I am a 27-year old girl from the small town of Columbus, Texas. I am an emotional eater, an over-eater, and a binge-eater. By the time I was 20 years old, I ended up eating my way to 300 pounds and 45% body fat. I ended up starting my weight loss journey on June 26, 2008 and lost over 130 pounds in six months. By February 2008 I weighed 165 pounds. I have been keeping the weight off ever since with a good nutrition and exercise. A few more demographics: I am a recent graduate of Baylor University in the field of Sociology. I picked that major because I originally wanted to be a college professor. However, during my weight loss accomplishments I decided that I really wanted to help others lose weight and become healthy because of the great impact it has had on my life. I have learned that it was difficult me to express myself in the best way possible on the inside whenever I had so much covering me up on the outside. As sad as it is...in this world being overweight means being invisible to the world. I have been there and I have done that, and I want to help others out of that pit as well. That is why I decided to get my personal trainer and sports nutritionist certifications in order to be able to better assist others in their weight loss and fitness goals. On a personal note...I know what it is like to not know where to turn or where to get started when it comes to nutrition, exercise, and motivation. I designed this site especially for those that need resources in weight loss knowledge as well as motivation and encouragement. I admit, I have not always done things the healthy way AT ALL. In fact, I have made almost every mistake I can think of when it comes to weight loss. However, it is the ones that work hard and persevere that make it. "Fail your way to success..." is what my trainer always told me. It's not about winning a race, it's about finishing it! After I lost all my weight, I decided to get my excess skin removed as well as get other cosmetic procedures done in order to enhance my appearance. It is a journey all in itself! After I heal from everything, I am going to pursue my dream of becoming a bodybuilder and/or a fitness model! If you would like to know more about my weight loss journey, please refer to the "My Story" below where I provided ALOT more detail about me!
I was a thin child, but around the jr. high age I started to become a "chubby" girl. In high school, I stayed "chubby" as a size 14. I knew I was a little bigger than the other girls, but since I could still shop at the regular stores and do regular activities I never gave much thought about my weight...much less, think it was an issue. As soon as I started to get more involved with college my weight started to creep up on me. I would work full time during they day at a tanning salon where there was not much physical labor involved. I would typically bring my lunch or get my mom or a friend to bring me "something good" from any restaurant in town. I was always good about eating breakfast, so lunch would be my second meal of the day. I then would get off of work around 4 and I would go pick my brother up from school. We would then go to Sonic or McDonald's "as a treat" and I would get a milkshake, burger, or anything to hold me over before I started my college class. Then I would get out of my college classes around 8:00pm and I would be starving! I would then go home and gorge on a huge dinner! Dinner would be my largest meal of the day. I then graduated from Jr. College in December of 2006 and moved out in June 2007 to go to Baylor. I weighed about 245 when I moved out. I then gained an extra 55 pounds over the next year by bringing my unhealthy habits with me to my own apartment. I would buy cheap and unhealthy "college foods" like Easy Mac, Hamburger Helper, Pastas, Donuts, etc. I would also continue my habits of eating fast food, going out to eat with friends, and I would NEVER workout. I always studied or played videogames. It got to the point to where my life was centered around the next meal, and all I would look forward to in life was either my next test, my next level accomplishment at Guitar Hero, or what desert I was going to "treat myself" with by baking on the weekend. My weight was out of control. I ate without limits. I even got a meal plan with school where I was able to eat all I wanted in a buffet-style setting. I ate there around 5-10 times per week. I then started my weight loss journey on June 26, 2008 at exactly 300 pounds. I decided that I did not want to live that life any longer and that the way I was headed was for complete failure. I was invisible to the world and I needed to either make a change or accept the fact that I would be dead within years (because I would keep gaining weight) without ever making a difference in anyone else's life AT ALL. I then started to workout around 4-6 hours per day. I first followed a high protein/low carb diet and ended up losing around 27 pounds my first month. I then wanted EVEN MORE...so I started to experiment with no-carb dieting. I went into ketosis and continued to workout. It did not have a huge affect on my body because I was so big that I had plenty of fat for my body to use up. I did ketogenic fat loss from October 11 thru Thanksgiving. By Thanksgiving I was out of the 200s. I then demanded more out of myself. I was determined to lose all my weight in six months NO MATTER WHAT. I then started to experiment with combining low carb/no carb dieting, diet pills, and exercise. It worked well and I continued to lose weight rapidly. It then got to the point to where I tried total starvation--I would eat only 800 calories per day, no carbs, workout around 3 hours per day, and take diet pills on top of that. By the time Christmas break rolled around I was around 180 pounds. I then decided to finish my final stretch of losing weight with a big bang! Over the Christmas break (from Dec. 23-Jan. 12) I water fasted. I drank nothing but water and ended up losing all my weight to 165. I have suffered from almost every eating disorder I know...anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, emotional eating, etc. I know that I did not lose my weight the healthy way. However, for the past 6 months I have maintained my weight loss by eating 6 times per day, high protein, drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest, etc. I am now at 20% body fat and I am working towards becoming a body builder. I have around 130-140 pounds of muscle mass because I got so fat and built it up in order to carry around my 300-pound body. I want to use this to my advantage and build on it to become a bodybuilder! I want to bring my body to its peak of healthiness because now I chose to take care of my body. Yes, I do regret not doing things the "healthy way"...however, I have this story to tell to anyone else who needs help/advice/etc. because I want to be real about my story to EVERYONE. There are so many others who suffer from the same things I do (whether they are losing weight or gaining weight) and who need people to just be real with them and admit that no one is perfect. I want to use my story to inspire anyone else who wants to lose weight and who question "keeping it off".
