I am not a health professional or expert in any field, nor am I giving professional/expert advice in this (or any) article on Fiery, but Mostly Peaceful Sara. All advice is anecdotally based on my own experience and research-based knowledge. If you need medical advice, please consult your personal physician.
2022 has been a year of change for me. As the lifestyle changes I’ve made become increasingly apparent, I’ve been asked repeatedly what I’ve been doing to make such positive physical transformations to my body.
“What’s your secret,” is the most commonly asked question when I post updates of my weight loss journey. Today, upon request, I will finally break down what I have done to lose nearly 80 lbs in nine months.
My Brief Backstory
Growing Up Fiery
I was always athletic as a kid, but you kind of had to be strong and swift growing up in such an active family. I played basketball through elementary school, when puberty triggered Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis—stunting my growth from the age of ten at 5’4″.
Age ten was also when I started having my first issues with weight because the thyroid gland messes with hormones, resulting in severe fatigue, weight gain, and an inability to lose weight. That, on top of rapidly becoming too short to be the fantastic rebounder I was, ended my basketball career early.
Being a head taller than my peers meant I always weighed more (and wore larger sizes) than my friends, but I also developed (as a woman) years before them, causing me to be extremely conscious of my weight.
Nevertheless, I remained active. My buddies and I biked everywhere. Every day from age 10 to 16—we rode our bicycles all over Orange County, California, where I grew up. Wherever our destination was, it would likely involve more physical activity, and we could easily ride tens of miles a day.
Marriage, Children, and Divorce
I was my smallest when I got married in 2009, weighing about 145 lbs at age 19. I remained that way until a couple of years later, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I gained about 40 lbs with that pregnancy, lost some of that, and then gained like 75 lbs by the time I had my son two years later.
My marriage was abuse-filled, and I eventually left him, moving back to California to live with my parents. The misery of the past years had physically manifested, and I was at my heaviest (and unhappiest) at the time.
I turned to the gym for my healing, and became a full-fledged gym rat—spending six days a week, one to three hours a day, at the gym. I rode a marathon on the stationary bike as a warm-up by the time my brain disease hit in 2015.
My Brain Problem
I spent 2015 to 2017 extremely sedentary. I was in constant agony from the undiagnosed rare brain disease that was putting pressure on my brain from the inside.
Every second of every minute of every day for two and a half years was spent in overwhelming anguish. I felt like I had a vice squeezing my head, a “headband of pain,” and like the base of my skull was being beaten by a sledgehammer the entire time. I eventually got to the point where I wanted to die, but my children kept me alive.
Long story short, I ended up doing research and diagnosing myself, got a PPO (better health insurance), and sent myself to a neurosurgeon to request the spinal tap necessary for diagnosing me with pseudotumor cerebri (also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension). By this time, I had gained over 80 lbs.
I required brain surgery as soon as possible and had a VP shunt installed in my brain within the next month, on January 6th, 2017. I woke up from the surgery and wept because I forgot what it felt like not to hurt as I had for so long.
Post-Brain Surgery to Now
It feels as though I have lived an entire lifetime in the five years since my brain surgery, but I am going to skip over most of the details, and instead focus on the weight-related issues.
I remained within a weight range of about 220 lbs. to 235 lbs. for most of the time within that time period. I had back issues, nerve damage from a bad spinal tap, my fibromyalgia and arthritis were out of control, and my thyroid was off. Losing weight was a losing game for me.
That all changed with the help of two amazing doctors I found when we moved to Texas.
- I got a psychiatrist interested in having me on the fewest, most fitting medications; which meant getting me off of a myriad of pharmaceuticals I had acquired at the hand of other doctors over the years.
- I got a pain management physician who wanted to help me in addressing the root causes of my pains that were holding back my life; which meant cauterizing nerves and enabling my mobility.
What’s My Secret?
Now that we got that out of the way, we’ll get to the real meat and potatoes you came for. How have I lost the weight?
Once my back got fixed up enough that I could get moving, I started walking every chance I had. When I started last October, I didn’t even reach 1,000 steps in a day! That was my first step goal—1k steps. Then, every time I reached my goal for seven days in a row, I increased it by 500 steps. These days, I get upwards of 10-15k steps without trying every day.
•No processed foods
•I’m usually hungry once a day, so I have a yogurt and tangerine with my morning meds/vits, eat a small meal at 2pm, and fruit/veggie if I’m hungry between
I never fancied the idea of “dieting,” always preferring simply calling it making a “lifestyle change.” I don’t live a life restrained by guidelines, I just decided I have to actually make good choices. I personally believe that people who do “diets” tend to feel either deprived or as though it is a temporary means to an end. I wanted genuine changes, so it required me to make genuine changes to my entire lifestyle. But heck, f I really want a special dessert, I’ll have it, but I don’t get cravings for sweets and things anymore! Woohoo! So stoked!
I know I have been posting about my weight loss progress a lot, but I am just so gosh darn thrilled!
I kept this as a fat shirt for a weight loss comparison. It is huge on me now! Hahaha! The sleeves are so baggy. I definitely recommend keeping a couple of fat clothes to use for progress photos; it’s incredibly gratifying. The left is today and the right is 45 lbs ago in December. #NonScaleVictory #75PoundsLost #FatShamingWorks
I only drink water and a lot of it. Probably around 100-150 ounces per day.
I stopped eating junk in the middle of the night. We already have a clean eating house with no processed foods, but I used to sneak pints of ice cream and snacks I didn’t need. I also only eat if im hungry, so I have a yogurt and fruit in the morning with my meds and then dont eat until late afternoon. If I am hungry, I will have something healthy like fruits or veggies. I dont feel deprived of anything because if I want ice cream, I’ll eat it, but I just dont want crap these days.
I throw in random exercises throughout the day. I’ll do squats, lunges, tricep dips, and other exercises that use body weight to strengthen muscles; I also have weights that I recently started very small that I do routines for toning my arms. I really try always to stay moving, especially when I’m watching podcasts and news; I’ll watch on my phone and walk around the backyard instead of watching on my TV.
I think not being on “a diet” is helpful in not feeling deprived, and when people feel deprived, they tend to cheat (more often than they realize usually), or they will give up for a day or weekend or for good because they feel like they failed. That’s just sabotaging yourself.
I also dont keep fat clothes (I did keep my skinny clothes for six years, on the other hand) because that is an admission of the possibility of gaining the weight back. I dont let myself have that safety net, and I can’t afford clothes, so it holds me accountable in that regard.
I can’t think of anything else at the moment, but im thinking about writing an article about it because people keep asking me. Lol. I hope that was helpful; feel free to ask any other questions you may have.