Hi! I’m Amanda Valentine, and I’ve battled with weight issues my entire life. Since I was 6 or so I’ve been overweight/obese. I’ve always kind of been labeled that “fat, funny friend” …which I really feel like I developed my sense of humor as a coping mechanism from being so uncomfortable with my weight and appearance. I always wanted to lose weight, but never really knew how. I hated exercise and knew nothing about nutrition.
I didn’t really try my first “diet” until I left home and was 20. I tried the Atkins diet for, like, 2 weeks. That ended quickly! Then I didn’t try another diet again until I was 23. I did LA Weight Loss, a paid diet program where you did check ins once a week. It was super strict, and I lost 60 pounds in 6 months! But I didn’t really learn anything, or how to deal with real life once I ended their diet. So…I gained about 40 pounds of that back. Then I did the South Beach Diet a couple years later and lost 30 pounds before my wedding.
After that I moved and started a job that was really bad for me. I did a LOT of emotional eating. And secret eating. I’d be home alone at night so I’d hit up multiple drive thru windows and eat several value meals in one sitting. One time I remember ordering 2 large pizzas just for myself and acting like someone else was in the apartment with me when they delivered it because I was just totally ashamed of myself. But, I still ate both pizzas all at once. I felt like I had to hide the evidence of my binges from my husband, so I’d eat all this food and hide the trash in my closet or in a bag under the kitchen sink because I was too lazy to run down to the dumpster. This went on for at least a year.
I hit a new peak weight, and looking back I really wish I would have taken photos. But, I hated photos of myself, so I have none of this weight. Then, for 2012 New Years I did a 3 month resolution challenge with coworkers. I wanted to lose 15 pounds in 90 days, and I decided I wasn’t going to “diet” this time. I’m just going to make better choices and not hate myself when I cheat. And not binge when I’m feeling sad. I gave up soda and all fast food and went carb free for a couple months. When those 3 months were over, I was down 20 pounds! I was so excited that my plan was working that I decided to stay on track. I started walking a lot more, I lived in Colorado at the time, so the scenery wasn’t so bad 😉 I really found that I could stick to walking. I loved putting on my headphones and listening to music and podcasts (still do), so I’d stick to that. I have a really rough time just going to a gym and figuring out what to do, but walking I can do! I got my first Fitbit for Christmas that year and I was totally hooked.
After several months of long walks I did Couch 2 5k, a training podcast to learn how to run a 5k. When I was 30, I ran my first ever mile. I was so excited! A year later I ran my first 5k (a Color Run) and I was so excited that this was me! ME, RUNNING! I never thought I could do that. The 5k turned to a 10k, which turned into a half marathon! I really hate running, but I really love feeling accomplished.
I lost most of my weight in 2-3 years. So, it’s a slow process. For me, I think that’s been the key. Before I wanted to lose weight super quick, then I’d just gain it back. It’s also been about learning about healthy foods I actually enjoy and doing exercises that I look forward to doing.
But trust me, I’m not at the end of my story. There’s more weight I’d like to lose. It’s something I have to think about and take action on every day, and will the rest of my life. I still deal with body confidence issues. I still struggle with emotional eating. It’s not easy, and I’m not sure if it ever will be. But, it’s worth it! Sometimes I just have to calm down and look back at everything I’ve done. Some days I feel so different, and some days I feel like nothing has changed. It’s so weird how the brain works!
I really hope you follow along with me on my journey. And if you’re dealing with something similar know that you’re not alone! Through the ups and downs…WE GOT THIS!
Senior photo: First half marathon: Queen Bee half marathon: