Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Gina Hodges is 58 years old, 5′6″ tall, and weighs 150 pounds. But back in 2013, she weighed 285 pounds. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I’d always been heavy throughout my life. As a child, I was often the largest one in school pictures. I graduated from high school topping the scale at 200 pounds. I was heavy throughout most of my adult life, occasionally going through periods of losing weight, but I always gained it back because I never changed my level of physical activity.
In March 2013, I topped the scale at 285 pounds and battled a host of health issues. I faced recurring acid reflux, sleep apnea, and joint pain in my legs and feet caused by the excess weight. That’s when I took note of the older people in my life, particularly my father, and the chronic health conditions they struggled with. I decided I would no longer put my own health at risk, and that I wanted to ease into my elderly years as healthy as possible.
I stopped by my local Planet Fitness club and signed up for a membership, and that’s when everything took a turn for the better. When I first joined almost three years ago, all I could do comfortably was walk on the treadmill, so that’s what I did. Then, as the weight started coming off and I felt more comfortable, I added in the elliptical and the circuit room. Whenever I was unsure of how to use a machine properly, the staff took the time to show me the proper moves. I went from someone who avoided exercise and viewed it as a necessary evil to actually enjoying it!
I also made some important changes to my diet. I began to look at food differently, and viewed it as nourishment for my body. Now, instead of pasta, I eat spaghetti squash, and instead of frying, I broil, bake, or grill.
I’ve developed a strong network of close friends and family who push me and keep me motivated. I’ve gotten loved ones to join me at the gym, while also chronicling my own weight-loss journey on a Facebook page titled “Gina’s Journey.” Having such a close network of people around me helps hold me accountable for my actions, and during my journey, it allowed me to regain my motivation in moments of weakness.
I now feel confident, healthy, and no longer suffer from my previous medical ailments. At 58, I’m in the best shape of my adult life! I feel strong!
Gina Hodges before (left) and after (right) her weight loss. (Photos courtesy of Gina Hodges)
I eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. I avoid foods that are fried or high in fat, and instead seek out foods low in refined carbs and sugar. I love to cook, and eating out is reserved only for special occasions. I make sure to only eat good, real, wholesome food. I go to Planet Fitness five days a week and work out for an hour each day.
I plan what I’m eating each day in advance, and I log everything I eat into a food journal on my phone. On special days when I’m going to eat something a little more indulgent, I adjust my other meals to compensate. I also plan some extra time at the gym that week.
Maintaining your weight takes as much work as losing it in the first place! For me, the key has been exercise. The convenient locations and hours of my gym was a lifesaver. For someone who used to detest exercise and avoid it at all costs, I now look forward to it every morning and really miss it if I can’t be there, which rarely happens.
Whenever I’m fighting the urge to stay home and not head to the gym, I remember the many times I struggled with my weight. At almost 300 pounds, I would walk into a room and immediately look around to see if I was the largest one … and usually, I was. I remember struggling to fasten the seatbelt on an airplane, wondering if I was going to have to ask for an extension, finally getting it fastened and being incredibly uncomfortable during the flight. I remember getting on a ride at the fair and not being able to lower the safety bar, and having to get off the ride in front of everyone. It’s these painful memories that allow me to get back on track and stay motivated.
Sweets are my trigger, and I do my best to avoid them. I’ve since found other things to satisfy my sweet tooth with, like low-fat fudge bars. Those are my occasional evening treats.
It’s never too late to start eating right and exercising regularly. Don’t think so much about the future, just take a small step today to be healthy.