The Exact Moves That Helped One Woman Lose More Than 80 Pounds

| Weight Loss
lisa swan weight loss before and after
(Photo: Image via Women's Health)

Before: 255 After: 174

Before I quit smoking in 2005 I was 160 pounds at six feet tall. But when I stopped smoking, the weight kept piling up. I gained 20 pounds in six months. Around the same time I also lost my job, and it was the perfect storm for gaining weight.

I tried Weight Watchers and the Paleo diet, but I just felt like no matter what I did things got worse.

In the winter of 2012, I realized that if I didn't start doing something soon, I would become diabetic like my mom or end up on my 600-Pound Life on TLC. I didn't like how I looked or felt.

That year, I randomly met Jane Fonda, and she was so energetic and fun. I was like, "This woman is 30 years older than me and looks so much better."

lisa swan before and after
(Photo: Image via Women's Health)

The change

I decided to try the Staten Island Slim Down program sponsored by a local paper. It was a 10-week program lead by a trainer who got a group of people together and worked out every day. We did things like Zumba, mall walking, and kickboxing, and I loved it.

>> WATCH: Kickboxing 101

By the end of the 10 weeks, I'd lost 10 pounds. The program really helped me feel like I wasn't the only one struggling with my weight.

Afterwards, I joined a running club and started walking with the group and eventually running once a week. It got me hooked on doing races.

In the spring of 2013, I did my first fun run, a three-mile walk with the Staten Island Athletic Club. That summer I also did my first New York Road Runners race, the MLB All-Star 5K. And, finally, in April 2014, I tried the Spartan Race at Citi Field.

While working out was definitely making me feel better, I also stopped eating fast food and began tracking my calories.

By 2014, I'd lost 20 pounds by exercising and improving my diet. But after the holidays I gained 10 back. Going into 2015, I knew that I wasn't really doing what it took to lose weight.  I decided there would be no more backsliding. I had to commit.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Kale

The food

I started the New Year by cooking more for myself. I knew that was something I needed to do to lose weight, but now I was actually doing it. I was never a fan of veggies, but I started sautéing kale, roasting other veggies, and making my own chicken by cooking it in olive oil.

>> Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale

I also made an effort to eat salads for lunch. If I didn't have time to cook, I bought a Luvo frozen meal, which is low in salt and high in protein, or picked up a salad. Another thing that's worked for me is eating slower. I really had to train myself to slow down so my body could register when I was full.

Becoming more mindful about what I was eating was huge for my weight loss, too. I didn't let eating one unhealthy meal keep me from eating right at the next. Instead of thinking, "Well, my day is blown. I'll just eat whatever," I made an effort not to buy junk food the rest of the day.

At my office, we get a ton of food sent to us. So if I eat something like a giant cookie, I'll eat part of it, enjoy it, and then stop eating. I know I don't need the whole thing.

I eat a lot of fruit as snacks, especially in the summer. Raw nuts, Trader Joe's trail mix, Greek yogurt, and a cheese stick also help take the edge off between meals.

lisa swan workouts
(Photo: Image via Women's Health)

The workouts

By 2015, I came a long way from getting winded while doing mall walks, but I was still looking for more of a challenge, so I began signing up for more races.

After I signed up for a women's half-marathon, I asked a trainer to coach me. He came up with a training plan to run and cross train, and I found that having a schedule was so helpful.

Part of my plan was to cross train by taking cycling and strength training classes. I made it a point to introduce myself to the instructors before class and tell them that I was trying to lose weight. That was encouraging and helped me stay accountable.

After finishing my first half-marathon, I did the New York Road Runners Staten Island Half-Marathon, and then another Spartan race in the spring, followed by my third half. This November, I'll be running my first 26.2 in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.

To read about how Lisa kept the weight off (and her #1 tip!) click here for the original article from Women's Health.

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