Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Molly Lowe is 28, 5′9″, and currently weighs 161 pounds. In January 2014, she weighed 267 pounds. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
My weight has been a struggle my entire life. I was always the heaviest and tallest girl for as long as I can remember. There are a several memories from my childhood, and even into my early adolescent years, that replay in my mind and make me question why I never saw my weight as an issue sooner than I did. But, the reality of it is that I just became so comfortably uncomfortable with who I was that I became blind to the real issues.
I am the definition of a yo-yo dieter. It wasn’t until after I gave birth to my daughter in 2012 that I had lost all control. I would assume that most people who go to their first post-baby doctor appointment see a drop in weight. Mine? Not so much. I wasn’t surprised, though. The number reflected my life. It was higher than what I was capable of handling, or at least that’s how I felt — 232 pounds! So here I was — huge, miserable, and crying. However, my misery didn’t stop me from leaving that appointment and heading off into a several-month-long binge. In fact, it steered me right into the Burger King drive-thru and probably to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts for dessert.
The rest of 2012 came and went, and most of 2013, and my weight continued to climb up — to 267 pounds. During that time, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which ultimately only added to my weight problem. Even after being diagnosed with those two very life-altering factors, I still didn’t find the courage to change my habits. I had to hit rock bottom first.
When my marriage began failing and I was losing all sense of self-worth, I knew I needed to make a change. I hated being a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend. I knew so many of my problems were a direct result of my weight, especially the depression and PCOS. So, on Jan. 1, 2014, like many others, I made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and start rebuilding my life.
I knew I needed something that I could make into a lifestyle. Cutting out refined carbs, removing sugar, and not eating ice cream ever again were NOT options. Endless hours of cardio and running marathons weren’t solutions, either, because I had gone those routes before and it never lasted more than a few weeks. This time, I found flexible dieting and I instantly knew it was the plan for me. I’m easy to please, but restricting my food will never end well — not for me or any member of my family! Flexible dieting is easily the simplest plan I have ever followed: I count macronutrients (carbs, fats, and protein) as opposed to just counting calories alone. Doing that made me aware of what I was putting into my body and helped me to reestablish a healthy relationship with food. If I want a burger, I eat a burger. If I want grilled chicken, I eat grilled chicken. I stopped labeling food as “good” or “bad” and started to fuel my body. In many ways, I started enjoying food again, too.
I waited a month or so before I added in workouts. I started with cardio and weight training five days a week. However, the further I got along in this process, the more in love I fell with weight training. There is just something so incredibly empowering about feeling strong. And feeling physically strong helped me feel mentally strong.
Now I feel like I can do anything. I mean, really! There were so many times throughout this process where I thought, “There is no way I can do that.” Then, I did it! That happened over and over again until I started to believe in myself. Losing this weight has given me all the confidence in the world. I love life again. And most importantly, losing weight has freed me of depression and the symptoms of PCOS.
Molly before (left) and after (right) her weight loss. (Photos courtesy of Molly Lowe)
This is who I am. I don’t even consider it a diet or routine anymore. It has become a part of me. I still follow flexible dieting and I am not sure I will ever have the right mindset to not track my food, because I know how quickly my eating can get out of hand. Tracking everything I eat puts it all out there, black and white, so that if and when I gain weight, I’ll know why. And when I lose weight, I’ll know why. I still work out five days a week. Lifting is my church. I go to the gym to find myself. It’s there that I collect my thoughts for the day and decompress.
I practice balance to the extreme! I still go out to eat. I don’t bring my own food to birthday parties. If my family wants to have pizza for dinner, I eat the pizza! I’ve learned to listen to my body. If I need an extra day off from the gym, I take it. No regrets! No looking back, only moving forward.
I try to have a “treat” every day. Whether it’s a serving of ice cream or half of a Hershey’s chocolate bar, I make it fit into my macros for the day. Once a month, I plan a meal where no counting is involved. I like to plan it out ahead of time because it gives me something to look forward to. I don’t make it an all-day event; it really is one meal — with dessert, obviously! It took some time, but I’ve learned to not let that one day roll into the next day and the next day. Each meal is a clean slate and a new opportunity to get right back on track.
A few off days won’t ruin all the hard work I have put in. A few bad meals and missed workouts won’t make or break me. I’m a realist. This is a lifetime commitment and if I honestly start to believe that I won’t have any setbacks, then I would be lying to myself. The important thing is that I remain consistent.
The thing I struggle with most is feeling guilty for making time for me. When you become a mom and wife, it’s so easy to get lost in all the responsibilities of the normal day-to-day that you often put yourself last. Learning to make myself a priority has been the largest adjustment. If I’m not at my best, I can’t give anyone else my best.
When I have bad days, I think back to the times when I refused to leave the house because I hated the way I looked. I think back to sitting on the couch when no one was home, eating an entire cookie cake and crying because I didn’t know how to stop. I never lose sight of who I was or how far I have come emotionally and physically. That reminder always helps to snap me out of it. And being honest with myself keeps me grounded.
Never use food as a reward or exercise as a form of punishment — you’ll only create bad relationships with both!