Who: Carly Bernard
City: Cambridge, Ont.
The Numbers: 407 pounds at my heaviest, currently at 228 pounds, for a total weight loss of 179 pounds, and I'm still losing!
The Weight Gain: I've been overweight my entire life. I saw dietitians as early as seven years old.
By the time I was 13, I weighed 315 pounds and was feeling very self conscious. I decided to try a crash diet where I had a very low caloric intake. I lost 60 pounds, but eventually I hit a plateau and once I stopped, I gained back more than double what I had lost. At the age of 17 I reached my heaviest weight and decided to join Weight Watchers. I had a lot of success with it, but got off track when I left home for college.
Final Straw: In early 2014 I became desperate to lose the weight, but didn't know where to start. I didn't feel good, I had no energy and had low self-esteem. I joined Weight Watchers again in March, but maintained my weight for a while after I quit smoking in June. In November I fell and twisted my ankle. The mobility issues I experienced after the fall was my 'final straw.' I couldn't get around on the crutches due to my size and lack of upper body strength. I spent the next week in bed, miserable and scared thinking I would need a full cast and not be able to move for months. I saw the fracture specialist the following week, and the cast came off. I've been losing ever since!
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The Plan of Attack: At first I started losing just by making small changes to my diet. First I cut out pop and fast food. When I felt like I had that under control, I worked on increasing my water intake. Once I had a handle on that, I reduced added sugar wherever I could. I now drink my coffee black.
The Exercise Factor: I used to be very lazy. I would go home after work and just lay around watching TV all night. I had a gym membership before I started on my journey, but my workouts were very sporadic and I didn't really know what I was doing on any of the machines.
"You can't rush something that you want to last forever."
I had anxiety over going to the gym because I was worried about people making fun of me. I switched over to Goodlife Fitness in May 2015 after a friend convinced me to start working with a personal trainer. I've worked with several personal trainers since then, and I've learned so much from all of them. They've helped me improve my fitness goals and my nutrition, too.
These day I work out six days a week for an hour each day. Three times a week I do strength training with my personal trainer, and the other three days I do cardio by myself.
The Food Element: I'm an emotional eater, so I would eat when I was stressed, sad, bored, etc. The biggest struggle for me has been trying to find healthy ways to deal with these emotions.
I still follow the Weight Watchers program, so I track "points" rather than calories. It's helped me learn how to have a healthy relationship with food. I read food labels religiously now and try to be mindful and choose the best foods to help me reach my goals. I try to focus more on portion sizes, and listening to my body (eating when I'm hungry and stopping once I'm full).
I started eating a lot more fresh foods and vegetables than I was before and I limit foods like breads and junk food instead of eliminating them all together. I think it's important to still allow yourself a treat once in a while. I know (for me at least) that if I didn't, I'd be at risk of bingeing and giving up.
The Current Day-to-Day: My days are a lot more planned out than they used to be. Working with a trainer has helped me with that because my gym sessions with him are scheduled in advanced so it helps to keep me accountable. I also make sure to schedule my workouts by myself, so that I don't give myself the option to miss them. If I have to make other plans, I schedule them around my workouts. I also prep my meals for the week every Sunday so I don't have to worry about coming up with meals every day. That has really helped to keep me on track, so I'm not scrambling to figure out something to eat for lunch.
My Advice: DON'T GIVE UP! The thing that put me off for so long was how long it would take me to lose the weight. I wanted something that would get me results fast, but that's not realistic. There is no magic pill or quick fix. It's a lifestyle change and you can't rush something that you want to last forever. If you have a bad day where you get off track, it doesn't matter. What matters is how you handle it, and what you do next. Just accept that it happened, learn from it and move on. You can do it!
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Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.