Well, as you may have already guessed...I'm really a big kid at heart! I still absolutely love video games, jamming out to music super loud, stargazing, snow, and Christmas time! My favorite colors are pink, red, green, and white and I love soccer! Soccer is, by far, my favorite sport of all time! I love ALL types of music. My favorite types include hit party music, 80s rock, techno, and some new rock. I grew up playing the drums, playing paintball, learning Taekwondo, playing hide-and-go seek, totally OWNING anyone who dared to challenge me at dodgeball, and always hanging out with my dad. He teaches me lots of life lessons, stuff about cars, gives me video game and fishing tips, and now we "just chill". I have always loved hanging out and having a great time doing ANYTHING. If you name it, I've probably tried it...but if not, I probably would! I absolutely live for adrenaline rushes such as roller coasters, skating, sword fighting, popping wheelies, setting off fire-works in the middle of town for no reason, and doing anything extreme. I'm not much on reading books...but I'd have to say my favorite is Tom Venuto's "Burn Fat Feed the Muscle!" I have learned much of my weight loss knowledge in there. My favorite foods of all time are Twinkies, 99 cent Taquitos from Whataburger, anything from a good taco stand, Reese's Easter eggs, eggnog, cheesecake, oreo dirt cake, Elite 12-hour Fudge Brownie flavored protein shakes, Oh yeah bars, fast food burgers, and pizza. Yeah, I still love all the stuff I used to...I just practice being moderate (which is hard for a girl like me!). I am an uber spontaneous person. I'm the type that just loves to not have any plans and to wake up one morning and do ANYTHING. My all time favorite super heros are The Ninja Turtles and Sonic the Hedgehog! My second favorite thing in the world is surprises, my third favorite thing ever is trying new things that I've never done before, my fourth favorite is Christmas time! Christmas, to me, is simply magical! Oh, I also LOVE malls at Christmas, Christmas light displays, decorations, Christmas cartoon specials...basically anything that has to do with Christmas. My favorite movies are Anger Management, Slumdog Millionaire, Click, The Neverending Story, and Elf. My favorite actor is Adam Sandler, my favorite TV show is pretty much anything that entertains me at the time. I never really watch TV, to be honest. I have a few hobbies. They include: Soccer (of course), drumming, hanging out with friends, skating, playing video games, yo-yoing, doing anything with Silly String, making Youtube videos, weight lifting, traveling, riding 4 wheelers/dirt bikes, going to theme parks and water parks, and most of all...HAVING FUN! I am normally a pretty hyper person overall. I am ESPECIALLY hyper when I get addicted to drinking stuff like RedLine and other energy drinks! I've been to the SAM'S Club way more times in my life than I have ever been to a dance club or any other type of club...but clubs are awesome as well because I get to dress up! I like arcades...especially Jillians. Going to Cold Stone is my favorite place to go when I go into hypoglycemia! I love being a tomboy, but I LOVE being a girly girl. One of the hardest things EVER for me to do is to say "no" to a dare. My daily wardrobe consists of workout pants (usually Adidas), soccer shoes, and an old t-shirt. I especially love tie-dye, Mario, Sonic, skater-brand, and funny shirts. I really like Mario better than Luigi, and Donkey Kong is my favorite video game character of all. Since I was little, I always wanted to get engaged by having my future husband give me a Ring Pop! Cooking is a huge hobby of mine, but it is one that also made me gain weight...so now I chill out with being a chef all the time! Hahahaha! One of my favorite things of all time are motivational quotes. To me, they are wise because they say so much in so few words! If I were stranded on a desert island and had to bring only three things with me I would take my best friend, a Bible, and magical lamp with a genie inside that could grant any wish I desire at any moment! My