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How I lost 30+ Pounds

I haven't really shared on my blog any of my weight loss journey. When I began this blog, I was at the same weight I am now. I do my best to maintain my weight, and if anything need to eat extra calories so I don't lose any! A couple of years ago, this would have sounded crazy to me.
Growing up, I was never the "skinny girl." I was always athletic to a degree, and liked being active, but I could see that I was just a little bigger than those around me. My body image wasn't great, and I compared myself to my friends all the time. In college, there was more of the same. Going to a strict Christian college for the first two years meant I didn't gain the Freshman 15, and I stayed active throughout. A transfer, another school, and more of the same.
In 2007, I moved to Hong Kong to be closer to my family. Within a year of living there, I had gained about 20 pounds. In a word: Booze. There is such a social aspect to living in Hong Kong, and every night there are invitations to go out and drink. Plus, no driving and lots of public transportation mean there's never an excuse to abstain.

I had absolutely no respect for my body or my health. I smoked, I drank, I ate whatever looked good in the moment. I once prided myself on having a McFlurry every day for 3 months. WHAT?! 
I was so uncomfortable in my body. At 150 pounds, I realized my BMI was officially overweight, but I didn't quite see how I looked. I took a short beach vacation with some girlfriends, and when the pictures came back I was shocked. 

That was my wake-up call. I started exercising regularly. I had several friends who lived nearby who would walk with me, and it became a new social activity instead of drinking. I started running with my mom. We covered short distances, but it felt so good to be active. When I met my husband, we discovered we loved hiking and eventually trail running together. Today, if a day goes by without any exercise I miss it. Not for the calorie burn, but for the way it makes me feel. Healthy. Alive. Strong.

My eating has changed along the way too, of course. When my running ramped up, I realized I felt better when I ate real fuel for my runs, instead of nonstop fat and sugar. I learned to like salads (even if they weren't covered in dressing, bacon bits, and croutons). I decided that a lot of dairy and meat made me feel sluggish, so I made those extras to a meal instead of the stars. I made friends with fruits and veggies.

Today, I weigh around 117 pounds, give or take. I can run a mile in under 8 minutes, and tackle 50 "real" push-ups at once. But better than all of that is the way I feel. I get excited about waking up early for a run. I have energy I thought only came from a 16 ounce can of Red Bull. I feel comfortable in my own skin, and proud of what my body can do. And that's worth breaking the McFlurry streak. 

Have you ever lost/gained a significant amount of weight?
I was always around 130 pounds until I quickly gained those 20 pounds. Then, it took me well over a year to lose 30 pounds in total. 

Where are you now in your journey--do you want to gain, lose, or maintain your weight?
Right now I want to maintain my weight. I tend to gain a bit when I'm doing more strength training but I'm ok with that since muscles = awesome!


  1. LOVE this post, thanks for sharing!

    One of my favorite quotes from you: "I have energy I thought only came from a 16 ounce can of Red Bull."

    People don't understand that sometimes...exercise is energizing, not draining!

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  2. Good for you! Right now maintaining my weight would be nice, as would gaining some muscle :)

  3. I am TRYING to lose a significant amount of weight, but it's hard to work out and eat well for months at at a time and not see a single pound lost. I usually still do all the right things because I know how I feel better when I work out, and I do like it, but this morning I had a moment and just didn't go to the gym. I'm mad at the lack of results even though I'm trying so hard. This was good for me to read today.

  4. That's awesome... its always the beach pictures that change people's healthy ways of thinking!

    I gained A LOT in college, revamped my eating then lost about 20 pounds, then I took it to an extreme and was scary thin, then I took that as I can eat whatever, so now I'm trying to get back to a healthy weight and figuring out just how much my body needs to be's a roller coaster, that's for sure!

  5. Aww I love this post so much. I'm super short 5'2 so any extra weight looks like a lot on me. When my mom died I was in super "I don't care about anything" mode. I went out partied, ate, drank, smoked.... I gained about 10 lbs. I got back into exercise again and ate healthfully, but I still partied. My idea of eating "healthy" was coffee for breakfast, salad for lunch, and salad + booze for dinner. When I got pregnant with my first is when I really learned about healthy eating as opposed to restrictive eating. I think those 18-22 years are such a learning curve for most of us. You look AMAZING, congrats on all of your hard work!

