Briana ( struggled with emotional eating for a long time, and at a point she decided she could no longer continue that way. Read on as she breaks down her natural and realistic appproach to weight loss.

What led you to want to make a lifestyle change?

From as far back as I can remember my body has always been a focal point growing up overweight. As a child I wasn’t able to identify the anxiety I dealt with on a daily basis and how my own mental health ultimately was influencing my eating habits and physical health.

Talk us through the early days of your journey

In 2018 at the age of 24 I finally said enough is enough after spending a lifetime trying fad diets and not holding myself accountable to sticking to a workout routine. I was embarrassed to go to the gym so I started working out at home and little by little I built my confidence and fitness ability.
I would run laps in my backyard where I was safe in my own privacy, now I run freely in public on trails and in neighborhoods, something a younger me could never have imagined (especially being in grade school and hating track days in gym class). I built my own 3-4 day a week workout program primarily focusing on cardio.

What changes did you make to your diet?

I changed the foods I was eating by focusing on ingredients I was putting in my body and shifting to eating more whole foods (food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances). Food and drink products with the least amount of ingredients was my go to. When I was grocery shopping I would look at the ingredients and research any ingredient I didn’t know so I knew exactly what I was putting in my body.

By focusing on cardio and nutrition I lost 77 pounds over the course of a year. I eventually was regularly going to a gym throughout the week and did well maintaining the weight until the COVID pandemic started Increasing and the state I lived in was put on lockdown. I gained 30 pounds back, my anxiety was increasing, I was stuck in the house emotional eating and the gyms were shut down with no set indicator on when they would be open again.

Were there any obstacles along the way, and how did you overcome them?

In January 2021 I found myself having the same mindset I did in 2018 and I once again said enough is enough! I thought… I lost the weight before I could do it again and then some! Over the course of 2021 I lost 40 pounds. This time around though my exercise habits were completely different but my nutrition goals maintained the same, whole foods and drinking lots of water! I started learning more about weight training and the benefits (especially for women) that it would have over primarily focusing on cardio. I started doing 30 minute weight training sessions with 20 minutes of cardio. Although over the course of a year I lost less weight than I did the time before, I was more in love with my body than ever! I realized the power of weight training and how I could build the shape and the figure that I desired vs just dropping weight.

Tell us where you’re at now

I stopped focusing on the scale. When you are building muscle and burning fat you have to remember that muscle is more dense than fat but it takes up less space in the body. I started lifting small and worked my way up as I felt my body was ready to do so. For example using a seated row machine I started with 30 pounds and today I do 130 pounds, on an ab machine I started with 70 pounds and today I do 190 pounds. I feel stronger and sexier than ever! Because I have more muscle I burn more calories throughout the day and during rest mode. My current routine is 30-40 minutes of weight training followed by the stairmaster and the elliptical. I usually do 15-20 minutes of cardio. So if I do 5 minutes on the stairmaster I will do 15 on the elliptical or if I do 10 minutes on the stairmaster I will do 10 on elliptical, basically whatever I don’t do time wise on the stairmaster I make up for on the elliptical. My routine will continue to change and grow as I am always setting new small goals all the time. Even just this morning I tried two new weight training exercises at the gym today that had been on my goals list for a few months.

What advice would you give our readers?

I still have weight I would like to drop but I am loving sculpting my body in the process. From an overweight kid to a queen in the gym I am currently working on studies to become a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist. The one thing I always tell people is never give up on yourself. I had great success, had a downfall and worked back up to even more success than before. You are the only one in control of truly holding yourself accountable. I still have tough days and days that I am off my regimen. I take everything day by day and when I am feeling mental fatigued I just keep a mantra in my head of “one foot in front of the other” because that’s all I can do, just keep pushing forward!