What I Learned Gaining 30 Pounds Back after Losing 100


This week has marked the 5 year anniversary of my weight loss journey.  January 16th, 2014 was my day 1: I was 246 pounds and had finally become fed up with being so overweight.  I grew up always being a bit on the heavier side, but after graduating college in December of 2011 and moving out on my own and starting life my weight just spiraled out of control.  I was so uncomfortable in my own skin and ready for a change. My body had started to change so much that I hardly even recognized myself in photos anymore.  I booked a vacation to Jamaica and used that as the motivation to start one more diet…and decided that THIS would be the time I would give it my all and not give up after a few weeks.  It was time to get serious about my health.


I blogged about my weight loss each month during that first year: all of those posts can be found here.  (FYI: I was in a very different life situation when I wrote those posts.  I am no longer married but nothing has been edited from those posts). I lost 78 pounds my first year of dieting!
http://www.mygirlishwhims.com/2015/01/i-lost-78-pounds-in-one-year-and-this.html

 I learned that first year that there really is no secret to weight loss: all it takes is healthy eating, exercise, and a persistent mindset to NEVER give up no matter how many “slip-ups” you have along the way. 

From there, I continued on my “diet” for another year.  I became addicted to the success of losing weight.  It was SO REWARDING to hit a new low weight on the scale, fit into a new size in pants, to see the tangible results of all the hard work I was putting in. Losing weight became my hobby, my lifestyle, one of the biggest purposes of my life.  My original goal weight had only been 190 pounds, but after I surpassed that after 9 months of dieting I set out to conquer a new goal of losing 100 pounds total which would mean at 5’6 I would weight 146 pounds. I MET that goal exactly 2 YEARS into my weight loss journey on 1/16/16.  I can honestly say that losing 100 pounds is the achievement I am MOST proud of ever accomplishing.  I never set out at the beginning of my weight loss journey to lose that much weight: I just knew I needed to change my habits before I got even heavier and started having health issues.  I am extremely proud that I set a goal, changed my lifestyle to work hard towards obtaining that goal, and stayed committed until I reached it.  

http://www.mygirlishwhims.com/2016/01/100-pounds-down-weight-loss-goal-met.html

From there: I had a solid two years of maintaining my 100 pounds loss in about a 10 pounds range.  I figured out pretty quickly into my journey that you couldn’t just “diet down” to your goal weight and then go back to your old habits: losing weight required a complete LIFESTYLE change and that’s what I kept up religiously over the new two years to maintain that loss.  I blogged about my first year of maintenance here and my second year here.

I have a lot of mixed emotions when I think back on those two years of maintenance.  Sometimes I’m sad of how regimented I thought I needed to be with my life.  Sometimes I’m proud of how extremely dedicated I was. Sometimes I’m wistful of how freaking skinny I actually got. 


In 2016 I became literally addicted to tracking macros.  It was a new diet plan for me to follow – I had lost the majority of my weight just tracking calories using My Fitness Pal and working out.  Switching to IIFYM was the final push I needed to lose my last 5 pounds and I had a lot of success on it for maintaining my weight for a while.  It was actually pretty fun for me to have a new way of tracking my food: I geeked out over the perfect ratios of carbs and fat and protein and became a “macro magician” with my ability to skillfully plan my food each day down to the exact gram of how much I was eating.  Honestly tracking macros gave me a very good understanding of the general principals of how much protein our body needs to function properly, how carbs can be used to fuel a workout, and how fat is needed in our diet to regulate hormones.  I learned a LOT about the importance of eating each macronutrient, but I also became obsessed with it.

