Anyways. Today I'd like to introduce my readers to one of my absolute most favorite people in the entire universe. Alicia. This gal came into my life when I was a junior at Mercy and she was a senior. I was immediately drawn to her because we were at a high school dance, and she was running around the gym with a balloon in her hand, calling it her date. She was laughing hysterically and having the most amazing time. She didn't care what anyone thought of her. My friend, and date to the dance, Alex, knew Alicia through theatre, and I demanded that he introduce me to her. We became best friends almost instantly. She was on costume crew for the spring musical and I was on stage crew. One day we went out for a "crew lunch" and I somehow wound up at Alicia's table. She and I laughed the entire time. I had tears running down my face from laughing so hard. My friend Heather looked at me and said "Megan, you've just met your match". I had. Alicia and I were attached at the hip for the rest of the school year. She went off to college and we stayed close. Now she lives in Chicago and we only see each other once or twice a year, but last November she made a point to travel all the way back to Michigan to surprise me and come to my Mercy Associate ceremony. I know this is going to sound super corny, but Alicia is the light of my life. She is honestly one of the very few people who can still make me laugh until I cry, who I can tell anything too, who I can be my dorky self around. She goes OUT OF HER WAY to make people smile and feel happy. She's seriously the best friend to have and I don't always do a good job of telling her how much I appreciate her. Even just saying her name makes me smile. Okay, that's creepy. But it's true. You know what one of the coolest things about her is? After almost every conversation, she says "I love you and support you". Most of my friends and I don't even say I love you on the phone, and Alicia goes the extra step and makes it clear that she is there for you.
A month or so ago Alicia called me to tell me the big news that she is ENGAGED to the love of her life, Justin. I've yet to meet Justin, but I was one of the first to know about him. They met on a train people. ON. A. TRAIN. Right out of a movie, right? I could not be happier for my sweet, beautiful friend. Justin was the answer to her prayers and knowing how happy she is makes me happy.
Alicia started her weight loss journey a few years ago, and is now maintaining what she's lost. and here's what she had to say about it.
This is Alicia pre weight loss. She's beautiful. That smile is constant, people! CONSTANT!
Alicia, post weight loss, at her sister's (her non identical twin, actually!) wedding last October.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Alicia. I am a 27 year-old 7/8 grade Reading teacher in Chicago, IL. I love reading, writing, photography and running. I love being happy and try my best to surround myself with people that bring joy to my life. I am lucky to have loving and supportive family and friends who have loved me at every size.
What moment or event started your weight loss journey?
I was living at home with my parents after college. I think that pretty much sums it up. I was frustrated and bored and felt like I had little control over my life. I decided to start working out because I had the time to do it and wanted to make a tangible change for myself.
How much weight have you lost?
I like to say I've lost 100 pounds, but my weight usually wavers about 5 pounds around there. I was 251 pounds before I started my weight loss and now I weigh in around 151-155.
What would you say is the most important factor in your weight loss? Changed eating habits? Exercise? Changed thinking? Something else?
All of it! My mindset was the greatest barrier to my initial weight loss. I never thought I could lose weight and I didn't want to put the work in to really try. When I started seeing the results of my hard work it really motivated me to try harder. I've become more disciplined in my thinking as a person. My mindset is what helps me to make healthier food choices and what forces my to stay active. After mindset, my eating changes have been most significant. I used to eat every meal until I felt I was going to vomit. I really have to pay attention when I'm full now, which is usually after my first burp. I try to look at my food and visualize the size of my stomach (about the size of my fist). I do my best to stop after I feel I've eaten that amount. Eating is a constant challenge, though--there are so many delicious unhealthy foods! I believe in allowing myself a treat when I really want it and opting for healthier choices when I can.
Running was what really helped me to see a jump in my weight loss. If I run 15-20 miles a week it really helps me to feel good and keeps my weight at equilibrium.
Are there any obstacles you had to overcome to begin exercising / keep exercising?
Time! Being a teacher is exhausting and I work long hours. I get up for work at 5:15 and can't bring myself to wake up earlier to exercise, so I work out at night. I usually get home around 5:30 and I often skimp on my work out for the sake of lesson planning/grading/eating dinner/buying groceries, you know, all those little things that have to get done before 10:30 bedtime.
What’s your favorite exercise?
Running. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I feel antsy when I don't run but sometimes it takes everything in me to lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement. Especially when it's cold outside. But I love running because it helps me think and makes me feel empowered. It's really powerful to think you can take yourself anywhere. I make the choices of where I run and I choose to push myself. I always feel good about running. Maybe it's the runner's high.
How do you deal with boredom in your exercise program?
I try to download new music to run to when I'm feeling bored, and then I only listen to those songs when I'm running so it's like a reward. I also try to mix it up by running stairs or doing weights. Sometimes I do the elliptical to give my knees and break and mix it up.
What are 3 of your best eating or dieting tips you would like to share?
1) Hold yourself accountable. Go by how you feel, not by the number on the scale--but definitely don't neglect the scale. I've found that sometimes I make myself feel bad because of the number I see on the scale, however the scale keeps me in check. I didn't weigh myself for a month or so in the winter and when I finally stepped on the scale I had gained about 10 pounds back. I wasn't holding myself accountable. I didn't weight myself EVER before I started my weight loss because I was in denial. Now I am all about accountability to ME--I try to beat my own best whether that's running, sit ups or on the scale.
2) Eat what you love but do it in moderation. If I really have a craving for a chocolate malt I'll get one, but I don't reward myself when I am not really craving something, that's when I make healthier choices. I have to eat the foods I love because my weight loss is a lifestyle change not a temporary fix.
3) Surround yourself with support: find a running buddy, share your weight loss success, tell the doctor about your goals. I guess this one relates back to accountability--find people who will help you to stay accountable.
Any final words of advice?
Megan, you're the best and I love you for doing your blog. Keep it up! I love and support you.