KRISTEN Laing always felt good about herself, regardless of her size. She was a plump child, but she was still very active and confident. Being overweight was never a big deal.
“It was when my doctor started throwing around words like 'prediabetes' that I got a little shook,” she told All Woman, “So in January 2017 I decided that I needed to make some lifestyle changes.”
She had tried to lose just a little weight in the past, and would lose a pound or two here and there, only to regain that weight and more when the motivation wore off. This time around Laing started working with a part-time fitness trainer and roped in her coworker Jerome, who was on a similar journey, to keep her accountable. With healthier eating and regular exercise, she lost five pounds that January.
“But in February I gained back the weight,” she said flatly. She was confused and distressed by the weight gain because she knew she had not strayed from her new regimen. In fact, she felt as if she should have lost even more weight than she did in January.
“My trainer suggested that I go to the doctor, which led me to the gynaecologist, which led to them discovering that I suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),” she shared.
PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder in women of childbearing age, which, along with other symptoms, makes it quite difficult to lose weight. Not only did Laing suffer from this, but she was also battling deeply infiltrating endometriosis, which severely impacted her diet. But with the PCOS spotted, she was able to get on medication to regulate her hormones so that her body could shed the weight normally.
“It is not easy,” she said of her health journey so far. “But one of the things I did was follow pages on social media that focus on healthy fat loss, and I realised how many calories were in the little things I ate — like condiments. I also surrounded myself with people who were interested in weight loss.”
Today Laing, who weighed 270 lbs at the start of 2017, is now down to 191 pounds for her 5'5” height, simply because she did not stop. And she will not stop here.
“When I started this journey I was at XXL, now I'm medium to large. Even my feet were size 12 and now they are down to 10,” she beamed.
“In real life I have a very hectic job that leaves me with very little time and energy for exercise,” she laughed. “So I have to make time and find creative ways to stay active.”
Laing confessed to helping coworkers lift objects and run errands not only from the generosity of her heart, but for the thrill of moving some muscle. She has also made a habit of walking to places to which she would have otherwise driven, and walking around instead of sitting, just to be more active.
She is also very mindful of her diet. Her rule of thumb is to make sure that she consumes fewer calories than her body needs so it pulls from the fat reserves for energy to get through the day.
“I don't know exactly how many calories my body burns, but I assume it's about 2000 - 2500, which is the average for an adult, so I attempt to consume about 1500 calories a day,” she shared. “I Google the calories of things and work it out as I go along. I realised that simple things such as not adding butter to sandwiches or switching from juice to tea (with just one spoon of sugar) can really cut back on calories.
“I want to say I don't eat fried chicken but I'd be lying,” she said. “I don't eat red meat or dairy. I should drink more water. I drink a lot of tea. I no longer drink soda or carbonated beverages and if I drink juice, I will water it down.”
She recommends that when trying to lose weight, ensure that you are doing so for the right reasons.
“You have to know why you are doing it, plan for it, and be prepared for it. Work towards it and don't give up,” she nudged. “No lifestyle change is easy so you have to want it for yourself. Treat it as a health issue, not a self-esteem issue.”
She added: “Get tools — I strongly recommend a good sports bra because being able to be more active because my breasts were strapped down changed my life. You can also use a pedometer or an app to count your steps. Set daily goals, get an accountability partner, and work with a trainer or dietician if you need to. If you can't afford it, the Internet and social media are there to help.”
Have you managed to transform your body through weight gain or weight loss? Want to share your story with us? E-mail clarkep@ jamaicaobserver. com