100+ Pounds, Female, Weight Watchers

How I Lost 112 Pounds With WW (Food and Workout Plan)

Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?

I had so many starts and restarts. I joined WW in 2003 when I graduated from high school. Then, again, in 2008. Then, again in 2017 after losing my Dad to cancer and wrestling with grief. His death hit me harder than I expected, even though I kept it very real with myself throughout his illness. I knew I should’ve been taking care of myself and talking to people—friends, family, a counselor—but instead, I looked for comfort in the fridge and numbed out with TV and social media.

I remember October 1, 2017, rolling around and thinking, “This is it. I’m doing it,” and I never looked back. I was extremely motivated by vanity in the beginning – I loved fitting into new clothes, feeling confident and comfortable. With about four months of tracking, moving, and taking better care of myself, I lost 36 pounds. One weekend I was in the grocery store and noticed the bag weighed 36lbs. So I picked it up to FEEL just how much weight I’d lost. Holding all the weight I lost was motivation to keep going. 

What was your workout routine? Can you give us what a typical week looked like for you working out?

My sister, Jamie, is a personal trainer and she gave me very doable workouts right away. I am an 11-time half-marathon finisher and always focused on cardio, so to suddenly have lifting routines to learn was….so foreign! The gym I used is on a college campus and I was working out alongside the swim/dive team every morning. It was intimidating, but I kept going, got stronger, and eventually swim season ended. Suddenly I was the “intimidating regular” who was there when they turned the lights on. I learned that everyone is focused on themselves and you just have to do you.

Jamie gave me 4-5 lifting workouts a week and suggested walking. I typically had 2 leg days, an arm day, and chest/back. Overall, the best thing I learned was that I didn’t have to be extreme if I could be consistent, so I focused on consistency over perfection or extreme measures. 

What was your nutrition like? Can you give us what a typical day of eating looked like?

I followed WW (formerly Weight Watchers) exclusively. I love fruit and vegetables, so I leaned on those foods. I actually try to make cauliflower pretend to be a lot of different things!

My usual breakfast was: Cauliflower oatmeal made with riced cauliflower, egg whites, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and a scoop of protein or a butternut bowl with roasted squash, pumpkin puree, protein powder, peanut butter powder, and frozen blueberries.

 

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For lunches, I love to make a Lunchable sort of meal. I love chicken salad, so I make that often with celery, grapes, and green onions with a side of crackers and I cut the mayo with plain, fat-free Greek yogurt.

Dinner really varies, but I keep it veggie-heavy. I have my own casserole recipe of shredded chicken, frozen broccoli, frozen riced cauliflower, and fat-free cream of chicken soup, all topped with crumbled corn cereal. I also love burrito bowls with chicken, guacamole, salsa, cheese, riced cauliflower, or rice.

Snacks are also usually veggie-heavy and I try to pair a carb with protein. White cheddar rice cakes; veggies and dip made with fat-free yogurt and ranch powder; light string cheese; a healthier charcuterie board with shrimp, veggies, grapes, apple slices, mandarins, pickles, and light crackers.

I take an absolute GANG of supplements. I prefer the Thorne brand above all – their supplements are really high quality. I take AM and PM multivitamin, a stress bundle (stress B-complex, phytase, pharma-Gaba), fish oil, turmeric, relora, magnesium, vitamin C, a probiotic. I find that my workout recovery is quicker when I’m on my supplement game and (knock wood), I haven’t been sick in years. 

After workouts, I take a scoop of Optimum Nutrition whey isolate and add a scoop of glutamine and collagen peptides. I seriously LOVE that post-workout shake! 

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How did you stay motivated to lose weight? Did you ever slip up?

I built a solid support squad and that really helped me. I started an Instagram account called @WWgirlmeetsworld, which became my platform for sharing struggles and successes with people going through the same things. 

I truly believe that where your focus goes, your energy flows. I did my best to surround myself with people who were inspiring and doing things similar to what I was doing. My friends, family, and significant other were super supportive and also changed how they ate right alongside me. We all got healthier together!

When did you start to notice progress?

Aside from noticing changes in clothing, it was gradual. When my coworkers started acknowledging and honoring my wellness boundaries, I felt AMAZING. They would say, “Oh, Cari can’t meet at lunch, she goes for a walk, so let’s find another time.” Or they would taste something before me and say, “Eh, not worth it.” It really made me feel like I was truly living a lifestyle, not a diet.

I really noticed a lot of progress in my “gains” as I was losing. I was surprised at how fit and lean I became from lifting weights. One day a woman in HR commented that I’ve been a “skinny minnie” for as long as she has known me. I was so surprised to realize that some people have only known me as “Now Cari” and don’t know about “Before Cari”. It’s humbling to think, “Woah, this person thinks I just came this way!” so I try to make sure I exhibit a healthy lifestyle in all arenas so folx know it takes ongoing practice.

Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress? 

I am a WW (formerly Weight Watchers) girl through and through. I briefly flirted with double tracking in MyFitnessPal but it was labor-intensive. I used a regular old scale I got from Amazon, but I change the batteries regularly so that it’s reliable. 

Do you have any weight loss “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?

I found that protein was super important to me, so I added in more and more protein over time – both as a shake and as actual food.

Water enhancers and sugar free gum have also been clutch – Icebreakers gum is my hero!

Use your calendar (or whatever planning tool you like). I schedule my gym time, massages, grocery shopping, meal prep, even snacks! Those little triggers all add up and are helpful!

Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?

I really appreciate James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. It’s so reasonable and accessible and a great way to think about habit change overall.

I like the Half Size Me podcast as well. And the James Smith podcast. Jordan Syatt has a really great podcast as well.

What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?

Focus on the BIG PICTURE.  The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that “Weight loss and maintenance are not likely achieved using short-term solutions. They require a commitment to long-term lifestyle change and often need support from healthcare providers, family members, and social networks. Intensive behavioral interventions that use one or more strategies—like group sessions and changes in both diet and physical activity—can be effective for individuals trying to lose a significant amount of weight.”

I learned that behavioral interventions – like the ones the USDA recommends above – were key for me. I needed that support squad and I found that in WW. Surrounding yourself with a group of like-minded people is powerful, and I also think it’s important to share your intentions and goals with people you love so they can be on your team, instead of accidentally (or intentionally – ugh!) torpedoing your efforts.

Don’t give yourself a finish line. Accept that this might take a while, but that the work is worth it and keep going. My sister always told me, “The time passes anyway,” and it really helped me dig into the moment and keep going.

Where can we find more about you?

You can find me on Instagram @wwgirlmeetsworld. I am also a National Virtual Coach for WW and you can find my workshops here. WW Members can find me on Connect at @coach_cari_m.

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