Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have achieved healthy weight loss.
Stephanie Denny is 33, 6 feet tall, and currently weighs 175 pounds. But in 2011, she weighed 320 pounds — nearly double her weight today.
The Turning Point
After I gave birth to my last baby, I told myself, This is it, Stephanie. You better get your stuff together or you are going to be sad, lazy, and die an early death like your mom. I felt like a horrible mom, getting winded from simply looking at my kids. I had been approved for the Lap-Band [gastric banding surgery], but I decided I needed to give it one last real shot with diet and exercise alone before I went down the surgery route.
While I was pumping milk for a few months for my baby, I really concentrated on changing my diet. I even followed the Weight Watchers plan for nursing women for a while. Using a food scale was (and still is) the greatest help. From August 2011 to December 2011, I lost 40 or so pounds following Weight Watchers and using a food scale. At the beginning of January 2012, my sister-in-law challenged me to see who could walk more miles. Walking five miles per day, combined with logging what I ate on Sparkpeople.com (and eventually transitioning over to MyFitnessPal.com), helped me to drop even more weight.
After that, I did an entire cycle of P90X Lean and began using a BodyMedia armband to monitor my calorie burn. Through all of this, I had gotten myself down to 220 pounds. But once I had lost 100 pounds on my own, I found myself stuck. I had to make a change, so I joined a gym and hired a trainer. I began doing INSANITY workouts and went to spin classes. Around that time, I switched from using my BodyMedia armband to a Fitbit, because let’s face it — who wants to wear a bulky armband all the time?
Finally, I had lost enough weight to get a tummy tuck. When I healed from that, I stuck with clean eating and got back in the gym, and I lost the remainder of the weight. I also started going to a boot camp to get outside and do something different. Of course there were times when I felt like I didn’t want to have to work so hard and wanted to give up, but in those moments I’d remind myself that this was a lifestyle change and if I wanted the weight to stay off, I had to keep at it.
Today, I am concentrating on the shape of my body and filling in the rest of my skin with muscles. It can be a challenge, but I’m working on not being paranoid of gaining all the weight back. On any given day, my weight ranges between 175 and 180 pounds. People often ask me how many calories I eat, but it’s never the same number. Usually it’s between 1,500 and 2,200 calories, but it depends on how much activity I do on any given day.
Losing the weight has been amazing. I felt and still feel confident and energetic. There were so many new and incredible experiences: being able to go to amusement parks and not worry if I fit in the seat; walking around Disneyland (six to eight miles!) with my family and not wanting to die; going shopping with my friends — to any store — and being able to fit into the clothing.
What surprised me, and frustrated me, was the extra skin. After having lost so much weight (and having my children), I was left with excess skin around my midsection and my breasts were all sagging skin. No matter how much exercise I did, I had that extra stomach skin that I tucked into my pants. It was time to get surgery to remove it. I got a tummy tuck and a breast lift/augmentation.
I still find maintenance to be a challenge. I can’t be without my Fitbit Charge HR or my food scale. I’m happy to say I never gave up eating foods I love — except for in the beginning, so that I could get a good jumpstart on losing weight. If I know I’m going out with friends on the weekend, I’ll be a little more careful about what I eat during the week.
If I ever feel like I’m getting off track, I usually take a step back to ask myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. Generally, I judge where I’m at based on how my pants fit, and if they start to feel snug I just get a little more serious about my diet and exercise and go back to weighing myself more frequently.
I love to bake, but instead of having a full pan of whatever I’ve baked and eating it all, I give most of it away and only eat a serving. To make sure that I get my exercise in, I drop my boys off at school in the mornings and immediately go to the gym so that it’s done for the day and I don’t have to find time to fit it in later. I also refer to the fitness programs on BodyBuilding.com to help keep me motivated.
Don’t get discouraged. I used to start losing weight and when it wasn’t happening fast enough, I would give up. I also encourage people to avoid all of the crazy diets — period. Change your lifestyle for good. Making a true lifestyle change is going to take time. Find ways to stay interested in fitness, whether it’s a boot camp, a cyclng class, Zumba, or hiking. Never give up the foods you love, because most of the time that restriction leads to bingeing eventually. And finally, you have to have positive support around you!
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