'I Lost And Gained The Same 5 Pounds For Years—Until I Used WW And The Nike Running App'

Stephanie Niknam, as told to Emily Shiffer
·6 min read
Photo credit: Stephanie Niknam
Photo credit: Stephanie Niknam

From Women's Health

My name is Stephanie Niknam (@wwchefsteph), and I am 24. I’m from Hudson Valley, New York, and I am a teacher. To hit reset after grad school, I joined Weight Watchers (now WW) and got hooked on running with the Nike Run Club app, and I've lost 89 pounds.

I used to feel out of control with my eating. I would think I was doing all of the right things with my diet, but I wasn’t seeing long-term results. I kept gaining and losing the same five pounds over and over.

I got caught up in following short-term, quick-fix diets for years. But eventually I finally felt ready to make a concrete change once I finished grad school in May 2019. I felt like I was beginning a new chapter of my life and wanted to make it a healthy one. I decided to start WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) in May 2019.

I chose WW because I wanted rules to follow, given that I did not know how to eat in a healthy way that I could maintain.

The points system and the WW app are what convinced me to join, since calorie counting always seemed so overwhelming to me. When people ask me what kind of diet WW is, I tell them it is how you choose to experience it. The program is extremely adaptable and individualized to fit your lifestyle and eating habits. As long as you honestly track your food and stay in your healthy eating points zone, you will be successful.

I love the barcode feature in the WW app that allows you to scan anything with a barcode, and it will tell you the points value. The restaurant feature also gives points values for a lot of major chain restaurants, which is so helpful. Even when I go to a local restaurant, I just choose to track my meal as a similar one from a chain. I love the ease and adaptability of WW. It just fits my lifestyle every day. It’s the reason why I have been able to follow the program successfully for over a year now.

View this post on Instagram

“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.” . I didn’t start with a cheesy educational quote just because I’m a teacher. I feel like it really embodies my journey as a person and my weight loss journey so far. My goals have shifted SO many times since starting WW in May of ‘19. I think that being open to learning and trying new things, but with the consistency required, is truly essential to be successful anywhere- not just to lose weight. . My most recent goal is to be a better version of myself each day. Whether it’s challenging myself with a long distance run, or taking the time to express gratitude, or take the time to meal prep something healthy so I’m not eating poorly- there’s always something new to learn or do to grow in order to better myself. I am a lifelong learner. . Don’t be afraid to shift your goals in life at any time. My goals have seriously shifted since Summer 2018 (when the photo on the left was taken). I used to want to loose weight but didn’t want to put the work into do it. I would make a salad and then treat myself to a cookie. 😂 Then around winter of 2019 I did want to make changes, I had the mental capacity, but I was lacking the skills of what I should be consistently eating or doing. That’s why I joined @ww ! This program has allowed me to learn so many new skills and habits to help me live a healthier life. Fast forward to now & I am working on my willingness to learn and grow. Do I always want to wake up & follow the program? Not always. But it’s amazing how over such a long period of time the habits stick with me and have outgrown my unhealthy habits!! I am willing to put the work in so I can be the healthiest version of myself I can be- not just a number on a scale, but my health in general! . . . #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightloss #transformationtuesday #beforeandafterweightloss #diet #ww #wwteacher #naturalweightloss #weightlosscommunity #healthy

A post shared by chefsteph (@wwchefsteph) on Oct 13, 2020 at 1:56pm PDT

Here’s what I eat in a day now:

  • Breakfast: Proffee (a Quest protein shake mixed with black iced coffee and a banana).

  • Lunch: A turkey and Swiss wrap with grapes and baby carrots.

  • Snacks: Protein bar and turkey jerky.

  • Dinner: Butter chicken.

  • Dessert: M&M popcorn.

View this post on Instagram

Friendly reminder that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. These posts are in no way to diminish or discredit how I looked before starting WW. Obviously there’s a visual difference in how I look after loosing weight- but the biggest transformation that has lasted with me is within!! . Joining weight watchers in May 2019 was a big decision for me- but it was building up from within for a while before May. I knew once I joined I would fully want to stick with it- and that scared me. Choosing to go outside of my comfort zone was intense. Would I stick to it? Would I fail? Would people think of me differently or respect me less? But I decided I didn’t care about other people’s opinions and wanted to do it for myself. You only are given one life and it would be a shame to hold yourself back just because you’re afraid to fail. That shift in my thinking honestly was one of the biggest proponents to my success so far. . It has only grown over the past year & a half or so. My confidence has increased. But I also feel humbled. I love coming on here and seeing people message me questions and ask for tips on their weight loss journeys. I am inspired every day by the people I follow & it keeps my motivation going. . My tip would be don’t limit yourself to your fears & hesitations. Do what you need to do for yourself while balancing out what you need to do for others. It can be difficult, but reaching out and creating your own weight loss community really helps!! ❤️ . #transformationtuesday #weightlosstransformation #weightlossbeforeandafter #thenandnow #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosscommunity #weightlossmotivation #weightwatchers #ww #wwjourney #wwsupport #wwsisterhood #wwgreenplan #healthylifestyle #healthy #healthylife @ww #naturalweightloss

A post shared by chefsteph (@wwchefsteph) on Oct 6, 2020 at 1:17pm PDT

When I started my WW journey in May 2019, I exercised almost every day.

I was doing great! By June 2019 I was already down about 15 to 20 pounds. But the funny thing is that working out in that way wasn’t sustainable for me long term. I couldn’t keep up with the constant exercising in my daily lifestyle without feeling starving after, and going overboard on food as a result.