  6. Good for you girl! I lost about 10 lbs after college (umm yes, boozeee). Now, I'm preggers ;) So just keeping a healthy pregnancy weight is important to me.

  7. Good for you losing the weight! You look great! I gained about 15 pounds of muscle in my first year of college because I was playing basketball and lifting weights a lot. I didn't mind the extra weight until my 5th year of college when I ran track and I just felt bigger than all my little runner friends. It was interesting how switching from bball to track made me self conscious about my body for the first time. Eventually the extra weight came off and I got down to what I weighed in high school and being that weight and size feels pretty good.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story. Can I ask how tall you are? You look fabulous & congratulations on completely changing your life!

    I'm slogging along, trying to lose weight. I've lost 32 pounds from Christmas of 2009, and just over 15 pounds since January 2010. I'm also in much better shape. It's been a journey. :-)

  9. Nice going. You look great. And great that you FEEL gooood.

    I quit smoking and gained a lot many years ago. Now I maintain about 19% body fat. I am just over 5'10" and weigh 138 at my happiest.

    I do belong to WW and have been a lifetimer for many years and I do go at least once a month to get weighed - helps keep me accountable.

    I am not trying to lose weight but I am always trying to get fitter... and build muscle. I am one who really struggles with adding muscle, especially as I get older.

  10. This post is great. Congrats to you! Really shows how healthy eating and exercise can make a difference.

    I gained about 30 lbs between high school and starting running again in 2008. I was pretty stick thin in high school and don't desire to get back to that same weight. But, since running and making better eating choices the last few years I've lost 10 lbs. And am now stuck at a good weight, but want to loose about 5-10 more so I can run faster. I just love food and wine too much :)

  11. Great story, thanks for sharing it! When I went to college I gained about 15 pounds, but the majority of it was from lifting more for basketball (and I won't be naive, a little was from the cafeteria and drinking). Throughout my 4 years of college bball I alway gained about 5 pounds for the season and then lost it in the off season. When I finally ended my career, I set out to drop a little weight (10 pounds). Right now I am at my happy weight and have been maintaining it for about 2 years. I have considered losing a small amount of weight for running performance purposes if I decide to get into marathon running, but otherwise I'm happy where I am :)

  12. Thanks for sharing. I'm always interested in how people decide and commit to making changes.

  13. What a great story. Thank you so much for sharing! Very inspiring!

  14. Great post! I gained the Freshmen 15 through beer and overeating and then freaked and drastically (think less than 8 weeks) lost 20...I have been working up some courage to write about this, and I will when I am up to it - but I brought my habits from one extreme to the other, and it took a couple years, but I am finally at my body's happy weight and comfortable there...

  15. I gained weight in my last couple of years of university...about 15 pounds and then probably another 5 the next year. I tried to convince myself I was ok with it, but I wasn't. Looking back at those pictures was NOT fun.

    It actually didn't take me as long as it should have to take the weight off- I was on a serious "stress diet", but once the weigh came off, I decided I wanted to be FIT. That has taken far more commitment and determination :)

    Thanks for sharing your story- it is nice to see that there are so many of us that go are able to get back into healthy habits after going a little crazy with food and alcohol early in our adult lives.

  16. amazing! your so inspiring! and i love hearing about people getting fit the "right" way! keep up the good work!

  17. great post girl, you are inspirational!

  18. thank you so much for sharing about your weight loss journey and success! i would have NEVER guessed you ever had a weight struggle, seeing you now and reading how much you've accomplished athletically i've only more respect! way to go and it's great to hear how much more pride and confidence you have for you body and it's health! :)

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your story! and congratulations for taking your life back. You look fantastic, but like you said - it is more about how you feel. So worth it! What a success story.

  20. wow! Seriously thank you for sharing. That is really inspiring!

    I've actually always been the same weight really for all of my adult life. I'm much slimmer now that I've taken to way more distance running, so I guess I just maintain and stay healthy :)

  21. Thanks for sharing your story Vanessa. It is always hard to put our personal stories out there but the good thing is that so many people can relate.

