Arielle Calderon decided she wanted to make a long term change with her body and her life and in March 2015, she did just that.
In 10 short months, Arielle completely transformed her body and her health, dropping 85 pounds, 5 dress sizes and was able to complete a 10K. The changes Arielle made to complete this incredible journey are changes that anyone could make, and she wants to let you know that.
Arielle opened up to Buzzfeed, listing the 17 exact steps that she took to shed 85 pounds of fat and remain sane throughout the whole journey.
Arielle’s Steps To Lose 85 Pounds & Drop 5 Dress Sizes In 10 Months!
1. First I Signed Up For Weight Watchers And Began Slowly
Arielle has been yo-yo dieting her whole life and the two biggest mistakes she kept making were:
“1. Telling myself, “The diet starts tomorrow” and bingeing on all my favorite foods. 2. Giving things up cold turkey and depriving myself of foods I love.”
“The main reason I signed up for Weight Watchers is because it’s about an overall change beyond the scale, not just losing weight. The program is based on a points system that focuses on more than solely calories. Foods like fruits and vegetables are zero points, lean meats are very low points, and anything with added sugar is very high.”
This system encourages you to eat more healthy foods, rather than unhealthy, processed foods which rack up points. It creates a balance, were you can enjoy your favourite meals but you understand that eating healthy, in general, is the key to long term success.
2. I Stopped Calorie Counting And Focused On A Healthy Lifestyle
Sometimes losing weight can come at a cost, as Arielle found out. It’s important to treat your health and weight changes as a lifestyle change, rather than a quick fix to drop the numbers on the scale.
“During my sophomore year of college, I lost 40 pounds. I looked great, I received endless compliments, I felt more confident than ever before — but in reality, I was miserable. I restricted myself to 400 calories a day, I did one hour on the elliptical seven days a week, and I popped diet pills like clockwork. I remember weighing myself every morning and being upset if I hadn’t lost a pound. In a DAY. I became so obsessed with limiting myself that I wasn’t actually living my life, and the pressure of it became so intense because of the attention it came with. Everyone was happy for me and impressed, not even second-guessing that my very rapid weight loss was the effect of a dangerously unhealthy diet.”
Living a lifestyle that is unsustainable for the long term will lead to you gaining the weight back once your revert to you old bad habits.
“It is no surprise that I gained it all back, plus more. That’s because I wasn’t focused on being healthy; I was focused on losing weight. Do I still get bummed if I gain? Of course, but I take it week by week and reflect on what I ate or how much I exercised and make small adjustments if need be. I also know that my body feels so much better because I am taking care of it. It’s important to look at the bigger picture, not just a number on a scale.”
3. I Followed The 3 Most Common Pieces Of Advice: Tracking Food, Activity And Water Intake
Tracking different areas of your lifestyle change, such as food and activity can help you more accurately make changes that you need to do in the future. It can also be used a s motivation tool so that you can look back and see how far you’ve progressed.
“Tracking food: As I do follow Weight Watchers, the point is to track all your food — even the splurges you don’t want to admit to (everyone is assigned a weekly allowance for this purpose). It’s good to honestly track what’s actually going in your body so you can manage portion control and stay accountable.”
“Tracking activity: Getting an Apple Watch is actually what kick-started my journey because I was finally taking note of how much I moved. You can always use free apps to help you track your steps and other exercises.”
“Tracking water intake: Hydrating is so, so important! Often when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just thirsty. I downloaded the Plant Nanny app, which prompts you to enter your body info and lets you plant cute flowers as you drink more water.”
4. I Finally Ate A Healthy Breakfast, Not Just A Piece Of Fruit
Eating nothing is often thought as better than eating something when it comes to losing weight, calories in and calories out and all that. However, if you eat nothing for the first 8 hours of your day, then you get hungry and splurge, eating more than you would have done otherwise, it can ruin your goals and your health. It’s much better to eat sensible, healthy meals spread throughout the day, rather than starving yourself and hoping the weight will come off.
“For most of my life, I never ate breakfast — I just drank a Diet Coke and maybe munched on a banana. I thought the less I ate, the more weight I would lose, but eating more has actually helped me. Having meals like an omelette with fruit keep me full longer, and I stopped snacking on random (bad) foods throughout the day.”
