Here is the full story of my 100+ pound weight loss (plus some resources)

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promI was always a chubby kid. I remember wearing shorts in 5th grade and hating the way my thighs looked. I lost 20 pounds in the beginning of high school by experimenting with diet pills, not eating breakfast and only having a 20 ounce bottle of Wild Cherry Pepsi for lunch (yes, really!). But I was never happy with myself. At 5’2″ and 150lbs, I was still not within my normal BMI weight range. It wasn’t long until I started to regain the weight and was a bit over 200lbs by senior year. In February, my parents paid me to quit my sedentary after-school job and go to the gym instead. I got down to 190lbs by graduation.

beforeWW

But a summer traveling through Europe and then sitting at home with nothing to do soon got my weight back up. And first semester of college didn’t help any. The “Freshman 15”? It was the “Freshman 30” for me. When I joined Weight Watchers in January 2005, I was at 231.6lbs and officially at my highest weight ever. It took me two and a half years but I lost 90lbs with their program. I was down to 140lbs by the time I graduated school a year early. But going out after turning 21 and starting a full time job that summer took its toll on me. I slowly started to regain the weight and was 175lbs by the end of the year.

postWW

That New Year’s, I met somebody who loved my body for everything I didn’t. I had never had anyone appreciate me that much and it wasn’t long before I stopped paying attention to myself. I refused to cancel my Weight Watchers membership even though I never went to meetings anymore and had pretty much given up. A year later, I had regained 80 of the 90 pounds that I had spent two and a half years losing in college.

I realized for the first time that not only was I clinically obese, but I was exactly .5 points away from being classified as “morbidly obese.” I was terrified. But no matter how much I tried to lose the weight (and trust me, I did anything I could think of), it wasn’t working for me anymore. I tried diet pills again, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, exercising more and eating less, but my weight simply wouldn’t budge. My lifelong issues with emotional and compulsive eating had completely taken over my life.

Colombia

And so, in January 2009, I made the scariest and best decision I could make for myself at the time: I elected to have weight loss surgery. Per my parent’s suggestion, I traveled with my mom to see a family doctor in Barranquilla, Colombia, and had a gastric bypass.

I read a ton of books about the pro and cons of WLS and ultimately decided that it was the right choice for me. It’s not that I wanted an easy way to lose weight, it’s that I wanted a lifelong tool to help me lose and keep the weight off. Nothing else was working for me anymore, and I couldn’t stand the thought of it getting worse and my health deteriorating further.

postsurgery

A year later, I reached 120 pounds in weight (my very lowest!) though I quickly found that this number wasn’t ultimately healthy or sustainable for me. Despite losing the weight again fairly quickly, one thing I took away from this experience is that weight loss surgery, like Weight Watchers, is just a tool to help you. In the past, I learned the hard way that the most difficult part of it all isn’t losing the excess weight but maintaining your weight loss over time.

It’s now been almost eight years since I first got my surgery and, to be honest, it can still be a daily struggle. But by cooking and eating healthier, along with regularly going to the gym (something I’m still working on), I am keeping the weight off. Currently, I am happily settled around 140 pounds. It’s a number that has proven sustainable and, although it took a while for me to accept, I’m now (mostly) happy with my body.

I hope that by sharing my weight loss story, healthy eating adventures and everything else in between — mainly on this blog, in the articles below and in an upcoming book — I will continue to keep the weight off as well as inspire others on their own weight loss journey.

Resources & Articles I’ve Written

Disclaimer: I am not medically capable of giving anyone advice about their own weight loss journey. If you are interested in hearing more about my own personal experience or have questions about what a gastric bypass is like and how it’s affected my life, please feel free to e-mail me here. But do not take anything I say as the word of a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor about any serious thoughts you have about weight loss surgery.

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Map Your 30s Blog: Why life doesn’t end when you turn 30

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Exactly two months ago, I turned 30 years old.

One month later, I arrived to my new (old) home in Florida.

Today is May 22nd, 2016, and I have officially lived thirty years and two months on this planet. I don’t want to get annoyingly philosophical here but, in a nutshell, here is what I learned:

We never, ever stop growing as human beings.

Or at least we shouldn’t. Constantly growing and improving ourselves is something that I have always believed in, and it’s what has driven me to this point: being officially three decades old, feeling both like an adult and like I still have a LOT to figure out, and wanting to kinda sorta do something about it.

That’s where the idea behind the Map Your 30s blog came in.

As I was approaching turning 30, I noticed one big thing happening to me and my friends. We were all simultaneously freaking out about the Big Three-Oh while also realizing that–hey! it’s really NOT that big a deal, is it? And as I approached my own milestone birthday, I started to think about all of the things I cared about in all of the different areas of my life.

Namely, I cared about: nourishing the relationships I had with friends and family, taking my writing career to the next level, creating a wonderful home life, organizing my finances (aka saving money), making sure to keep up my health goals with clean eating and exercise, and working on my self-confidence through therapy.

These six key areas of focus, I realized, are what is most important to me and where I want to grow in the next decade. So, following the spirit behind and the wholehearted belief that, HEY, just because I’m 30 now doesn’t mean that my life is made or figured out or that I don’t still have plenty of learning to do, I decided to create the Map Your 30s blog.

