weight exercises, such as body weight squats and lunges, elevated push-ups, and going for fast-paced walks. Beginner exercise videos are a great way to get fit in the comfort of your home.
- As Andrea became more fit, she was able to add intensity. Ways to increase intensity are to add weight to body weight exercises, take less rest during your workouts, go for longer walks or try adding in little spurts of jogging or stair climbs into your cardio routine.
This stage is when you may want to consider adding in some HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) throughout your week, while still including some lower-intensity, recovery workouts so that you don’t burn yourself into the ground.
- After a few months of successful weight loss, Andrea moved on to more intense workouts to build lean muscle and felt confident enough to join a gym. “I go there about once a week now and do a combination of box jumps and rope pulls, and spend time on the elliptical if I need something low-impact.”
The gym is great because they have equipment that you may not necessarily have at home, as well as heavier dumbbells as you get stronger. At this stage, you may want to have strength days and cardio days. Finally, always include one or two rest days a week to ensure your muscles have a chance to recover and grow. Including regular stretching and yoga to prevent injury and keep you feeling great.
For another no-gym home workout, try using a balance ball! These balancing exercises can help activate your core, strengthen multiple muscle groups, and provide a challenging fat-burning exercise in a short period of time.
Watch this tutorial for some ideas to get started:
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She Found Support
Weight loss is hard enough as it is, but doing it alone can be much harder. When Andrea felt like giving up, she would turn to people who had the same goal as her and knew how difficult it was to stick to that goal. “I felt I had a support system beyond my friends and family—people who understood what I was going through,” say says.
Where Andrea Is Now
Andrea’s dieting success has made several positive impacts in her life, “this journey has taught me to be open to people, communicate, and let others help me”, she says. What’s even greater is that Andrea’s achievement has inspired those around her. “Now my family eats much better than we used to-no more living off of Domino’s pizza deals and fast food”.
As well as continuing regular exercise, Andrea is enjoying activities she was previously unable to do, like playing with her kids at the park. On top of it all, Andrea has also managed to kick a nine-year smoking habit. In even more good news, Andrea’s thyroid levels have been stable for about a year now with no medication.
Parting Words of Wisdom
Andrea has some parting tips for others regarding weight loss, “the most important element to weight loss is believing in yourself…real life-change comes from within”, she says. Andrea’s story is an inspirational one that just keeps getting better. Allow Andrea’s message to resonate with you and believe that you too can make positive changes in your life, whether that is starting a healthy diet, exercising more, quitting smoking or whatever is close to your heart.
How To Make Losing Weight Part Of Your Lifestyle
Learn About Healthy Food
To change your food habits, you have to know which foods are best for your health. Look for foods that are dense and fill you up so you don’t overeat, such as potatoes, beans, bananas, and oranges. Also, eliminate high-calorie processed and refined foods, such as sugary pastries and replace them with nutritious whole foods.
Make A Meal Plan
Planning your food for the whole week can keep you focused on your goal. Look up recipes to get ideas for multiple meals and make a list of ingredients. When you buy groceries, stick to the list and when you go home, stick to your plan.
Going to the gym can be expensive, time-consuming, and even uncomfortable for many people. Fortunately, your home is a judgement-free zone where you can exercise whenever you want. If you need a little motivation, you can always watch a workout video. Here are some YouTube channels to get inspiration from if you don’t know where to start.
POPSUGAR Fitness has many short, beginner, follow-along, and no-equipment workouts if you’re not familiar with exercising.
FitnessBlender is a husband and wife team who can show you how to do various workouts and have a strong focus on healthy eating and sharing unbiased nutrition and fitness information.
XHIT is ideal for you if you’re more advanced and you’re looking for energetic high intensity training workouts.
Be Physically Active
Physical activity can be anything that makes you move. If you are not able or ready to do intense exercises, you can walk, climb stairs, do stretching exercises, or even do chores around the house. All these activities burn calories and help keep you in shape.
Let Your Family Help
Talk to your family about your struggles and let them know how they can help you during your journey. You could even propose to exercise together or follow the same meal plan.
Join A Weight Loss Community
Family and friends can be supportive, but sometimes they might not understand exactly what you’re going through. Look for an online or local weight loss community that can give you support and advice because they have similar experiences and goals to yours.
Always keep in mind that seeing a satisfying number on a scale is not your goal. Your goal should be to feel healthy and happy, and you can achieve that by investing time and effort.
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