I hit the big 3-0!


I finally hit and surpassed my 30 pound weight loss yesterday. I posted the image above on my Instagram and received positive feedback, thanks so much for your support! I also was asked to share how I did it. So, here’s my story (obviously I’m not a medical professional or pretend to be) and I hope someone could find something useful.

It’s been 16 months since I started getting serious about my health and losing weight. It was a long journey that took some detours and pit stops along the way. But, I made it and plan to stay at this weight for as long as I can help it. And if I’ve learned anything from my weight loss, I hold the power to help it.

January 2014 was my first wake-up call as I was at my heaviest weight in my life. I had always been thin until 2008-ish, but I was slowly and surely gaining weight since then. My response was to buy bigger-sized clothing and I simply chalked it up to getting older with the accompanying slower metabolism. And, I had long stopped weighing myself on the regular, ignorance is bliss I thought. A fork in the road lay before me, do I change for the better and control what I could control or do I just resign myself to being middle-aged and doing nothing? I chose to do something good for myself and my health.

I joined My Fitness Pal (the best free app ever) and bought a FitBit. The FitBit showed me how sedentary I was, that I was a far cry from walking my daily target of 10,000 steps. My Fitness Pal (MFP) showed me how my usual intake of calories were mostly comprised of fat and carbs and yet too little protein. I also learned that I had too many (empty) calories on any given day. So, that’s probably why I’ve packed on 30+ pounds for the last 6 years. It basically boils down to 2 tenets: be mindful of what you eat and drink and always keep moving.

MFP is an easy food and exercise journal. You track what you’re eating and drinking throughout the day. If you exercise or walk a lot, MFP allots for more calories for that day (makes sense, right?). You can link MFP and FitBit with each other, which takes out any guess work.

The second wake-up call was seeing a picture of myself taken by a professional photographer at some event back in April 2014. I almost didn’t recognize myself, I was so big and bloated all over with a major double chin. Even my face looked so different from what I was used to seeing daily in the mirror. I’ve taken many outfit pics for this blog through the years, but to see yourself from another’s camera is eye-opening. At that point, I had lost a little bit of weight since January, but I knew I had to 100% commit and not half-ass it anymore.

I started walking outside nearly every (nice weather) day. I’d also walk inside the house and up and down the stairs, just to get my steps in for the day. I started watching all these documentaries on Netflix about the many benefits of healthy nutrition and plant-based diets. I still watch them when I need a reboot. I watched a couple of shows on the public television network that featured Dr. Fuhrman and J. J. Virgin, respectively (I dvr’d their shows and watch them whenever I need a refresher). I much prefer Dr. Fuhrman to J. J. Virgin, but both have valuable lessons. What I’ve learned from Dr. Fuhrman is that micronutrients of plant-based diets are so good for your body and overall health. One lesson I put into practice is to make salad the main dish (I do this several times a week). What I’ve learned from J. J. Virgin is that you can retrain your taste buds. For example, I cut out a lot of sugar, especially refined sugar, and I don’t miss it at all. I used to love my morning coffee with my Truvia or Equal and no-fat flavored Coffee Mate. I could never drink it black or without sugar or sugar substitute. But now, I cut out all additions of sugar/sugar substitutes and flavor my coffee with unsweetened almond/coconut milk (or low-fat cow’s milk) instead. I actually enjoy the rich flavor of the coffee itself. If I don’t have milk on hand, I’ll drink it black, no problem.

I decreased (but not totally cut out) my intake of processed food/refined carbs and meat (beef, pork and chicken). Now, they’re treats I have every now and then, usually at a restaurant or away on vacation. I totally cut out soda and fruit juices (except for the occasional mimosa). I still enjoy my wine and seafood though. I eat a ton of fresh veggies and fruits as well as beans (added to salads and soups or hummus), Greek yogurt or cottage cheese (plain & non-fat, I add my own fresh fruit or have homemade tzatziki). But vegetables are what I eat the most of on any given day. It packs the most nutritional punch and you can eat a lot of it for relatively low calories. I also try to eat one plain avocado everyday, if possible.

Then something exciting happened, I started to lose a lot of weight and I started feeling better. I mentioned it on the blog here and here. To be honest, it was a very slow process. There were bad days (and I still have them) where I went over my caloric target per MFP or I didn’t move around that much per FitBit. I’d gain some of the weight back, at times. But here’s the thing, I had more good days than bad days. And over time, say 16 months, it’s going to lead to eventual weight loss. One MFP feature I really love is that when you finish logging in for the day, MFP tells you what you’d weigh in 5 weeks if you continued eating and exercising (or not) like you did for that particular day. MFP brings it home to you, what you do now affects you later whether it was good or bad.

Positivity begets more positivity. I was motivated to join and go workout at my local gym. I even work out while away on vacation (this was crazy cakes to me over a year ago). I adopted a rescue dog, Bella, and I believe that she helps keep me on the move everyday. I love her for it, she is seriously the best dog ever. I sincerely appreciate the support I get from my MFP and FitBit friends, we encourage one another everyday and it’s great to know that we are all going through it together.

I hope this wall-of-text post was helpful, I know it’s a departure from the usual business here. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments or you can email me too (address is on the About page). Enjoy your weekend!


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nancy
    May 02, 2015 @ 17:29:58

    WOW! This is amazing! You’ve inspired me to keep “trucking on;” I was at my heaviest last year; and I currently having some “up’s and down’s,” but I’m down about 10 pounds. Thank you for sharing!