 I was a slave to my food scale and had an “all or nothing” mentality.  I was either 100% completely on track with my macros, eating within 5 grams of each macronutrient, or I would feel like a failure.  Not being able to accurately track food when out at a restaurant would give me anxiety and any spur of the moment plans that my boyfriend would bring up that involved food would give me heart palpitations.  When I would finally let me guard down a bit, I would end up at the complete opposite end of my regimented eating program and many nights after a few glasses of wine (that started as a “tracked indulgence” – aka I hoarded “carbs” all day and only ate egg whites, chicken and vegetables to be able to drink as much wine as was possible to fit in my macros) I would feel relaxed and then HUNGRY and then end up with my hand deep into the jar of peanut butter, spooning clumps out at will into my mouth because that was something that was always way too hard to “fit” into a normal day of tracking macros so I craved it!!! I specifically remember one night I ate an ENTIRE BLOCK of American cheese in one sitting.  Like -3/4 of a pound of cheese.  WHY???? I never was truly under eating – I always ate at least 1600/1700 calories a day: but I think because I was SO focused on tracking my food and SO focused on what could “fit” in my day and what couldn’t fit that sometimes I needed to just break free and EAT SOME FOOD that I wanted regardless of if it “fit” or not.



During this maintenance period I also  became pretty well known on social media for my weight loss transformation.  I had a bit of a following on Instagram from the beginning stages of my journey – about 60,000 followers actually – until I was featured on the cover of PEOPLE magazine in July of 2016 as part of their “100 pound weight loss” transformation feature.  Suddenly my life exploded: for a week my face was on display on every checkout aisle at the grocery store, my follower count online grew (I have over 150,000 followers on Instagram now), PEOPLE sent a private car to pick me up from work in the Philadelphia suburbs and drove me up to New York City to be featured on Good Morning America where I went live to share my story with America.  I recorded interviews for Inside Edition, ABC Breaking News, Extra and Entertainment Tonight.  My face and my transformation was shown across national television and what stared as me just wanting to lose weight to be able to fit into size 12 jeans again became my biggest claim to fame and my story.  I was called an inspiration, I was noticed, I was IMPORTANT because I had lost 100 pounds.


Whew.  I think something that often gets overlooks in a major weight loss transformation is the MINDSET transformation that you are forced to go through as well.  When I started this journey I was 23 years old and very insecure.  I had gotten married very young because I was very insecure.  I had never dated or had a boyfriend  when I was younger like all my friends did: I felt like because I was a little heavier than everyone else I wasn’t as worthy and literally married the first person I ever dated because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.  I needed a man to approve of me and validate me as a person because I wasn’t secure enough on my own. I learned a LOT about myself when I first started to lose weight.  I learned that I was strong enough on my own: I was capable of setting a goal and working towards it.  I didn’t need anyone else’s approval to make my life valid and important.  I learned that I was still beautiful at 246 pounds but needed to make some changes to be healthy, and I was the only person capable of making that change and believing in myself.


 Fast forward three years later: I was 26 years old, no longer in the relationship I was in that I never should have been in the first place, but also in the best shape of my life.  After going through 23 years of feeling unworthy and invisible, I was finally NOTICED! I was being praised for my figure, praised for my dedication, praised for the physical accomplishments I had made with my body.  Suddenly I felt like my entire worth was based on the number that flashed in front of my eyes when I stepped on the scale each morning.  If I was still close to that 100 pound lost mark – then I was ok.  I was still an “inspiration.” I was still worthy.  If I was over 155 pounds, I was no longer as “good” of a person.

Ugh.  What a SHITTY way to feel like you have to live your life. After two years of being extremely dedicated to my lifestyle and diet and maintenance of that 100 pounds loss, my mindset began to shift a bit.  In reality, January of 2018 started off the same for me: I weighed about 157 pounds right after the holidays but got down to about 148 after a few weeks back on track was and still was practicing most of the same habits I had been before.  I still worked out at least 6 days a week and tracked my food religiously around 5 days a week, and gave myself a bit of a break on the weekends.


Then, come April I went on an all inclusive vacation to Jamaica with my boyfriend.  For six days I ate and drank whatever I felt like, pretty much with no abandon.  I've gone on vacations and splurged before, but I TRULY splurged on this trip.  Two plates full of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Dessert with every meal. Drinks by the pool starting at 10am, and going until the evening.  Whatever I wanted: I had, and this time it really took a toll on the scale.


