Francesca Lara began her weight-loss journey in January 2017 not only to make a New Year's resolution, but because she had recently suffered a miscarriage in late November 2016. Francesca shared with POPSUGAR, "After that, I felt an extreme sense of guilt. I couldn't help but think that the miscarriage was related to my size or health."
Francesca was already a mom to two children, and she recalls that she was hospitalized for most of the time during her second pregnancy. She thought for sure a third pregnancy would be worse since she was larger and older. She shared, "My mind just started racing with all the ways I was failing as a mother, all because of my size. Once I built up strength from the miscarriage, I started."
"I'll never forget that night my dad asked me what was my goal weight. I told him 199 pounds. He laughed!"
With a beginning weight of 368 pounds, she told her family on New Year's Eve that she was going to start her weight-loss journey and that she needed them to hold her accountable. She promised to check in with them with her meals and her progress - something she had never done.
She said, "I'll never forget that night my dad asked me what was my goal weight. I told him 199 pounds. He laughed! That hurt - not because he didn't believe me, but because of how many times I failed at weight loss. I told myself, 'This is it, Franie. You're going to do this and you will prove yourself right!'"
Franie went to see her doctor and found out she was borderline diabetic and had high blood pressure. Her husband said she snored and would sometimes even stop breathing when she slept. That was also a huge motivation. "With the new year, I wanted to get healthy."
"If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm full, I stop."
As for her diet, Franie focused mostly on a high-protein, low-carb regimen, eating three meals and two snacks each day plus sugar-free Jello for dessert. In the beginning, she said, "My biggest hurdle was learning proper portions."
So for the first three months, she started drinking a protein shake for both breakfast and lunch, included a couple snacks such as cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, apples, oranges, or a Pure Protein Bar, and then a regular dinner. Then she transitioned to eating three regular meals with a couple snacks; they mostly consisted of five ounces of protein, like grilled chicken and one cup of veggies. Franie used My Fitness Pal to track her calories in the beginning, but she doesn't do that anymore. "If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm full, I stop."
After six months, she hit her goal of 100 pounds lost, losing about 15 to 20 pounds a month. After that, her weight wasn't coming off like it had been, so she researched intermittent fasting. When her weight stalls, she does IF for two weeks, fasting until lunch, and she finds it really helps. She's in touch with a nurse practitioner to ensure she continues to lose weight in a healthy way, whether or not she continues using IF.
As for workouts, to lose the first 100 pounds, Franie walked three miles five times a week. Then she joined a gym and started incorporating weight training and jogging, and she says she loves going up and down the bleachers during her daughters' softball practice.
Taking progress pics at the first of every month also served as a great motivation. Her 7-year-old daughter was usually the one to take the pics. "I told her when I started that one day she would be able to hug me all the way around. The day that she was able to finally do it was an amazing day."
The day her 5-year-old could wrap her arms around her entirely "was awesome!" Another nonscale victory was being able to ride the rides at the carnival with her kids. "I cried," she recalled. Francesca also loved when her husband picked her up for the first time and when she realized that boots could fit around her calves.
Franie admits that motivation isn't always there, but she likes to think that she's driven. Having that accountability helps tremendously, and having to send photos and videos of her progress keeps her on track. Being able to look through those old videos and photos reminds her how far she's come. She tells herself, "I've come too far to stop now."
One piece of advice Francesca has is to make monthly goals - and then smash them! Just focus on hitting that one goal that month and it'll add up to big results. One quote on her Instagram page is, "I didn't lose 150 pounds; I lost one pound 150 times!" Focusing on one pound at a time helped her stay inspired. She's lost 152 pounds so far, and she's got her eyes set on that goal of 199!