    My weight has been extreme. From anorexic to bulimic and everywhere in between. Eeeek! I am so happy to say that I am finally at a good place with my weight and health. I would love to lose a little for marathon training, but in all honesty I am incredibly happy and finally feel confident in my own skin. :)

  22. I wish my "big" photos looked as good as yours!!!! I know what you mean about feeling good/bad at a certain weight, but you can feel confident that you looked cute at both weights!! Nice work!

  23. That is an awesome story! I personally was the skinny girl in high school, but after college and getting prego I gained quite a bit. At first I started counting my calories and the weight came off but I became a little obsessive. I am slightly OCD anywhoo so it wasn't a surprise that I always knew exactly what I was eating. But when I started running with my sisters I started to do what you did. Eat healthy, and plenty and feel great. I am in the best shape of my life now and am excited to stay that way.

    Nice Work! It is also inspiring to know there are a lot of us out there who have gone through similar weight issues to realize you can look good, eat good and feel good all at the same time. TREATS INCLUDED =) -Jen

  24. You are so cute! What a great story :)

    I wasn't skinny in high school and my weight went up and down in college (it spiked when I first started dating my hubby - we loved to eat out and drink beer!). It really didn't stablize until I started trying to get pregnant - I kinda had an eye opening health revelation.

    I feel good at my current weight/size, which I wouldn't have said 5 years ago! I'd like to increase my strength - so if I weigh more due to muscles, I'm OK with it!

  25. Wow, what an inspiring story! Awesome!

  26. always love a good weight loss story. My highest was about 155 (aside from the 167 when I was prego...that doesn't count;) but now I'm at 125, which is what I was at my junior year in HS. Feels good.

  27. Thanks for the inspiration! Right now I'm slowly losing weight. I've been up and down most of my life. I was never thin, but I was thinner than now. Before I used to do extreme diets, nothing crazy, just lots of restrictions. Now I'm going from the approach of activities.

    I'm finding, like you did, the more exercise I do, the more my body craves heathy things and less sugary things. But I have such an extreme sweet tooth, that where I'm at now with less sweets is what most people consider too much sugar.

  28. Thanks for sharing your story! It really reminds me of the journey that I went, and am still going through: .

    It's always inspiring to hear about other's experiences with navigating the waters back to health, fitness, and happiness :)

  29. Wow, we have a crazily similar story. Along with awfully similar before and after weights. Creepy! But in a good way :)

  30. Great post; very inspiring!

    I have to say that you're "before" pictures look a bit skinnier than my "after" ones! You look absolutely stunning. :-)

  31. Thanks for sharing! You are such a beautiful person! My highest was around 140 and then after training for my first half it was down to 107. I was constant at 114 for a while but I gained a bit back and can't seem to shake it. So frustrating. It just doesn't feel like my body, if that makes any sense.

  32. Hi There! First time reader here. I was always pretty thin in HS, but I didn't really eat a whole lot and then when I went to college I gained nearly 40 lbs from no exercise and bad eating. Luckily, I found a love of running and passion for healthy living and am back down to my hs weight (the healthy way this time). Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to reading more!

  33. Wow! What an amazing accomplishment, Vanessa! I would have never thought you ever at any point in your life would have had 30 pounds to lose! What an incredible story! You are doing awesome :)

  34. What a story, beautiful Vanessa! You did this for you all on your own! So inspiring.

    I loved reading more about your journey and the road you traveled to the V we read about today!

  35. this is a great story! Although you didn't look bad at your 150 lbs I know what you mean about feeling bad and being unhealthy, eating whatever you want and feeling sluggish. I love exercise like you do! I also love healthy food.

    congrats on your weight loss!!

  36. I weighed the same most of my highschool/college life. After I turned 21 I gained a few extra pounds and started to feel uncomfortable in my own body. I was getting married in a year and decided I wanted to shape up a bit. I lost a little over 30 pounds and started feeling great about myself. I ate better and exercised more. I lost a little too much weight and became obsessed so I struggled to put some weigh back on (not that I didn't LOVE eating, the thought of eating food/gaining weight scared me) I haven't talked about this on my blog but the more and more I read people's blogs, the more comfortable I feel about telling people my struggles. Now I try and eat healthy and exercise. I don't worry about numbers/weight/calories etc. It was a long road but I feel like I get healthier every day :)

  37. yay! I just love finding new, fun blogs! Seriously awesome job on the weight loss- you look FABulous!

