How I Lost 135 Pounds In 3 Years With The Paleo Diet
Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?
Let me take you back to the very beginning: I’ve been overweight since I was in 4th or 5th grade, and I always felt like my weight and size held me back from life experiences. It wasn’t until I turned 21 that I started taking my health seriously, I saw a picture of myself from my 21st birthday, my family seated around me at the same table, and I saw how unhealthy and large I was compared to the rest of my family, literally twice their size, that’s when I truly decided that enough was enough.
I started my journey at almost 280 pounds, when I saw those numbers pop up on the scale, I thought “There’s no way I’m nearing 300 pounds!” And quite honestly, if I didn’t decide to do something right then, I knew I’d end up over 300 and quite possibly in a mobility scooter. One of my biggest motivators for losing weight was the desire to enjoy life freely. I love adventures and travel, and being overweight definitely held me back in that arena, hikes were difficult or impossible, walking tours would leave me winded, weight limits would stop me from enjoying excursions, I was tired of not being able to truly enjoy myself, so I took the plunge to change my lifestyle for the better.
What was your workout routine? Can you give us what a typical week looked like for you working out?
My workout routine has pretty much stayed the same throughout my journey, up until the pandemic, of course. I’m a gym-goer, I’ve been going to the gym since I was 15, but never took it seriously until my weight loss journey. I’ve been a member at almost all major chains, but I did have a personal trainer who really stood out, and taught me workout splits, and that’s where my routine comes from (Thanks, Evan!).
I started slow, going 2-3 times a week, I would usually start with 15 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, and transition into whatever I was working that day for about 30-45 minutes using the machines I was familiar with, so about 45 minutes to an hour total at the gym. At this point, I wasn’t really a fan of going to the gym. My days would be split up into leg day, arm/chest push day, and back/arm pull day. Eventually, I would work up to 5 days a week, then 6, then aiming to be active every day! Over time, I started to love the gym, I loved moving my body, seeing what my body was capable of, I loved being able to improve myself every time I went to the gym. There have been times where I feel lazy after 2 rest days in a row! I never thought I’d feel this way, but here I am!
My splits have gotten more complex over the last 2 years as I’ve gotten comfortable at the gym, and my use of different equipment has changed as well. Since I’ve added more days to my routine, my current split is legs/glutes, arm/back, arm/chest, abs twice a week, and one day of just walking or cardio. Because of the pandemic, and gyms were closed, I had to adjust how I was working out, I don’t have machines at home, so I had to use what I had on hand, and that’s where things really changed. And now my use of equipment has expanded beyond just machines – I’ll use dumbbells, weighted medicine balls, resistance bands, suspension training, and most recently, bodyweight exercises!
What was your nutrition like? Can you give us what a typical day of eating looked like?
My nutrition has definitely changed over the years, going from someone who ate fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to someone who meals preps weekly and eats fast food maybe once a month, if that. It has gone through phases during my journey, I started by just counting calories, then I heard about paleo, I decided to look into it and give it a try!
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Paleo is pretty simple, just what cavemen would eat, so that would be: Meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds only. No dairy, no soy, no grains, no legumes, no sugar, etc. It sounds highly restrictive, but my body felt great after a few months of paleo, and it’s pretty easy if you stick to the basics! I did that for about a year, and I followed the 80/20 rule, so I did give myself a little flexibility. After about a year and a half of paleo, I decided to reintroduce some foods, because honestly, I missed some foods! I started with legumes, then grains and dairy, and so on, and that leads me to where I am today.
Nowadays, I eat pretty normally, mostly healthy with a focus on fruits and veggies, but I gotta have my dessert of course! I have a very balanced way of eating now, and I feel so much freer. But there are two aspects I’ve been focusing on during the past year: fiber and protein. Protein to help with muscle gains, and fiber to help me feel full, and also to balance out all the protein. Too much protein and not enough fiber can make you very constipated, trust me on this one. Since I’ve been trying to gain muscle, I really wanted to focus on my protein intake, and this is when I started getting into supplements. So protein powder, protein shakes, protein bars became my best friends, I don’t eat a ton of meat, but I always find ways to get my protein in!
As for any specific metrics, in the beginning, I just let my app track my calorie intake and adjust it as needed. But be careful here! There was a point where, when I was still trying to lose fat, my app had me consuming less than my resting metabolic rate (calories needed to live if you do nothing all day), so my body was using my muscle for fuel! I was eating roughly around 1,300 calories at this time, while exercising regularly, and learned that I should be consuming way more than that to maintain my muscle, so as it stands, my calorie intake fluctuates between 1,700 to 1,900, with my goal of just over 100g of protein. And I’ve found that this has worked better for me.
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How did you stay motivated to lose weight? Did you ever slip up?
My journey definitely had its ups and downs, I had a few points where I would gain 15 pounds back, of course, it really bummed me out, but I had to keep telling myself that consistency is key. I told myself to push through, keep trying, and eventually, I’ll see results. If you slip up and get back on the wagon, that’s a win, It’s the only failure if you completely give up!
I also had a great support group online, creating my fitness Instagram really held me accountable! I would follow people who were also on their weight journey, seeing people make progress was really motivating and kept me on track. And we all supported each other, even when we had bad days or bad months, even if we didn’t post for months at a time, there was always a tremendous amount of support. I can’t thank them enough.
When did you start to notice progress?
I think other people started noticing my weight loss before I did, I’d get comments at work about how my face looks slimmer, or that I myself looked slimmer! It’s hard to notice progress when you see yourself every day, right? So I took monthly progress photos and would compare them side by side, and that’s when I would visually see my progress.
Of course, there were plenty of “non-scale victories” that popped up along the way, which were always amazing! Like going down a few ring sizes, being able to get bangles on and off without an issue, sizing out of plus size stores, and most recently, I found out I can wear non-wide calf boots! Progress for me isn’t all about the number on the scale, it’s about what you see, what you notice, how your clothes fit differently, even how you feel. Just remember that the scale isn’t the only measurement of progress!
Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress?
The app that I’ve used to track my foods and workouts from the beginning is Lose It, but there’s definitely a lot of apps out there! I’ve been using it since 2015, so it has all the foods I normally eat already stored in the database, it definitely helps when you stick with just one app, it makes tracking a whole lot easier!
Recent investment has been my Garmin smartwatch/fitness tracker, the Vivioactive 3. I can’t recommend this watch enough, it is a little spendy, but totally worth it! It tracks everything from steps, heart rate, sleep, different workouts, and even stress levels! I don’t use this feature very often unless I’m running outdoors, but it also has a GPS function to monitor your pace and route! And, as a clumsy person, I appreciate how durable it is, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smacked it into door frames and corners, and it still looks brand new, with no cracks or scratches. Did I also mention that it’s waterproof? So you can swim/shower with it on! Bottom line, I don’t regret my investment.
Do you have any weight loss “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?
One thing that really helped me when I had an “off” day of eating is staying super hydrated the next day, and going for a walk outdoors. The hydration helped me with any bloating or discomfort I was having, so I’d feel physically comfortable enough to go for a walk. And I think the walks and the fresh air helped me get my mind off of my “bad eating day,” I’d usually find a small nature trail and walk for about an hour. It’s just a great way to clear your head and get yourself moving.
What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?
My biggest piece of advice would be: Start small, and don’t give up! Consistency is truly the key! Trying to completely turn my life around in an instant always ended up with me giving up, so my advice is to start small! Start with trying to meet a water intake goal, then once you establish a habit, add on another healthy habit, and continue the cycle until you have a healthy lifestyle!
Where can we find more about you?
Follow my journey on Instagram! @angelinas_adventure
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