For the next year or five or twenty years, I am going to be doing big and little things to improve my life in these categories: relationships, career, home, finances, health and confidence. And, like the writer that I am (and because it might even help a bit with the “career” part of this project), I decided to occasionally blog about my adventures here.

While this site will remain a representation of my portfolio in general, I will also be cataloging and generally talking more about some of the other aspects of my life.

Like maybe dating (relationships), the book I’m working on (career), my new apartment (home), saving money for a trip (finances), cooking more Healthy Latin Food (health) and continuing adventures in therapy (confidence).

These are all topics that interest me, I hope to write about here and elsewhere, and I hope will maybe interest you a little bit too. And maybe, just maybe, I might even inspire someone to do their own growing, changing and otherwise improving life after 30.

Because let’s face it: whether you’re married or single, have a fantastic career or still looking for the right fit, bought a house or not even thinking about it yet, started your 401k or haven’t even figured out doing your taxes on time, regularly make it to the gym on time or get winded climbing the stairs, go to the beach without a shirt on or can’t even step foot in the bathing suit section of the store, turning 30 is just another milestone.

It’s never too late to be a more awesome person. And, as a good friend of mine put it: this is the Decade of Awesome. Welcome to it!

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So I started going to therapy… and it’s difficult because I’m Latina

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This is a little difficult to admit… but I’ve started going to therapy. To be honest, I’ve been thinking a bout it for years but somehow never got up the courage to do it until I had a particularly challenging summer this past year.

After spending much of it dealing with some stuff in Florida (where my parents live), I came back to my home in NYC ready to tackle the world – but not without seeking some help first.

And so here I am, going to therapy and realizing that one of the main reasons why it was soooooo difficult for me to do earlier is because my Latina shame kept me from it. Rough, but TRUE!

Check out my essay on how my Latina shame kept me from going to therapy for years on Flama!

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My 6 food resolutions for 2016

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When it comes to starting the year off right, we all make New Year’s Resolutions that are often pretty much dropped by the time February rolls around. I’m certainly guilty of it, year after year after year.

That’s why this year I’m doing things a little differently. Instead of setting broad goals like “lose weight” or “save money,” I’m making food resolutions that are going to help me feel a little better, eat a little better and do a little better in general.

They involve things like eating healthy fats (whoa!) and cooking new foods. So far, I’ve been pretty successful with my goals – and I can’t wait to tackle all of them throughout the year.

Ready to take your own cooking and eating habits to new heights? Check out the 6 easy-to-make food resolutions for 2016 on Brit+Co!

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I’m about to turn 30…

Please subscribe to my newsletter and read more of my writing on my personal blog, The Cookie Dough LifeThank you!

In the past few months, and I couldn’t tell you if this is coincidence or some weird algorithm or simply because I am more aware of it, my Facebook feed has been full of “hey you’re turning 30!” articles.

And it’s true. I am turning 30. In exactly a month, to be precise.

To be honest, I am not yet sure how I feel about the whole thing. At times I feel like the it is kind of silly. All of the pressure that we face, as women and as human beings in general, to have checked off certain life milestones by this age. A great career, a nice home, a semblance of independence and some vague definition of being a real adult now that our twenties are behind us.

Oh yeah, and can’t forget the whole life partner thing.

Whether married, engaged or simply paired off with the person that you’re thinking you probably *will* marry, the pressure to “Have It All” seems to really start at this age when we have graduated from those years of growing and finding ourselves to these years of settling into our lives.

But what if you’re not actually quite settled or ready to be settled yet? Is the pressure to have it all figured out by 30 real, or is it something that’s just in our heads?

Irina25thBdayAs I read through what seems like the 27th list of things I should have done/read/watched/experienced/learned by the time I hit the big 3-0 next month, I’m left wondering: isn’t there more to figure out after this? After all, life doesn’t begin at 30 and it definitely doesn’t end there either.

So that’s where I find myself now, thinking that turning 30 is both a really big deal and absolutely no big deal at all.

Sure, I have some things figured out, like that really awesome career that I love. But some things are still in the To Be Determined folder, like that life partner-type figure that’s looming somewhere on the horizon. Maybe.

In the end, though, I know I still have some work to do on myself. I don’t really think that work will ever end, because what’s the point of life if you just stop improving yourself? But since I’m turning 30 and all the hoopla that supposedly comes with it, I am taking this year to especially focus on some of the things that are important to me.

I’m calling it the Map Your 30s blog. It’s basically a vehicle for me to focus on the things that are important to me and the parts of my life that I want to work on, strengthen or improve in some way. That means my career, relationships, finances, home environment, health and confidence/spirituality.

I doubt it’ll only last a year. That’s quite a big undertaking that I am planning to tackle. But the truth is that it’s really not about a year-long project or because I’m turning 30 and all of a sudden some sort of alarm is going off in my head (it’s not), but simply because I want to do it. And I want to do it now.

Being 30 (and maybe having learned a thing or two in the last decade) is just a perk.

Want more? Subscribe to my newsletter to get writing news and updates on my memoir (Moscow Chica). Then check out my personal blog and find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

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