Tanya lost 38 pounds | Black Weight Loss Success

Weight Loss

Transformation of the Day: Tanya lost 38 pounds. She felt burned out, isolated, and struggled with anxiety and depression, which led to emotional eating and weight gain. However, by leaning on her faith, committing to her workouts, and switching up her eating habits, she has not only reached her goals but maintained her success for three years.

Tanya before and after weight loss

My weight has fluctuated off and since my preteen years. I successfully lost weight a few times and even maintained weight loss for almost two years in my early 20s. Most recently, my weight continued to creep up over about three years (2015-2018) until I reached my highest weight of 194 lbs in February 2018. 

My weight gain was related to a combination of stressors; burnout, my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis, and adjusting to moving to another state with no support system. I felt isolated and struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression. I coped with my problems by trying to escape them through emotional eating, sleeping too much, and increasing my wine and margarita consumption. As a result, I lost the motivation to exercise and stayed in bed most of the time. 

What was your motivation? What inspired you to keep going, even when you wanted to give up?
My motivation came from seeing a selfie that I took on Valentine’s Day of 2018. I almost did not recognize myself. My face looked so full, and my eyes looked dull and sad to me. I wondered, “When did this happen?” A few nights later, I prayed to God to help me with my desire to lose weight and reach my goal. I realized that I could not maintain weight loss by my own will like I did when I was young and motivated. I repeated the verses, Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.—Psalm 34:7. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.— II Corinthians 12:9. The next day I started my weight loss journey, February 18, 2018.

Tanya lost 38 pounds

How did you change your eating habits? 
I did not follow a particular diet because I knew that was just not something that I would keep up long-term. Instead, I researched foods that promote weight loss. I increased my fruit, vegetable, nuts, and water intake. I ate more lean meats like turkey, chicken, fish, and shrimp and limited red meats since they take longer to digest. 

I also limited alcohol and sodas and drank half sweet/half unsweetened tea. I limited fried foods to once a week or once every other week. I ate smaller portions and very loosely paid attention to my caloric intake. 

What did your workout routine consist of? How often did you work out?
My workout routine started with me walking outdoors or on the treadmill three times a week because I didn’t want to join a gym. I eventually increased to 4-5 times a week and began incorporating an exercise step, dumbbells, kettlebell, and resistance bands.

What was your starting weight? What is your current weight?
My starting weight: 194 pounds
Current weight: 156 pounds

What is your height?
5’6 1/2″

Tanya before and after weight loss

When did you start your journey? How long did your transformation take?
I started my weight loss journey in 2018 at 194 lbs. and met my initial goal weight of being under 165 by August 2018, before my 38th birthday. After that, I continued to gradually lose weight until the end of 2018. When I finally leveled out, it was challenging to find the balance between losing and maintaining weight loss. My current weight is 156 lbs, and I have been under my original goal weight (165) for a little over three years. This is the longest time I have maintained weight loss consistently in my adulthood. 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
I learned that this is a weight loss journey, which has no destination. It is a lifelong journey and commitment. Whatever it took to lose weight will be what it will take to keep it off. So you have to adopt habits that you are willing to keep up in the long run. 

What advice would you like to share with women who want to lose weight?
Remain consistent with eating healthier and exercising no matter what the scale reads. There will be weeks when the weight will just fall off, and there will be weeks where you will plateau or even gain weight. But quitting will not get you any closer to your goal.

Remember why you started. There are times when you will want to give up. My Why includes thinking about how I felt when I saw my selfie and the sadness in my eyes. My Why includes reflecting on all of the health problems that run heavily on both sides of my family, including obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer. My Why includes how exercise has drastically improved my mood, as I have struggled with anxiety and depression since my late 20’s. Exercise makes me feel stronger and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Exercise is a natural way to support our happy hormones, like serotonin and dopamine. 

Track and document your progress through pictures, measuring yourself, using apps, self-reflection, journaling, periodically weighing yourself, etc.

Tanya before and after weight loss

Find some way to remain accountable, whether it be with an accountability partner, a weight loss group/support group, social media, and/or a blog. I did not have a support system/accountability partner when I moved from MS to TX, so I documented my journey on my FB and IG page weekly until I met my original goal. Now I post about once a month and compare my journey to my previous month, which is why documenting your journey (whether privately or publicly) is so important.

Finally, do what you can to keep your mental health strong. Most of us have the physical ability to lose weight, but weight loss starts in your mind. Read, pray, journal, meditate, follow encouraging social media pages, etc.

Instagram: @tkayel18

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