In continuing with my series profiling people who have lost weight their own way, I found Annika. She has lost an incredible 130 pounds and looks amazing – what a transformation!! She is from Sweden but currently lives in Spain!
Annika, you look beautiful! Thank you so much for joining my series of weight loss superstars!!
These are the questions I asked her and Annika, thanks for sharing!
1. Was there a particular moment when you made the decision to lose weight; was there an event that pushed you in that direction?
The first time it really hit home was the night of my first wedding. We had decided to sit down with some champagne and watch the video recording of the ceremony. I was really excited but as soon as it started my excitement turned into pure horror. It was the first time I had seen a video of myself and I couldn’t believe that “that” was actually what I looked like. I got so upset that I locked myself in the bathroom for hours! I weighed 271 pounds that day.
This still wasn’t THE wake up call, it was the “aha!” moment, I had started the process but my heart wasn’t in it. The wakeup call actually came when I left the man I married, four years later. I had been going through a horrible marriage and now that I was free I was more determined then ever to make my life mine. I was going to be the number one priority from now on! Nothing, not a single thing, was going to stand in my way of living my ultimate life. I had suffered long enough.
2. Were you overweight as a child, or just as a teenager or not until you were an adult?
If I remember correctly I was a chubby kid from about when I was 7 and then gained weight slowly throughout my school years. Always the bubbly overweight one! But it was after high school, when I was around 20 years old, that it started to get really out of hand.
3. Had you tried to lose weight in the past, were you ever successful?
I remember that the first time I told my mum that I was going to go on a diet was when I was around 10 years old. My mother promptly told me that 10 is too young to start a diet (believe me, I had not a healthy diet in mind) and if I feel the same in a few years we would talk again. Thank God for mothers, I would have had no idea what I was doing! But yeah, from pretty much my teenage years and then on I was ALWAYS on a diet. It was such a constant annoying struggle and of course I would blame my excess weight for everything! “Boys didn’t like me – because I am fat, I have no friends – because I am fat” and so on and so on. When I was 17 I think I managed to lose about 40 pounds, regular aerobics did the trick that time. But my lifestyle after graduation made it hard to maintain that weight loss.
4. What obstacles did you overcome during your weight loss process?
My divorce was such a life changing event for me. After I had made my mind up to NEVER feel as bad as I had during my marriage it was, well, easy actually. People often ask me how I did it and was it hard, but no it was not. I believe that once you actually decide to change your life, whole heartedly and no BS’ing yourself, it happens sort of naturally. I had achieved a new sense of self worth and I truly believed that I had every right to live the most outrageously magical life and I was not going to let anything, especially my weight, stand in my way! I DESERVED the best (and that included what went into and what I did with my body).
5. What was a typical day of eating when you were at your heaviest?
Oh let’s see now… Bread! I adored sandwiches. Toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and usually A LOT of pasta for dinner. Carbohydrates were my little lovers. Of course there were snacks in-between meals and nothing healthy there either. Pastries, cinnamon buns, chocolate. I believed it was my right to eat these things whenever I wanted them (I wanted them a lot) and didn’t really have special treats since I already eat everything that I craved. I thought my sweets and carbs made me comforted and happy and why should I suffer? And I also enjoyed beer and cocktails, nights out or in drinking were pretty frequent.
6. What is a typical day like now eating wise since you are maintaining?
Now I usually start the day with something like yoghurt, fresh berries and muesli. For lunch I move on to a BIG salad with loads of goodies like grated carrot, hummus, tuna, cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes and other fun colorful food. At dinner I just try and eat a sensible meal consisting of a lot of protein, veggies and some good for you grains like whole wheat pasta, brown rice or quinoa. Snack wise I mostly stick to fruit or lunchmeat.
The funny thing is that I actually cook way better now that I am eating healthy. Before it was so easy to buy readymade or boxed foods, not really caring what was in it as long as it was satisfying. Now I challenge myself to cook gourmet food without butter, cream, frying and such! And I always allow myself to indulge on special occasions or if I really really want something! And weekends I can have some wine, guilt free!
7. Did you follow any particular program or do your own thing?
After my wedding I remember trying the slim fast method for awhile. It worked ok, but since I wasn’t in it with my whole heart I cannot really judge. But that was about it before the divorce. After the divorce I decided I needed some structure in my life and applied my own program that I called “The 3D method”. The 3 D’s were: Determination, Dedication and Discipline. For me I did not really need a specific eating program but my mind needed a program to stay on track. After taking responsibility for my health and having it as a priority, I knew what to do. Hell, I knew what to do about eating all along but didn’t respect myself enough to do it! I ate less and healthier because it made me feel better on the inside and energy wise too, that was motivation enough. I won’t go deeper into the 3D’s (it’s more of a mind strategy) but if anyone would like to know more they are free to contact me whenever.
8. Did you exercise at all during your weight loss? If so, did you start exercising right away, or wait until you lost some weight?
After that horrid wedding night I started doing morning TV workouts. Nothing more extreme than that. Exercise was the part I hated the most, it was just too much work! After the divorce I didn’t focus on exercising either so much, my priorities were on mentally getting fit and eating right. But one thing I did that made the pounds fly off was staying active. With this I mean that I was never just at home sitting on the couch watching TV. My priority was to live a full life, so I was out there, living it! Always moving at my job, walking instead of taking the bus, going shopping on my lunch break, meeting friends for dinner and nights out and so on. I was always out there, moving around and enjoying life!
Eventually I started to get into fitness and made up a little gym in my basement. I would dance around like a fool to my favorite music for a warm up, and then get on an ancient exercise bike or a Stairmaster. After I would lift some of my dad’s old weights, just to feel like a badass!
9. How long did it take you to lose your weight?
From year 2002-2005 I lost, slowly since I hadn’t woken up yet, my first 50 pounds. And in 2005-2006 was a speedy 80 pound loss. 2002 I weighed 271 pounds and in 2006 I was 141 pounds, that’s a 130 pound loss!
10. What are some tips you can pass on to others?
Start by just staying active, make sure that you go out there and enjoy life as much as you can and do it today! Do not wait until you lose the weight to enjoy life, do it now! Everyone deserves to live an amazing life, don’t let yourself suffer because of some perfect picture you might have in your head. Before you know it you have lost plenty of pounds just having fun and without really trying!
What was very important for me was to get my mind healthy first. To face life and my fears head on. I always say “healthy mind – healthy body”, and that is so true. I needed to get my priorities straight and I needed to get out of a miserable life before I could tackle the extra baggage (or weight) with my full force.
I changed my life before I changed my weight, I hardly recognize the person in the “before” picture anymore. But visualize all that you will be RECIVING by losing weight. Picture yourself the way you dream of being and then become your dream. It is not only a physical change that awaits you but the deal comes with a bonus life transformation as well!
I LOVE people who have the courage to keep going and completely change their lives. I think your story is inspirational not only in your weight loss, but looking at your life and not being happy and taking charge and making your best life ever!
Annika’s blog is here, visit it often for words of wisdom and positivity!!!