You absolutely can lose weight without exercise. Exercise is better but losing weight doesn't have to be an expensive gym membership, and lots of time dedicated to the treadmill.
Theresa Borawski, 50 is our featured Fitspiration Friday because she is a walking-talking miracle! On her 5'8 frame Theresa used to weigh 428 pounds (194 kg) and depended on wheelchair to get around, but today she's a new person. She have lost 275 pounds (125 kg) in about 2 years; that is 137 pounds (62 kg) in a year or 11 pounds (5 kg) per month. And she did it all WITHOUT surgery, diet pills, or fad diets. Read her story and learn how you, too, can change your life!
Her Weight Loss Diary (HEWLD): What made you decide to lose weight?
Theresa: Over a period of about 6 weeks, I had several conversations with people who planted the seed for change; however, I had made no conscious decision…or even thought about…losing weight now or in the future. I just didn’t think it was possible without divine intervention or surgery. I lost two teeth as a result of a soda addiction and my Rheumatologist told me that he was at a loss about what to do to ease my pain as we had already tried multiple medication combinations with no success.
My sister was the final catalyst I needed to change. She called me on March 1, 2011 and told me that she was scheduled to have a bariatric weight loss surgery on St. Patrick’s Day. I begged her not to do it; I was afraid that something terrible would go wrong. Surgery seemed so drastic, and I did my best to talk her out of it. Ultimately the decision was hers, and when I hung up the phone, I proclaimed out-load "I’m going to show you: There is another way!" What was I going to show her, I wondered? I was 428 pounds and I couldn’t even walk. I hadn’t been on weight loss plan in years. I had no intention of dieting. I had no comprehension that I could lose more than 200 pounds without surgery.
And yet…here I am! In that very moment, everything just "clicked in my head" and I started to empty soda bottles down the drain and dump the sugar bowl in the trash. In that very moment, I completely made up my mind and changed my life! I have never looked back. "Old Theresa" and all her negative thinking died that day and "New Theresa" was born.
HEWLD: What challenges you face in losing weight?
Theresa: Losing the weight was actually easier than I thought at the beginning because I was losing it so rapidly and seeing results so I kept motivated.
One of the main challenges I faced was that I was unable to walk at first and could not do much physical activity, therefore, exercise was not an option in the beginning. It was about a year before I could walk without the use of a mobility device. (I was dependent on a wheeled walker, cane, or electric wheelchair prior to beginning this journey).
Other challenge rose from the high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables. I was eating a lot less food each day, but my grocery bill increased dramatically! I also lost 14 sizes (from a 40W to a ladies 12). Sometimes I would purchase an item of clothing and before I even got to wear it, it was too big. This is a “good” problem to have, but it can get quite costly. The main challenge came from the psychological and emotional changes that occurred as a result of the dramatic weight loss. Obviously I looked different “physically” but I had to learn to be an “average size person” for the first time in my life and to get to know the “New Theresa.”
HEWLD: What changes you made to lose weight?
Theresa: The very first thing I did was to eliminate sugar. Once I made the decision that I was going to try to change my life, I emptied all the bottles of soda I had in the house down the drain and the sugar bowl as well. I then began to count calories, eliminating high-calorie, and processed foods. I gave up fast food completely. I also changed the way I think about food. No longer was I using food as comfort or reward, but now it was fuel for my body. I became conscious of what I ate, and what I was thinking/feeling when I ate it. I had to change my habits and my entire way of life.
HEWLD: How long does it take to see your weight loss result?
Theresa: Because I was so heavy to begin with, I lost weight a very quick pace, so I saw results right away, however, it was only after I had lost 50 pounds or so that others began to notice. It took me just about 2 years to lose the entire 270+ pounds.
HEWLD: How has your life changed after losing weight?
Theresa: I have been given a 2nd chance at life. Three years ago I was unable to walk; now I ride a bicycle and can do just about anything. My medication needs have been reduced significantly and I am no longer dependent on strong painkillers to get through the day because I have eliminated the stress off my joints. I love to shop and dress up. I am happier and healthier than I have ever been in my life! In addition, I get the opportunity to share my story on a regular basis with others who are hopeless. I write a blog and manage a support group on Facebook called WE CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES, and have done some motivational speaking. I have been blessed beyond measure and am not longer a spectator in life; I am an active participant!
HEWLD: How do you maintain your weight loss?
