You wouldn’t think a smart, successful young woman heading to graduate school would have an issue with self-confidence. But that’s the inner struggle Haley S., 24 from Amarillo, TX, was dealing with in 2014.
“On the outside it looked like I had it all—I finished college, was starting a master’s program, and I was dating a great guy,” says Haley. “But on the inside I was very unhappy. I wasn’t eating well or exercising, and I didn’t like the reflection I saw in the mirror.” Still, it was hard for Haley to commit to improving her health. “I had the worst mindset,” she says. “I would think, ‘Well, most of America is obese, so what’s the difference?’”
Getting Into a Weight Loss Mindset
It wasn’t until she saw her boyfriend Matt setting and crushing his own goals that she had a change of heart. “He got into running and he was losing weight,” says Haley, “and I decided to use his positive example as motivation. Instead of just watching him, I started to make my own goals.” But she didn’t do it without the help of a few tools. Haley’s boyfriend gave her a Fitbit Flex to track her activity and a Fitbit Aria to log her weight.
Haley initially aimed to get in 10,000 steps a day, and when she was consistently turning her dashboard green she challenged herself to complete a running program. “I did a couch-to-5K plan, and was running three times a week,” she says. Still, the extra weight didn’t come off overnight.
“It took a year—and a marriage proposal from Matt!—before I really got committed to losing weight,” says Haley. “And throughout all the ups and downs, the gains and losses, my Fitbit tracker and scale were there—they stayed constant, reminding me I had what I needed to do this.” That’s when she also added a couple of weekly strength workouts into the mix. “My goal was to run or workout five times a week,” she says.
Negativity continued to travel with Haley along her journey, but gradually her inner Debbie Downer became easier to push aside. “The discouraging thoughts do pop up,” she says, “but I learned how to ignore them, and I never gave up.” If Haley slipped from her routine or didn’t make a healthy choice, she tried not to let it get to her. “I told myself, ‘Just because you mess up, doesn’t mean you should quit,’ and I aimed to be more consistent with my habits going forward,” says Haley.
In time, Haley was racking up the victories. “I hit my weight goal right before my wedding, I did a 5K and then a couch-to-10K program, and I even started doing obstacle races with Matt,” she says. She also upgraded trackers twice—Haley bought a Fitbit Charge HR, and more recently purchased a Fitbit Blaze so she could track her heart rate, running routes, and more.
Haley’s Advice for Others:
Eat On Your Terms “I never wanted to completely restrict myself from foods—that would feel like punishment,” says Haley. “But you do need to be in control, so Matt and I made the commitment together to stop eating after 8:00pm, and we only eat out once a week,” she says.
Challenge Others “I introduced my friends and family to Fitbit, and a bunch of my sorority sisters have trackers, too, so I’m always starting daily, weekly, and weekend challenges,” says Haley. “For me, challenges aren’t about being competitive, they’re about having fun and staying motivated!”
Just Keep Tracking “I really made an effort to track all of my habits, and I encourage others to do the same,” says Haley. “Even if you don’t make any changes at first. Just observe what you’re doing, and then decide what needs to change, so you can get healthier and feel better about yourself.”
You can follow Haley on Instagram @haley_j_smith for more of her health and fitness tips.
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This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.