Yikes. I had "gained" 12 pounds essentially in one week.  I knew it wasn't all true fat gain, so I thought it would be pretty easy to come off.  I had done it plenty of times before. But for some reason, things just didn't bounce back quite as quick this time around.  I went right back to working out 6-7 days a week and eating very regimentedly at least 5 days a week, but I seemed stuck.  I would fluctuate a few pounds, but couldn't seem to get back down to where I had been beforehand.

I specifically remember one day a few weeks after this trip where I had worn "fancy" leggings to work with a blazer because none of my dress pants fit me.  Technically you are not supposed to wear leggings at my work, but people often do.  This time, however, my boss called me into her office and asked me to go home and change since leggings were not part of our dress code.  I drove down the street to a department store and bought a larger pair of dress pants and remember sobbing on the phone in the parking lot to my boyfriend because I had gotten too "fat" and couldn't fit in my pants any more.

Ugh.  That was a low point for me.  Specifically because as I'm actually typing this out, eight months later, I'm wearing those exact same dress pants, and my mindset has shifted entirely.  If a pair of too small pants hanging in my closet was making me feel like a terrible human, I decided that it was time to just BUY A BIGGER PAIR OF PANTS AND MOVE ON!!! It took me almost these full 8 months since that moment to fully be able to understand this: but I can honestly say that I am NO WHERE NEAR the girl I used to be when I first started this journey at 246 pounds who cried in the dressing room when a pair of 18 wide pants wouldn't fit me.  That was a low point in my life that I NEEDED as a wake-up call.  When I had gotten that large I was at risk for so many health problems down the line and I needed the staunch reality of not being able to fit into regular sizes anymore to wake me up for my need to change.


 However, I don't think there is any written rule that says I HAVE to be a size six or under in order to be healthy anymore.  So I bought a pair of size 8 pants.  SO WHAT! I still have changed my entire lifestyle for the better and I FEEL healthy.  I workout 6 days a week now because I WANT to - not because I think I "need" to.  I eat chicken and veggies and greek yogurt and fruit and all of those healthy foods MOST of the time now because I understand that honestly my body just feels better when it is fueled by real and whole foods as opposed to crap.  At the same time, I no longer feel guilt when I go out for pizza on the weekends with my boyfriend.  I no longer look at those moments of "straying from my diet" as a cheat meal.  They are just a part of LIFE!


As I prepared to write this post, I scrolled back through all of the memories I had this past year and I was just filled with so much joy.  I visited so many places (besides Jamaica I also visited the Finger Lakes in New York, Nantucket,  Nashville, Cleveland Ohio, Atlantic City, Ocean City NJ, Florida, Baltimore, and Chincoteague Island), had so much fun with so many friends, and had so many new and AMAZING experiences.  I can't look back on any of those moments and think "darn, I really wish I would have just ordered chicken and broccoli on my first trip to Nantucket instead of eating the most amazing lobster roll of my entire life." Or: "I wish I would have just drank water instead of mimosas when tailgating for my very first Eagles game" or "I really wish I never would have gone to Nashville and and missed 3 days of workouts to listen to some of the best country music ever so I could have just stayed home and went to the gym." This past year I have finally started to perfect the balance I want to have in my life moving forward: never too consumed with my health and fitness goals to be afraid to live my life.


I think a major part about weight loss maintenance is learning how to live a "normal life" again.  I am so proud and grateful for everything I learned and went through on my journey, but certain habits and practices I would follow at my skinniest weight were not what I would consider "normal" for living the rest of my life.  I remember going out for breakfast on the weekend one time with my boyfriend and bringing my dang FOOD SCALE into the restaurant so I could measure how many grams of sugar I poured into my coffee so I could accurately log the amount of carbs I was consuming.  I remember going on beach vacations once a summer with my college girlfriends (all of who were very healthy weights) who would always order specialty sandwiches from a really fabulous restaurant in the hotel we were staying at and I stuck to eating very low calorie and boring salads because I couldn't POSSIBLY eat bread when I was on vacation and drinking more than normal.  I remember going WEEKS upon WEEKS without ever taking a rest day from exercise and forcing myself to go out and run 10 miles every Sunday because I thought THAT is what I needed to do to stay in shape. 


