'I Lost 101 Pounds In 17 Months By Making These 4 Diet And Exercise Changes'

Tara Martinez, as told to Emily Shiffer
·4 min read
Photo credit: Tara Martinez
Photo credit: Tara Martinez

From Women's Health

My name is Tara Martinez (@taramartinez14), and I am 22 years old. I’m from Jackson, Michigan, and I work full time as a certified nurse’s aide and as a part-time desk worker and cleaner at my gym, and I also run my small business, The Craft-T on Etsy.

I have struggled with my weight nearly my whole life. I was told over and over again by doctors that I needed to lose weight to prevent future health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. At 15, I was diagnosed as prediabetic.

I would get motivated after each little scare from the doctor, but nothing stuck as a lifestyle change. I would work with personal trainers, which kept me motivated for a little while, but never lasted. I’d always lose a little and gain it back, plus some. I’ve did a 30-day vegan challenge, lost 20 pounds, and gained it all back. I did the Atkins diet, which lasted maybe two weeks. I tried to eat healthier more times than I can count.

But in 2019 at 19 years old, I found myself at 286 pounds. I was scared and didn’t want to live my life like this. I knew I took on too much in my life with jobs, school, and my social life. I was the girl who said yes to everything, and I reached a breaking point. On May 13, 2019, I was ready to start my journey to a healthier life.

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I started my weight-loss journey by tracking my macros, and I have stuck with it ever since.

Counting macros works for me because it means food freedom. It helps me make better food choices. It makes me choose specific foods that are "worth it." And when I say "worth it," I means that the foods force me to plan out my eating and meals so I can stick within my daily macro counts. I am obsessed with meal prepping!

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Here’s what I eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Protein oats or protein waffles.

  • Lunch: Two lightly salted rice cakes with white cheddar Laughing Cow cheese and a deli style tuna packet on top, sprinkled with Everything But The Bagel seasoning and paired with a Fairlife chocolate protein shake.

  • Snacks: CHOMPS turkey jerky sticks. My faves are original turkey and jalapeño turkey.

  • Dinner: Boca burger on a Hawaiian slider bun, ultra-thin slices of provolone cheese, no-sugar added ketchup, mustard, and sweet potato fries.

  • Dessert: Sour strips or any Quest bar rolled into four balls and popped into the air fryer like cookies!

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I started exercising right away. I knew what I needed to do because I had worked with personal trainers in the past.

I mostly started with cardio by walking on the treadmill, and using the elliptical, stair climber, and cycling bike. A typical week would have three days of cardio. Now, a typical week for me has six days of strength training and six days of cardio.

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I’m currently in a prep stage for my second bodybuilding show. I absolutely love it! I have learned and grown so much. I love learning new exercises. And the best part—getting strong and lifting heavier.

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These changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.

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  1. I found healthy alternatives to foods I love. If I wanted pizza, I made flatbread pizzas using St. Joseph’s Lavash bread, fat-free cheese, and whatever toppings I craved. The best part was I could eat all of it and still met my macro goals.

  2. I took progress pictures. When I stayed consistent, I saw progress. When I saw progress, I felt unstoppable. Taking progress pictures is truly the best thing anyone can do when starting a fitness journey. Sometimes (a lot of the time) the scale is so discouraging, but when you look at your pictures and compare, you get motivated. Be your own dang motivation, sis!

  3. I looked at exercise as a mental-health tool. I told myself that exercising was never to be punishment—it was key for my mental health. When I was younger, if I wanted to lose weight I had to workout if I ate a bad meal or wanted a bad meal. Or if the scale wasn’t going down, I compensated by eating way less in calories. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I wish I could go back and tell myself it was okay to eat normally and not punish myself with exercise. I workout now because it makes me feel good, and it makes me feel powerful, strong, and confident.

  4. I drink tons of water. My Hydrojug is my everything, and it goes with me everywhere. It has helped me hit a gallon of water nearly everyday for the last six months. Because of this, I’m hydrated, I have very minimal bloating, and my digestion system is on point.

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I have lost 101 pounds in 17 months.

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I want other women embarking on a fitness journey to know that these three things saved my life: Never give up, stay consistent, and drink your water. I never gave up and I continued to show up for myself every day. I stayed consistent and saw my progress showing off in the gym as I got stronger and stronger.

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