I’ve known Joanne for a few years now and I always forget that at one time she struggled with her weight.
She is a very smart young lady who is currently getting her MD/PhD and hopes to do Cancer Research when she’s done. AND, she is an awesome cook as well! If you’ve never been to her blog, check it out HERE!.
So, when I was looking for another weight loss success story, I thought “I’ve never asked Joanne!” So she was very kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to be a part of this series!!
1). What was your “Aha” moment when you decided you needed to do something about your weight?
My “Aha” moment came in my sophomore year of college. A guy I had been dating for a few months literally just disappeared out of my life and, although retrospectively I don’t think it had anything to do with my weight, I remember thinking to myself that I never wanted to have to worry that a guy didn’t like me because I weighed too much ever again. And so from that day forward, I just committed myself to losing weight. I went to the gym everyday, I counted calories. I’m a very goal-driven person in general and so I said to myself that I would do it and so I did.
2). Had you tried to lose weight in the past – were you successful when you tried?
I hadn’t really tried to lose weight before this. My friends and I, in high school, would go on “diets” for maybe a day at a time, but nothing serious.
3). How do you find time for yourself to concentrate on losing weight?
I’m in medical school and so time is always an issue. But I always prioritize going to the gym. I go every day at the same time and even when things get crazy, I drop everything and go. Everything else will get done. But if I don’t go one day, I’m more likely to not want to go the next day, etc. I make it non-negotiable. Like brushing my teeth.
4). What kept you going? Were there times where you wanted to give up?
I think there were times at the beginning when I wanted to stop and just go binge on pizza and cake, but once I was doing it for a while, it got to be so gratifying to see the numbers on the scale drop that I didn’t want to give up. I would look at how far I had come and how much more energy I had/how much happier I felt and I just didn’t want to go back to the way I was before. That was motivation enough for me.
5). How has maintenance been, is maintaining harder than losing weight?
I hate to say this, but I think maintaining is a lot harder than losing weight. When you’re losing weight you have a goal and that goal is to change. When you’re maintaining, your goal is to stay the same and, honestly, that’s a lot less invigorating. I try to make other goals for myself, like running a marathon (which I did last year!) to keep things interesting. The other thing is that I started medical school after I had lost weight and so people never knew me as being 50 pounds heavier. They only met the thin me and for a lot of them it was hard to understand why I cared so much about what I ate. And eventually, I even started to convince myself that I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight. Not true. You always have to be vigilant. Always.
6). Did you exercise while losing weight, if so, what do you like to do for exercise?
While losing weight, I elliptical-ed a lot. I also ran a lot on the treadmill, although by the end I started to run outside. I now consider myself a runner, which, if you had told me four years ago I would have probably told you that you have four heads. I also stationary bike fairly frequently.
7). What are some tips that helped you a long the way?
I think my biggest tip is to eat breakfast. Everyone says that but it’s really true. Also, to never let yourself get too hungry and also never let yourself get too full. Whenever I get super hungry, I end up trying to eat everything in the kitchen. I also try to stop before I get that stuffed feeling because, well, that never feels good. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t beat yourself up over having a cookie or a cupcake. This is life and you can’t expect to give up dessert or french fries for the rest of your life (although I actually have given up french fries for life). Everything in moderation. As long as moderation includes eating more veggies than anything else.
8). Did you have people in your life that weren’t positive towards the changes you were making?
Very few people in my life actually talked about it at the time. I was in college and it was kind of an awkward thing to bring up. My family actually wasn’t super supportive. They didn’t understand why I had to go to the gym every day or why I wanted to eat vegetables and not burgers. It was frustrating at the time and still is because they are so unhealthy (my dad is obese) but they refuse to change. I think they felt insulted that I was working so hard to be so different from them. They felt like I was saying their way of life was wrong.
9). What was a typical eating day like when you were heavy?
No breakfast. Lunch at the little Japanese take-out place in our student center – usually a whole container (HUGE) of chicken teriyaki and tons of white rice. A container of Hershey’s chocolate milk. Honey bunches of oats cereal with yogurt as a snack. Dinner at the dining hall. On a good day – a salad smothered in french dressing. On a bad day – mac and cheese. Half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s cinnamon buns ice cream.
10). What is a typical eating day like now that you are eating healthier?
Breakfast – egg, english muffin, and oatmeal. Lunch – usually leftovers of whatever I’ve cooked for dinner that week. Today it was some broiled eggplant covered in bruschetta over some polenta. Snack – fruit of some kind – an apple or strawberries or peaches. Dinner – today it was homemade mole enchiladas filled with butternut squash, but usually pasta with tons of veggies.
Wow, great answers Joanne! I think the best thing I took away from it, as that even if your surroundings aren’t as healthy as you would like them to be, you have to do what’s best for you. AND, that it’s never really over, you still have to watch what you eat so you don’t fall back into old patterns and gain the weight back like so many people do.
If you’ve missed the other people I have profiled who are Weight Loss Superstars, CLICK HERE!!