Amount of weight lost: 125ish
Hometown: Savannah, GA
Occupation: AR Administrator
Amber was happy with life before her weight loss, just not her physical appearance. Being obese nearly all her life prevented her from seeing what else her life could be. That was until reality smacked her in the face several times. Her first self-esteem crushing experience came while visiting an amusement park when she was removed from a ride for being too large. Another was when no one would dance with her during her senior year Homecoming party. But the most important realization came from watching her mother's health deteriorate and understanding how much of it was related to obesity. Amber hated seeing her mother in so much pain and did not want to be in the same position.
A new year brings new resolve and that is exactly what happened for Amber in 2011. She decided to take action instead of continuing to sit around and feel sorry for herself. She ripped a piece of paper out of a journal and wrote a list of things that she resolved were going to happen during the year. Her list consisted of key goals like losing weight, making new friends, spending more money on herself and learning to love herself. Although she knew she had a lot of work to do, her mind was made up and once she discovered SparkPeople.com, she was on her way.
Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey: Within days of discovering SparkPeople.com I was tracking foods, trying new vegetarian recipes from SparkRecipes and exercising to dance aerobic videos in my tiny studio living room. Once I was a little more comfortable exercising in front of people, I joined a fitness center that had aerobics classes, Yoga and weight training. I started going there five days a week, religiously tracking my calories and generally being more active. Within a few months I had reached my first goal of 230 pounds, then my second goal of 200 pounds, and by the end of the year, I was 170 pounds and I've kept it off for almost three years.
Did you encounter any obstacles during your journey and, if so, how did you deal with them? All obstacles that I encountered were definitely self-inflicted. I would constantly doubt my abilities and question myself and my decisions. But once I got past that, it was mostly smooth sailing. There were a few nay-sayers I had to deal with, but every month that passed allowed me to silently prove them wrong. I let my results prove my points.
What did you find most helpful to keep you motivated? SparkPeople was my number one tool! I used it for tracking my calories consumed and calories burned, as well as finding new recipes and researching different healthy options. I used the social aspect of the site to stay motivated by blogging and commenting on forums as well as making friends so supportive that it was like they were right there beside me in person the whole time! Exercise became a habit just like choosing the healthier options when I was eating. Everything became second nature.
Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? There were several slips I'm sure of it. I'm only human right? I would just start over the next day. Birthdays, holidays, special occasions, reunions, all these things happen. If you indulge, never feel guilty about it. Just continue on your path the next day.
What is your typical exercise routine like? When I was losing weight I worked out five days a week and two hours a day. Weekly, I would do Yoga, weight training and cardio like step aerobics, kickboxing and Zumba. Now that I'm focusing more on strength building, I do regular CrossFit classes and jog a few times a week. I try to be as active as possible on a day-to-day basis whether it's riding my bike or walking or roller skating, just enjoying life.
How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss? My before diet was awful. A typical meal for me would be fried, slathered in gravy (I am a Georgia girl after all), usually very beige or brown in color and processed. Throw some Breyer's Snickers ice cream on top of that and you would have my daily intake. Now my diet is based on protein, veggies, healthy carbs and healthy fats. I try to eat whole, non-processed foods most of the time, but I never turn down a dessert that I feel like I deserve on special occasions. I also make a lot of my foods from scratch, that way I feel better about what I'm consuming. I try to stay away from added sugars and weird chemicals that are in a lot of boxed and prepared foods.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight loss program? My advice would be just to start. Push all your doubts and worries out of your head and get the ball rolling. Don't ever second guess yourself and don't let anyone else get in your way. Don't be afraid to try new things, step outside of your comfort zone or just be silly with it! It's your journey so make it a great experience.
Did you experience any other benefits in addition to losing weight? I definitely feel more confident at work. I feel like I can accomplish more. I feel like I can accept a challenge and succeed. I feel a lot more comfortable in my skin, as well. Don't get me wrong. I've always been a fun and goofy type of person, but now I'm just a little less shy. I had the confidence to meet my boyfriend, make new friends and get a promotion at work. I'm not saying that all that was because of me losing weight, but it did help!
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health? I'm constantly aware of what I'm putting into my body now. I care about the quality of my food and how I'm nourishing myself. I care about my body in a way I didn't before. I love myself. And that to me is the ultimate reward and change from my previous self. I'm more active, happy, social and fun. I enjoy things that I never thought I would like exercise and salads. BIG SALADS! My life has definitely changed for the better. I feel like I can accomplish anything and I love that feeling. I'm fortunate that I changed my ways so young. I can see a long life of happiness and good health in my future and that's exciting to me. I'm ready to take on anything. It's quite a change from before.
Congratulations Amber on using the tools at SparkPeople to help you make over your life! We can't wait to see what comes next in your journey!
Have you lost weight and kept it off using SparkPeople.com? We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com
*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.