Around July 2019, I took a pause from all major exercise and just walked every once in a while. I narrowed my focus on my diet. And I continued to lose weight! It wasn’t until July 2020, when I was down 70 pounds, that I decided to focus on exercise again. I finally felt in control of my eating enough to not pig out immediately after a workout.

I started running with the Nike Run Club app with *no* running experience. Seriously none. I struggled. But the guided audio coaching helped me a ton, and now I can run without stopping for four-mile trail runs. I definitely recommend the app.

These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight loss results.

  • I was honest with myself and my tracking. If you are not being honest with your eating and holding yourself accountable, your tracking may not lead to weight loss. Even little bites of certain foods can have higher point values than most people would expect, and it can lead to going over the daily points value you thought you were maintaining. I make sure to be really honest with myself.

View this post on Instagram

Let’s talk about exercise this fine #transformationtuesday 💛 . I started my @ww journey in May of 2019 very strict & I would exercise almost every day too. I was doing great!! Photo on the left is from June of that year after going to the gym. I was already down about 15 to 20 lbs. 💪🏼 . But the funny thing is that it wasn’t sustainable for me long term. I couldn’t keep up with the constant exercising in my daily lifestyle without being starving after and binge eating. Around July of 2019 I took a pause from all major exercise and just would walk every once in a while. . I narrowed my focus on my diet. And guess what... I continued to lose weight! It wasn’t until July 2020, when I was down 70 lbs, that I decided to focus on exercise again. Literally an entire year later. You can still lose weight even without killing yourself working out everyday. Just track your food honestly and follow your weight loss program. I even had a cheat meal/day almost every week and still lost 50 lbs without major exercise. . I decided in July 2020 that I was ready to exercise more than just my walks!! I finally felt in control of my eating not to pig out immediately after a workout. Yes it seriously took me a year to get to that point. You just have to be honest with yourself. So I started running on the @nikerunning with NO RUNNING EXPERIENCE. Seriously none. I struggled. 💯 But the guided audio coaching helped me a TON and now I can run without stopping for long trail runs! I am down 15 more pounds since July thanks to following the #wwgreenplan and running with the #nikerunclub ! . You can do it too!!! 💜💪🏼✔️ . . . #ww #wwtransformation #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightlosstips #weightlossbeforeandafter #weightwatchers #weightlosssupport #weightlosscommunity #wwblueplan #wwpurpleplan #wwjourney #healthjourney #healthylifestyle #health #run #exercise #exercisemotivation

A post shared by chefsteph (@wwchefsteph) on Sep 22, 2020 at 2:35pm PDT

  • I planned my meals. Keep it simple and try to plan as many of your meals as you can. I pre-track, or write out a basic meal plan for each week, after looking through the contents of my fridge and freezer. Meal prepping ingredients and lunches and having healthy snacks on hand can be fantastic if you are hungry. I am more successful when I have these things since they quickly cure my hunger and make me less likely to, for instance, eat an entire bag of Doritos.

  • I remembered that each day is a fresh start. If you end up going over your points for a day, it is okay. You are not a failure, and your diet is not over if you have an eating day that goes beyond your points. I used to always give up on my previous diets once I had a so-called slip-up and would wait until the next Monday for my fresh start. With WW, I realized that each day is a fresh start—and that’s what allows me to stay consistent and keep going. One on-track day will lead to another on-track day, and then even more!

View this post on Instagram

Change is gradual. . I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again on this #facetofacefriday . 👏 . So, again.... Change takes time. This comparison photo isn’t to trash the “before” side, or past version of myself either. I was living my best life on St. Patrick’s day. But I remember how I used to feel back then. My choices were causing me to not take care of myself. I felt like I was out of control with my eating in general. And I would try to reel it back in every Monday and eat well, but I couldn’t even get through a day without messing up on my “diet”. . But... Change is gradual. One day I was like ehh let’s try WW. I was desperate. I wanted rules and restrictions for my eating that I would follow since I was paying for a membership. I really wanted to make a change. And it was the little changes at first that really hooked me in. Like on my first real day of tracking, when I was able to finish the day without “cheating” on my diet, that I knew this could actually work for me!!! . Little by little more changes came. Not just the numbers on the scale, but habits. Like honestly tracking my food. Cutting out soda. Moving more. Sleeping better. Drinking more water. Starting running. .... And the beauty of it is that even after almost a year and a half..... I’ve still got goals!!! There is no finish line or “after” version of myself. We are always evolving!!! . . . #ww #wwtransformation #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightloss #weightlossbeforeandafter #weightlossupport #weightwatchers #wwgreenplan #wwblueplan #wwpurpleplan #weightlosscommunity #wwcommunity #healthylifestyle #health #healthyliving #weightlossresults #facetofacefriday

A post shared by chefsteph (@wwchefsteph) on Sep 18, 2020 at 1:06pm PDT

I have lost 89 pounds since May 2019.

I’ve learned that my self-worth comes from within—not from the scale. I frequently remind myself to not be so tough on myself. Again, losing weight does not increase your value as a person.

My entire habits have changed from over a year ago. But that doesn’t happen over night. Changes are gradual, and consistency is what will help sustain those healthy habits. Taking the time to invest in my health and myself is what has increased my confidence. I never expected to lose such a high amount of weight. As cheesy as it sounds, it has taught me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.

You Might Also Like