How I Lost 10 Pounds (and Learned to Love a Healthy Lifestyle)

Up until college, I’d never been the type to exercise. As a child, I absolutely detested P.E. I dreaded the runs around the school parking lot (my school didn’t have a track field) and couldn’t do one push up even if my gym teacher forced me to. When my mom wanted me to do workout videos with her (on VHS – remember those?) I would give up the first quarter into it and, instead, flop onto the couch. It’s unfortunate, but my favorite activities (reading, writing and drawing) all required an activity that certainly doesn’t burn calories: sitting. Hence, I’ve never built any real physical stamina or interest in being in shape.

By the time I was in college, I still detested jogging, jumping jacks – basically, anything associated with the word ‘exercise.’ I’d much rather write, read or draw on my bed or in a quiet, local coffee shop somewhere. But that attitude soon flipped inside out when I realized that the 24/7 availability of pizza, fried chicken and ice cream (courtesy of the dorm cafeteria) had resulted in a widened muffin top and heavier legs. I had gained seven pounds.

Now, I wasn’t considered overweight. I was 127 lbs at 5’4” (that’s considered the maximum average weight for someone my height), but one thing was for sure: I was out of shape. Plus, my weight-gain was making me less confident. My lack of physical stamina was affecting me emotionally, and I was desperate to have control of my body (and, subsequently, life) again. I finally signed up for a gym membership and decided to commit to a new diet plan: octo-lacto-vegetarianism (a type of vegetarianism where eggs and dairy products are permitted).

If there’s any solid advice I have for anyone who wants to lose weight, it’s to start small (even really small, if that’s what you can handle). I started exercising three times a week for thirty minutes and eventually increased that to four times a week and an hour each session. According to the websites I was reading, I knew I needed to do cardio to lose weight, so I started on the elliptical machine with level-one resistance. Weeks later, I increased my resistance level to three and then six (some people are much more intense than I am with this, but these numbers worked for me). After each cardio session I would spend 10 to 15 minutes doing basic Mat Pilates movements to tone my stomach, legs and arms.

For a girl who hated exercise in the beginning, that’s not bad, huh?

For my diet, I decided to try a plant-based diet with eggs, beans and tofu as my sources of protein. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult for me to give up meat. In the mornings, I would cook protein-heavy foods like two eggs with generous amounts of boiled spinach, broccoli, carrots and sometimes a slab of whole wheat rice the size of my palm. Lunch and dinner would follow the same formula: protein as the main course and an abundance of fruits and veggies on the side.

It was difficult to lose any weight in the beginning but, after a couple of weeks, I started dropping one pound a week. I invested in a cheap notebook I christened my fitness journal and became more diligent with tracking my exercise and dieting efforts, which actually kept me more disciplined.

Like any goal in life, losing weight is really about sticking to your goal and tracking your progress with consistency (‘consistency’ is the most important word of this last sentence). From this experience I learned that exercise is actually fun and can make you feel strong and mentally healthy, too. The feeling of being able to run an extra lap, committing to a diet plan, and achieving and surpassing goals showed me what both my body and my mind are truly capable of.


About Author

Kristine Hoang is a freelance writer and graphic artist based in Orange County, Calif. She graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in history and currently writes about food, education, career and lifestyle for various alternative weekly newspapers and online publications. Besides writing, Kristine has former experience in fashion, non-profits, and graphic design. To learn more about Kristine and her work, visit her About.Me page.

Posts By Kristine Hoang
  • Ay.

    I agree that losing weight may be more about sticking to one’s goal. I think that making small changes step by step may help in the journey.

    While weight loss could lead to a certain body type, I think that the advantages may go beyond. This is because I have read that losing weight could have positive health impact on: helping lower blood pressure, help lowering the risk of kidney stones, reduce bad cholesterol, help with the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help with knee pain.

    If you too do not like the idea of being starved by a diet or being enslaved by an extreme workout, check this page out and the video it links to:

    Losing weight and keeping it off is what seems to truly count.

  • TeriS

    My husband and I have been doing Take Shape for Life for about three months. We walk about 2.8 miles almost every day and are enjoying a lean and green meal in the evenings. The journey is great so far and both of us have lost about 30 pounds. It is always exciting to see results but more so when you have a partner.

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