I realize now, food became my crutch (I was sexually assaulted at a young age, and my therapist eventually helped me connect the two things)-but at the time
I’d never been overweight as a child but all of sudden, at 15 years old, I began binge-eating…and my body started to rapidly change.
I realize now, food became my crutch (I was sexually assaulted at a young age, and my therapist eventually helped me connect the two things)-but at the time, I didn't understand why or how I would eat an entire pizza in one sitting. By the time I made it to my senior year of high school, I had gained 100 pounds.
At my heaviest (after having my son), I was 302 pounds-and I started seriously considering weight-loss surgery.
I’d tried so many of my own methods to lose weight-restricting calories, eating bland foods-but nothing I tried was sustainable (plain chicken with steamed, unseasoned broccoli for dinner every night was just not going to happen). So I’d quit as soon as I’d start.
At that time, I knew I wanted weight-loss surgery, but in order for it to be approved by my insurance, I had to provide proof of a failed weight-loss program. So, I tried WW (formerly Weight Watchers) totally expecting it would fail me and I’d be able to get the surgery I wanted.
To my surprise, I actually lost weight-that's when I knew the program was going to change my life.
Before Weight Watchers I had no limits when it came to food. I was eating fast food almost every day: ordering the largest burger, the largest fries, and a large soda. I didn’t really think or care about what I was putting into my body, and WW changed that. The program’s point-based system made me think about what I was eating-and it prompted a complete lifestyle change.
In fact, to hold myself accountable (and to pay it forward), I started my Instagram account, @feliciafitnesshealth, to document my weight-loss journey. I had been so inspired by other weight-loss accounts like Lexi Reed's @fatgirlfedup, that I wanted to give others the same motivation.
Another lifestyle change: Not feeling guilty about eating something I thought was "bad" for me. Before, on other diets, I would let my eating habits spiral if I had a treat (I'd already "ruined" my diet that day-why bother eating healthy otherwise?). But Weight Watchers taught me that eating one cupcake is not what got me to 300 pounds and eating one now won’t halt my progress-I can enjoy treats guilt-free and then get back on track.
I'm also finding ways to make healthier versions of the meals I used to enjoy most, which means I don't get bored with my diet, and I always feel satisfied. Here's what I usually eat on WW:
Breakfast: Protein coffee (two shots of espresso poured over a protein shake) with fruit or a Smartcake, a gluten-free and low-carb snack cake.
Lunch: Eggs and turkey sausage, or a grilled cheese made with whole-grain bread and a side of cottage cheese.
Dinner: Two-ingredient pizza dough, made from non-fat Greek yogurt and self-rising flower, with light cheese and marinara sauce. Or sometimes, a cheesy broccoli casserole with cauliflower rice.
Once I started to lose weight, I began working on my other goal: to become more toned.
I started off at a small gym that I’d walk to with my son (my weight made me insecure about getting a membership at a bigger, busier gym). At first, my workouts consisted of light cardio on the treadmill and the elliptical for 20 to 30 minutes, followed by weight training with five-pound dumbbells.
As the weight started coming off, I switched to a different gym where I focused more on heavy lifting and incorporating high-intensity cardio into my routine. Now, six days a week, I use the StairMaster for about 20 minutes and lift for 30 minutes.
I won't sugarcoat things: Losing weight was tough, and I couldn't have done it without help.
Balancing life with this new lifestyle was hard, but I knew I had to do everything I could to succeed-that meant attending weekly Weight Watchers meetings. My family doesn't live nearby and my husband was often gone for training in the Marine Corps, so I had to rely on friends to watch my son while I was at the gym or at meetings.
I’m so thankful for the incredible support system I’ve had throughout this process, it means a lot to me. My loved ones were, understandably, worried about me at my heavier weight and it means everything to know that I’ve made them proud.