I’m Elizabeth Raney, 25, from Missouri. I’m an assistant bank manager. After reaching 270 pounds, I knew I wanted to get healthy for my children. Some advice from my mom and a weight-loss challenge at work helped me get excited about losing weight—and I’ve lost over 100 pounds.
I grew up the fat kid. I was smaller up until middle school, then I started gaining weight and just continued to gain from that point on. I would overeat and couldn’t stop.
In high school, I began cheerleading my sophomore year of high school. I absolutely loved to cheer, but being the overweight cheerleader wasn’t exactly fun. People at school called me fat. I was told, “you don’t fit your uniform—you need to eat less.” I remember a specific time when I was out to dinner with my squad, and I was singled out in front of everyone when someone said to me, “you only need half of that burger.”
I didn’t fit the ideal cheerleader image, so I began to binge and purge in private. I dropped weight quickly. I went to school thinking that everything was going to be different if I lost the weight, but it wasn’t. I eventually stopped purging, but I never stopped the binge eating and comfort eating. I reached 200 pounds.
After high school, I moved out on my own to experience new things in life. I grew older, had my first child, and got married to my now-husband and had a second child with him.
My pregnancies led to weight gain I couldn’t seem to undo.
During my first pregnancy in 2013, I ate all day and all night. I put on 60 pounds and continued to gain weight after. In 2016, I began dating my now-husband, and in the fall of 2017, we found out we would be welcoming a child together.
During my second pregnancy? I only gained about 15 to 20 pounds, but my weight was already around 270 pounds—the largest I had ever been. After my second son’s birth, I jumped on just about every fad diet there was, but they didn’t work. Deep down, I knew I had to change my life so that I could be there throughout my children’s lives.
My turning point came during my maternity leave.
I had three months at home with my children, and during that time, I realized how incapable I was of running around and playing with my boys. I had a tough talk with my mom one night and I shared with her how I was feeling, how I had let myself go, and how the only true person to blame was myself.
My mom herself had lost well over 100 pounds and maintained a healthy weight and lifestyle for several years. She told me: “Sis, you have got to change your life. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. But you have got to do it the right way. You have got to care for your body, care for your health.” She gave me the extra push and has provided support throughout my entire journey.
In September 2018, I joined my first gym.
I worked out a couple of times and started to increase my physical activity. The only things I recognized when I first started in the gym were the treadmill and the bikes. So, I stepped on the treadmill and I walked at the lowest speed for 30 minutes.
For the first six months, all I did was cardio three to four times a week. In my head I thought, if I lift weights I will be huge I will look like a man. But while cardio helped me drop weight, I also lost my shape. I had no curves, so I started lifting. (Screw that myth about weight training, ladies!)
I began first by adding 15 to 20 minutes of light lifting alongside my cardio workouts. Once I began to see definition, I began to add more, picking up my strength-training days to four to six days a week. In August 2019, I began my progressive overload training. I currently am on six-day push-pull-leg plan, with Sunday being my active recovery day.
Come January 2019, I was a new person.
I was done being the fat wife, done being the lazy mom, and I was no longer using food as a safe haven.
That January, my job also kicked off a “Biggest Loser” contest. This contest held me accountable (I had to weigh in weekly), and if I gained weight, I had to pay for each pound. There was also a $800 payout for the winner. I won second place in the competition, but the contest was extremely motivating and a great way to jumpstart the new year and my new weight-loss journey.
I often get asked, what’s the trick? What diet are you on? My answer: There is no trick and I’m not on a diet.
I have tried cutting carbs way down in the past and I lost weight, but I never had any energy. Instead, I began to look at food as nutrition to fuel my body. I did not cut out “bad” foods. I just started making small changes.
For example, I knew I needed to increase my water intake, but I was a sweet tea and soda fanatic. I had to have a Diet Dr. Pepper every day (or so I thought). I didn’t stop cold turkey, I just increased my water intake until, eventually, I didn’t want that diet soda. Drinking water became the new habit.
I also changed my snacking habits. I have found that I use to eat because I was bored, not because I was hungry. It was normal for me to sit down and eat an entire pack of Double-Stuffed Oreo cookies. I still snack, I just snack healthier.
Here’s what I typically eat in a day now.
Breakfast: Overnight protein oats are my *fave*
Lunch: Grilled chicken Caesar salad (sometimes I buy the salad bags at the grocery store that come with all of the Caesar salad fixings and add my own chicken)
Snacks: Green apples and almond butter, strawberries, or hard-boiled eggs and sharp cheddar cheese are my go-to.
Dinner: Grilled chicken, brown rice, and roasted Brussels sprouts
Dessert: Protein balls
From September 2018 to today, I have lost 102 pounds total.
These three tips have helped make my weight loss journey successful:
- Think carefully about who you want to follow on social media. I started my Instagram account because I wanted to hold myself accountable and document my progress. In the beginning I followed people that had the body that I ideally wanted. They were perfect, running, lifting, looking flawless and posing in their gym gear. Although their intentions were great, this destroyed my self-esteem. So, I changed my approach, I followed women that looked like me. I followed women that have struggled like me but made it through. This really boosted my confidence, to see that other women just like me had struggled and made it. I had to remind myself that it was okay that my body didn’t look like all the fit models I was following.Everyone’s different, and I realizedif that was causing me to feel bad about myself and question the personal path I was on, then I didn’t need to be following that anymore.
- Take your measurements, don’t just look at your weight. I first took my measurements a month after starting my journey, and I am truly blown away with the number of inches I have lost off my body. In the beginning I was addicted to the scale. I stepped on it Every. Single. Day. But the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. There have been months where I didn’t lose or gain a single pound. Taking your measurements can help reassure you that things are happening—even if you’re not losing fat exactly where you want or dropping numbers on the scale just yet.
- Love yourself through it all. I have found during my journey that there are people that will live to bring you down. As I started to lose fat, gain confidence, improve my goals, and continued to progress and succeed, I encountered some jealousy. When I started to lose weight, these people then began to poke fun at my skin, my stretch marks, my mom pouch. I let it get to me, until my husband pointed out that I grew two healthy children with this body. He told me I needed to look at my body as a mother’s body—a powerful body. In that moment, my saggy skin and stretch marks filled me with love, and I realized I did not have to be perfect to be lovable.
True self-love is delicate and humble, never presumptuous. I believe if you do not truly love yourself, you will struggle to do what is best for you—which is important if you are on a weight loss journey. When you really love yourself, you want to take care of yourself. You want to eat right and exercise.You want to get more rest. You respect yourself and expect others to do the same.
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