According to the CDC, over 70 percent of American adults are considered overweight or obese. These conditions correspond with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, especially osteoarthritis, as well as some cancers. Taking the steps to lose weight is not as easy as we wish.
Tessa Leen lost weight in a smart and safe way. Exercise and healthy eating led her to lose 185 pounds in 4 years.
DESIRE TO LOSE WEIGHT
Tessa says that she was always the “chubby kid.” She was teased, and that led to unhealthy methods of losing weight in high school and college. After getting married, she and her husband had two children in quick succession. Throughout both pregnancies, Tessa gained weight, getting to her heaviest known weight of 331 pounds in the summer of 2012.
She really wanted to have a third baby, so she decided to lose weight. Her first attempt was a “shake diet.” She lost some weight but gained it right back and realized that it was not sustainable.
So Tessa watched what she ate and started with simple exercising like walking and using the elliptical. She used the MyFitnessPal app on her phone to track calories and liked that it was “simple math” for her: calories consumed minus calories burned. Her first goal was to lose enough weight to get pregnant. She achieved that goal and did get pregnant, but then she had two miscarriages and thinks it was because she was still overweight. That was the motivation she needed to work even harder.
WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY
Tessa’s weight loss journey was full of challenges. She says, “The beginning is hard because you want to give up. That’s the easy thing to do. I was guilty of it myself. That’s why this journey has taken me as long as it has.” A couple of months in, though, Tessa started to see changes, mostly in the way her clothes fit. Her weight went down, but it was when she had to buy new clothes that she really knew it was working.
Others started to take notice, and in 2014, Tessa decided to start an Instagram account called Tessa’s Weight Loss Journey to track her journey, hold herself accountable and connect with others on similar journeys. As of the end of September 2016, she has over 40,000 followers on Instagram, and her Facebook community page has over 6,500 fans.
INSPIRING OTHERS TO LOSE WEIGHT
One of the people Tessa is proudest to have inspired is her brother, who lived with her family during her weight loss journey. He was inspired to lose weight, and he’s currently working toward his own goal.
One of the best things that comes from taking charge of your health through exercise and better eating is feeling better about yourself. Tessa has found that her job as a daycare provider is so much easier now that she is “basically half (her) size.” She says that although she has always battled self-esteem issues and still does to some extent, the weight loss has given her “confidence in myself that I never knew existed!” She is in the best shape of her life now, and she is so very thankful and blessed for all this journey has given her.
Tessa loves burpees, even though they are challenging. They can be done anywhere and don’t require any equipment. Do three sets of 10 to 20. She suggests using modifications if you’re just getting started.
Tessa’s favorite meal is throwing veggies in a pan with chicken and seasoning with Mrs. Dash or a sauce or dressing for flavor. She snacks on Quest bars, yogurt, bananas or SkinnyPop popcorn.
Emily Watkins is a personal trainer and the owner of Empowered Wellness & Fitness Studio.