Ashley is a thirty-four year old married mother of two young children who works as a call center representative. In her own words, she lives a normal life, pay check to pay check, and is mostly concerned with trying to raise her children into good people. However, this normal person has done something amazing. In 2014, she lost a total of eighty four pounds! Here is what she has to say about the process.
In the first interview with Ashley, she talked about her exercise experience. In this interview, she will talk about her diet experience.
You explained in the first interview why you decided to make a change. What was your diet like before you made your commitment?
We did what was convenient. I don’t want to say that we didn’t know anything about nutrition. Maybe we didn’t, but it just never came up. We never thought about it. If we had errands after work, or if the kids had activities, and we got home late, we would order pizza. We did that at least once a week. Sometimes more. We ate a lot of frozen food. The kids used to love Hot Pockets, and, you know, that was just easy.
What did you change initially? What was the first step?
I don’t know if it was a conscious effort, but we cut out some junk food. I think back then common sense told me that was bad, and fruits and vegetables are good. So, the first time I went grocery shopping after I decided to lose weight, I bought things I didn’t normally buy like fresh produce. As a result, that made me have to cook more.
How did that work out?
It was a learning process. It wasn’t always successful. I started looking up recipes online and sometimes we liked what we made, and other times we didn’t, but, basically, I ended up learning how to cook.
How long did it take before you saw an improvement?
In the beginning, I lost a lot of weight right away because I had a lot to lose. That was along with exercise. At first, I concentrated on the exercise because I thought that was the most important thing, but after I really threw myself into this weight-loss effort, I learned that the food is the biggest concern.
In what way?
You get to a point where you can’t exercise your way out of it. If you drink a pop, you would have to jog and hour and twenty minutes to burn that off. It is not about how much you eat. The most important thing is what you eat.
It sounds like you have learned about nutrition. Did this journey get to a point where you sought out information on purpose?
Yes. It took a while though. For the first few months, the small changes we made showed results. I think that gave me confidence to do more. It was also out of necessity. We are a family of four with two young children, and they have to eat. I knew I didn’t want to eat fast food anymore so I had to learn how to eat other ways. And I wanted to keep them interested. Young kids can be picky eaters. I had to get creative to make sure our family meals were healthy and fun for them.
How exactly did you go about educating yourself about food?
I think there are a lot of people who don’t know how to eat right for the same reason I didn’t. People don’t think about it, but that’s not really an excuse. It is so easy to find information. A simple Google search is the start. There are millions of blogs and websites like sparkpeople.com that can guide you in the right direction. For me, it started with recipes. I always went online to find them, and one thing would lead to another. If a recipe called for an ingredient that I didn’t know, I would research it. In that way, I learned a lot about what a body needs and how calories are used in the body and where they are stored in the body.
Different calories mean different things. One hundred and sixty calories from a handful of walnuts is not the same as one hundred and sixty calories from a pop.
How do you feel about drinking calories?
I don’t do it anymore. We drink water. We stopped drinking pop or colas at the very beginning. I don’t even let my kids drink fruit juice.
How much water do you drink in a day?
A lot. I never measured or counted cups, but when that is your only option you end up drinking a lot of it.
Do you think it helped you in any way?
Oh, yes. I think I lost probably ten pounds just from not drinking pop.It is just sugar and your body stores it as fat right away. I think staying hydrated helps your body function in every aspect. The body needs a lot of water. Plus, it is good for your skin.
Can you tell everyone what three meals a day was before and compare that to what three meals a day looks like now?
Before, if we ate breakfast at home, it was usually cereal and toast. Not a healthy cereal, but usually Captain Crunch for the kids and Frosted Flakes for me. Sometimes we would stop on the way to school and get donuts. The kids ate lunch at school. On Mondays, they serve burgers and fries. On Fridays, they serve pizza. I ate out everyday for lunch. There is a Wendy’s, Burger King, and Chic Fil-a by my work and those were my options. Once we all got home, if we didn’t order pizza, we bought chicken, or whatever was frozen in the side-by-side.
I can’t believe we ate like that to be honest. Now, my favorite breakfast is oatmeal with honey and cinnamon or nutmeg. I pack the kids a lunch everyday. Yesterday they had avocado and tuna salad with a side of roasted carrots and mashed cauliflower. I take the same thing to work that they take to school so they will think of me when they eat and know that we are making good decisions together. We have really come to love chicken and vegetables. That would be a typical dinner for us. It sounds simple, but its versatile. You can do a lot with a few simple ingredients. Even after a long day, I can cut up chicken breast and whatever vegetables I have and throw them in a pan with a little olive oil and season that with pepper and parsley and I am done in about thirty minutes. Plus, everyone loves it.
Do you ever eat pizza now?
Yes, but we make magherita pizza at home.
Is there anything from your old diet that you miss?
How do you feel now?
I feel magnificent!
What would you tell someone who has decided to lose a significant amount of weight? Where do they start?
First of all, you can do it. Start small. Cut out one thing at a time, but, most importantly, don’t listen to all the advice out there. This is your weight-loss journey and you know what is going to work for you better than any expert will.
Do you think it will be hard to keep the weight off?
I can’t say that I have not thought about that, but I don’t dwell on it either. I am going to keep doing what I am doing, and if I gain any back, I will do what I need to do.
Good luck and great job!