Dana is a young professional with a love for cooking and staying active. It didn’t start out that way – she didn’t always love to cook, or even know how to cook for that matter. Dana’s skills in the kitchen hovered just above knowing how to boil water. And her physical activity level was a far cry from a fitness enthusiast.
Back in 2012 Dana went to her Physician for her annual check-up. In her appointment she took a look at the height and weight chart that calculates your Body Mass Index (BMI). Dana calculated her BMI and was surprised that at her current weight she was considered overweight. She was surprised because “she didn’t feel that way,” but “couldn’t hide from the numbers.” Dana decided she had two choices, “live with it or make a change.” She decided to make changes and has successfully maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds for more than two years, gone from a size 8 to a size 2, lost 2 bra sizes and gained an entire new wardrobe! We asked Dana if she would share her experience with B.Komplete in an effort to help others in their quest for making healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes.
B.Komplete: When you decided to make changes in your life what was the first thing you did?
Dana: The moment I decided that I wanted to make changes in my life I took some time to reflect on my choices. I didn’t begin making lifestyle changes right away. I took about a week or two to “check myself” by asking questions such as, was I living up to my ideal life. I allowed time for self-awareness and assessment. I did a mental inventory of my life.
B.Komplete: How did you begin the physical process of changing your life?
Dana: I started running with my boyfriend. I wanted to spend more time doing activities together. In the beginning, I wasn’t able to keep up with his pace, “I was no speed demon.” But, wanting to spend time with him and being competitive helped to motivate me and work harder. My goal was to keep up with him on our runs. In the beginning it was difficult to keep up but I kept at it.
B.Komplete: What type of goals did you set for yourself?
Dana: I didn’t set a big goal like “I’m going to lose this much weight by this date.” I set small goals along the way. If I ran for ten minutes without stopping one day I would shoot for fifteen minutes the next day. I set small achievable goals and made small incremental gains that resulted in larger gains over time.
B.Komplete: What other changes did you make?
Dana: I did multiple things over a long period of time. I’m a “food nerd” so the thought of a restrictive diet was a worse case scenario for me. I began to learn how to cook. My weight was reflective of my lack of cooking skills. I learned a few simple things in the beginning to get started. I would choose recipes that were easier to make. Now, cooking has become a hobby for me. I have learned to cook many recipes from scratch. I view cooking as equally as important for sustaining my weight loss as I do the physical activity.
B.Komplete: Was there anyone in particular who helped motivate you?
Dana: Beryl and I were room-mates for a year. I witnessed that she practices what she preaches for nutrition consumption and portion control. Beryl’s recipes are well-balanced, from a nutrition and a flavor standpoint. Beryl is always active, and supported me in my pursuit by joining me at my level as a reliable work-out buddy. As I began to change so did my relationships and conversations with other people. My conversations became more about health. I would ask my family questions about cooking which lead to more conversations geared toward health.
B.Komplete: Were your friends and family supportive of your efforts?
Dana: No one really noticed I was loosing weight until about a year after I began. Because I was making small changes over a long period of time I don’t think it was immediately noticeable. For the most part, people were supportive. But, sometimes they could make less than complimentary comments. I feel as though people sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy. It’s human nature to feel a bit jealous and have a lapse in support when someone else is accomplishing something you have not been successful in doing. It makes people look at themselves and reflect on their life and recognize their choices.
B.Komplete: What resources do you use to help keep you going?
Dana: I have a never-ending supply of healthy recipes and workout plans. Having these tools eliminates the excuse of not knowing what to do or what to cook. I like Cooking Light for recipes and Fitness Blender for exercise routines. I like Fitness blender because the trainers doing the workouts are not “just in their sports bras with their hair down.” They’re saying “wow, I’m sweating” and I’m thinking yeah, me too, I’m glad to know they are feeling the same way I do when I work out!
B.Komplete: Do you have a personal mantra or inspirational quote that you like?
Dana: I believe everyone needs one; mine is “yes you can.” On those days when I feel like my workout is to difficult I say to myself “yes you can.”
B.Komplete: What are you most proud of?
Dana: I’m proud of my life. I never set out with the goal of just losing weight. I wanted to increase my activity level and share more time with my boyfriend. As my activity level increased I began to lose weight. I have always liked me but now I like me even better.
B.Komplete: What advice would you give to someone starting out on a similar quest?
Start with small challenges that are achievable. If you hit a plateau push yourself to get through it. Be kind to yourself. I think people give up because they are too hard on themselves. Glitches happen, go back to your “mental buzzer” when you’re doing something that won’t help you reach your goal. If you make one “mistake,” don’t make two. Also, my activities became my hobbies. I stick with things I like which makes it easier to do. Find things you like to do. You need to have balance between physical activity and eating healthy in order to be successful.