My name is Marissa Meckel (@livingfitw.riss), and I’m 30 years old. I live in New Jersey and am a bank sales and service manager. After reaching 297 pounds, I decided to stop yo-yo dieting once and for all and start tracking my food, eating proper portions, and doing workouts I actually enjoyed. I’ve lost 96 pounds and am still going.
I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a kid. Growing up, my mom always made sure we had healthy options in the house—she was very aware of my weight struggle because obesity runs in our family. I ate healthy foods and I knew how to make “good choices,” but I used food to suppress my emotions and would eat to the point of pain. I was completely out of control with my food choices, and instead of eating to live, I lived to eat.
I remember stepping into my first Weight Watchers meeting at age 15. Throughout my high school years, I fluctuated between 160 and 180 pounds, but I had a very athletic body. I was always involved in sports, so I was extremely active. Once I got to college, I stopped doing as much physical activity because I was no longer on any sports teams, and I was not conscious of my nutrition choices. I had no limits, no boundaries, and no guidance. I yo-yo dieted all through my 20s and never truly dealt with my emotional relationship with food. It was a dark time for me.
I had high blood pressure, and my blood work also showed high levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol. I also suffered from severe knee and back pain from being so overweight and sedentary. My ankles were always swollen from the high amount of sodium I was consuming on a daily basis. I obviously knew this was not good for my health, and I had to make a change in order to live a full life. I was too young to have these issues. At my heaviest, I was 297 pounds. I was 29. The day I decided to make a change was on January 2, 2019.
I woke up and knew something had to change in order to live the life I had always dreamed of living.
I flashed back to the time I could not fit on a roller coaster, or when I could not buckle the seat belt on an airplane, or even the time I questioned if I could fit in a stadium seat at a concert. Why was I allowing this? My life was limited, and I was a girl who wanted to live without limits. I wanted to do and experience everything!
So, I refused to turn 30 and still be living in that vicious cycle. I was completely fed up and promised myself on that day I would regain control of food and my life. This time, it was going to be different.
I started by making small changes with my nutrition.
I cut out fast food, soda, added sugars, high-sodium foods, processed junk, and white flour. I did not want this to be a “diet,” but instead a sustainable lifestyle I could stick with forever. I began fueling my body with nutrient-dense food that made me feel good. I did *not* restrict myself by cutting out entire food groups. My diet consisted of lean meats, fish, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruit, and nuts. I ate it all!
I started drinking lots of water, too. One of the first changes I made was drinking half of my body’s weight in ounces of water. I bought a half-gallon water jug on Amazon, and I drank one or more gallons of lemon water every single day (still do!). A best practice is to keep a full bottle of water on your nightstand and drink it first thing when you get up before you start your morning routine.
I also started measuring out my portions because overeating was a problem for me. I started making smarter choices and educated myself by reading food labels. I tracked my food and learned about weight maintenance. I began using MyFitnessPal to track my calories, which helped me stay in a calorie deficit for weight loss. I was not successful in the past with losing weight because I was not eating enough calories to fuel my body properly.
I also started listening to the “Half Size Me” podcast and the host, Heather Robertson, talks a lot about losing weight and keeping it off for good. The hardest part hasn’t even come, and that’s maintaining my weight loss for life. I am preparing myself for that phase.
Here’s what I typically eat in a day now:
- Breakfast: Protein smoothie (Vega One Sport Performance Chocolate Protein, water/almond milk, banana, chia or flax seeds, spinach, and ice); or scrambled egg whites with hot sauce, 1 oz. of almonds, and coffee with a tablespoon of light cream
- Lunch: 4 oz. of extra lean ground turkey, one cup of brown rice or quinoa, and steamed spinach with a side of fruit; or a large spring mix salad with grilled chicken, extra sliced veggies, a hard-boiled egg, and a drizzle of balsamic dressing
- Snacks: Pistachios, light string cheese, plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon, protein shake, sliced veggies, fruit salad, rice cake with peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, or shredded chicken on a low-carb grain wrap
- Dinner: 5 oz. of baked salmon, a cup of roasted broccoli, and one cup of brown rice; or 4 oz. of lean ground chicken with a cup of Banza chickpea pasta, a cup of steamed spinach, and a 1/2-cup of low-sodium marinara sauce (this one is my favorite!)
- Dessert: Built Bar (coconut crème is my fave), Halo Top Birthday Cake ice cream, or a Quest Peanut Butter Protein Cookie
I’ve always loved being active and trying new things. Now, I am a proud member of the Fit Love Squad.
Erica Lugo (@ericafitlove) created this amazing online community last April where women from all over the world can come together to support each other physically, mentally, and emotionally during weight loss.
The membership includes nutrition guidance, a monthly lifestyle calendar, new workouts each month, a private Facebook group for support, mindset homework, and Erica as a fitness coach. Being a member of this squad has made such a positive impact on my weight-loss success.
I do the Fit Love Squad workouts six days a week.
They consist of strength training, cardio, HIIT, and endurance training. I started incorporating strength training in the beginning of my journey and it has changed my body composition tremendously. Erica creates the workouts so they can be done at home or in the gym. I love following a plan designed to help with fat loss and building strong muscle.
I have currently lost 96 pounds in 13 months. My life is completely different.
I feel so confident and I am falling in love with taking care of myself. My goal this year is to lose another 40 to 50 pounds. I would love to maintain a healthy weight range of 150 to 160 pounds.
To get here, I set realistic goals. I think the biggest thing for me was setting myself up for success and not failure. In the beginning, I did not exercise six days a week like I do now. I started with three to four days and worked up to adding in more exercise. I do not live a life of deprivation, and I’m learning to give myself permission to eat “fun foods” on occasion. I also surround myself with positive people every single day. My family, friends, boyfriend, and the Fit Love Squad have been so supportive, and I am so thankful to have Erica as my fitness coach.
I’ve learned from her that self-care is not selfish. As women, we tend to put others before ourselves, and in reality, we need to put ourselves first so we can be there for the ones we love. I feel free, and the sky’s the limit. I love celebrating non-scale victories and not having the number on the scale define my success. I look forward to eating healthy food, exercising, and worshipping my body in a positive way. I abused my body for so long with food, and now I consider myself in recovery.
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