How One Mom Lost 80 Pounds in 8 Months With One Minor Change
"I learned to eat to live, not live to eat."
Losing weight is never easy, and no two bodies are the same when it comes to banishing excess belly fat. For some, simply hitting the gym hard and cutting calories is enough to lose weight and add muscles. But for others—like English teacher and mother of six Stacey Welton—the key to finally shedding those extra pounds lies in a complete diet overhaul.
In September 2014, the 50-year-old Aurora, Illinois, native realized she needed to reassess some of her lifestyle choices.
"I saw a picture of myself and wasn't happy," says Welton. "I hadn't realized that I had gained the weight I had and also began feeling joint pain and lack of energy. My health reports from work had begun to show high cholesterol and a bad score, so I decided to change it. I knew that as I was getting older that the weight would continue to increase if I did nothing, so I made up my mind to change my life once and for all."
When it comes to losing weight, you have to be realistic about both your goals and your methods. Welton knew that she'd "never been a fan of sweating," and with six kids and a full-time job, living at the gym just wasn't an option.
"The one and only exercise that I do is walking," she says. "I love taking walks with my hubby, especially after dinner. I did begin to feel the energy and even a slight urge to work out, but that was always subject to change based on work and busy life schedule with three teenagers at home and their schedules. I did work out at a local gym and even did CrossFit with a group at work for a few months, but then it was winter and I was over it."
What Welton did know about herself is that she loved to experiment with cooking. While doing some research online, she came across some Atkins testimonials and was inspired by all of the success stories of people who had lost weight by sticking to the famous low-carb diet. For Welton, this challenge of cooking tasty low-carb meals while trying to slim down felt like a "win-win scenario."
"My goal was to not get bored," she explains. "I love food and I didn't want to eat the same thing day in and day out, so I downloaded the Atkins app on my phone or would visit Pinterest for low-carb recipes. Variety was key. I had to prove that this was a lifestyle I could live with."
For the first year, she was strict about only eating 20 net carbs per day, and a typical day looked something like this:
For breakfast, Welton would have an Atkins shake and a peanut butter granola bar. "After that, any craving I had just went away," she says.
Welton's lunch consisted of a large salad with chicken, tuna, or bacon. "Bacon became my friend! I would prepare enough for meals and snacks," she says. "The same with hard-boiled eggs. I kept those ready to snack on."
For family dinners, Welton would try new recipes that incorporated healthy swaps, such as mac and cheese that used cauliflower in lieu of carbs.
"Cauliflower became my new best friend! As an amazing rice substitute, I would use it for the base of many dishes," she notes. "I also made my well-known potato salad into caulifauxtato salad and it has become another family favorite. Taco soup was and still is one of my hubby's favorites!"
After 8 months sticking to the Atkin's diet, Welton lost 80 pounds and went from 245 pounds to just 165 pounds. Her husband ended up losing 40 pounds as well thanks to a phenomenon that's called the "ripple effect," and her adult children even call her up now for nutritious recipes.
"My children have learned that if they can make better decisions about food when they're younger, they won't have to go through what I did, but that it is also never too late to make new decisions and choices for their lives with great success."
While Welton notes that following the plan came with certain challenges—like not being able to eat out much at first or not having enough options to choose from when dining at a friend's house—there's no doubt that the ends justified the means.
"I learned to eat to live, not live to eat," she says about her experience. "Mindset is everything. There are usually way more 'cans' than 'cannots.' I focused on all the delicious food I could eat and focused on how much healthier I felt. I would say that weight loss is one of the very few areas where it's OK to be selfish. It is about you. Whatever it costs, it's worth the personal investment in you. This is the sacrifice that a mom has to make—not only for herself, but her family. They deserve the happiness that comes from being healthy, and the whole family reaps the rewards!"
And for more great weight-loss tips, check out 50 Ways to Stay Fit After 50.
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