Above is a photo of Penny in 2005 at the Grand Canyon.
She looks and feels a lot different now because after many failed attempts at losing weight, she made some changes in 2006. She started going to the gym and tried over 400 different food items (including lots of fruits and vegetables) to learn about healthier choices. Now, she no longer needs blood pressure medication and she belongs to a running club.
Here is a photo of her now and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her success.
Snack Girl: What would you say is the biggest factor in your weight loss success?
Penny: The biggest factor? I really believe it was a combination of factors, not just one. Of course, exercising on a regular basis is important, which I have done pretty much for almost seven years now.
Eating healthier and continuing to explore new healthier food choices (my diet has gotten healthier and healthier over the past few years as I have gained more and more knowledge about new products and nutrition). I also believe age is a factor - age begets patience. I am much more patient than I was when I was younger.
And perspective as the fourth thing-I now KNOW this has to be a lifelong change in lifestyle, not just a "shortlived" diet to lose some pounds (which I did do over and over and over when I was younger).
Snack Girl: When you didn't lose weight for a few weeks - how did you keep motivated?
Penny : It was frustrating when I didn't lose weight for a while. In fact, there has been one year where I only lost 9 pounds. But you cannot look at weight loss and wanting to be at a healthy weight when you are heavy that way.
Your body determines how quickly the weight comes off sometimes, no matter what you do (you can retain water for many reasons-too much salt, sore muscles, individual body reactions to certain foods, medication, etc.)
You have to look at this as a lifelong journey...your changes are not temporary, they are permanent and the weight will come off eventually if you continue to eat healthy (healthy choices, healthy amount for your body) and exercise.
Snack Girl: What foods and habits were the most difficult for you to give up and change?
Penny: I don't think it was that difficult to give up "unhealthy" choices because I had added so many healthy choices that I liked (I didn't miss the less healthy foods and I just quit eating some without even thinking about it.)
I have now gone vegetarian. It was not difficult for me to give up red meat several years ago once I had learned about all the bad health problems that can stem from eating it. Then I decided to give up all meat. I just eat fish, seafood, eggs, cheese...no other meats...getting protein from other sources. That was a little difficult in the beginning, but like I've said...I have tried and added so MANY healthier alternatives to my diet I adjusted pretty well. I am still trying new foods and looking for healthier alternatives...that will probably never end.
Snack Girl: What advice would you give to your "201 pound heavier" self?
Penny: Change how you are looking at weight loss and eating healthy. You are looking at it wrong. Don't look at is as what do I have to give up? You can make those less healthy choices your "treats" until you find new healthier "treats" to replace them...and then you get healthier and healthier foods in your diet and you won't "miss" your favorites or you will have healthier choices that satisfy you. NEVER stop looking for alternatives.
Snack Girl: What is your favorite snack?
Penny: That is a tough one. I eat as a "grazer"...meaning I have small meals and snacks throughout the day. I eat 6 or 7 times a day (breaking down my daily calories)...it helps keep my blood sugar more stable and helps control hunger.
I have many favorite snacks...Chobani yogurt, nuts-cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, most all of them, made from scratch protein bars, Kashi cereal, Kashi bars, fruit and fruit salad...as I've tried lots and lots of fruits-whipping up fruit salad with kiwi, mangos, strawberries today....my favorite current "healthy" junk food? Popcorn (popped fresh, NOT microwaved...it is so much better)...with REAL butter, frozen yogurt with fruit or homemade toppings, roasted kale chips done at home! They are awesome!
Thanks so much for sharing, Penny! I am sure many will be inspired by your story.
Other posts you might like:
Above is a photo of Frani now, she has lost over 74 pounds in 16 months and graciously submitted to an interview with Snack Girl....
Snack Girl gets to meet many awesome people as part of her job. Courtney is the latest....