My habits at my heaviest weight were not normal either.  My workouts were few and far between and were the first thing to be ditched if any other excuse came up at all.  My eating habits were untamed: I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and had no regard for the types of food I was consuming or how many calories I was putting in my body.  I ate frozen pizza on Mondays, an entire box of mac and cheese on Tuesdays, and whenever I cooked a recipe at home it was sure to include either cream cheese, heavy cream, or copious amounts of cheese. ANYTIME there was free food available at my job, I would eat it.  Every weekend was an excuse to eat half of a take out pizza or a chicken sandwich, fries, and milkshake from Chick-fil-a. Any night of the week was a good enough night to have a few glasses of wine or some insanely sugary malt beverages.  I would try to diet every now and again, but got frustrated by how much work it actually took and got frustrated and would give up way too easily.


Just like my habits at my heaviest were not normal, my habits at my lowest weight were not normal either. I went from one end of the spectrum to the complete opposite, and I don't think that either are sustainable in the long run. I've had to teach myself what a NORMAL LIFE for me moving forward has to look like: and here are some of the takeaways I've made.

Going over my macros/calories or having an unplanned "treat" meal doesn't make me a bad person.

For me to maintain my weight - even at the higher weight I am at currently - I do feel like it is still necessary for me to plan and track my food most of the time.  I'm not as obsessive about it anymore, but I still need to have a general idea of what I am consuming for MOST of my days to make sure I am on track for my goals.  THAT BEING SAID: if some activity comes up that causes me to go over my calories for the day, or even if I am just truly HUNGRY and eat more than I "should" one day: that DOES NOT MAKE ME A BAD PERSON! Eating a piece of cake at the company picnic doesn't make me a bad human: but selling insurance unethically to make more money would.  Having a few extra glasses of wine when out with a girlfriend doesn't make me a bad friend: but gossiping about a friend or spreading rumors behind her back would.  EATING FOOD IS LITERALLY ESSENTIAL TO SURVIVE and I've had to separate the feelings of guilt I've often placed around food when I feel like I've been "off-track."  This new mentality has been refreshing and so helpful in other areas as well: I very rarely struggle with binge eating anymore because I don't associate extra treats every now and again as me being a "failure" with my diet or as a person.  I am a GOOD person: I love hard, I treat everyone with kindness, I try to spread positively and be the best version of me I can be.  Having a "slip-up" with my eating does not take away from my character. 


I don't have anyone I need to impress but myself.

I started my weight loss journey for myself, and myself alone.  Many people tried to encourage me to lose weight before I started: my parents, my ex, doctors...but no once could decide for me that I needed to start except for me alone.  My desire to better myself is what fueled most of the beginning stages of my journey, but somewhere along the way things became skewed slightly in my mind.  All of a sudden when my weight loss transformation was on display for the entire world to see, I felt such immense pressure to become smaller, run faster, make bigger and better goals and continue to impress everyone watching me.  The instagram #fitfam community is AMAZING and is part of the inspiration that helped fuel the beginnings of my own weight loss.  I have received so much support and made so many friends and gotten so many great ideas from that community...but as my "internet fame" grew I suddenly felt like I had so much pressure to continue to lose weight so I could continue to be an inspiration...that somehow if I no longer was 100 pounds down I wouldn't be relevant anymore.

Ugh.  While I still post to Instagram daily and still love following along on other's journeys and sharing my life...it no longer consumes me.  Internet "fame" is cool and all - but at the end of the day - what does it really mean for your day to day life??? Why do I need to try to live my life for the approval of strangers - even if there are over 150,000 of them watching me???? Truth be told: I DON'T HAVE TO! Instagram is not my job - it is just a fun creative outlet for me.  My page never even started as a weight loss page - it was just my personal page that I shared my daily life and girlish whims on ;) The pressure to perform for social media is no longer a driving force in my life - something that I learned when I finally put my phone down and actually focused on living my life more than documenting the best parts of it. 