  38. Good job! It's great when you realize what your body can do and treat it well, I'm glad you shared your story

  39. Thanks for sharing.. I think I look a bit like your before pictures. Hmm.

  40. I'm about a year and a half on my journey and have lost about 20 lbs and have about 10-20 more to go. I too had gained a LOT of weight from boozing it up in grad school. Now, I drink occasionally but am no longer THAT girl who is always at the bar ready to party. I eat better and have come to love running. I have learned that if I eat junky food then my body rejects it. It still tastes SOOO good but isn't good for very long.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  41. Thanks for sharing your story! I'm at the beginning of my weight loss journey and I have probably between 65-85 pounds to lose. I'm not going to worry too much about the number on the scale, more about how I look and feel. I've signed up to work with a trainer for the next several months and plan to start running for the first time in my life. To see others have had their struggles and now look amazing, helps me know I can do it. Thanks again for sharing, I think you look great!

  42. Thanks for sharing your story! What an inspiration. Keep up the good work. :) Love hearing your motivation.

  43. Great post!

    I am in the process of losing extra weight - I thought your post was very inspirational :-)

  44. like you i haven't posted all that much about my weightloss because I lost it before the blog, but I think it's so interesting to hear everyone's stories!! great job on just finding the right healhty lifestyle for you

  45. In High School I was much bigger, around 175. My senior year I lost around 30 pounds by really watching my calories and exercising more. Throughout college I continued to lose weight and took it to the extremes. I got around 108 pounds at my lowest. I am not really sure how I overcame my eating disorder, but I think working out really helped. The more I started getting interested in fitness, the more I wanted to fuel my body for the right reasons so I could do what I enjoy. I still have to work on getting my exercise under control at times....I hate rest days, but overall I am in a much better state of mind. As of now, I am at a healthy 133 and maintaining.

  46. you are absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out. I think it takes a while to actually find a comfortable healthy weight. its a learning process, right? looks like you found your sweet healthy spot girl!

  47. Thank you for sharing your story! Very inspiring! And you are gorgeous!

    Running has helped me maintain my weight. Sometimes I need to do a self assessment and remember that just because I exercise doesn't mean I should eat anything under the moon. Yes it's ok to have sweets and what not but it's also important to eat healthy, espeically when training for marathons.

    I would like to tone up more, I need to incorporate more cross training and weight lifting. Way to go on 50 real pushups! I want to do that!

  48. thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to it so much as it is very similar to mine. I was always athletic and then when I graduated there was nothing "making" me work out so I just didn't. I hit 170 this past fall and was so devastated. I started getting more into running and was loving it but I did not lose a lot of weight at first. I was frustrated. That was when I realized that I had to change my eating as well. I started eating healthier and more balanced. Since this past fall I have lost 27 lbs and I feel GREAT. I am now 145 and right in the middle of my healthy BMI range. LOVE that. I would like to stay between 140-145 because I just feel good and strong at that weight. Lately I have been slacking on the eating and well-rounded workout departments and my weight has creeped up back close to 150 again but I have realized that I am in control...I just have to make good choices and some weeks I don't do that. Thats okay...I will just get back on track next week. Right now I just feel like I have a good balance of wanting to work out and stay healthy but treating myself every now and then as well with a break or yummy food!

  49. I love hearing about people's journeys to health. McFlurries are delicious as a treat but I completely agree about the energy difference. I used to struggle to stay awake through the workday, and now I can't imagine how I thought feeling like that was normal. You are absolutely gorgeous, um, in fact, I stared at the bikini pictures for several minutes trying to figure out if I was missing something, and even checked the comments. Your before pictures are HOT! I wish I looked that good in a bikini! I know its more about health than looks but....just sayin. Plus I think I have that green dress, is it from Old Navy?

