My name is Sarah Lessner (@lesslessner), and I am 36 years old. I live in Denver, Colorado, and I am a software engineer. Realizing I needed to change my lifestyle before it starts affecting my health, I overhauled the way I ate by counting macros and incorporated more exercise into my routine gradually over time to lose weight. I was able to lose 135 pounds in the process.
I’d always been a little heavier as a kid, but I had a medically healthy weight. I was just not skinny. My weight ballooned in college, and then I lost about 70 pounds—I went from 270 to 200 pounds during my last semester of college. I maintained this weight loss for a while and got into running when I moved to Chicago after college.
I ran a marathon in 2010, and then I moved to Austin, Texas. At that time, my husband got seriously ill, and the weight slowly piled back on from depression. At 34, my weight was 350 pounds.
Things came to a head early in the pandemic in 2020 when my weight was already so high and I knew I couldn’t let it get worse. So I started to make small changes to the frequency and amount of food I was eating, and tried to take care of myself through better nutrition. It was small, but a start.
In April 2021, I went to the dentist to get a cavity filled, and my blood pressure was high. This was always really common for me because I’m very anxious about the dentist. But this time they required a doctor to sign off on me being allowed to have the procedure. While my blood pressure is normal and there was no need for any medical intervention, my blood work made it clear that things were not heading in a good direction all around. My doctor was gentle about it, but ultimately the message was clear: Lose weight or you’ll need medication in the future.
Another contributing factor to starting my weight-loss journey was that my husband was officially diagnosed with adult-onset type 1 diabetes. And while he has different health considerations than me, we both found ourselves needing to really do a complete overhaul of the way we were eating and living our lives. We knew it was time to get serious. We never looked back.
Now, I eat all foods in moderation.
Tracking macros works for me because it’s not a restrictive approach. Any food can fit in your diet—it’s just about the right energy balance. I find it most sustainable and it worked for me in the past, so I went that route again.
And after losing a lot of weight, I started to focus more on the quality of my nutrition (hitting a protein goal) and not just the number of calories.
Here’s what I eat in a day now.
- Breakfast: Eggs, turkey breakfast meats, protein shake.
- Lunch: Wraps or salads, or prepared meals like Clean Eatz and My Fit Foods.
- Snacks: Fruit, yogurt, nuts, granola bars, dark chocolate, popcorn, Veggie Straws.
- Dinner: Same as lunch, but more likely to cook occasionally for dinner. Salmon, tacos, pasta, and sometimes breakfast for dinner.
- Dessert: So Delicious caramel cashew ice cream bars are my favorite lately!
I started doing some light exercise right away.
I would walk regularly, and I did some YouTube yoga. But initially, my focus was mostly on cleaning up my diet.
After a couple of months, I joined Base6 Fitness, a gym down the street from me. They offer HIIT classes, barbell, and yoga. It was intimidating at first, but I’ve found a great community there that keeps me motivated.
I started to run after losing 85 pounds, and chasing a new personal best also motivates me. I run three to four times a week and take a couple HIIT classes, barbell workouts, and two to three yoga classes.
These three changes have made my weight loss a success.
- No foods are bad foods. I was in the trap for so long of wanting to eat healthier and then eating too much junk food “for the last time.” I needed to ditch the all-or-nothing thinking, and find balance and a better relationship with food.
- Make incremental changes. There’s a theme here with all-or-nothing thinking: I needed to not go from the couch to punishment by workouts. I also couldn’t pressure myself to go from eating many calories to very few all of a sudden. Small changes had a big impact. I started slow and added in more and more exercise and diet changes over time.
- Rest is important. Along with ditching the all-or-nothing thinking about food, I needed to do the same for exercise. Rest is so important for your health and recovery. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself and burn out.
So far, I’ve lost about 135 pounds. It’s happened over two years, with about 115 pounds lost in the past year.
I don’t think I realized how much I was suffering by being so overweight. The weight comes on slowly, and you get used to feeling bad, thinking that it’s fine or you’re just getting older. Getting in shape and losing weight just makes day-to-day life easier and more enjoyable.