Having a Healthy Relationship is more Important than Having Abs to Me

I have my boyfriend to thank for helping in my transition for getting OFF of Instagram more and focusing more on being present and enjoying life: he taught me the value of "BHN" aka BE HERE NOW.  When we spend time together, we actually spend time together  and focus on each other and our relationship instead of mindlessly scrolling social media on our phones in the same room together.  You know what I've learned from that? I have a REALLY great guy in my life now who loves me completely, and who I love back completely.  I want to spend time with him, I want to make him happy, I want to continue to impress him and be the type of girlfriend and future wife that will make him and our future family proud.  Will met me at my lowest weight, but has never really cared what I weighed.  I really appreciate that he has always been supportive of my goals, no matter what they are. He never rolled an eyeball at all my excessive tracking of macros over the years and always made sure he saved enough grilled chicken for me when he would grill so I could hit my protein goal for that day. He understood when he wanted to go out on a Tuesday night and I politely declined and asked if we could reschedule because I really just need to get to the gym.  He's fine with me having goals and has always been supportive of them, but he's also been supportive of my overall happiness.  It wasn't the easiest transition to go through mentally gaining some weight back.  Yes, I had been overweight my whole life, but more recently I HAD spent 2 years consistently weighing around 145-156lbs and noticing a few new extra rolls or pants that don't fit anymore was at times hard for me to process this year.


Will was the first one that helped me realize that I am still beautiful at the weight I am currently at.  He makes me feel valued and loved every single day: and when you have a good man in your life who is CRAZY about you, it becomes increasingly hard to let a dumb number on the scale impact your happiness.  We are only dating currently, but we do have plans for marriage and a family in the future.  When I think about my goals for my life 5 years from now: weighing 146 pounds again does not even come CLOSE to making the list.  I want to stay healthy for my future family so I can run around and chase after my kids and teach them good values about health, eating and staying active, but I have NO DESIRE to be the type of mom who worries more about her love handles than getting her teething infant to sleep through the night.  I have no desire to be the type of wife who won't agree to a spur-of-the-moment date night out with my husband if a babysitter becomes available because I hadn't "planned for going out" in my macros.  I've had a lot of time to dedicate to myself and my goals these last 5 years.  Yes: I work full time, but I have not had kids or major family obligations tying me down.  As my life changes I'm going to have to be able to adapt with it: I think moving forward I still will be able to prioritize making time for my workouts and eating healthy most of the time because those are my habit and part of who I am as a person now.  When I started my weight loss journey my only goal was to get HEALTHY again. Somewhere along the way I got caught up in the excitement of being "skinny" for the first time of my life - but I DON'T want that to be my goal for the rest of my life.  I just want to continue to live a happy and healthy life, PERIOD.

Having Curves again Ain't so Bad

I don’t feel the need to elaborate on this too much…but let’s just say there is more than one reason my boyfriend is fine with me gaining some weight back…and he actually prefers it LOL. A little extra fluff aint’ so bad, especially when it goes to the right places proportionately ;) Also: not to type this to overshare, but I have received a TON of messages over the past few years about the difference in my bra size after losing weight. Here is the thing: boobs are FAT, so naturally if you lose weight, you are bound to eventually decrease your breast size as well. At my heaviest weight I was about a DDD, and at my lightest a B or C cup depending on the brand. I’m back up to a DD currently, and I’m not mad about it hahaha.

Losing weight will always be part of my identity, but it is not my entire identity.