  50. OH MY GOODNESS....I LOVED THIS WORKOUT!!!! Girl, you are BEAUTIFUL!!! It is amazing how running and a healthy lifestyle changes everything....especially how we feel about ourselves. You are such an amazing example to so many people and I love you for that!

  51. I lost about 15-20 pounds over the course of a year or so after my first year on college. I, however, was never overweight. I lost the weight more for vanity reasons. Being in college, I saw a lot of thin girls around me whereas at my high school, there was more variety. I've since put about 5-10 of those pounds back on (for the better). I've gained some muscle and have worked to change my focus from my weight to what I'm putting in my body and what physical activities I'm doing.

  52. 50 comments! Everyone is really impressed with this post - as am I. Congrats on losing the weight. Keep up the good work! That mcflurry streak was crazy, girl!

    I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, but really I'm just focusing on getting toned now.

  53. Thanks for sharing Vanessa. You have come such a long way in your weight loss, but more in your attitude. You look beautiful and strong and fit.

  54. That is amazing! look great and the best part about a healthy lifestyle is feeling great everyday with your body in and out. Keep up the great work.

  55. Girl we didn't know this! Your story is amazing. THANK YOU so much for the inspiration!

  56. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing.

    I gained 70 pounds during pregnancy and after the baby was born still had 50 to lose. I've always been on the smaller side since I'm only 5'1''- it's taken me a year but I'm finally back to a healthier weight.

  57. Seems like so many of us got into running to lose weight. I was overweight starting in grade 6, all the way through till I was 27. Still struggle with it a lot, although now it's more mental than physical (in that I still feel fat, even if I'm not really).

  58. wow what a great story! I lost about 15 pounds when I started running... then got preggo and gained 50 and lost all but about 3 pounds (still working on it!) with running. sadly I managed to gain all that weight without booze :) thanks for the inspiration!!!

  59. What!?!?! I can't believe you're just now sharing this. :) Thanks. I totally needed to hear that. I'm stuck at 11 pounds lost, and I think I needed the reminder that it's going to take some time to get down to my goal weight. You look great!

  60. You look truly amazing these days, and it is wonderful that you have shared such a private story that has the power to inspire others here. This is an amazing accomplishment to break out of the social norms of being a young adult and take control over your situation. Congrats to you.

  61. Great inspirational post! You look amazing. Thanks for sharing your story!

  62. Amazing post! (i actually tried to comment on it yesterday but stupid computer wouldn't let me. I will try to re-write what I had written!)

    I have a similar story to yours. I went off to college having played high school field hockey and lacrosse and was always in really good shape. Almost on the too thin side (less than 100 lbs!) however, i more than made up for it at college with drinking and late night dominoes! I gained the freshman 15 and then some. I graduated college at 170lbs!!!! I felt gross but didn't fully recognize how unhealthy I was until I was on a boat with my friend and we had our picture taken. She sent me the pictures from that day and I cried. I had never realized how far I had let myself go. After that I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon and haven't stopped running! I have lost 50+ lbs and in the best shape of my life! Gotta love running!!!! Congrats on your weight loss and getting healthy. I have thoroughly loved reading your blog :)

  63. great, great post. it's not always easy but it's definitely worth it. yes, i've lost a decent amount of weight. staying "in touch" with like minded people (you) makes the biggest difference for me because my inner circle (real life peeps) don't share the passion for wellness that i do.

    thank you for writing about your journey. you can read about my weight loss in the "about this blog" section of my blog.

  64. That's awesome! Good for you for improving your lifestyle. I still drink but I definitely don't drink as much as I used to and I have definitely seen a change in my body size!
    You look amazing!

  65. WOw! You look amazing! I always seem to work on those last 10 lbs. I know if I really, REALLY tried, I could do it...

  66. What a story you have! You're one brave lady for sharing it so honestly and openly... and one strong lady for breaking that McFlurry streak :-) I've lost about 30 lbs since high school and kept it off for 2 or 3 years now... and I owe every last ounce of it to running!

  67. For the record, I think you looked great in those bikini pictures! :)

    I'm wanting to lose. I know I need to work on my abs and arms. I've been slacking, but it is time to step up my game!

  68. New Diet Taps into Revolutionary Concept to Help Dieters LOSE 15 Pounds in Just 21 Days!


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