Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Jody Waters is 48, 5′2″ tall, and currently weighs 138 pounds. A year ago, she weighed 192 pounds. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I was never overweight — until I gave birth to my second son in 1991. From then on, I would gain and lose the same 20 pounds over and over.
In November 2014, we had family portraits done. The pictures were wonderful, but I was suddenly very aware of how large I had become. I lost my mom in 2012 to complications of diabetes and I literally saw her looking back at me when I looked in the mirror.
I wasn’t sure how to get started because I had done all the various diet plans before and always gained weight back, or just got frustrated and gave up. I had a good friend from high school who had recently lost over 100 pounds and was starting to run marathons. I called her first and asked a million questions. I had been hearing great things about step counters, calorie counters, etc., so I did some research and settled on a Fitbit. My friend told me about the MapMyFitness app, which connects with Fitbit and allows you to track calories, exercise, and other things, so I started using it and keeping a daily food journal there.
The day I bought my Fitbit, I started walking and competing with friends. I was out of breath so quickly, but I pushed through and kept walking. I started setting goals and as the weight started dropping, I noticed how much easier I was breathing and how much faster I was able to achieve my goals.
I was immediately shocked at the amount of calories I was consuming. The first thing I did was give up soda completely. I knew that removing those empty calories was one thing I could do to improve right away. Making any food off-limits wouldn’t work for me, so I focused on portion control. As the weight dropped, I never felt deprived and my need to overeat began to subside. I started drinking four to five 24-ounce bottles of water daily and I really noticed a change in my skin, too.
I had so much support from family and friends and I leaned on them if I was having self-doubt. I also had a group of women who joined me to lose weight and get healthy, too, so we really pushed each other and still do today. When I started, I was easily a size 16. I found a pair of size 8 shorts, and every week, I would try them on to see how much progress I’d made. At first, the shorts would not come up past my knees, but every time I tried them on I’d tell myself that I would wear them out in public by summer. Slowly, they slid over my thighs, then my butt, and then one day I pulled them up and buttoned them with no effort at all. I can’t even describe in words how good I felt.
I went to my 30-year class reunion in June, almost half a year after starting to lose weight, and I felt like a million bucks. Everyone was so impressed and the words of encouragement boosted my self-esteem to a level I had not felt in years. In September, my youngest son got married. I weighed 150 pounds the day I gave birth to him in 1991 and I swore to myself I would weigh less than that the day he got married! On his wedding day, I weighed 148 pounds. My pride for him and his new wife was so evident and I was able to hold my head high and enjoy every minute.
My “a-ha!” moment was realizing it really is about intake (calories) and output (exercise). Maintenance is a one-day-at-a-time process and doing something healthy for myself daily will pay off. I cleanse and exfoliate my skin daily, make time for myself to relax, and enjoy cooking healthy meals for family and friends.
Jody Waters before (left) and after (right) her weight loss. (Photos courtesy of Jody Waters)
Today, I walk eight to 10 miles every day. When the weather is nice, I walk in my neighborhood and on the trails near my home. When the weather is bad, I either walk laps in my basement or I go to the local college and walk at their indoor track. I have started jogging and would like to run a 5K soon. Sometimes I’ll use the exercise bike and I have started using 5- to 10-pound weights to work my arms and shoulders. I drink 64 ounces or more of water every day, and am always looking for new and fun ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into my diet, too.
My husband and I like to go out Saturday and Sunday evenings, so I usually balance those two days by watching my intake during the day and also upping my exercise. I never tell myself I have failed if I overindulge, I just simply work out afterward. I have found it much easier to skip the dessert or bread if I know that means I’ll be riding the bike longer!
I was always bad about afternoon binge eating because I run a daycare and actually eating a real meal was a challenge. I have started prepping healthy meals for myself for the week and measuring out snacks to have when afternoon hunger hits. Having the right food handy makes it so much easier to stay on track.
I keep old pictures close at hand and I remind myself of the hard work and energy I put into getting here. I still set goals and reward myself when I reach them. My body really lets me know if I get off track. Too much sugar gives me a stomach ache, so I really just don’t like the way I feel when I overdo it. But I love the way I feel after an amazing walk or jog.
My No. 1 piece of advice is: Create accountability. Set goals and find friends who will keep you accountable. No one can make the changes but you. Excuses are easy, change is hard, but SO worth it.
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