“I’m a Texan and love Mexican food—margaritas, chips, the whole nine yards,” says Ebony T., a 45-year-old program manager for diversity and inclusion from Dallas, TX. “But while I could eat whatever I wanted when I was younger, that all changed when I hit my 30s.” Thanks to a slowing metabolism, Ebony started putting on weight, hiding her body behind baggier and baggier clothing.
By 2011, Ebony was wearing a size 14 and didn’t like how she felt. “For work I had to present in front of large groups of people, and I hated that I didn’t feel confident up there,” she says. She knew she had to do something soon or she’d have to go up another size, so she started watching what she ate and working out a little more. “I didn’t step on a scale at my heaviest, so I have no idea what my highest weight was, but I got down to 162 pounds and a size 10/12 over the next year.”
Her motivation to be healthier went up even more when she got engaged in 2012. “I found a size 10 wedding dress, but I wanted to see if I could get it taken in and be a size 8 in time for the wedding,” she says. “To hold myself accountable, I got a Fitbit tracker.”
Ebony set a goal and used her Fitbit tracker to make sure she was moving as much as she wanted to everyday: 12,000 steps. “At the same time, I also decided to change up my workouts,” she says. Ebony had always had a gym membership, but tended to just walk on the treadmill or do the elliptical—nothing too intense. “I started running in the morning before work and realized I loved it,” she says. “It slimmed my legs down, worked my core, and gave me lots of endorphins!”
She didn’t want to check off her morning workout and then sit for the rest of the day, though. “I work from home a lot, so I got a treadmill desk,” she says. “I put my laptop on it with a big monitor and I work and take conference calls all day. If I need to sit for some reason, I have bicycle pedals under my desk and use them to keep moving. I don’t know how to sit still now!”
And while Ebony had been eating healthier for a while, she still had a problem with portion sizes. “When I prepared my own meals, I ate way too much because I love food and I love to eat,” she says. “So I started eating a lot of single-serving frozen meals. I loved having someone else figure out the portions for me.”
All of that hard work and dedication paid off. When Ebony walked down the aisle in 2013, she weighed 142 pounds and was wearing a size-8 version of her dress. “I’ve maintained that same weight for the past three years,” she says. “If you truly work out and make it a good workout, and stay active throughout the day, you don’t need to give up the pleasures of life.” And the best part is how she feels when she gets up on stage to do a presentation. “People tell me how much confidence I have and it’s true,” she says. “I feel good knowing I worked out, had a healthy breakfast, have on form-fitting clothes, and am ready to go.”
Ebony’s Advice for Others:
Be sneaky when you sip. “Instead of ordering vodka with a splash of soda water, I order soda water with a splash of vodka and lots of extra ice,” she says. “It’s perfect for when I want to have a drink without having too many calories.”
BYO snacks. “I travel a lot, so I bring a bag of mixed nuts with me to the airport—that way I don’t have to buy food there,” she says. “I also love gummy bears, so I always throw a few of those in the bag, too.”
Go gradual when upping intensity. “I started out running one mile and walking two. Then I started running two miles and walking one. Then running three miles and walking one,” she says. “Now I run three miles and walk two, and I do that three or four days a week.”
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.