I grew up in a traditional Mexican family that loved to eat rice, beans, and tortillas. But I also ate a lot of processed foods, like chips, sandwiches, and cereal. I grew up overweight.
As I got older, I felt embarrassed about myself and my weight (298 pounds). I wasn't the person I wanted to be, so I went on various fad diets (lots of meal replacement shakes). Any time I lost weight, I'd eventually gain it all back.
At 26, I realized I had to start loving myself before anyone else could love me.
My family's culture expects you to get married young and have a husband who provides for you. As a business owner, I didn't need to be provided for (I own a hair salon), but I did want to date. Problem was, I wasn't in a good place mentally, and I wanted to start liking myself first.
In 2013, I made a New Year’s resolution to get healthy and lose weight. I started by going vegan. I researched the diet as much as possible, and I was inspired by how the diet is good for both your mental and physical health. (I had never thought about food's impact on my mental health before.)
I gave the vegan diet a try—but soon switched to a lower carb diet.
I lost 60 pounds on a vegan diet within the first six months. I wasn't even going to the gym at that time, because I was still embarrassed of my weight.
Eventually, I got bored on a vegan diet, so I started eating lean meats and cut back on carbs. I wasn't vegan anymore, but the diet taught me how to cook and eat healthy for the first time. It encouraged me to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the produce is, instead of the inside aisles where all the processed foods are. Here's what I typically eat in a day:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (one whole egg, one egg white) and turkey bacon.
- Morning snack: A protein shake with bone broth protein, spinach, biotin, collagen powder, iron powder, flax seed oil, unsweetened coconut milk, and ice.
- Lunch: Broccoli, a side salad, and protein like shrimp or tilapia.
- Afternoon snack: Arctic Zone’s Salted Carmel Popsicles, Sugar-Free Jello, or chicharrones (pork skins).
- Dinner: Tuna and some vegetables.
While I typically stay low-carb, I also follow a carb-cycling plan to give me more energy for exercise.
Carbs used to be such a huge part of my diet, so I couldn't give them up completely—and whenever I feel like my weight loss has plateaued, I'd start carb cycling (adding more carbs to my diet on specific days) to give my workouts a boost.
I use carb cycling in four-day intervals, which typically look like this:
- Day 1: 25 grams carbs, rest day
- Day 2: 50 grams carbs, cardio day
- Day 3: 75 grams of carbs, lift weights
- Day 4: 100 grams of carbs, lift weights
Although I’m on my feet all day at the salon, exercise helps me feel a lot better. Three times a week I do an hour workout in the morning: I try to do 20 minutes of cardio and lift weights the rest of the time. I used to use my home gym, back when I hated the gym, but now I go to a local gym, which I like because I push myself harder. (Plus, I like to meet new friends at the gym.) On the weekends I like to get outside: I'll ride my bike or hit a trail and really sweat.
Since starting my new healthy lifestyle in 2013, I've lost 135 pounds—but I'm not done yet. My goal for 2019 is to still lose 20 pounds, but I’m also happy where I’m at right now.
I will say, however, that I think I started my weight loss journey for the wrong reasons: Deep down, I just wanted a boyfriend and wanted to be prettier. But since then, I've realized my weight loss means so much more than that. I've not only gained more confidence, but I feel healthier than ever (I just turned 31, but I feel 21). Now, I feel like I can do anything—in a relationship or not.