Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Heather Hamm is 24 and currently weighs 150 pounds. In 2014, after beginning to experience knee pain and being shocked by the number she saw on the scale, she decided to embrace a healthier lifestyle. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.
The turning point
I noticed my weight becoming an issue when I started working, at 19 years old. I was hired to do a pretty physical job, and every time I would get down on my knees to get to the shelves lowest to the floor, my left knee would pop out on me. It was incredibly painful, but I just brushed it off as having bad knees, since my father’s side of the family had bad knees.
The biggest turning point for me was seeing the number 257 on the scale. I was in total shock. I re-weighed myself about six times, hoping that the scale was wrong, but it wasn’t. I couldn’t believe that at 21 years old, I was closer to 300 pounds than I was to 200. I was a size 16/18, and I knew that something had to change.
My first step in losing weight was giving up meat. I went completely vegetarian and focused on eating more vegetables, with no fast food at all. After about a year of being a vegetarian, I still was not quite losing weight the way I wanted to. At this time, I was in the middle of moving from one city to another, and on a fluke, I came across a local workout group that was run by a group of athletes that promoted Herbalife. I started working out with the group three times a week, running on the other four days a week, and drinking Herbalife shakes. I was drinking a gallon of water a day, giving up coffee and opting for green tea, eating healthier snacks, and the weight was coming off of me in a steady, healthy manner.
I felt nervous at first, mainly because I was afraid of failure. I’ve always been a very determined, goal-oriented individual, but I didn’t know how I was going to tackle this issue in my life. I believe my biggest motivation came from watching my grandmother pass away from obesity-related issues. She was one of my greatest role models, and losing her was a huge heartbreak. She always tried to lose weight, and I knew if she were still around, she would have wanted me to succeed with my weight- loss journey.
I also started to feel a lot better. I was happier, stronger, and every week I was seeing some sort of result, and it just kept me wanting more. My progress motivated me to continue.
Nothing has ever made me feel as amazing as seeing the number “147” on the scale. It was more than the number, though, it was knowing all the sweat, heartache, and tears that went into getting my weight down to a healthy number. Physically, I was at the healthiest I had ever been and emotionally I was so much more confident and excited for life. My life has completely changed because of the weight loss. I wake up every day thankful for my health, I love trying new things, and I don’t hide from the world anymore.
The biggest surprise for me was the personality change that came along with it. I never realized how unhappy and shy I was when I was overweight. I had friends, and I even had a boyfriend in high school, but I still never really came out of my shell. It wasn’t until after I lost the weight that I realized that I have a voice, I am a fun person to be around, and most of all, I’ve been an inspiration to a number of family members and friends, which makes me feel so amazing.
I am someone who likes planning and organization. My eating habits and exercise routines are all planned out. I love meal prepping, and making sure I have healthy snacks around. A gallon of water is the goal for every day, sometimes more. I have completely cut out all beef and pork, I limit the amount of bread and dairy I can have a week, and having almonds and oatmeal in my cupboards is a must.
Exercise is typically five to six days a week. I love cardio, and in particular, running. Four days are cardio, and the other two are strength training. I also love to go hiking, and I plan out at least one hiking trip a month.
Hydration is very important to me. I can not stress this enough. Water helps keep my skin clear, it flushes out my body internally, and it helps me feel fuller faster. Sometimes you might think you’re hungry when really, you’re just thirsty. I also always carry almonds with me when I go out, in case I start to feel hungry, or for when I’m at work and need a snack.
I also love wearing my fitness tracker and setting the steps a little bit higher than the average individual. It helps keep me moving and makes me feel good when hit the goal at the end of the day.
Knowing that I have family, friends, and even co-workers who look up to me is what keeps me motivated. I want to show people that it is possible to live a healthy lifestyle and feel amazing without depriving yourself. I also look at old pictures of myself a lot as a reminder of what I don’t want to go back to. I am so happy with life now, I would never want to fall back into a shell.
Sweet foods were my biggest problem when I was heavier, and I still struggle with those cravings. It is difficult to find healthier alternatives. I indulge once in awhile, but try not to do it too often. It can be hard not to overindulge when I get killer cravings.
My best advice is to not give up. I know everyone says that, but I promise it is the truth. I will not say it is an easy road, but it is well worth it. Take it one day at a time, and little changes make the difference. Give up the processed and fast food, give up the sugary sweet drinks, find an exercise that works for you, embrace the healthy lifestyle, and you will be so happy you did.
All photos courtesy Heather Hamm.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
Have a weight-loss or beauty story you’d like to share with us? We want to hear it! Email YStyleBeauty@yahoo.com.