How Reddit and positive self-talk inspired this 29-year-old to lose 90 pounds

Yahoo Lifestyle

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Photos: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson
Photos: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson

Roxanne Merson is 29 years old, 5 feet 3 inches tall, and currently weighs 130 pounds. In 2013, after struggling with weight for her entire life, she was inspired to count calories and log her food after reading a post on Reddit. This is her weight loss story.

The turning point

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t struggle with my weight. I was an overweight child, and that followed me into my teen years and adulthood. When I was 4 years old, my father passed away unexpectedly, and from that moment on, my whole world turned upside down. Food was the only constant in my life. I was a secret eater and never wanted anyone to know how much I was actually consuming. I was ashamed of my eating habits and my weight, but I didn’t know how to change it.

I tried time and time again to lose weight throughout the years. It was always some fad diet and I would lose a few pounds here and there, but I could never sustain it. I would eventually gain it all back and then some. At my biggest I weighed 220 pounds. I remember the doctor telling me that weight, and although I was shocked, I felt numb. It didn’t actually hit me until later on. I had almost resigned myself to being big for the rest of my life, as it seemed impossible to ever reach a healthy weight.

Then one day in November of 2013 I was on the Reddit weight loss forum LoseIt, and I read a post about counting calories and writing down all the food you were eating. I decided to give it a go. That was the start of my journey. Something just clicked, and I knew this time it was going to be for good.

Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson
Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson

The changes

My very first step was writing down everything I ate for a few days and then calculating my calories. I was shocked to discover just how much I was packing away on a daily basis. Next, I signed up for MyPlate on Livestrong.com and started logging my food and counting calories based on my height, weight, and rate I wanted to lose. I chose to lose 1 pound per week because I wanted to do it slow and steady. I didn’t follow any specific diet like low carb or keto. I simply chose meals that would fit into my daily caloric allowance. I was a vegetarian (now a vegan), but that had no bearing on my weight loss, as I was already vegetarian for a few years prior to this. But I did decide that I would be in control of all the cooking and meals from then on. I’d always been a good cook, but now I was determined to be a good cook who made awesome, healthy meals. I think this was very important, as I was in control of exactly what I was putting into my body, and I learned a lot about nutrition this way.

As far as exercise went, I did not have a workout routine, as I knew I needed to focus 100 percent on getting my diet under control. In the past I tried to do too many things at once, and I always got overwhelmed and would give up and go back to my old ways. Once I reached a healthy weight, I started incorporating a workout DVD into my routine — Jillian Michaels’s 30-Day Shred.

I decided to keep a weekly journal tracking my progress. I had a weigh-in day once a week, and on that day I would write down my weight and how much I’d lost that week. I told myself that I was going to be nice to myself this time, because in the past I was so nasty and hateful. I’d call myself a failure if I ate something I shouldn’t have or didn’t lose as much weight as I wanted to. Not this time.

Writing in my journal was extremely helpful, as it gave me an outlet for my feelings. I also made small goals for myself and would write how proud I was when I reached those goals! I wrote about changes I was noticing in myself, I wrote about outfits I envisioned myself wearing, and those things really motivated me to keep going. Seeing my weight go down was very exciting, as was fitting into smaller sizes in clothes. I was also thrilled when my BMI went from obese to overweight, and then from overweight to within a healthy weight. I didn’t even have a specific deadline for myself. I just knew that if I kept going that I would eventually reach my goal. And after a year and a half, I did!

Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson
Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson

The after

Because I did it so slowly and lost the weight so gradually, it wasn’t like some big moment when I finally became thin. I just got used to myself getting smaller every step of the way, until one day I was at my goal weight.

Physically, I felt great. I felt more comfortable overall, and I had so much more energy and stamina. I didn’t get tired doing simple things like walking up stairs. I changed so much emotionally. I had so much more confidence in myself. I always used to be terrified of being made fun of or someone pointing out my weight, but I no longer had to worry about that. It felt like a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t as scared to talk to people anymore either. I always tried to make myself invisible before, but now I felt OK just living my life and being myself. Overall, I just felt more carefree and happier.

Unsurprisingly, I have noticed a huge difference in the way people treat me. I feel like I get a lot more positive attention, and people are more likely to listen to what I have to say. Because of this, I find that I’m a lot more likely to express my opinions and speak up for myself.