favorite nickname is "chubs" and I am the most unorganized neat freak you will ever meet. I REALLY like laser tag and air hockey. When I play poker, I like to use Zebra Cakes instead of chips. Some things I enjoy out of life are a great laugh, great conversations, being around people I love, and smiling a lot! I still get bad dreams, but my good dreams are more amazing than EVER! I like to go camping and make S'mores! In fact, my very first free meal I EVER had was a S'more when I went home last summer camping. I am a country girl, but I enjoy the city life MUCH MORE! One of the things I miss MOST about college is living in a town that has a Super Walmart...our town is so small we still only have a regular one! I love to make new friends and meet new people, especially those who have CRAZY awesome stories to tell me. Overall, I just like anything that is SUPER NEATO and FUN! And that's about it!
There are certain shortcuts, twists, and techniques that I have used to master my fat loss. Know that I am NOT recommending to ANYONE that they try anything that I have done to lose weight. I have done the "healthy way", high protein diets, low carb diets, ketogenic diets, Atkins fat fast, tried various diet pills, carbohydrate zig-zagging, calorie shifting, protein fasting, water fasting, starvation, overtraining, and more. Yeah, I have done lots of crazy things and made lots of mistakes. However, when when I look back and think "Do I regret any of the stuff I did to lose weight as much as I regret letting myself weigh 300 pounds?" The answer is "NO!" I admit I did not always practice healthy eating habits, but I am providing this particular section of the website to discuss the pros and cons of each thing that I have tried in order to lose weight. Some people are willing to do ANYTHING to look good (I am one of those). So for those of you interested in letting me take the hit first and want to hear what it's REALLY like first-hand, honestly, and without sugar-coating...then read this section:
1. The "healthy way": this technique can carry a different definition for different people, so I will begin by defining what I call the "healthy way". The "healthy way" to me is: including the FDA recommended servings of each food group in the diet, eating 2,000 calories per day, and doing an adequate amount of exercise daily. It is pretty much ideal for anyone to practice on a daily basis, but the only difference when trying to lose fat is that a calorie deficit must be created by a decrease in calories and/or an increase in exercise. Now, this is an ideal way to lose fat for almost anyone. However, based on my own experience...there are many things about it that make in inefficient to "fat loss". Let me explain what I mean: There are a high number of carbohydrates in the diet. Carbohydrates are the most readily stored food group available (especially sugary ones--even natural sugars!). On an extremely efficient "fat loss" diet plan, there are not as many carbohydrates involved. There is also not enough protein in the diet to lose weight as efficiently as possible. Protein is the number one when it comes to speeding up the metabolism, keeping muscle mass, and repairing the body after hardcore workouts. Without eating at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight, a good amount of muscle mass will most likely be lost during the "fat loss" process.
2. High protein diets: The basic "bodybuilder diet" is the most effective and efficient way to lose "fat" (notice, I didn't say "weight"!). It includes enough protein to keep as much muscle mass as possible, enough carbohydrates to repair/energize the body, and enough fruits and veggies to keep the body healthy (for most people). It also includes an adequate amount of fats and dairy to optimize fat loss. The only cons I can think of involving this diet, based on my personal experience, are the following: constipation, sometimes lack of carbohydrates (if not balanced carefully), and an increase in thirst. When someone asks me "Sami, what is the BEST way to lose weight?" I usually say low carb, LOTS of protein!
