04/19/2016 04:35 EDT | Updated 02/08/2017 04:41 EST

Weight Lost: This Woman Lost 4.8% Of Her Body Fat In Less Than A Month

"I learned how to balance things out even if I end up eating that slice of cake."

Who: Lisa A.

Occupation: Occupational Therapist and baker

City: Toronto

Age: 37

By The Numbers: 154 pounds at my heaviest, currently at 131 pounds, for a total weight loss of 27 pounds (between 2012 and 2013). In 2013 to 2015, I lost nine pounds.

The Weight Gain: Growing up as a multiracial child (half Chinese and Spanish), I had a different perception of myself. I recall times when others would comment on my weight, call me chubby, squeeze my arms or stare at my legs and imply that I was "fat." At the time, being skinny was the ideal and I didn't fit in with that picture. It was only after university, that I started to embrace my curvy figure as society's views on body image started to shift. But even then, I was never 100 per cent satisfied with the way I looked.

I was eating unhealthy, stressed and had poor work-life balance. I tried some fad diets, a couple of weight loss pills, and some creams that claimed to help with cellulite and fat burning. I was looking for an easy way out with instant results.

Final Straw: In 2011, my workplace posted a video of me on the hospital website where I was describing the service that I worked in. I remember being shocked and in disbelief when I saw myself in the video. I knew that I had gained weight over the years, but it took this video to wake me up.

"I learned that exercise is just 25 per cent and food is 75 percent of the work."

Story continues below.

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The Plan of Attack: I started making a commitment to finish work on time and go to the gym anywhere from five to seven times a week. I saw results, but I wasn't seeing results fast enough and eventually I plateaued.

One day, my cousin encouraged me to try a bootcamp called Fit Factory Fitness in Toronto. During my first class with Sgt. Tony Austin (a former U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor), I was trembling from head to toe from muscle fatigue — my body wasn’t used to working out those muscle groups that I neglected for so many years.

The Exercise Factor: Prior to losing 27 pounds, being active was not part of my lifestyle.

I quit my regular gym membership and I did not hire a personal trainer. One of the great things about Fit Factory Fitness is having the option of attending different classes with instructors.

"My new outlook is not about “cutting out” foods or that "all or nothing" approach. Instead I have a more realistic management of my weight."

These days, I go to the gym four times a week for one hour classes. Once or twice a month I work out at my own condo gym, go for a run, take private boxing lessons, or make plans with friends to try new fitness activities.

The Food Element: I learned exercise is just 25 per cent and food is 75 percent of the work. After applying the principles I learned from a nutrition class at the gym, I lost 25 pounds within six and nine months.

I cut out processed foods, dairy, grains, gluten, and alcohol. I ate veggies, nuts/seeds, fruit, chicken, turkey, fish and some red meat. For liquids, lots of water, green tea, almond milk, and coconut water. I used sea salt, olive oil, grape seed oil, and coconut oil to cook my meals along with fresh/dried herbs and spices.

Healthy eating was easy, simple and delicious — I felt immediate improvements in my mood, mental clarity, productivity, energy, and fitness level.

My new outlook is not about “cutting out” foods or that “all or nothing” approach. Instead I have a more realistic management of my weight. I make better food choices, I continue to exercise regularly, I make sure I get enough sleep, fit in leisure time, and I do what I love (baking, painting, meal planning). I learned how to balance things out even if I end up eating that slice of cake.

"Maintaining the weight is all about sticking to the plan and staying active. I’m not too focused on losing weight now, although I would still like to lose a few more pounds."

I decided to try a 21-day New Year reboot challenge in January. I learned about holistic nutrition which taught me how to regulate my system as a whole from clean eating habits, to sleep and self-care regimen, the balance between work and leisure, and nourishing a healthy mind and lifestyle.

This experience took nutrition education to a whole new level. In just 21 days I lost 4.8 per cent body fat, gained 2.5 per cent muscle and went down a dress size.

The Current Day-to-Day: When I'm not meal planning or working out, I'm making custom cupcakes, cakes and paintings. As a baker, I do have to taste test my recipes, but fortunately I’ve made enough healthy lifestyle changes to manage my weight effectively.

If I have the rare craving to eat pizza, chips, or that slice of cake, I allow myself to have it once in a while in small portions. Stressing over things actually makes it harder for me to manage my weight.

My advice? It's never too late to make a lifestyle change and manage your weight (whether it’s trying to lose or gain weight). You just have to want it bad enough and it may take a certain turning point for you to take that first step.

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