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Friday, May 30, 2014

How I lost over 100 lbs in less 1 year without surgery as a broke college student!

Property of PrettyFunnyStrong

Well, that's quite a picture to start a blog post with isn't it? The photo on the right is my high school graduation taken in June of 2010. I was 18, and over 250 lbs. The photo on the left is me in my apartment in February of 2012.  Most people are a tad taken aback by it, because most of the people that know me now, didn't know me back then. I have lost over 100 pounds since then, and if you would have told me then how far I would come in just a few years, I would have said stop lying and pass the butter.

I have been asked countless times how I did it and what I am doing now and all that jazz, so for this post I'll tell you how I lost the bulk of the weight. Stick around for Part 2 when I tell you how I'm maintaining my loss!

I had been chunky for as long as I could remember. I had always loved the taste of food, I wasn't an athletically inclined kid by any means, I have asthma, I love chocolate and sugar, and I hated getting dirty. That was a perfect storm to being a chunky kid, who grew into a much more mature looking pre-teen than others who were my age, to becoming a plus sized teenager. My weight slowly crept up on me and I didn't realize it. By the time I hit that picture, I was probably around 270ish, probably more. When my size 18 clothes, that had fit me for years, were getting too small I was shocked into reality. I was busting out of my clothes, I couldn't walk a flight of stairs without getting extremely winded, and it took me over 20 minutes just to walk a mile in gym class. I'm pretty tall for a woman, about 5'8, and I was very well proportioned. My body distributes fat over most parts of my body very well, so I looked smaller than I was. Nobody knew how big I really was. But most importantly, I had no idea how unhealthy I was. I was fed up with it, so I decided going away to college would not be the total desecration of my health, it would be the beginning of a new me.

When I got to college, I started my mission. At my college we were required to purchase a meal plan from the school, and the university had a fully stocked gym usable by all students at all hours. These may not be important things to look at when considering higher education, but I took it into account. Our caf was, for lack of a better word, perfect. Fully stocked salad bar, juices and protein bars, real meals for every time of the day, and a small coffee house that served Starbucks coffee at bare minimum prices.

This cafeteria was integral for the main component of how I was going to lose a lot of fat quickly. I converted my diet to nearly 100% vegan, I avoided most animal products with the exception of lean meats and eggs. I'm anemic, so I really needed to make sure I got the iron I needed. And since the coffee house was essentially a full blown baby Starbucks, I could get the caffeine I craved with either soy or skim milk, depending on how much protein I felt I needed that day. I also began researching and purchasing vitamins, minerals, and supplements to support my efforts in a natural way. If anyone is interested in the products I tested out and what worked for me and what didn't, let me know if you'd like a post on that! For the first couple of days it felt like torture passing up cookies and cakes and rich meals in the cafeteria. But then one day something fantastic happened. My body, for once in my life, felt good. I slept better than I had in years, my acne started to clear, and I dropped a lot of weight, very quickly.

Many of you are going to ask about the classic college weight gainer, alcohol. The big question. Did I partake? No. Not once. Not at all. I was simply disinterested. I had no time for alcohol. I was at that point in my life a "straight edge" individual. No drinking, no smoking, no drugs. Period. This is something I had been my entire life, the decision was simple for me. I wasn't into the classic college social scene, but no one had a problem with my decision, many even admired my decision and confided in me that the only reason they did was because they felt obligated to. That is just awful. Pardon my soapbox, but do not let anybody tell you how you should live your live. Do you. Pure and simple. Nobody will fault you for it, and if they do they're douchebags, screw those people. 

However I didn't just change my diet, I also slowly started working out, finding exercises and machines that I liked that worked with my body. I knew that I would also lose muscle in combination with the water and fat I would lose, so I wanted to start a regular exercise regimen to try to minimize loss of muscle, stoke some muscle building, and help tighten up my body so that I would have as little excess skin as possible. I started off working on treadmills and cardio bikes and they were ok, but I just couldn't do treadmills. They were far too high impact for me and I grew out of breath very quickly. But I felt like I wasn't doing enough work on the cardio bike. It just felt too easy. 

One day I decided to try the elliptical and my life, changed. I found that I could do 20, 30, 45 minutes, an hour on an elliptical. Was I sweaty and sore and tired? Of course. But I felt so, alive when I was done. Accomplishment. I finally found that one thing that I could really push myself at, but at my own pace.
I was always told by conventional wisdom, being spewed by most of the people around me, that there was no other way to lose weight than extreme deprivation and torturous exercise. I think that is what motivated me to begin a semi vegan lifestyle. You don't realize how many things have animal products in them until you start looking for them. 

I would do cardio almost every single day, and I did some kind of strength training or yoga exercise a few times a week. However once I had lost about 70 pounds in about 6 months, my weight loss started to slow down. I wasn't nearly 300 pounds anymore. Even my roommate remarked on how much I had changed since we moved in together. It was at this point that I removed the semi-vegan program that my body was accustomed to, and delved slowly back into a diet that contained more animal products and carbohydrates. 

Many people question why I did this, because it did serve to slow my weight loss down. But, that is exactly what I wanted it to do. You see, even the most disciplined individual, no matter what they say, will not sustain a restrictive diet if they feel deprivation. In fact, sustaining an unreasonably deprived diet is an eating disorder in it's most simple form. Sure I felt great eating the food I was, but I MISSED the food I used to love. I missed bacon. I missed pancakes. Reese's. UGH. I knew that I wasn't going to ever be able to completely cut out every food that is crappy for you, I just needed to learn that special balance of good nutritious food to "cheat" foods, that would still allow me to live a normal life among friends and family, while still maintaining the progress I had worked so hard to achieve. 

At the same time, I also wanted to slow my weight loss down for another reason. I had already lost nearly 100 pounds and that excess skin concern of mine wasn't something I could put off anymore. It was at this point that I decided to flip up my exercise routine. I cut down on my cardio a bit (I still did it about 4 times a week because I loved it and how it made me feel afterward), with strength training exercises 3 or 4 times a week to really start to shape the new body that I was uncovering. 

I continued with my diet and exercise routine as it stood, and left that college 10 months later lighter than I had been in the 7th grade. My skin felt clearer, my hair healthy and strong, my nails longer healthier than I swear they have ever been in my entire life as a nail biter!

Well everyone, that's it for Part 1! THIS is how I lost 100 lbs in less than a year. Stick around for Part 2, where I fill you in on how I've kept this weight loss going, and my plan to hit my goal weight this year!

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