On a more serious note: I literally have NO idea what would have happened to me if I had continued on the trajectory I was on when the scale climbed to 246 pounds. My life was forever changed by my decision to lose weight, but continuing to lose weight forever is not my life's ultimate purpose. It’s a scientific fact that you CANNOT lose weight forever: you would dwindle away until there was nothing left of you! I have so much more to offer the world besides how much I weigh. I love the saying: “I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.” I am forever grateful for the girl who decided at 246 pounds she was be brave enough to take the steps necessary to change her life. I am forever inspired and proud of the girl who met and maintained her 100 pound weight loss goal when that was her focus. I am humbled by my past but grateful that I am now in a position where I am healthy and wise enough to know how I want to move forward to live the rest of my life.


I got to my lightest weight during the most tumultuous time in my life. I had so much going on that I couldn’t control at that time: a divorce, moving, starting life over on my own again…having an outlet that I COULD control 100% like the foods I was eating and the workouts I was doing gave me comfort during that time. I am no longer that person though: I have a stable job, a stable boyfriend, and I LOVE my life now! If overall happiness and stability in life means I only give 80% of my focus to my eating and fitness habits which then leads to a 20 or 30 pounds weight gain, I am SO FREAKING OK with that happy weight. 


This isn’t me giving up. This isn't the start of a slippery slope to me gaining back 40 or 50 pounds total.  If I had “given up” I wouldn’t have woken up at 4:30AM this morning so I could crush an awesome leg day workout in my basement and still have time to cook my veggie egg white omelet and pack my chicken, asparagus and cauliflower mash for lunch before I left for my job at 7:30AM.  I still work REALLY HARD! It’s like that interview that Mindy Kaling gave one time where she said “By the way, I like run and work out. It takes a lot of effort to look like a normal/chubby woman.” Hah! I can relate so well.  I was never blessed with a wonderful metabolism or naturally slender figure.  I still have to work REALLY HARD every week to maintain my weight even at 175 pounds. Some people would look at their friends who put in half of the effort that they do and are still just naturally thin and get frustrated and want to give up.  I get it.  Life is not fair.  But that is their life, not yours.  This is my life, my body and my journey.  I will never give up on it. I will never go back to the 246 pound girl I started with, but I will refuse to value or love myself less as a person because I have gained a few pounds back. I am worth more than that: YOU are worth more than that, and there is too much life out there waiting for us to live for us to let a number on the scale dictate our happiness.

13 comments

  1. Love this! You look amazing and are such a strong and smart woman! Don’t ever lose who you are because of weight! You and Will look so happy. I almost never comment on posts but I have followed you on and off since before your weight loss journey, I have love how real you are about it.

    Thank you!

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    1. Thanks for sticking around! I am so happy with Will, and am so glad to be in a happy, content spot right where I am now :)

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  2. This post was just what I needed to read today. Thank you for taking the time to write and share your journey with us! What fantastic advice. Like An Ivory Beauty above said, I, too, love how real you are about this stuff. Finding a healthy balance is so important...and so easy to forget. Glad you have found yours! :)

    Side note: I especially love the saying “I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength." Have already shared it with my girlfriends! Thanks for such a great post. :)

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    1. Gotta keep it real, even on the internet :) I love that saying so much, glad you enjoy it too!!!

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  3. You are a total inspiration, thank you for being so honest about your journey. Having followed your blog since before you started your weight loss journey it is fantastic to see how happy you look in all your photos now. x

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  4. This was amazing. YOU are amazing! Thank you for what you do and sharing it with us! It is more helpful and hopeful and more inspiring than you know! And you're truly beautiful at your size now. You are so fit and look stronger than at your lowest! I am one to work so hard to maintain "chubby" also. I am one of the "unprivileged" girls with a very slow metabolism and I've always hated myself for it! But this really helped me. I want to be happy with myself! I eat right and work out and will never be as skinny as some girls who don't work as hard as I do, but I want to be okay with that.
    Thank you!

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    1. I FEEL much stronger now too! I'm loving lifting those weights :) I'm so glad this post was helpful for you!!!

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  5. This was a beautiful post - thank you for sharing it!!

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  6. Thank you for sharing! I appreciate the honesty, truly.

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  7. You look fantastic no matter what the scale says. And you are so right that sometimes you have to go through some hard times to discover your strengths. Good luck on your journey.

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