Theresa: Maintaining the weight loss is much harder than losing it. I have kept the weight off (within a 5-7 pound leeway) for over a year now by doing the same thing I did to lose it. From day one, this was not a “diet” but rather a lifestyle. From day one…and to this day… I have not eaten anything off plan, not even one cookie or potato chip. I made a vow on the first day of my journey that I would not do anything then that I wasn’t willing and able to do for the rest of my life. So far, so good, however, I am struggling to lose the couple of pounds I put on over the harsh winter in northern Michigan that prevented me from walking, riding my bike, and getting much activity.
THERESA'S 5 BEST WEIGHT LOSS TIPS
1. Don’t begin a “diet” but rather look at it as a “journey” that will last until the day you die.
Too many times people go on diets and when they reach their goal, they go back to their old way of life and gain the weight back. Don’t give up anything that you can’t live without for the rest of your life. I knew that I couldn’t or didn’t want to drink black coffee for the rest of my life so I allotted some of my calories each day to sugar-free French Vanilla coffee creamer. Three years into this journey and I’m still eating the same foods I did while losing weight, only now I am less strict about the quantity. I will treat myself to as much fruit or Greek yogurt that I want.
2. Don’t focus on how far you have to go to reach your goal.
Instead, set small goals and when you reach them you will be motivated and encouraged to continue to reach another goal. Focus on one step at a time and before you know it, you will be at the top of your staircase!
3. Enjoy the process!
Celebrate the special moments on the journey. Rejoice each time you discover something new that you can do. I remember the day I could cross my legs for the first time in years and the sheer joy of being able to walk to my mailbox for the first time without a cane. Other things like moving the belt over a notch or fitting into a smaller size is another opportunity to do the “Happy Dance!” Let those moments motivate and inspire you.
4. Find something that will motivate YOU.
Don’t try to lose weight for someone else; to make someone love you more; to find a spouse or partner; to look good for a special event like a wedding or class reunion. If your motivation is not specifically about YOU, then you may discover that once the event passes, you give up on the journey and gain the weight back, or you discover that the people in your life liked you better when you were heavier. Make this journey about YOU!
5. Don’t ever give up.
Don’t let a small set-back or plateau deter you from your dream of being healthier and happier. We are blessed with a new day; a new opportunity; a new beginning each morning. If you fall off track or give into temptation, then simply start all over again. Don’t ever….ever….ever…give up! You can change your life!
HEWLD: Share to us your diet plan.
Theresa: I never followed any specific diet plan. I just counted calories, limiting myself to about 1000-1200 in the beginning. I tried to choose foods that were low in calories but gave me more “bang for my buck.” In other words, it made more sense for me to eat an entire bag of frozen vegetables than a cookie. I did not allow any “off” days or treats for holidays or special occasions. I was too afraid that I would fall into the trap of making excuses if I allowed myself to splurge on the weekend or for a party. I’m addicted to sugar and I know that even a little would lead to a little more, and so forth. I also drank a lot of flavored water; in fact, I drink almost two gallons each day.
- For breakfast every day, I choose from oatmeal, eggs, fruit or yogurt. Fortunately I am a creature of habit and can eat the same thing day after day.
- For lunch, I have either a can of low-calorie soup or Greek yogurt and fruit. Sometimes I’ll eat a protein bar or Fiber One bar if I am still hungry.
- Snacks include an assortment of yogurt, fruit, rice cakes, or air-popped popcorn. I absolutely love watermelon!
- For dinner, I eat chicken, turkey burger, pork, and a lot of vegetables and salads. I really like stir-fry. I eat very little bread or pasta, but will use the low-calorie whole grain bread once in a while to have a turkey burger or sandwich. With apples in season now, I’ve been enjoying baked apples with a bit of sweetener and cinnamon.
HEWLD: Share to us your workout.
Theresa: As unusual as this sounds, I do not like exercise and I do not workout. Rather I like being active and have had to find ways to incorporate activity into my daily life. I lift weights while sitting in the lazy boy watching the morning news. I do squats while waiting for my computer to boot up, the microwave to ding, or while on the phone. I walk and ride my bike; work in my garden; take the stairs, and build as much physical activity as I can into each day.
Congratulations on your weight loss, Theresa and thank you for sharing your amazing journey. You can check out Theresa's blog for more weight loss tips and motivation.
Fitspiration Friday series on Her Weight Loss Diary are all about sharing the real inspirational stories to help me as well as motivate others to start their weight loss journey, provide motivation to keep going when things get tough, and get healthy. Formerly known as Thinspiration Thursday, I don't use the term anymore because Thinspiration is heavily associated with the pro-anorexia or (pro-ana) community, and endorse behaviors typically associated with eating disorder. If you know any good fitspiration story or maybe you are the success story, don't keep it a secret. Share your story here.