Thirty Pounds Lighter, Healthier and Happier

One year ago, I set out to make a big change in my life. This is my story of how I lost 30 pounds, discovered new passions and reclaimed my confidence.

How It All Went Down

Rewind to September 2010. I was three months into my first full-time job and frustrated at how quickly I was packing on the pounds sitting at a desk all day. I decided to join the gym. I went to the gym three-four times a week, jumped on the elliptical, did some abs. I lost some weight, but nowhere near the amount I had been hoping to lose. In fact, by the time January rolled around and I had to step on the scale for a doctor’s appointment, I was APPALLED at the number staring back at me: 170 pounds. WHAT THE WHAT?

So in January 2011, I decided to challenge myself to learn how to run. Really run. Like outside and everything. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app on my iPod, a program that boasts turning couch potatoes into runners in nine weeks. Three times a  week I dragged my butt to the gym, hopped on the treadmill and steadily increased my running time, following the program.I dropped weight pretty quickly and it felt amazing when at least once a day, someone would notice and tell me how great I was looking or asked what I was doing to lose the weight. When an opportunity arose to run a 5K for colon cancer awareness with work, I figured why not? I was already training for it, whether I realized it or not. In March, I completed my first 5K.

And from there I was hooked on running. Since then, I’ve completed three more 5Ks with another one planned for this weekend and another in November. I became obsessed with Zumba when work started offering free classes two times a week. Since March, I’ve maintained a steady workout schedule, alternating running, Zumba and strength workouts. And steadily, through the months, I’ve dropped 30 pounds.

Now, I weigh in at 138 pounds.

October 2011

How I Did It

-Creating a weekly workout schedule and sticking to it: Every Sunday, I write out my workout schedule for the week. I try to work out five-six times a week, depending on my schedule. I try to run three-four times a week, and do Zumba or some other type of exercise two
times a week. And of course I schedule in one or two rest days! I try very hard to make a commitment at the beginning of the week to stick to my schedule.

Before a 5K in September

-Becoming an AM gym go-er: Want to know the best way NOT to skip your workout? Make your working out the first thing you do when you wake up. Slowly, VERY slowly, I have become a morning gym go-er. I wake up at 5 a.m., head to the gym for a quick 40 minute sweat sesh and head home to shower and go to work. It’s easier than it sounds, believe me. Oh, and  added bonus: I am WAY more productive at work when I work out in the morning.

In the middle of a 5K in June

-Finding a form of exercise that I love: In February, my work started offering free Zumba classes, and I quickly became addicted. Zumba is not only an amazing cardio workout, it is SO. MUCH. FUN. In June, I did a two hour zumbathon and I currently take about two Zumba classes a week (one regular class, one toning class with weights). I look forward to these classes, and I usually take them with friends so not only is it a workout, it’s a social outing. Also, I now love running. The girl who could barely make it through the mandatory mile in gym class in high school loves running. It’s crazy, but it’s true. Running clears my mind and makes me feel strong.

-Changing my diet (but not dieting!): The thought of going on a diet made me want to vomit, so I didn’t. Instead, I changed my lifestyle. I took a hard look at what I was putting into my body (white bread! fatty potato chips! soda!) and realized that I was being just plain stupid. There were so many simple fixes I could make quickly to make a big difference. I switched to whole wheat bread. I bought rice chips and peppers and hummus to snack on instead of greasy potato chips. I eliminated soda completely and now drink water like I live in the desert. I added more fruits and veggies to my diet. I paid attention to portion size. But most importantly, I didn’t deprive myself! If I wanted ice cream or cookies or a second helping at dinner, I allowed myself those treats.

How I Feel

I feel AMAZING. I’ve never felt healthier, happier or more beautiful in my life. It feels so good to be comfortable and confident in my skin. And I won’t lie, it feels damn good to fit into a size 4!

Next Up?

Broad Street Run. Sunday, May 6, 2012. 10 miles.

I know that there will be many more challenges ahead. Now that I’ve lost the weight, I need to maintain this healthy weight, which I’m sure will be a whole new adventure in itself. I’m ready for it. But for now, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and most importantly, I’m comfortable and happy in my own skin.

  • That’s a great story! Congratulations on your success :0) I haven’t been to happy with what stares back at me in the mirror, lately, but I haven’t found an exercise I love quite yet. Now that you are feeling so good, I’m sure maintaing will be a breeze! Thanks for sharing. Best of luck on your run in May!

