Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Stani Magnuson is 29, 5-foot-5, and currently weighs 151 pounds. In 2017, after struggling with obesity for most of her adult life, she finally found a way of healthy living that worked for her. This is her weight-loss story.
The Turning Point
My weight has been a struggle for most of my adult life. I have found myself morbidly obese twice now. I got up to 255 pounds at 5-foot-5 in 2008, and then spent two years slowly carving it off until I got to around 145 pounds. I struggled to maintain this, as I did it in a very disjointed fashion and ended up gaining back roughly 20 pounds and maintaining at 165 for years, until I once again experienced a huge life change. I moved across the country, away from most family and friends, started a new job, and rapidly gained all of my weight back until I was 245 pounds.
One morning, I was getting dressed and I realized it was getting very uncomfortable to even bend over and tie my shoes. My stomach was in the way. Throughout the summer of 2016, I realized how unbearably hot it was in my new home of Texas — all of the excess weight was slowly draining the life out of me. I was too embarrassed to let anyone see my arms or legs, so I’d wear long leggings under my dresses and long sweaters, and overheat almost immediately. I was in a new, beautiful city, and could not enjoy much because I was constantly out of breath. Being uncomfortable just tying my shoes was a wake-up call, and at that point, I decided to make a game plan to fix this problem once and for all.
I started researching many different diets and workout plans and decided on a ketogenic diet. I had seen real-life success stories, and the food allowed seemed indulgent enough to keep me on track. I started learning more about the science behind it, and I was convinced.
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In April 2017, I moved into my own apartment and gained full control over my kitchen. I started meal prepping every Sunday and preparing healthy meals for the week ahead. I started weighing and tracking all of my food. I cut out almost all refined carbs from my diet, and on the ketogenic diet, started allowing myself only up to 20 grams of net carbs (net carbs = carbs minus fiber) per day. Shortly after, I also started walking regularly, and eventually worked up to strength training in the gym. I am now more than 14 months into my journey and attribute my success to a ketogenic diet, regular strength training, tracking my food, and plain old patience.
During the journey, there are days when you are tired and frustrated and sad. But mostly, I feel proud and energized. Every day I am so grateful to be feeling better, to be comfortable in public, and to have energy to spend quality time with friends and family and not hide myself in my room. I found a huge support group on Instagram, where thousands of men and women use social media to journal their ketogenic diets. By joining them, I have made great friends and reinforced my eating patterns and lifestyle with daily encouragement and inspiration from them. Watching others helps to normalize the lifestyle and make the road to health much less lonely.
Weight loss is not a magic pill, but when you improve one area of your life, it makes it easier to improve others. I feel less anxious, experience less depression, and have become much more social. Now that I’m 94 pounds down, my options in the world seem wide open and I feel so much more confident that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Physically, I feel powerful. I now find myself physically capable of almost anything I need to do in my daily life. I definitely am not one of the ladies in the office who needs help from the boys in changing the jug on the water cooler. My ability to suffer through necessary evils has also gotten much better. I find myself procrastinating less and being much more productive in all facets of my work and home life.
What was most surprising was that by following a ketogenic diet, I could eat all of the typical “unhealthy” foods that we are taught to avoid, and still feel amazing and lose weight. Red meat, eggs, and dairy all became staples of my diet, and my energy went through the roof. My sleep improved, my skin improved, my mood improved, and weight just started falling off. I also am constantly surprised by how much sugar is added to food. A ketogenic diet requires constant attention to details in what is added to your food, and I was truly shocked to learn that a single donut hole contained over 27 grams of sugar.
I am currently calorie cycling on a weekly basis, eating anywhere from 1,200 to 1,700 calories on a very high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb macro breakdown. I tend to eat less than 10 net carbs per day and concentrate on building meals around healthy, whole protein sources. Staples of my diet are ground beef, turkey breast, skin-on chicken, and a smorgasbord of seasonings. I am still weighing and tracking all of my food to help keep myself on track. If I eat out, I make sure to ask for no bread, tortillas, buns, fries, or other carb-loaded side options.
I am strength-training five days per week and meet with a power-lifting coach for 30 minutes every Saturday morning to make sure my form is good on large compound barbell lifts such as back squats, deadlifts, bench presses, military presses, and the like. I do not do much cardio, though I did compete in a 5K this spring. I just found it was not for me. I am a big proponent of choosing exercise you enjoy so that you actually do it. It should not be a chore.
I strongly believe the community I have built around me on Instagram and Youtube has helped keep me accountable and motivated to continue this lifestyle. I also have fallen in love with physical fitness, and keeping active helps me battle anxiety and depression that try to sneak in.
I am currently motivated by my upcoming wedding, but long-term, I have many fitness goals that I am working toward. I have been trying for over a year to join a local power-lifting team, and hope that I will someday be strong enough to fit in with that particular group. I am getting so close!
I struggle a lot with depression and anxiety about loose skin. After losing 94 pounds, this is an unfortunate reality. Some days, the negative thoughts and feelings about how I let this happen to myself are overwhelming, but by looking back at where I came from, I can see that this is certainly a better place to be and a lighter cross to bear. In these times, I talk to my weight-loss journey friends on social media who can relate, and we help each other through these moments.
Plan ahead and be patient. Nothing sustainable is going to happen overnight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you have to make a commitment to yourself that you are going to keep going even when it seems impossible. One day at a time — one meal at a time, if you have to. Also, do not hole up alone somewhere and try to do this in isolation. Find someone, online or in real life, that you can vent to. Hold them up, and they will hold you up.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
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