3. Low carb dieting: Low carb diets definitely cause visual results nearly daily if they are done correctly. However, there are many cons to them: Number one is the lack of energy. When I didn't eat enough carbohydrates I found it difficult to workout my best. Also, it affects the brain! I found it hard to concentrate, I had some mood swings, and I would get easily aggravated at really stupid things for no reason. Another thing about low carb diets is that there is always the possibility of going into hypoglycemia! I have gone into it MANY times, and it can cause many problems for those who are on an extremely restricted diet. Trust me, it is NO FUN. Another con to the low carb diet is that even though it causes a TON of fat loss, losing muscle mass is nearly unavoidable. The reason is simply because once the glycogen stores are used up in the liver and muscles, the body is forced to make its own energy from body fat AND muscle mass. This is especially true for people who only need to lose 10-20 pounds of body fat. Overall, low carb dieting is EXTREMELY effective, but there are lots of cons and precautions that need to be researched ahead of time because it is pretty hardcore!
4. Ketosis! Okay, so ketosis is a matter of restriction carbohydrates and is similar to the low-carbohydrate diet. Many people can get into and maintain their body's in the state of "ketosis" when eating under 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. However, when I did ketosis I ate as few carbohydrates as my body would allow. I constantly ate protein and fat (the fat helps produce ketones). I would eat lots of tuna, salmon, chicken, mayo, fish oil, flax oil, and Atkins products. It would be a diet high in protein, moderate in fat, and super low in carbs. Ketosis is extremely hardcore and has ALL the cons of a low carb diet...except they are even MORE severe. Plus, when the body is lacking ANY carbs, if one "cheats" or re-introduces carbohydrates in the diet too quickly, the body can store it as fat due to the lack of carbs in the diet before. Ketosis should definitely be researched before trying it.
5. Atkins Fat Fast: Atkins fat fast is considered one of the MOST efficient/effective ways to lose fat of all time. Some even say that it is more effective than complete fasting! The fat fast is a diet consisting of 75-90% fat and is only supposed to be done under certain conditions: 1) the body is resistant to entering ketosis 2) a plateau is hit during a low-carb/no-carb diet 3) you are only willing to do it for 3-5 days, then stop. I have done the fat fast several times and I must admit, it is the MOST hardcore thing I have done (next to water fasting). I had all the symptoms of ketosis, only LOTS more. I would constantly go into hypoglycemia if I worked out longer than 15 minutes, I would get super thirsty, I lack energy to do daily activities, I would get headaches, I would get the feeling of being "not here" because of all the ketone production and lack of efficiency for the body to run off of no carbs and high fat, I would feel dizzy, and I would be really really hungry at times. The fat fast is done by eating five 200-calorie mini meals throughout the day. There is also a version of it that has 300-calorie mini meals as well. The foods included in the fat fast are macadamia nuts, cream cheese, eggs, avocado, mayo, sour cream, fish oil, and flax oil. On the resources/links page I have posted more info about the fat fast.
6. Diet pills: I have experience with many types of diet pills. The ones that I have the most experience with are Lipo 6 and Lipo 6X. I started taking them when I was really heavy (about 250 pounds). At first, I was able to take them without ANY side effects or problems. However, when I started getting lower and lower in body fat (and their was less fat to burn), they started giving me bad side effects that I never experienced when I was heavy. For example, I would get dizzy, my heart would speed up, I would sweat randomly, I would get mild chest pains, and eventually I would end up going into hypoglycemia if I was not careful. This happened to me with all the diet pills I have tried since then. I have listed the ones I have experience with on the resources page. The pros of diet pills are as follows: 1) They increase the metabolism, 2) They increase the body temperature, 3) They give you energy. Overall I would have to say that the cons (for me) out-weighed the pros. If you are going to try supplementing ANY type of diet with pills, please do the research needed to prepare yourself adequately for the possible consequences. I have found that CLA is an extremely effective fat loss product that does not have many side-effects, but yields significant results if taken along with exercise and a healthy diet. It is a non-stimulative and more natural fat burner. For those that are willing to be slightly adventurous, but do not want to go overboard...I would recommend further research on CLA (also known as Tonalin).
7. Carbohydrate zig-zagging: This is a method I read about in Tom Venuto's book "Burn Fat Feed the Muscle". It consists of one or two days of high carb/high calories to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscles, and 3 days of low carb/low calories. When I did it I would do 1,800 calories and a carbohydrate (complex) with every single meal for the high carb days, and 1,400 calories with carbs only on the first two or three meals on the low carb days. This method is described as one of the "most effective fat loss techniques" ever! It is especially designed to "trick" the body out of starvation and to make the most of a low-carb diet without having many of the low-carb diet symptoms. I admit, it is very effective and efficient!
