Just Thinking

A Few Tools That Helped Me Lose 120 Pounds This Year

Vegetables on a cutting board

I really love taking a few minutes at the end of the year to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’d like to go. A year ago I was feeling desperate for change. This year I’m feeling so very grateful.

I’m ending the year 120 pounds lighter than I started.

I’m stronger in so many ways, and softer as well, as some of my rough edges have been polished through this experience.

It’s been a great year.

Finding Your Inspiration

One of the things that helped me most as I started on this journey was drawing inspiration from others who had successfully accomplished what I wanted to. Their photos and stories showed me that change is really possible!

Before and after picture 120 pounds lost

I still have a few pounds left before I reach my ultimate goal, but I’ve come such a long way, and I’m thankful for people who were willing to share their stories.

I hope by sharing a few of the things that have worked for me this year, someone else will find the hope, encouragement, and tools they need!

My Favorite Tools For Success

You have to set yourself up to succeed, and only you know what you need. Start by taking an honest inventory of your stumbling blocks.

What are the things that have kept you from your goal? What might make necessary changes more difficult? You can’t find the right tools for you if you don’t have an idea of what you need those tools to do!

For example, here are a few of the things I knew would make it challenging for me to meet my goals, written from last year’s perspective:

  • I don’t like most kinds of exercise. I’m not particularly coordinated, and I really, really don’t like loud music, shouting, and crowds.
  • I don’t have much time for exercise between work, school, and volunteer work.
  • This same lack of time (and energy) means I often don’t have the time or motivation to make wise food choices. Especially at night.
  • Food helps me cope when I’m worried, upset, bored, happy, etc. Thinking about living without peanut butter M&Ms makes me anxious.
  • I lose track of what I’ve eaten and often underestimate.

It is a daunting list, but the good news is, I found ways to overcome every one of these obstacles. Here are a few of my favorite secret weapons for change.

How I Got Moving

One of the important things I decided when I started making major lifestyle changes this year was to make changes that I can live with for the rest of my life. I don’t want my results to be temporary, so this new way of living has to be forever.

For me, personally, that meant that I needed to find ways to get moving that I really love. I’m not realistically going to force myself to do something unpleasant on a consistent basis, so I found some ways to get moving that I really love.


Of all of the ways to exercise, walking has always been my favorite. I love having quiet time to reflect. Walking makes me feel relaxed and refreshed. But I have a desk job and go to school part-time. That means I sit. A lot.

My FitBit gets me out of my chair, buzzing to remind me to get up and walk at least 250 steps every hour. It shares an excited celebration buzz when I’ve met my step goal for the day. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all of the difference.

FitBit also allows me to connect with friends who also use the app. We can challenge each other and cheer each other on. Sometimes having a little notification on my phone that I’m only 150 steps behind my friend is just the motivation that I need to get up and walk to the water fountain to fill up my water bottle.

Reformer Pilates

Every time I hit major milestones on my way to my goal, I do something that takes courage. I push myself a bit.  My 1/2 way to goal milestone reward was to try a Reformer Pilates class taught by a close friend. It quickly became something I look forward to every week.

Reformer Pilates is the perfect exercise class for introverts. Classes are small, and usually relatively quiet. Movements are smooth and increase strength, flexibility, and coordination. There is no loud music, and no jarring movements.

And if you’re overweight, the Reformer machines are the great equalizer. You are supported on the machine, and you are using the same spring tension as everyone else. Unlike squats, where a 300 pound person is lifting twice as much weight as a 150 pound person, Reformer Pilates supports your body while you’re building up your strength.

Maybe kickboxing is your thing. Or Yoga. Or step aerobics. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find what you love!

How I Renegotiated My Relationship With Food

While movement is important in a healthy lifestyle, learning to eat right is most of the battle when it comes to losing weight. Just like I needed exercise that I love, I knew that changing the way I eat has to be forever if I don’t want to end up where I started.

I wanted to learn how to eat healthy portions of all kinds of foods. For me, a healthy diet that I can live with forever has to include healthy carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. And chocolate.


Between work and school, I really needed something very convenient. I compared many meal-delivery options, and Nutrisystem was a good fit for my needs.

It has truly been one of the most powerful tools for change over the past year. A few of the advantages that made it a good fit for me were:

  • It really is convenient. When I come home from work at the end of the day, all I have to do is peek in the freezer and choose a meal that will be ready in 5-10 minutes. When I head to work in the morning I just grab a lunch to take with me.
  • I can choose my favorite meals. I’ve found some that I really love, and while I do try new things sometimes, most of what I order are my favorites.
  • It has really helped me get a better feel for portion sizes. I’m able to eat all kinds of food, but I’m much more aware of how much of those foods I can reasonably eat and still make progress toward my goals. I’ve learned how to add vegetables to everything to enhance flavor and nutrition (and to help fill me up).
  • I’ve learned to keep a better balance in my diet by paying attention to lean protein, healthy carbohydrates, and good fats.

Veggie Trays

I’ve fallen in love with veggie trays.  They feel so indulgent! They’re a snack I can eat at will. As much as I’d like. At first I ate them because I could, and now I eat them because I find them delightful and delicious.

And I didn’t have to prepare it. I didn’t have to cut one celery stick.

I used to buy a giant bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms, and now I buy a giant veggie tray.


MyFitnessPal.com is my favorite way to track what I eat each day. Studies have shown that keeping a food diary can have a big impact on weight loss success. This app makes it very easy, allowing me to search a huge database of name brand foods and restaurant menus. I can even scan bar codes to add foods to my day!

It’s also a great way to chart my progress toward my goal. I can log in online or using an app on my phone, so it’s available whenever I need it.

The End, And The Beginning

It’s a perfect time for new beginnings, so let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the past year.

Let’s celebrate the beautiful things the year brought!

And then let’s think about the things that still get in the way of our goals. What are our stumbling blocks? Recognizing them, and embracing tools that will help us overcome them is the first step to success.

It’s going to be a really great year.


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