Welcome to the How They Did It series, where we spotlight one individual and their body transformation. Learn what they did, and how they did it to succeed at their weight loss journey. Today we are featuring Laura Denslinger. You can follow along with Laura at www.lauramustloseweight.com
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
My name is Laura and I am 23 years old. 3 years ago I was 195 pounds, 38% body fat, and just wasn’t happy. After years of yo-yo dieting, I knew I needed to make a permanent life change. I wanted to be healthy, fit, and happy. I began eating healthy/clean and exercising and am now 150 pounds, 17% body fat, a marathoner, and a weight lifting addict. At the beginning of my weight loss journey I decided to document my progress on youtube.
I continue to make progress and educational videos, and I also have a website and blog. I am currently working on becoming a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, writing a book, training for my second marathon, and plan to do my first figure competition next spring. I have developed a passion for fitness and nutrition, as well as helping others to lose weight, get healthy, and reach their goals.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
There were so many reasons I decided to change my lifestyle. My blood pressure was getting high, I refused to reach 200 pounds, my clothes didn’t fit, I didn’t have energy, I felt big and heavy, and just wasn’t happy. At the time that I was 195 pounds I would randomly go to the gym, but still didn’t take my health and fitness very seriously, and my diet was completely unhealthy. One morning at the gym I decided to take a spinning class. In the middle of the class I looked up into the mirror and really saw myself. I looked really big and really out of shape. I knew at that moment, along with everything else, that I really needed to make a change. I had let it get out of control and I needed to get fit, and healthy. I wasn’t just going to go on a diet for a few weeks, I knew I needed to make a lifestyle change – and I did.
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
Eat clean, get lean. I have tried many different eating styles/diets, but I really believe that eating clean is the way to go. Eating clean for me is eating fresh, natural, and unprocessed foods. It’s not always organic, but I make sure that I can read every ingredient of the label – no weird chemicals or preservatives. Once I started eating clean I felt better, looked better, and had the energy to get through the day and through my workouts. I can just feel the difference if I eat something that is processed compared to eating natural and fresh foods. I feel slower, heavier, and tired. Besides supplements that I take, I try to eat clean 100% of the time. I also think it is important that you don’t go crazy restrictive. You need to eat in a way that is sustainable. Cutting out an entire food group or trying to eat 900 calories a day really isn’t realistic for long-term success.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
For exercise, I really think that you need to find something that you like to do. I love to run, and it has really helped me to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean it is the best exercise, or the only way. If you hate running, you aren’t going to be able to stick to it, and you aren’t going to have fun doing it. Exercise should be fun. It doesn’t matter whether you like to run, work out on cardio machines, or do exercise videos, I think that any exercise that gets your heart rate up and that you like to do is the best one. With that being said, I think it is also important to try new things and switch it up. Your body gets used to the same old routine, and I think to really see results it is important to change up what you do from time to time. Running is not the only form of cardio that I do. I run, do spinning, do the stairmill, and do HIIT – always changing and never letting my body adapt.
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
I think that the most important thing that I have learned is planning. As Winston Churchill said, “he who fails to plan is planning to fail”. I plan out my meals and my workouts. I think that structure and planning are both very important for weight loss and getting in shape. Every Sunday I try to cook food for the entire week. I keep some food in the refrigerator and some in the freezer. If I don’t have my day planned out as to what I am going to have for my meals, I am much more likely to go for the quicker, less healthy option. After a long day at work, if I didn’t have some of those precooked meals ready that I can just warm up, I would be much more likely to just sit on the coach and order some pizza. Instead, I get home, and grab one of the healthy meals that I already made.
Not only do I precook many meals, but I also write out a plan for the day. I say what I am going to have at each meal, and when I am going to have it. This structure helps me to really stay on track. I also do the same thing for my workouts. I plan what time I am going to set my alarm in the morning, and what workout I’m going to do. I don’t get home from work and say “maybe I’ll go to the gym” or “I should probably go to the gym”. I say “I have an arm workout scheduled today, so I’m going right now”. Planning is key.
