Tara LaJevic tried to avoid the scale and mirrors for as long as she could, but one day she'd had enough.
Most of my adult life, I've weighed somewhere around 170 pounds. For someone who is 5'9", that's not the ideal weight, but I felt okay about myself. For the most part, I was eating things like cheeseburgers, fries, pizza, and pasta in Alfredo sauce, and I didn't really think about what I was putting into my body. Plus, I worked in the restaurant industry, where I was around unhealthy yet tasty food all. The. Time. But I worked out a lot and loved taking cycling classes, so my weight stayed pretty consistent.
When I got pregnant in my early twenties, I gained about 70 pounds and weighed 220 pounds. I stopped going to the gym and continued eating what I wanted. After having my daughter, I decided to join a weight-loss program, and it worked! I went back to 175 pounds.
Unfortunately, while I was on the program, I always felt hungry. So when I quit, I went back to my old ways and started putting the weight back on. By the time my daughter was in school, my weight had skyrocketed. Between 2012 and 2013, I'd gained 45 pounds and was too embarrassed to work out anymore. To make some extra money, I picked up another job and was working more than 50 hours a week—and of course, that was on top of taking care of my daughter. I began eating at the restaurants I worked at more frequently, and my weight continued to creep up. Eventually, I stopped weighing myself, began avoiding mirrors, and pretended like nothing was wrong.
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One day at work, a news crew came to interview a few people about an incident that had happened in the area. After I was interviewed on camera, I was kind of excited to see myself on TV. But when the newscast aired, I couldn't believe how big I looked. I broke down. I actually went into a little bit of a depression. I felt really hopeless, but I tried to channel those emotions into researching how other people had lost weight. Those success stories inspired me to try to change my life.
My mom told me that she and my dad had used the Atkins diet to lose a lot of weight and that it might work for me—so I went for it. I started by cutting back on the amount of carbohydrates and sugar I was eating and by ramping up my protein intake. I'm not going to lie—it was really hard to avoid French fries at work and order lunches without any bread at first, but I knew that sticking to the diet would help me reach my goal. I actually learned how to stick with my eating habits when I ate out. I started ordering salmon with a side of veggies, scrambled eggs with chorizo, and salads.
After four weeks, I weighed myself and realized that I'd lost 20 pounds, bringing me to 220. When I reached 175 pounds about seven months later, I started going to the gym again. It felt so good to be active! I was surprised how easy it was to work out without the extra weight.
One year after deciding to change my life, I'd lost 92 pounds and weighed 148 pounds. For the first time in my adulthood, I wear a size six. I feel awesome!
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My favorite part about being this size is that I can go shopping and buy whatever I want. I think this is the first time I've worn shorts since I was 12. Now, I wear them every day.
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Hold off on weighing yourself at first. When I began changing my eating habits, I didn't want to get discouraged if the pounds didn't come off right away. By waiting a few weeks to weigh myself, I stayed motivated during the hardest part of any lifestyle change. Now, I step on the scale pretty frequently to make sure I'm on track.
Know that you can change yourself. When I weighed around 180, I thought, "Well, this is how I look, and I can't change it." But nothing is permanent. When I decided to change my life for the better, I did it.
You don't have to starve to lose weight. Though I was cutting back on certain kinds of foods, I never felt like I was hungry after a meal. I felt satisfied by eating lots of protein and veggies—which helped me stay on track with my good habits.