    • valleyoftheshoes
      May 02, 2015 @ 18:02:53

      Welcome Nancy and thanks so much for your kind words! I sincerely appreciate it.

      Please keep trucking on with the weight loss efforts. I’ve seen this quote on Pinterest and it resonates with me: it won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. I kept gaining the weight I was losing over and over again but I took the approach that every morning was clean slate to do what I wanted to do. I forgot to mention that I drink about 3 to 4 liters of water everyday. Your body gets dehydrated before it gets hungry for food, so I drink lots water or teas. Good luck to you, let me know how it goes!


  2. yunahsf
    May 03, 2015 @ 07:59:13

    this was such an inspiring post – well written & i imagine totally relevant for so many women.
    – i love that you use those dvd’s (dr. fuhrman & jj virgin) as motivators. i saw the dr. fuhrman documentary a while ago but will check it out again. haven’t heard of the jj virgin one, will look for it.
    -yes, i agree about retraining tastebuds. i remember years ago when i had plain yogurt being horrified – but i’ve grown to love & even crave it now.

    i think the most valuable takeaway from your post is the power of consistency over time.
    i’ve had the same 5lbs to lose for a long time now – meaning i’ve lost & regained that amount over & over. i”ve never used an app or fitbit, but will download MFP after i finish typing this. i think that might be the thing i need to keep me on track.

    you must have had to buy lots of new clothes! i hope you don’t my saying that you carried your weight well (which is good & bad right?). looking at some older pics, i would not have thought there were 30 lbs to lose, or anywhere close to that..

    congratulations on reaching your goal- you look fit & trim & your style is perfect for your figure.
    i know your blog is about fashion – which i love – but i bet there are others who are curious about your recipes (tzatziki!!) and workout routine too. just an idea!

    thanks for sharing such a personal experience!


    • valleyoftheshoes
      May 03, 2015 @ 09:36:09

      Hi Yunahsf! Thanks for the taking the time for such a thoughtful and kind response. Please know you inspired me to write this post and I appreciate your support and feedback. I’m so thrilled you’re joining MFP! I wish you success in your efforts to get healthy.

      Thank you for the compliment, I totally get what you mean about carrying extra weight. It probably delayed any weight loss efforts on my part. Also, there was a time I truly believed that once you reach 40, there’s nothing I could do about the weight gain because my body was taking its natural course of aging. What a crock. If I recall correctly Dr. Fuhrman says our bodies want to be healthy and it’s in constant repair mode, no matter what our age. He was right.

      Yes, I’ve been shopping for smaller sizes lately (yay) but I kept some of my smaller sized clothing in a guest room closet (that’s where I got the pink dress I wore in
      Puerto Rico, lol). So, I’ve been shopping the closet too.

      I am more than happy to share recipes and fitness info. I learn so much from others in person and online, I should pay it forward too. So, be on the lookout Yunahsf! Thanks again for your valuable feedback and please update me on how it’s going!


  3. yunahsf
    May 04, 2015 @ 03:02:49

    hi valleyoftheshoes! have to add-i logged onto MFP& i was getting ready to do arduous calorie calculation for a korean dish ( bibim bap) & i was pleasantly shocked that the dish came right up, even variations of that dish ! amazing!
    (having said that, i was taken aback by the high #, i thought it was superlow. wrong).
    will keep you updated!


    • valleyoftheshoes
      May 04, 2015 @ 07:57:58

      Good for you! I love Korean food but some of the dishes are high calorie, which is a bummer. The rice is probably is driving up the calorie count, so you could cut back on the rice but still enjoy all of the veggies, egg and beef. I’ve also noticed that pickled foods like kimchee and most banchan (not sure of the proper spelling) are relatively low calorie, so you can load up on those too. Kimchee is awesome, it’s a great probiotic. But the only downside is the sodium count, which I have to watch since I blow up from too much sodium.

      I rarely eat rice and noodles/pasta anymore, but I have it once in awhile when dining out (I order brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice). When I’m home, I substitute with veggies such as lettuce wraps or my favorite veggies stir-fried (little oil) or steamed (Bok choy or mushrooms or spinach or kale). If it’s not asian-inspired food, I microwave spaghetti squash to sub for pasta. I make quinoa at home (so easy with my rice cooker) but I have a relatively smaller portion of it and have it with a ton of veggies and some protein (your basic salad bowl).

      I love these updates, keep ’em coming!


  4. Elle
    May 05, 2015 @ 20:58:48

    Congratulations! That is wonderful. I love to see you getting fit. great inspiration!
    xx, Elle


  5. Pam
    May 08, 2015 @ 11:19:29

    Congrats on your commitment to good health! I came to your blog from a link from “How I wear my…” but I subscribed because of this post. I’m currently at that very same fork in the road that you describe. My semi-OK diet and exercise plan are starting to let me gain weight in my mid 40s, so it’s time to make some changes. Thanks for the inspiration!


    • valleyoftheshoes
      May 08, 2015 @ 13:12:26

      Welcome and hello Pam! Thanks for your comment and checking out my blog. I really appreciate it. That is awesome, best wishes for success in your weight loss journey! Please let me know how it goes for you and if you have any questions, ask away. Happy Friday!


  6. bucklebuttonzip
    May 20, 2015 @ 14:34:50

    Congrats on your stunning weight loss! I’m impressed by your methods and your willpower. It gives me the boost to tackle some goals that I have around exercise. I just saw Fed Up and it’s inspired me to reduce the sugar we have in the house. My thought is, if it’s in a bag or box, avoid it. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m thrilled for you!!!!


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