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
There are two big mistakes I think people make when they are trying to lose weight. The first mistake is becoming obsessed with the scale, and the second is trying to go way too strict with their eating and exercise.
First, the scale. I hate the scale and very rarely weigh myself. People become so focused on the number on it, and when it doesn’t say what they want it to, they become discouraged and lose motivation. You need to spend less time looking at that number, and more time focusing on how you feel, how your clothes fit, how you look, and your measurements. Throw away the scale, and go buy some measuring tape. I have been 150 pounds for a long time, but I have been 150 pounds with 23% body fat, and 150 pounds with 17% body fat. My clothes fit much differently on my current 150 pound body than they did on my 150 body 6 months ago. The number means absolutely nothing. Nothing drives me crazier than when people come to me and complain that their clothes fit better, but the number on the scale is the same. Why does it matter? For me, the point to losing weight was to fit better in clothes, to be fit, to feel fit, and to be happy. I have accomplished that, so the scale can say 170 for all I care. It’s just a number.
The second thing is people try to go way too strict with their diet plans. I have learned from experience that this is not the way to go. Whenever I tried to go on a very restrictive diet, I would just end up overeating later on, and possibly even for a few days after. Eat clean, eat healthy, watch portions, but don’t go crazy. I don’t know about you, but there is only so much grilled chicken, egg whites, and broccoli that I can handle.
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
I have already mentioned a few of these, but these are my top 10 pieces of advice:
- Plan out everything. I really think that the more you plan out your diet and exercise plan for the day, the more successful you will be.
- Throw away your scale. It’s just a number. There are much better ways to measure your progress and success.
- Don’t get too restrictive. Eat good, wholesome, healthy foods & watch portions. There’s no need to try to only eat 800 calories or live on egg whites and green veggies.
- Try to get protein and fiber at every meal. I do this to stay fuller longer. Eating only carbohydrates just doesn’t fill me up. If I am going to have fruit, I make sure to have some nut butter or yogurt with it.
- Variety is key. I try to keep variety for both my diet and my exercise plan. I don’t do the same cardio every day, and I don’t have the same thing for dinner everyday. You need to switch things up.
- Make your own unhealthy foods. I love chipotle, but instead of running out and getting some, I just make my own. I use brown rice, chicken, black beans, low sodium salsa, and greek yogurt as sour cream. Just as good. If you are craving a burger and fries, try making a turkey burger and sweet potato fries.
- Eat often and don’t let yourself get too hungry. I normally eat 6-7 times a day. It helps to keep my metabolism up, and prevent me from feeling like I’m starving. If I get to the point where I feel like I could eat anything, I usually do. If I keep my hunger under control and catch it when it first starts, it prevents me from over eating.
- Make sure you are really hungry. A lot of the times your brain makes you think you are hungry when you are just thirsty. If you start to feel hungry, drink a glass or bottle of water. If you still feel hungry 20 minutes later, then go get some food.
- Follow an exercise and diet plan that you like. Exercise should be fun, and you aren’t going to want to do it everyday if it seems like a hassle and it’s not something that you enjoy. The same thing goes for your diet. This should be a lifestyle change, not a month long diet. You need to find healthy foods that you enjoy. If you hate salad, don’t eat it. You don’t need to force yourself to eat foods that you don’t like. It’s a new lifestyle and you should enjoy it.
- Realize that this isn’t a race to lose weight. Although everyone would like to lose the weight quickly, realize that that isn’t the healthiest or most realistic path. It’s a journey, enjoy that journey. Becoming too concerned with how quickly you are losing the weight most likely will lead to you feeling discouraged and frustrated. Eat healthy, exercise, and you will reach your goals.
Be sure to check out the past editions of How They Did It. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the How They Did It body transformation series, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you’re interested. More details will be provided. Don’t be shy. Your story will inspire others!