On a less serious note, I now really enjoy shopping! I used to abhor shopping and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, but now I love spending time trying on outfits. I’m no longer afraid of changing rooms! I also have embraced my feminine side and love getting dressed up, whereas before I would just try to hide my body as much as possible.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson
Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson

The maintenance

I decided to go vegan in June of this year, and so far I’m loving it. Right around that time, I stopped counting calories as I had been up until that point. I’ve been focusing mostly on eating a lot more veggies than I ever have before. I always have a huge salad for lunch, filled with kale, romaine, and spinach, and whatever veggies I have on hand, like purple cabbage, carrots, onion, and cucumber. I top it with some beans or chickpeas, and some healthy fat like avocado or nuts and seeds.

My breakfast usually consists of some sort of green smoothie, always with frozen banana and almond milk as my base and spinach as my green. Then I’ll throw in some frozen berries, or I’ll have a chocolate shake with some cocoa powder. Supper is either stew, soup, curry, or pasta, but whatever I make I always make sure that I pack it with veggies. They’re so good for you and fill you up with so few calories.

I usually snack on fruit or nuts and seeds, but I also love dark chocolate. I will have the occasional junk meal or treat. My weakness is nondairy ice cream. I don’t like to cut anything out of my diet, but I prefer eating whole foods because they make me feel the best.

My current workout routine is 30-Day Shred by Jillian Michaels. This is the fifth time I’m doing it in a year and a half. I always come back to it because the results are insane in such a short period of time if you commit to it. I’ll usually do it five or six times a week until I finish all the levels. I love how strong I feel by the end, and it really sculpts my body. I never look more toned than when I finish that DVD. I recommend it to everyone because I consider myself “lazy,” but it’s the one thing I can always manage to get through.

It really is all about balance. I try to live by the 80-20 rule; that’s 80 percent of the time I eat healthy, and 20 percent I’ll allow myself to have something not so healthy. I believe in eating as many veggies as I want; I never restrict myself. Early on I had to come to terms with the fact that I could never go back to eating the way I used to. I’ll always have to be diligent with my habits, but that’s OK. The longer you are in maintenance, the easier it gets. It’s like you develop a sort of internal gauge that lets you know when you’ve had enough.

I do still weigh myself on a daily basis, but that’s mostly because I’m fairly new to not counting my calories, and I want to be sure I’m eating the right amount for me. If I notice my weight creeping up a little then I will scale my intake back a bit until I’m back down. I find it a heck of a lot easier to lose a pound or 2 than 5 or more pounds. That being said, everyone has a range that they feel comfortable at; no one stays exactly the same weight all the time. You also have to take into consideration other factors like sodium or PMS for women, causing water retention and showing up on the scale.

Another habit that helps me a lot is eating from smaller plates and bowls. I feel a lot more satisfied eating my meals this way because it looks like a lot more food than it is, and it totally works to “trick” my brain that I am eating more.

As funny as it sounds, I’m my own motivation. I lost the weight for myself, and I know I’ll never go back to being overweight again because I owe this to myself and it’s too precious to throw away. I can’t even count how many things have improved since starting this journey. I met my amazingly supportive partner, and I’m finally doing things my way. Losing 90 pounds wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it and it truly has changed me for the better. I want to help motivate and inspire others who have been through the same things that I have, by setting an example and being a positive role model.

Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson
Photo: Courtesy of Roxanne Merson

The struggles

I do sometimes still struggle with body image issues. I have days where I feel bigger than I am. Sometimes it’s hard for me to still wrap my head around the fact that other people see me as small and that I am no longer overweight. Even now I still cringe when someone takes a picture of me because I used to hate having my picture taken. I’m only human, so I do still have self-doubt and question my ability to keep this up over the long term. But at the end of the day, I’m in control of me. There are no malevolent forces that are going to try to ruin all of my hard work. I have to trust that after two and a half years of maintaining my weight, that this is for life and that I can continue to do this.

Advice

Please be kind to yourself! It takes time for new habits to stick. You have to give yourself a chance to succeed. We all have days that aren’t as great as we wanted them to be, but that’s not a reason to just throw in the towel. Don’t try to be perfect all the time, just try to do better than you did yesterday. Eventually you’ll have more good days than bad days, and the bad days will become all but obsolete.

I highly recommend keeping a journal. It’s so great to be able to track your thought process and look back on it as you move along. Set small goals instead of huge ones; they feel a lot more attainable that way, like fitting into the next size down in pants. Small goals eventually add up to big ones.

You have to change your mindset and realize that this is an exciting journey, not a punishment with an end date. Trust in yourself, and take it one day at a time.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight loss winners!

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

Have a weight-loss win or beauty story to share? We want to hear it! Tell us at YStyleBeauty@yahoo.com.

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