Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Laura Rosales is 35 and currently weighs 150 pounds. In 2015, after deciding to give up her unhealthy lifestyle for the sake of her children, she lost weight and found her love of hiking. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.
The turning point
Since I was a little girl I always had issues with weight. I was constantly bullied in elementary school and had a father who always brought up my weight. It was always something that I struggled with.
In 2012 I saw my weight at 240 pounds, and I knew instantly I could not get any heavier than that. I had been working a graveyard shift and that caused some of my weight gain. The difficult shift combined with eating fast food and not working out was what led me to my heaviest point. I had a very unhealthy lifestyle overall. In addition to being overweight, I was constantly drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. I did not know exactly how I would start, but I wanted to try losing it naturally instead of buying weight loss supplements and doing crash diets like I had in the past.
After having some initial success in 2013, my weight loss stagnated after losing about 20 pounds. It wasn’t until the spring of 2015 that I really decided to change my lifestyle. I could not keep partying and drinking anymore. My daughter was already in kindergarten and my son was a junior in high school, and I wanted to be a better role model for them. I had to decide to either keep partying and end up dead or change my life. I knew exercise would be key for me but I didn’t really like gyms or anything having to do with working out. But then I discovered hiking.
When I was introduced to hiking, I fell in love with the mountains and the peace it brought me. At the same time I started noticing the weight falling off, and I just wanted to keep hiking and keep climbing.
The first major change I made to my diet was swapping all sugar drinks for water and replacing fast food with homemade meals. I also started working from home, which made it easier to stay away from fast food. At the beginning, I used My Calorie Counter, which is an app that helps count calories, but now I have learned enough about the calorie content of food to keep track myself. I tried to stay under 1,200 calories daily. I also completely gave up beer. I remember thinking to myself, “If I have these beers, I won’t be able to hike tomorrow because I will feel horrible,” so I wouldn’t drink. I also have not smoked a cigarette in almost two years!
As cliché as this may sound, I truly made these changes for my two kids. I did not want them to see me keep drinking and coming home drunk. I think if I had kept going that route, I would have ended up in a really bad place.
Climbing up the mountain made me feel so accomplished and free. I found something I liked to do and it helped me lose weight and I couldn’t feel any luckier. Also seeing the look on my mom’s face and how proud she is that I stopped that unhealthy lifestyle was rewarding. Everyone around me is starting to see a positive change, and it feels good when people start to ask me for advice. I want to help motivate others.
This is so strange to say, but at this point, the way I look isn’t important to me because the way I feel inside is so much better! Of course going into the store and buying a size 5/6 jeans instead of 15/16 is motivating, but I think once I let go of what people thought of me and how I looked was when I opened my eyes to what is really important.
After getting in better shape, I stopped hating working out and I even joined the gym! I do both the gym and hiking to change up my routine. I also have an amazing dog, who joins me on my hikes. I never imagined I would own a dog, let alone be hiking up the mountain with one! I have found a lot of peace with myself after the weight came off, and I think it’s all because I did it the right way. Now my weekend plans include hiking and outdoor activities with my family instead of sleeping until noon and waking up hung-over.
What surprises me the most is how some friendships have changed. Once my lifestyle changed I started seeing everything around me differently and it makes you realize what is good in your life and what is not. I am also surprised at how well my body functions. I finally feel normal. Before I would be up all night and sleep all day and now I am usually up by 5 a.m. and sleep well all night. I feel healthier and younger.
I stick to a schedule where I work out three days on and one day off. I do as much hiking as I can and I am still discovering many different trails. I still drink a lot of water and try to always make smart choices about what I eat. For example, I skip the fried foods and try baked foods instead. I also don’t stop going out to eat with my family and friends like most people think. I just choose lower calorie options.
I really want to be known for doing something great. I want to help others do the same thing I did because it gave me peace within myself. I want to inspire others.
For me personally the struggle has been fighting off the old habits. There are times when I do want to try the beer and go out partying again. But I have to think of how far I have been able to come and how far I am going to go, and it puts those dark thoughts behind me.
Believe in yourself and don’t stop once you find out what works for you. Don’t quit, is my best advice, because if I stopped I would not be here two years later at a weight that I have not seen since my sophomore year in high school. I am in better shape now than I have ever been.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
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All photos are courtesy of Laura Rosales.