My name is Morgan Calkin (@moslimsdown), and I am 33. I’m from Louisville, Kentucky, and I’m a massage therapist. After a negative experience hiking with my husband, I decided to really concentrate on my weight loss and found support and community on Instagram.
My biggest issue with my weight before started my journey was that I had an all-or-nothing approach to weight loss. I struggled with not giving up as soon as I felt hungry. I would use anything as an excuse to stop whatever diet I was doing—family get-togethers, dinners out, or the "I was good all week!" excuse. The truth is, I just wasn’t ready to change. I had tried and failed so many times that I resigned myself to just being a a big girl.
I remember telling my husband, “I’m always going to be a big girl, and that’s never going to change, so you need to get used to it.” Kind of a cringe-worthy moment when I think back on it because he never said anything about my size or weight gain. I know now that it was *my* insecurity, and the fact that I really wasn’t okay with being a big girl. I wasn’t comfortable in my skin at all.
My heaviest weight was 230 pounds (I’m 5’2). And my turning point was on Mother’s Day in 2018.
I was 30, and I had gone on a hike with my husband. I had started a weight-loss journey in January. I was counting calories but not working out at all. I was feeling better and had lost 25 pounds, but I was *not* in shape. I expected the hike to be two miles, but the trail ended up being longer and a little more moderate and inclined than expected, and it ended up being over three.
I literally kept falling, and my knees and feet hurt so badly that, at one point, my husband considered calling the park rangers to help. He was so frustrated and so was I. I felt ridiculous that I could not just get up. I don’t think I had ever been more ashamed or embarrassed in my entire life. When we got home that night I could barely walk.
The next day, I really started searching on Instagram for weight loss hashtags and different accounts, trying to find women who were my same starting weight that had lost weight. This is how I found Tiffany (@myadventuretofit). At her heaviest, she was 230 pounds, and kept talking about a 21 Day Meal Plan she used that her followers could try for $20. I was unsure about spending the money, but she was looking for 10 women to follow her meal plan, share their journey, and get paid. I emailed her, and the rest was history.
The 21 Day Meal Plan worked for me because it has a set list of foods to follow.
For me, this was so simple—you just don’t eat anything that isn’t on the list for 21 days. It is basically an elimination diet that takes all of the crap out of your diet and teaches you to add things back in slowly to see if they affect you negatively or not. I learned that not only do I have a sensitivity to gluten (it’s okay for me in small amounts), but I really don't digest dairy well at all. On the plan, I was finally listening to my body, eating intuitively, and not counting calories...and that was the most freeing part.
Here‘s what I eat in a day now:
Breakfast: Four egg whites, one black bean and quinoa veggie burger, a spoonful of cottage cheese, and mustard.
Lunch: Baked chicken with no-salt seasoning, ½ cup of brown rice, and a veggie of some sort.
Dinner: Ground turkey seasoned with no-salt seasoning, scoop of cottage cheese, broccoli, and a ½ cup of brown rice pasta.
Snacks: Handful of almonds, hard-boiled egg, or a rice cake with almond butter and berries.
When I began exercising, I started off with the 21 Day workout from Beachbody, using *all* of the modifications.
I really liked the structure of the Beachbody workouts and how you could choose programs based on intensity, beginner, intermediate, etc. It wasn’t until I started the LIIFT 4 program that I got really into and excited about lifting heavy and seeing muscle definition and growth. These programs got me into a very motivated mindset of working out at least five days per week.
Lately, I haven’t been following a specific program. There’s so much amazing content on YouTube that’s free and structured (which I like), so I just make sure each day that I’m focusing on at least one muscle group with weights and getting my heart rate up, too.
I currently work out six days per week (sometimes seven, depending on my mood) for a minimum of 30 minutes.
These three changes helped me see the most noticeable results in my weight loss.
Change one: I drastically lowered my salt intake. This was the biggest thing for me. I used to be swollen and bloated all the time and just thought it was normal until I lowered my sodium intake and upped my water consumption *a lot*. I notice immediately now if I’ve had too much salt because my fingers, feet, and belly all bloat so much. I also now drink a gallon or more of water each day, and I noticed on my journey that the more water I drank, the more consistent my weight loss was.
Change two: I followed a workout routine. Exercise makes me happy! It literally changes my mood. Even going for a walk helps. It doesn’t have to be intense, although I swear for me the more intense the workout, the better my mood after.
Change three: I eliminated foods that made me feel bad. Cutting out and keeping out the things that just don’t work for my body (gluten, dairy, a lot of salt, and heavily processed foods) has made me feel so much better. When I eat whole, unprocessed foods, my body feels amazing.
I have lost 80 pounds in about eight months.
I think it’s important to say that I am, and probably always will be, a work in progress. My goals are constantly changing. Sometimes I drift and I don’t eat the greatest, or I don’t drink enough water, but I *never* give up.
This journey has truly taught me that I can do hard things. It may sound so small, but I can run around with my kids, carry a 40-pack of water from Costco up the stairs, and I can walk into any store and find my size. I can do a pushup and run two miles without stopping. I am happy, not because I lost weight, but because I don’t put limits on myself anymore.
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