‘After I Stopped Drinking, I Kept A Food Journal To Lose Weight And Lost 70 Pounds In A Year’

My name is Kayla Rusiecki (@kayfit_rusiecki), and I am 29 years old. I live in Maine, and I work for UPS and am currently studying to become a certified personal trainer. I stopped drinking and started keeping a food journal to develop a better relationship with food, lifted weights, and lost 70 pounds.

I struggled with my weight since I was in the first grade. I forever felt like the third wheel anytime I was around friends or at social events. I skipped events (such as my high school prom) because I didn’t feel good next to my thin friends.

I always felt like I couldn’t do certain things due to my weight, and it only got worse as I got older. I used alcohol to mask my feelings about my body, which in turn only helped rack up the pounds. I tried to make healthy choices. I was aware that I was considered medically obese, yet I never made the appropriate changes to see results. I tried getting into running for two weeks but saw no results and stopped. I tried Jillian Michaels videos, but they were too hard for me to get through, so I quit. I tried weight-loss pills, detox teas, anything that was a quick fix. None of it worked, and I hid under big, flowy dresses, cardigans, Spanx, and alcohol.

I also struggled with borderline hypertension at the time, which was concerning for me at my young age. I was put on blood pressure medication between the ages of 23 and 25. My anxiety was also at an all time high, and I struggled going into public places. I also was suffering from daily headaches and an upset stomach.

In September 2017, I moved in with my now-husband. I found myself binge eating a lot, drinking more, and eating out.


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Then, in February 2018, my partner and I both quit drinking alcohol completely for non-weight related reasons, but that certainly helped push me to start my weight-loss journey. By March 2018, I felt that I really needed to do something about my weight. I had always been an XL in clothes, but I had creeped up into an XXL…then sizes beyond that. I knew I had to make a change before my health spiraled (completely) out of control.

Initially, I started working on my nutrition using a food container system. It taught me how to be more mindful of my portions and what I should be prioritizing in my overall diet.


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Eventually I stopped using the container and portion system and started *journaling* my food.

I already had a good basis on food and nutrition thanks to a naturopathic doctor I had previously seen, but I really wanted a bit more flexibility with my food. And journaling was a great solution. I also started to drink much more water. I currently drink 1.5 to 2 gallons of water each day, and I can feel the difference!


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Here’s what I eat in a day now.

  • Breakfast: Organic greens and a post-workout Kaged Muscle protein shake used as cereal milk in Highkey protein cereal; or a blended shake with protein powder, unsweetened almond or cashew milk, spinach or frozen cauliflower, and frozen cherries and/or strawberries.
  • Lunch: My spin on a “Chicken gyro” using Joseph’s pita, Cedars hot pepper/garlic Tzatziki, air-fried chicken breaded in paleo powder breadcrumbs, Alexia sweet potato tots, and air-fried steamed broccoli. Or ,when I’m on the go, I always prep big salads packed with assorted veggies and lean protein such as chicken breast.
  • Snacks: Berries or sugar snap peas are my go-to raw snacks; protein bars in moderation (Built bars and Quest bars are my faves); Smart Sweets; Laughing Cow cheese wedges; fat-free cottage cheese with Everything But The Bagel seasoning; or a homemade baked protein good
  • Dinner: Steamed broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, air-fried with lean protein (chicken breast, lean ground turkey). All of my dinners include a vegetable base and a lean protein
  • Dessert: Fage 0% Greek yogurt topped with berries (I love adding cinnamon or nutmeg). Sometimes I’ll add 1-2 tbsp sugar-free cheesecake pudding mix with a little cashew milk for a cheesecake “dip” flavor


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I also started working out right away. It was hard.

In the beginning, I needed to use modifications for nearly every move. I literally thought, I might die, but kept pushing through. I knew that being sore was okay, and to just keep trying.

I continued showing up everyday and I got stronger. My workouts were feeling easier and I was starting to feel really good afterward. Over time, I realized I really enjoyed lifting weights. I continued doing mostly strength training workouts, and I started focusing on doing what I enjoy versus what everyone else was doing. That’s when I noticed the biggest changes. I did what made *me* happiest.


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Initially I worked out four or five days a week, for 30 to 60 minutes per day (three days were for strength training, and one or two days were cardio). My current workout schedule is working out six days a week, organized by body part. Two to three days are for legs, two or three days are for upper body, and one day is a full-body day. And, of course, one day is for rest or mobility work.


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These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.

  • I started to meal prep. This was and currently is still of the totally necessary things I do each week to stay on track! Preparing my meals ahead of time and having them ready to go in the fridge in the morning makes the choice easy when I’m hungry or going to be on the run. One thing I do each week is steam a large amount of veggies (usually broccoli) so I can easily incorporate them into my meals by air-frying or heating them up. Also, little things like prepping snacks in ready-to-go containers and filling up water bottles helps so much when I’m running out the door in the morning.


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  • I adopted the mantra: Rise and grind. I have always been a morning person. However, I have not always been an early morning riser and grinder. When I started my journey, I made time before my work day to fit my workout in because I know that it just won’t happen after work for me. Getting my workout done before the house wakes up, and before anything else during my day, sets my tone for the day. It gives me time to focus and to get out of my head. The endorphins rush is no joke from exercise, and I 1o0 percent miss it when I don’t wake up and work out.


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  • I started listening to my body. When I started my journey, I felt a little pressured to follow that portion control container system. It worked, but I got bored, and it was working a little less over time. That’s when I started journaling my foods, which opened up more food options for me. I gained more and more knowledge about my own behaviors and patterns over time and did my best to listen to my body. What may work for one person does not necessarily mean it will work for you.


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In one year, I have lost a total of 70 pounds.

This has been the most life-changing journey. I want everybody to know that I started this because I wanted to lose weight. But now, I show up every single day for my mental health too. I want any woman reading this to know that you can do this, too. A huge fear of mine was dying young, and that’s not a fun fear to live with.


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