Full name: Stephanie Katrina
Occupation: Writer/blogger and aspiring personal trainer
City: Sudbury, Ont.
I have never shared my weight publicly. I have girls as young as 12 years old that message me on Instagram asking what they can do to weigh "this" amount or "that" amount, and I believe that as an "influencer" and self-love advocate, I need to be mindful of what I share.
I would never want young girls to strive to reach my weight, or anyone else's weight, as it truly is just a number. That being said, since I began my health journey, I've lost 65 pounds.
I was never overweight or obese growing up, however I remember struggling with my weight and body image from a very young age.
The weight gain really started in university. I was away from home, suffering terribly from depression, and binge drinking socially with my friends every week.
Over the years I would always try the latest "fad" diet: diet pills, cleanses, and low calorie diets. None of these worked, of course, because they're unrealistic and not maintainable long term.
The final straw:
After leaving my final year of university due to a health scare, combined with debilitating depression and anxiety, I was desperate for change. So I decided that I would start by working to change my physical body, with the hope that eventually my mental health would improve as well.
The plan of attack:
I started using a program called "Bikini Body Guide," a guide comprised of workouts that can all be done at home using minimal equipment. I downloaded a food tracking app and started tracking what I was eating. In the first year I lost 30 pounds and it took me two years in total to lose the 65 pounds.
Story continues below.
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Why I share my story on social media:
I wanted to show other people, particularly women, that you can hit rock bottom physically/mentally/emotionally, and bounce back. I wanted a place to talk about physical and mental health.
I was inspired by Kayla Itsines and other "BBG girls" (women who were doing the program that I eventually started). I saw so many women sharing their stories and journeys publicly, and I felt encouraged to do the same.
I wanted to show other people, particularly women, that you can hit rock bottom physically/mentally/emotionally, and bounce back.
The hardest adjustment:
Learning self-discipline was quite difficult for me in the beginning. I had to learn to hold myself accountable for what I was eating and how often I was training. There was no one that was going to hold me accountable other than me, and that was a scary thought.
The food element:
I gradually made changes to my diet — I knew it wasn't realistic to overhaul my entire diet overnight. I started by preparing all of my meals at home, rather than ordering takeout, and started focusing on nutrient-dense, higher protein foods.
I tracked calories in the very beginning, which helped me to learn serving sizes and portion control. I had no idea how many calories were in certain foods, so tracking did help.
For the first year, I limited certain foods (fast food, takeout), but I did not cut them out completely. I allowed myself to eat them in moderation. For the last year-and-a-half I have completely cut out meat, but this decision was unrelated to weight loss.
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The exercise factor:
I did not join a gym or hire a personal trainer. I did, and still do, all of my training at home. I do all of my weight training and cardio at home with what equipment I have. (Weights, treadmill, benches, barbell, etc.)
Before I started training I was completely inactive other than walking to run errands or walking to school. I had not worked out in years prior to starting my journey.
I still do all of my training at home. I do resistance training, weight lifting, and cardio, both walking and running. I aim to work out three to five days per week. Each workout typically takes about 60 minutes, sometimes slightly less.
Because my goal is no longer weight loss, my focus now is on maintaining my current weight and healthy lifestyle. I make sure to switch up my workouts fairly often to challenge my body.
How I stay motivated:
I remind myself of my "why": Why I started, why I wanted to make changes, and why I continue to live the way that I do. I train often and eat well because I feel at my best mentally and physically when I do so. And I know that if I were to return to my old lifestyle, I would feel just as miserable as I once did.
I work out multiple days during the week and once on weekends. I write a lot, I read a lot, and I am constantly striving to improve myself not only physically, but mentally as well.
I do allow myself treats and "cheat" days, however I try to eat well 75% of the time. Finding a balance that works for me has allowed me to maintain my current weight for a long time, while not having to be utterly restrictive with my diet.
What I'm most proud of:
My resilience. As someone living with major depressive disorder, it's not easy battling your own mind every day. I am proud of myself for accomplishing all that I have, despite the difficulties that I've endured along the way.
I regret not being kinder to myself along the way. I am just now learning that we can love ourselves as we are, while still striving to make changes and improvements in our lives. Being kind to ourselves makes the journey a lot more enjoyable. I wish I had realized that from the very beginning.
Know that as human beings, we are always capable of change, both physically and mentally. Though it may feel this way, you're never stuck in your current body, or current circumstances. If you want something badly enough, with hard work, perseverance, and belief in yourself, you can do anything that you set out to do.
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