5. I Started Walking First, Before Starting The Gym
Start small and build up from there. Arielle knew changing her diet and jumping straight into a tough weight lifting routine would be too much too soon, so she simply started walking to get her body moving and started the ball rolling from there.
“I was not a gym person, and I knew that trying to eat healthy AND exercise heavily every day would be too much for me at once. Instead, I decided to move more by walking everywhere, which isn’t hard in NYC. I brought my sneakers to work in a backpack and changed into them — while wearing a dress — and walked 60-plus blocks home. The first time felt like an eternity, but the more I did it, and the easier the routes I discovered, I came to enjoy this (mostly) peaceful hour to myself. And walking a lot is what helped me get into running later down the road. The baby steps count!”
6. I Didn’t Give Up When Times Got Tough
Knock backs will happen in all areas of your life, it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize and stay focused on keeping positive and carry on trying your hardest. Falling down is temporary, giving up is permanent.
Arielle describes a particularly hard moment on her weight loss journey:
“A little less than two months into my journey, I found myself crying hysterically on a subway train. I was wearing a nice dress, my hair was curled, and I was carrying flowers and boxes. A man offered me his seat, which I figured was because a) I was a woman and he was being nice, or b) I was carrying a lot of stuff and he was being nice. I smiled at the gesture until he said, “You should sit since you’re pregnant.” It was my birthday.”
“To know that your weight has inconvenienced you in so many areas in your life — whether it’s struggling to fit in a theater seat, hoping your seatbelt will close on an airplane, or not doing fun activities that depend on a weight limit — and then to hear strangers point it out in this subtle, good-intentioned way, is heartbreaking. It was just another reminder of the shame I carried from my unhealthy habits. But instead of sobbing into a pint of ice cream, I called my mom and cooked dinner. I took the blow and moved on. It took an enormous amount of effort, but it also made me stronger.”
7. I Learned How To Cook And Made Healthy Substitutes
Learning how to cook can be one of the most important things that you do to help you reach your weight loss goals. Arielle used to order out multiple times per week, but changing her ways and learning to cook healthy meals helped her save money and keep an accurate account of her daily calories. Result!
“This was a huge change for me; I used to order delivery three to five times per week, I always ate lunch out, and my extent of “cooking” was heating up soup on the stove top. I did not even know how to chop vegetables.”
“I started off simple and watched a ton of videos on how to cook very basic things like Brussels sprouts and shrimp. I even YouTubed how to properly cut apples. Now I cook every day, bring my own lunch to work, and experiment with healthy swaps. I was surprised to see how easy and satisfying it was to replace pasta with zoodles and spaghetti squash, burgers with turkey burgers, and rice and potatoes with cauliflower. And once I discovered PB2, I was pretty much ruined for life (in the best way possible). Also, just to be clear, I definitely still eat rice, pasta, and potatoes. I just look at the swaps as a different meal option.”
8. I Learned How Bad Sugar Is For You
Researching about health and nutrition can help broaden your mind on the effects of what you put in your body. Sugar has been related to a whole host of health problems, and cutting back could lead you on the path to weight loss success.
“While this may seem obvious to many people, I was not aware how horrible added sugar actually is. To believe that you can cut all added sugar is bullshit in my opinion (it is literally in everything), but lowering the intake has so many benefits. I no longer crave cheesecakes and brownies, I don’t feel like I need a dessert with every meal, and my constant headaches have stopped (though I do not know if this is a direct correlation).”
“Anyway, added sugar is unavoidable, but if you lower your intake and focus more on natural sugar — such as fruits, honey, and milk — that is better for you.”
9. And I Learned How Important Protein Is
Learning the benefits of a high protein diet and the various ways you can get it can really help someone to lose weight and change their body composition.
“Protein keeps you full, so I look for foods that have a high protein content and low sugar content. While people tend to associate protein with meat, you can also get a healthy dose from beans, yogurt, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds.”
10. I Learned To Celebrate ‘Non Scale Victories’
“While it’s definitely a motivator to see the scale move down, it’s really about the other victories that make the lifestyle change so much more worth it. Things like being able to run a 10K, reaching ONEderland, finally shopping at places other than Lane Bryant; those little things are incredible measures of success.”
Learning to see success come in other ways is a very important step. If the scale stalls, you may lose hope and quit, but if you feel clothes feeling looser or if you’re able to run further than you ever have before, it can let you know that the results are still coming in different ways.