  • Jamie

    I am so so so beyond proud of you for taking charge of your life. Obviously I could tell you this in person but I want to put it out on here too. You look amazing and it’s so good to know you feel amazing too. It makes me so happy to know that you love yourself. You look truly stunning and I know you’ll continue to maintain your new healthy lifestyle and fabulous body. You’re such an inspiration to me in all aspects of life and I cannot wait to run my first 5k with you on Thanksgiving! I love you and continue to love yourself!!
    <3 your sister

  • Wow wow wow! I know you’d been keeping up with running but I had no idea what an overhaul you’d made! I’m seriously impressed!

    I’ve fallen off the workout wagon for the Christmas season because I’m generally at work around 7 am half the week and the other half I’m working till 10 pm…. so right now sleep is the only thing on my radar… but I’m kinda getting the urge to run again now. What motivation you are!

    And you look AMAZING!

  • Congratulations!
    Such an inspiring story … it is amazing what we can accomplish when we set out minds, right? Really, you look great!
    And that’s a big part … feeling and looking great … I’m sure you’ll do anything in your power to keep that up now because you learned to love yourself.
    Again, congrats!
    My favorite exercise is dancing, though I injured my foot last year and can’t dance anymore … so I’m still looking for another exercise I enjoy (and that I can do, since I can’t strain my foot) … quite hard, but I have hope! lol

  • Frankie Diane Mallis

    WOW! You are amazing! And what an inspiring story! This definitely makes me want to hit the gym more frequently.

  • Awesome job Jessica! You’re an inspiration to many women, myself included!

  • Congratulations – taking control of your health is so rewarding, and it’s great to see what an inspiration you are! Best of luck in your next big run!

  • So proud of you, love! Continue to do great things because you are an amazing woman with so much ahead of you xoxo

  • Wow! That’s amazing! I was halfway through the Couch to 5K program when I had to have surgery, and have since fallen out of it, but I was thinking last nite that I should get back into the swing of things, so I was going to do the program when I got to the gym today! You are an inspiration to those of us who want to lose weight without doing some crazy diet … now I can’t wait to get to the gym after reading your story! Congrats on the weight loss!

  • Amazing job, Jess! Good luck with your training for Broad Street. See you there 😉

  • Meg

    Congrats, Jess — that’s awesome! Love your idea about sitting down and writing out your work-out schedule for the week; that’s a fabulous way to stay organized, and I think I’m going to follow suit! I’ve been taking Zumba classes with a friend for about a month now and love it, too. I know I need to do more than two or three Zumba classes a week to get healthier, but it’s a start. And one day I’ll get back to the gym! 🙂

  • Wow, I am so happy for you Jess! You are an inspiration and I wish you much success in the future! I struggle with trying to get to the gym and I always seem to end up not going, but maybe if I wrote it all out like you did I would be more inclined to stick to my schedule and not be such a lazy azz lol.

  • You are an inspiration to me! I have just started a similar plan and my goal is to be down to a 4. This has so many great tips – congrats on everything and you look amazing! 🙂

  • Congrats Jess! I’m so happy for you. Being healthy really DOES feel good! You look amazing and I’m really proud of you for taking charge of your own health and happiness like this!

  • LOVE THIS POST! Hugging you through the screen! I love how you talk about this journey — you did it as a way to love YOURSELF, not to please others, etc. As someone who’s working to get back in shape (and finding it more difficult than before), thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  • You look great! Congrats and thanks for posting this. You have a lot to be proud of.

  • You look AMAZING! So many good tips in this post. 🙂

    Way to go!

  • You look amazing! Congratulations on all of your success!

  • Wow! This is amazing and you look great!

    Keep up the good work!!

    xo

  • This is an awesome post Jess! I’m so proud to hear what you’ve accomplished in the past year, and thing you look amazing in the recent picture you posted. A well-deserved congrats to you!!

  • jessica, that is AWESOME. your story is inspiring!

  • Great job, lady! You rock! I totally need to get back on the workout horse. You know I love my Zumba! I just need to find a gym now that I’m in Pennsylvania.

