Hi All! It's been a little while on our success story series, but that's just because I've been saving up for a big one for you! And boy does this one deliver. Today we are highlighting the many successes of Naomi, a graduating senior at UCSD who has just finished the study and has lost a whopping 46 pounds since she started 2 years ago!!!! I am so proud of Naomi's commitment and dedication to her new lifestyle. I chose the picture above for a very specific reason. Naomi has struggled with that inner voice, we all have. That inner voice that can beat us down and tell us we can't or its too hard. But we all know to shut this voice down, because it IS a liar and we don't have any room for such nonsense, right?! That is what Naomi has done and she's a new person for it! She has worked so hard and really found her love of health and fitness over these two years. She is confident, as am I, that this new lifestyle is here to stay! Read on to find out more about Naomi's journey...it's a good one!
Naomi is a UCSD student, in her fourth year. She will graduate this spring and then it's off to Pharmacy School!!
I always like to ask a few fun questions to start off...
What is your favorite vegetable (and if you have a reason, why?):
Carrots and Cucumbers! They are easy snacks and I can eat them with lemon, salt and chili powder!
What is your favorite exercise (and if you have a reason, why?):
I like the elliptical. I love it because it tells you an approximate amount of calories lost and the distance. It comes in handy when keeping track of calories.
What is your New or favorite hobby:
Looking for healthy snacks and baking healthy alternatives! I love going to the gym too. It helps me get through the day without so much stress. I go first thing in the morning every day.
I love that her new hobby involves getting in the kitchen and baking healthy alternatives - she is mixing in something she has loved doing but with a healthier twist! You know I'm a big fan of that! Getting back (or into for the first time) into the kitchen and COOKING for ourselves is definitely one of THE MOST important things we can do to take charge of our health and ensure we stay on track. LOVE that she's doing this!
OK, here are the 6 questions I asked her and her wonderful answers:
HC: What made you initially want to join the SMART study?
NV: Initially I joined out of curiosity. I was a skeptic and I never really thought that it would help me as much as it has. I joined not knowing what
the program was exactly. I was very pessimistic about my weight and I would always put myself down. Before the SMART study, I thought that it was impossible to change.
HC: How has ThreeTwoMe helped you achieve your weight loss (or healthy lifestyle) goals?
NV: ThreeTwoMe taught me that such a thing as portion control and calorie counting exists! I think what helped me the most was questioning my myself when I started counting calories. I began to estimate the calories I ate vs the calories I burned off in one day. When I did this, I realized that the amount I ate exceeded the amount I burned off by way too many calories. I thought of it as a math problem and gradually started decreasing the amount of calories I consumed. I began weighing and measuring everything and getting a feel for what the right portions looked like. After some time, I got used to the new portions and I realized that it wasn't so hard. In fact, I was used to eating amounts that were so excessive that when I started controlling my portions, I lost weight pretty easily. I also realized that most of the time I over ate, it wasn't because I was still hungry, but because I was just used to eating so much I thought I had to do so all the time in order to be satisfied. It was impossible for me to leave food on my plate even if I was already full, but that has changed.
HC: What is the one thing you are most proud of that you've experienced or accomplished during this journey?
NV: I am most proud of being able to control myself around sweets! I love baking and prefer desserts to anything else. I had the most trouble trying to decrease my sugar intake, but I discovered a ton of alternative, still yummy, snacks that I could eat without feeling guilty. I limited all my snacks to 100 calories or less, less than 10g of sugar and fat. I found that there are plenty of desserts out there that meet these requirements and are still really yummy. Trader Joes became my favorite store.
HC: What has been your greatest "barrier" or "challenge" to reaching your weight loss goals and how are you working to overcome it?
NV: I already mentioned my issues with sweets, but another barrier was my life back home. My parents are used to eating massive amounts and whenever I go home, they would expect me to eat like them. It was hard to refuse when my mom makes food for me and expects me to eat it all. When I would go home for the weekends, I would come back weighing more than when I left. In a span of two days, I could see and feel the effects. Eventually though, I began to teach my mom about calorie counting. She was not as receptive to the idea, but she is much more conscious about portioning now. My family saw that I changed a lot. My sister and brothers began to watch what they ate as well. They watch their portions and their sugar now too. My family has a history of diabetes, so they were most concerned about their sugar intake.
HC: What was your "ah ha" moment (if you had one) in changing your behaviors?
NV: Just realizing that most of the time I ate just to eat. Not because I was hungry, but mostly out of boredom or depression. When I felt stressed, I reached for a cookie, but now I go to the gym! I exercise everyday for 1.5 hours - it is a part of my life. I work hard at the gym. I walk more now and I made it routine to do ab exercises before I go into the shower everyday.
HC: This ab exercise routine is fantastic! We have talked a lot about creating healthy habits and routines that are short and become a part of your every day routine...like showering or bathing. I am so glad to hear that you are doing this!
NV: Thanks! It really has worked. I think I started it during one of the Facebook challenges, it was a suggestion you gave and it has stuck!
HC: What is your advice to others?
NV: Keep at it! It seems like it is a really long road, but it is not. I used to think that I couldn't do it and that there was some magic behind losing weight. There isn't, basically, just treat it as a math problem! 1 pound is 3500 calories. Just portion control and COUNT CALORIES!! It makes all the difference in the world. Oh, and I really like the pointers on the ThreeTwoMe website. I read all the documents and printed them out. One more thing that really helped me was the realization that if you don't buy unhealthy snacks at the store, you wont have them at home when you're craving them. DON'T BUY THEM! I shop with a list and I never buy junk food. If I don't buy it, I don't eat it. Basically, count calories, reduce the amount of junk you eat, and exercise! I love the challenges on ThreeTwoMe as well. I'm super competitive, so they really helped me.
We asked her to share a Before picture and other active shots that show the transformation Naomi has made:
Naomi at the start of the study (Feb, 2012):
Naomi's entry into our Summer Olympics Facebook Challenge back in July 2012: Getting in her parallel bars routine! ;)
Getting in Some Minature Golf with our "ThreeTwoMe Around the World" Campaign!
Thanks Naomi for sharing your struggles and successes with us. You have had quite a journey and I am so glad to hear that your family is right there with you. You have become their teacher and improved their lives for the better too - what an accomplishment!