11. After 4 Months, I Quit Drinking – But Not Intentionally
Making decisions that are right for you will help you in the long run. If you feel like something isn’t helping you, it’s okay to cut it out or reduce it.
“This is actually one of the hardest parts of my weight loss journey, but not because I miss alcohol; it’s because people will NOT LEAVE ME ALONE ABOUT IT. I never set out to quit because of calories or points, I just slowed down and noticed how much better my body felt without booze. It’s a real bummer to see how much my social life revolves around drinking, but I have just as much fun when I’m not taking shots at the bar. And if you do want to continue drinking, that is OK too! You are allowed to enjoy life the way you want to — just be smart about it.”
12. When I Felt Comfortable, I Joined A Gym & Started Classes
Arielle started to try new workouts and loved the classes that her local gym offered. Trying new ways to exercise can keep things fun and classes can help keep you motivated and make working out fun.
“I joined Crunch Gym about five months after I started Weight Watchers. I stuck to the elliptical at first since that was my comfort zone, but I eventually got the C25K app and began running on the treadmill. After I got into a groove, I took some classes at the gym (Zumba, spinning, cardio dance, strength training, etc.). And after months of always making fun of SoulCycle, I finally did a class and actually loved it. They turn the lights off and you can just jam without feeling self-conscious. I also did a Hamilton-themed ride and I’m pretty sure it changed my life.”
13. I Didn’t Sacrifice My Social Life – Just Planned Food Around It
Learning to find a balance was an important part of why Arielle was successful, she didn’t spend every single day worrying about her diet or avoiding social occasions.
“Part of a balanced lifestyle also includes mental health. You can’t spend all your time worrying about what you will eat or when you will work out (which I am still partly guilty of). But I will often make dinner before going out and pack a snack in my purse so I can eat when I’m hungry and not feel terrible about it. When going to restaurants, I look at the menu ahead of time and stick to veggies and lean meats. I’d rather not always do salads, so a turkey burger is usually my go-to.”
14. On Hard Days, I look Through Old Photos
At the start of your weight loss journey, it’s a great idea to take full body photos of yourself from every angle. You don’t have to show them to anyone and when the time comes to look back and see how far you’ve come, you’ll be proud and glad that you took them.
“If you are just starting out, take progress pictures! I was a classified expert at hiding my body with a purse or another human being, and now I regret it. It’s also refreshing to see how much happier and more confident you are in later pics.”
15. I Used The Weight Watchers Connect Feature
Finding motivation with other like minded people can help keep you on track with your goals.
“In November/December of 2015, Weight Watchers changed its plan from Points Plus to Smart Points, as well as added this new Connect feature. It has been a total game changer.mMembers can post success stories, relatable struggles, ask for advice, share recipes, and more. I do the online program, so this is a great way for me to get the support of IRL meetings without dishing out the extra cash.”
16. I Made The Hard, But Important Step Of Donating My Old Clothes
This could be referred to as “burning the bridges’, as you make the commitment to stick with this for life. Having her old clothes gave Arielle a thought that she could slip back to her old ways and still have her bigger clothes waiting. Getting rid of them stopped that
“I just did this recently, and it was one of the most terrifying things I’ve had to do to date. People tell me all the time about their friend who lost a bunch of weight and gained it all back, a story I know all too well. I had planned to keep my plus-size clothes “just in case,” but that is the wrong mentality. I have to look forward, not back.”
17. I’m Finally Learning To Love Myself
Arielle’s advice on loving yourself and feeling comfortable with your life, body and decisions:
“This is the hardest challenge of all. I have never been happy with my body, and it has limited me from having so many amazing life experiences. I still have a good amount of weight I would like to lose, but I’m finally starting to feel comfortable in my skin. I feel I am working toward the person I deserve to be. I will continue to aim for my goal weight, and possibly start some personal training to get me to the next level, but I will not cut calories or starve myself for a meal if I’m not losing as much as I want to. It’s all about balance.”
“So if you are looking to make a lifestyle change, or perhaps you’ve already begun, just remember to do this for yourself because you want to — not because you feel pressured to. If you are truly happy with your mind, body, and soul, OWN IT. If you are putting on a facade to hide your unhappiness, then maybe it’s time to take control. Don’t let anyone or anything bring you down — just take it slow and enjoy the ride. It’s not a race!”