I was overweight ever since I could remember. Even in kindergarten, I recall being a little bigger than my other friends, and it was just something I always recognized (but also denied) about myself.

My mom and dad were also both a little overweight, and food was always a source of happiness and comfort for all of us. I remember my mom trying to lose weight numerous times, and she would include me as well, but both of us never had success. As soon as either of us was going through something, we would turn to food.

When my mom passed away when I was 19, that was when my weight really started to become an issue. Food became the only thing that truly made me feel better.

Before I turned 33, my doctor told me that not only was I considered morbidly obese by medical charts, but that I was also prediabetic and had high blood pressure.

That was the first time I had gone in for a physical in over four years. My doctor told me if I didn't start taking my health seriously, I was going to be on blood pressure medication and taking insulin by the age of 34. That definitely was *not* something you want to hear when you're barely in your 30s. At the time, in January 2019, I was 320 pounds.

My turning point was actually on the day before my 33rd birthday. I had just come back from an amazing night at the SAG Awards.

Two of my closest friends invited me to go, and I was on cloud nine. That is, until I looked at the photos I had taken of myself. I didn't recognize the girl in the photos. It was like I was looking at a stranger, someone who looked tired and unhealthy. I knew at that moment I never wanted to feel that way again and decided to make a change.

When I first started my weight loss journey, I decided to give the keto diet a shot and lost about 10 pounds in the first two weeks. But after two weeks, I realized keto was just not something I could picture myself sustaining for the long term, and so I decided to switch to WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) after reading reviews. The program seemed the most realistic to me.

WW works for me because I don't ever feel denied. I can still eat the things I enjoy, but in moderation.

I do WW Freestyle, and it is also very easy to come back to after you have an off day or week because you never feel like you're starting overyou're just getting back on track. I think this mentality is so important because you can't be perfect all the time.

I also practice intermittent fasting , so I try to only eat between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It mostly just helps me with structure because I can eat two larger meals during the day and a couple of snacks, and by the time I get hungry again at night, it's almost time for me to go to bed.

Heres what I typically eat in a day now:

  • Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs with 1/4 cup of liquid egg whites, two toasted pieces of Nature's Harvest light multigrain bread (with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray), and three Amylou chicken sausages
  • Lunch: 1 1/2 cups of Crockpot chili made with 99 percent fat-free ground turkey, topped with plain fat-free Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup light shredded cheese
  • Snacks: Frozen grapes, Good Thins sea salt corn crisps and salsa, or celery with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge and some turkey pepperonis
  • Dinner: 4 to 5 ounces of boneless chicken breast coated with extra crispy Shake and Bake, roasted asparagus tossed in olive oil and garlic, and a cup of cooked brown rice
  • Dessert: Built Bar with sugar-free Cool Whip or Kodiak banana pancakes (1/3 cup Kodiak pancake mix, a mashed banana, one egg, 1/2 tsp baking powder, splash of vanilla, and 1/4 cup of water)

I didnt start exercising right away, but I did make an effort to make myself get up more and increase my step count.

It was about three months into my journey before I signed up for the gym. And a month after that, I started working with a trainer, who introduced me to strength training . When I first started working out, I started slowly and made a point to go on the treadmill for 20 minutes per night after work.

Now, with the help of my trainer, I have incorporated a lot more weight training into my routine instead of just doing all cardio. I aim for roughly four to five days of exercise per week, and usually two to three of them are strength training and the rest are cardio (typically a two-mile jog/walk or a hike with friends).

Because of COVID-19 and having to work at home, my aunt and cousins have started doing a 30k step challenge every Sunday, which I've done for the last two months. It has definitely been kicking my behind, but it's also just a great reset after a long week.

These three changes helped me see the most noticeable results in my weight loss.

  • Change one: I started meal prepping. I make it a point on either Saturday or Sunday to plan and make meals for the rest of the week. I knew if I didn't, I'd get lazy and resort to ordering takeout or going through the drive-thru. I'm the type of person that hates paying a lot of money for food I won't love when I know I can make healthy food at home for a fraction of the cost. This way, the few times I actually do go to a restaurant, I can order what I want and not feel guilty.
  • Change two: I found *fun* ways to be active. When I first started working out, I only went on the treadmill because I just thought that was the best way to get my exercise in. But the truth was I hated going on the treadmill because it was boring to me and I knew if I didn't change it up I was going to stop. I started looking up workouts on YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook groups. There are so many fun ways to get your heart rate up. Besides hiking with friends and weight training, I love to do PlyoJam workouts at home (a mix of dance/cardio/strength). Or sometimes I'll throw in a yoga workout just to try something new.
  • Change three: I focused on non-scale victories. I'm very proud of losing the weight I did, but some of the things I'm most proud of have nothing to do with the number on the scale. Weight fluctuates, and it can drive you absolutely crazy if that's the only way you're tracking your success. Non-scale victories are just as important (if not more important) than your weight. My latest non-scale victories? Not needing a seatbelt extender on a flight and having lots of room, and also being able to jog two miles without stopping!

I've lost about 120 pounds in under 17 months.

My weight loss journey wasn't easyand there were many times I wanted to quit. But I'm so happy and proud of myself that I never did. I'm proud to say that I am no longer prediabetic and my blood pressure is normal, all without medication.

I've never felt better about myself, and for someone like me who has never had much confidence, that's saying a lot. I wouldn't change anything about my journey because it proved to me I could do it, troubles and all. I finally feel like I'm becoming the hero in my own story.