8. Calorie-shifting techniques: Calorie shifting is a technique designed to shock the body by eating a different amount of calories each day. I have personally done this by alternating 300 calories one day, then 800 calories the next day. This can be done in a less extreme daily deficit as long as the difference in calories are about 400-500 per day. For example, one day you could eat 1,500 calories, and the next eat 2,000. It is similar to the carbohydrate zig-zag method, but only deals with calories. This, I have found, is a very effective tool in losing fat. However, if you go too low on the calories, starvation can occur which can hinder fat loss.
9. Protein fasting: Protein fasting is when you drink ONLY protein shakes all day, every day. I would drink at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight. When I did protein fasting-I did it with hopes to lose as much weight as possible while losing as little muscle mass as possible. It is not the most efficient way to lose fat and keep muscle due to the lack of carbohydrates in the diet....but I must admit, it is very effective in seeing results in the mirror. The way I did it was to drink whey protein, then three hours later I would drink a protein matrix blend (such as Dynamize Nutrition's Elite 12-hour blend, or Optimum Nutrition's Pro-Complex, or Muscle Milk). The reason for the alternating is so that the body gets many different types of proteins and amino acids to keep as much muscle as possible. The cons to this are: 1) protein shakes do not cause a high thermic effect like eating protein, 2) having all the low-carb diet symptoms, including hypoglycemia, 3) getting extremely hungry and craving food! Protein fasting was a great experience, but I would not do it again! I only did it to "speed up" fat loss and experiment with what the results might be.
10. Water fasting was, by far, the most intense diet technique that I have used. I fasted for two weeks and I will NEVER forget it. Water fasting consists of drinking ONLY water. There is also more to it: I would include Senna tea (because bowel movements become difficult when not eating, plus it would push out toxins), I would have to use enemas, and I would get very very very dizzy to the point of almost blacking out. I worked out for the first day or two of the fast, but after that I could not do so without nearly passing out. I would sleep for hours and hours, then be awake for nearly two or three days straight. By the end of the fast, my life felt like a dream. I would constantly have to kneel down on one knee to prevent blacking out and stuff like that. I do not regret doing the water fast because it detoxified my body. However, it is INTENSE. Before water fasting it is super important to be a hardcore, committed, educated person...because if you are not, you will be by the end! I ended up losing nearly twenty five pounds during my two weeks of the fast (some muscle, some fat).
11. Starvation is by far the most effective way to lose "weight". Starvation can be defined (for me) as going under 800-1,000 calories per day. I have done this MANY times, and it is really effective when wanting a "quick fix". Based on my experience with starving, the negative consequences outweigh the positives. When I was starving, I would get all the symptoms of being in ketosis, and sometimes they even got bad enough to be compared to the water fast. I would go into hypoglycemia a lot...therefore, making it inefficient because I had to eat sugar to replenish my body all the time. When I did starvation I would optimize it by eating about 150 calories every two hours. I would eat lots of protein and nuts to keep my metabolism going as fast as possible throughout. Starvation should really never be done by anyone, but for anyone daring to do it...two weeks is the maximum if you want to use it efficiently and without losing too much muscle mass in the process. During starvation, I would get tired and hungry often. It is one of those things that requires LOTS of discipline. I usually lost around 1-2 pounds per day when starving. However, I lost a lot of muscle mass in the process as well. I guess I can't have my cake and eat it too! (Or actually, I can't have any cake at all! hahaha!)
12. Overtraining: This is where you go to the gym, blast the iPod, and go until you are almost going to pass out. When I overtrained, I would do the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, then go play soccer, then do some weight training, then play soccer, then do the elliptical all over again. When my body was at a high body fat percent...it worked GREAT! Exercising was the best way to get rid of all that extra stored fat! My body used it up efficiently because there was so much of it. There is a flip-side to it: Whenever I got down to a lower body fat percent...I got EVEN MORE energy to train, but my body would not let me do as much because I did not have the extra body fat stores to keep it up for so long. I eventually ended up overtraining so much that I would go into hypoglycemia many times! When I got hardcore with my workouts, I didn't know when to quit. I find that it is best to plan workouts and to know my limits now...because training too hard can cause a reverse if I am not careful! Having to go home right after the gym and scarf down strawberry ice cream and honey is not ideal at all!
So there you have it! I have tried lots of stuff, but I have no regrets. In fact, I am so happy that I have all of my knowledge and experience to share it with everyone!