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‘I Lost 117 Pounds After I Quit Dieting For Good’

Women's Health logo Women's Health 10/12/2018 Amanda Valentine as told to Danielle Page

a woman standing in front of a building: Amanda Valentine set out to lose weight in January 2012-and in the six years since then she's lost 117 pounds, just by eating more veggies and protein (and fewer carbs) and being more active. Here's exactly how she did it-and how she's keeping the weight off. © Amanda Valentine Amanda Valentine set out to lose weight in January 2012-and in the six years since then she's lost 117 pounds, just by eating more veggies and protein (and fewer carbs) and being more active. Here's exactly how she did it-and how she's keeping the weight off. I’ve been obese since I was 6 years old-that means I've always been the big girl, the “fat, funny friend.”

I tried a bunch of different diets while I was in my twenties-each time, I'd lose 40 or 60 pounds, but immediately gain it back. I was an emotional eater and a binge eater, so that definitely didn't help my weight-loss goals.

My diet used to center around carbs and fast food-doughnuts in the morning, pizza for lunch, fast food for dinner. Red Bull was also my drink of choice in the morning instead of coffee. To top it all off, I wasn't exercising at all-not even walking more than I absolutely had to.

I hit bottom once I began hiding the trash from my husband-I knew I needed to change.

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A post shared by Amanda Valentine (@youcanpoundthis) on Nov 21, 2017 at 6:37am PST

I was going on food binges almost every night, hiding the wrappers from my husband because I was so ashamed. I felt like the real me was hiding behind this body I was punishing with food.

I felt awful physically and emotionally, and I decided I couldn’t keep living my life like this. So, for the new year-it was 2012-I made a 90-day resolution (it seemed less intimidating than a full year) to lose 15 pounds in 90 days without a strict diet. I'd just make healthier choices, completely on my own.

I used my own common sense when it came to my new, healthy eating choices.

Sticking to strict diets had only failed me before–counting calories, points, or carbs-and I knew trying yet another one would only set me up for another failure.

Still, I knew I had to do something to reset my eating habits, so for the first few weeks, I ate mostly lean meats and veggies. I also cut out almost all processed foods and ate as close to nature as possible. At the end of my 90 days, I exceeded my goal by losing 20 pounds.

Here's what I'd eat in a typical day:

  • Breakfast: an egg white waffle with guacamole, spinach, and bagel seasoning
  • Lunch: a turkey burger in a lettuce wrap with a side of veggies or a spinach salad with balsamic vinegar, broccoli, and asparagus, with some type of protein like fish
  • Dinner: grilled chicken or ground turkey with veggies and a small side of brown rice or quinoa
  • Snack: bags of carrots or other crunchy, satisfying veggies

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A post shared by Amanda Valentine (@youcanpoundthis) on Jul 8, 2018 at 10:23am PDT

I knew I had to get active, too, so I signed myself up for a 5K.

Once I felt like I had my new, healthy diet down, I started walking. I’d just pop on a podcast and walk around my neighborhood at first, then I gradually worked up to running in short intervals.

After a few months of doing that, I felt like I needed a little more structure, so I downloaded the C25K app-a digital trainer that helps you work up to running a 5K race in just eight weeks.

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A post shared by Amanda Valentine (@youcanpoundthis) on Jul 23, 2018 at 4:07am PDT

About a year into my weight-loss journey, in 2013, I ran my first mile straight through. At this point, I was down 75 pounds! The following year, I signed up for my first official 5K, and my first half marathon a year after that.

Despite refusing to even take the stairs just a few years prior, I became a runner. But that doesn't mean I don't like trying different workouts, too. In fact, varying how I exercise has helped me keep the weight off-doing everything from HIIT and strength training, to yoga and boxing.

It's been more than six years since I started my weight-loss journey-and I've lost (and kept off) 117 pounds.

Even though I lost a ton of weight, I've learned that maintaining that weight loss is just as hard as losing it in the first place. What's helped me most has been meal prepping-I prepare all of my meals for the week on Sunday afternoons and always make sure to have fresh, healthy snacks on hand.

Reading the labels on the foods I buy and knowing what I'm putting in my body (and making sure it's not packed with sugar or sodium and has a healthy mix of ingredients and macros like protein and carbs) has been a game changer.

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A post shared by Amanda Valentine (@youcanpoundthis) on Mar 25, 2018 at 4:35am PDT

I also make sure to be active whenever I can-if I can't get in a full workout, I'll make a point to go for a walk around my building at lunch or take the stairs instead of the escalator. I do whatever I can to stay active, because doing something is always better than doing nothing.

But my body isn't the only thing that's changed-my mind has, too; I'm paying more attention to my body and learning how best to fuel it, and the more I learn about my body, the more motivated I become to stay on track. I've just come so far and I know I felt awful before-I never want to feel that way again.

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