  • Yiye

    Thanks Jessica for sharing the story! It’s so inspiring. I was struggling with losing some weight recently but can’t find a plan to carry it out. This seems a good fit! But I don’t know if I could wake up at 5AM every morning..It sounds hard…

  • Good for you! I need to be more active. I tried Couch to 5K once but didn’t complete it. One of my goals is to finish and then run at least one 5K. I’ve also heard so many great things about Zumba and need to find a class near me asap. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  • Way to go Jess! You look great! I wish I could get on a better workout regimen. During the summer months, I walk 2-3 times a week, if not more, but during the winter, I definitely slack. I do pilates in my living room for maybe 10 minutes an evening, but always want to do more. I have never joined a gym because when I get home from work at 8pm, that’s the last thing I want to do. I really want to get an elliptical when I get a house. That’s on my want list 🙂

  • This is incredibly inspiring! You look fabulous and it shows. I used to be a morning workout fiend but that has slacked considerably. I need to get back into that routine because it really did help me lose weight. Also with more water!! You show it works and I just need to do it.

  • Congrats to you, what an accomplishment! I have more than a little bit of weight I’d like to shed, but I’ve yet to find anything that I *love* doing. Think I’d be a morning exerciser but it’s my job to get The Kid off to school, and then I have to be at work right after that. Plus, I’m lazy. 🙂 But good for you, perhaps you’ll be my inspiration now!

  • Congratulations on not only the weight loss, but also the running.

    I’ve been swimming laps for years now and only picked up running a few years ago. I’ve completed three half marathons in the last three years, improving my time each run. I’m not going to win one any time soon, but I compete against myself and have fun doing it.

    You hit on one thing I think is vital to the excercise–have a consistent time to do it. I don’t do mornings due to my job (I get up super early (3 a.m.)) but I do go each afternoon at around the same time.

    Keep up the great work!

    And as someone who has lost weight, I can tell you the next challenge begins….keeping it off. But you can do it!

  • I can’t believe you even had 30 pounds to lose in the first place! Congrats!x

  • Melissa

    Amazing how you have transformed from the girl who didn’t own sneakers to the girl who runs miles and miles! Loved this post, and love that you took charge and did something great for yourself in the midst of a hard summer. Looking forward to cheering you on at the BSR!

  • Congrats! That is an awesome accomplishment! I wish I wasn’t up so early for work because I like running but I have a hard time motivating myself to go. And it sounds like a great lifestyle change too!

  • AWESOME! Congrats!! I’m just getting started towards a similar goal (this week). I’ve gotten into the rhythm of morning workouts (joined a gym that’s between my boyfriend’s apartment and the metro, so I can work out, then go home and change and eat, then go to work. All in a straight line!) And I bought some healthy snacks, which I think are crucial since I work in a place with a steady supply of coffee, brownies, croissants, and more, served by an incredibly nice lady that delivers them to our desks. I am so spoiled. I know!

    I did the Great Wall Half Marathon about 2.5 years ago, and I plan to do the Santiago Half Marathon in March.

    Congrats again on being lighter, healthier, and happier. You’re such an inspiration!

  • Way – or weigh – to go! I need your motivation and drive. You really ran your butt off and what is so great is that you discovered your own method to get it done!

  • I get Alexis Grant’s weekly summary of links and as soon as I saw your link I had to go and see how you managed to lose 30 pounds. Amazing work and good for you! Since last year’s NANOWRIMO, I packed on the pounds and have had little motivation to workout (I do in spurts and then quit for a month and the whole vicious cycle starts).

    But you motivated me! I downloaded the C25k for the treadmill workout, I also downloaded the phone app and tomorrow is my first day of really sticking to it for the nine weeks. My goal is 20 pounds and includes weight-training and the elliptical. Wish me luck!

    BTW, no Nano for me this year. I’m working on reworking my current WIP. Last years NANO is in a virtual drawer and will never see the light (really, really bad).

    • Jessica Lawlor

      @Rebeca Schiller, I’m so glad you found me via Lexi’s blog! 🙂 Thanks for the compliments…as a freelancer and writer, I can definitely understand how you gained some weight. I totally did too! We spend so much time at our computers; it’s hard not to!

      Please let me know in a few weeks how Couch25K is going. I loved the program and loved how strong I began to feel even in weeks 2 and 3. Good luck! You got this!

      Yeah…no real nano for me this year either. I’m taking my own spin on it. You should bring last years nano out and edit it though! I’m sure you’ll find something you can work with in there.

      Thanks for your comment! Looking forward to checking out your site.

  • TTiscornia

    Thanks so much for the inspiring post and congrats on all that you’ve achieved! Quick question about the AM workout – do you eat breakfast before or after?

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