05/03/2017 04:15 EDT

This Woman Lost 90 Pounds To Be A Better Mom To Her Kids

"I wanted to run with my kids and not just stand on the sidelines any longer."

Who: Rachel Graham

City: Nova Scotia

Age: 25

By The Numbers: I got up to 245 pounds while pregnant with my second son, but I officially started my journey in June 2015 at 229-ish. I have since lost 90 pounds naturally.

The Weight Gain: Prior to getting pregnant, I struggled with an eating disorder. When I found out I was pregnant, I suddenly ate what I wanted, when I wanted and gained it all then. After I had my son I would lose some weight and gain it back in an endless cycle. I was around 215 pounds when I got married. After our wedding, I had two early miscarriages and was depressed. I binged my way up to 235.8 — which was the highest I saw on the scale, but I wasn’t weighing myself often.

Final Straw: I was depressed. I got out of breath doing what should have been simple tasks. I remember before I started my journey, my husband and I walked up the front steps of our house and he was talking to me. I turned away and tried so hard to hide that I was out of breath.

I wanted to run with my kids and not just stand on the sidelines any longer. I was tired of crying. I was tired of being lonely. I never wanted to make plans with friends.

I wanted to be a better mom. A happier mom. I had also watched my grandmother lose her quality of life and eventually pass away a few years ago after complications resulting from obesity.

The Plan of Attack: I lost weight through calorie counting, eating (mostly) healthy foods, portion control, and exercise. I’m sure breastfeeding has played a role as well, however until I started everything else I was gaining weight while nursing. No wraps. No pills. No drugs. NO GIMMICKS!

There were days that I exercised at 11:30 p.m. after my kids were asleep, to make sure I didn’t go to bed without working out. There were days that I "missed out on" certain meals those around me were enjoying. Certain treats/desserts. I was so focused on my goals. SO determined. There were days that I was freaking EXHAUSTED from being up all night with my son and was running on no sleep, yet I kept PUSHING. Days and days that I jogged in place while watching TV.

"I was tired of crying. I was tired of being lonely. I never wanted to make plans with friends, I had become antisocial."

The Exercise Factor: There are so many ways to get exercise in without a gym membership. I ran up and down stairs/hills while the kids played. Jumping jacks. Lunges. Jogged laps around my car while my son snoozed inside of it. I did Jillian Micheal's 30-day Shred from home. I danced with my kids. And walked walked and walked some more.

I didn’t ever have a daily "plan" except for when I was doing Shred. I focused on being active and getting my Fitbit steps in. On getting my heart rate up and a sweat on. I just got MOVING! I drink lots of water (I used to drink four to five cans of diet pop a day, NO water). I got a Fitbit charge when I was down about 30 pounds. I currently have the HR and find it motivating to keep active!

The Food Element: For soooo long during this journey I honestly didn’t have any cheat meals. I have always struggled with an all or nothing view of eating. That has been the absolute biggest change with this lifestyle revamp. Not starving myself, and not endlessly binging. Just. Being. HEALTHY!

In the past I would lose a bit of weight, then a cheat meal would turn into a few cheat days. Which would spiral until I gained the weight I had lost back.

I have since started having I guess what’s called "cheat meals" once a week or so. I am focusing on BALANCE, not the all or nothing mindset with food that I have struggled with for so long in the past. Since incorporating these meals/treats back into my life, I have found I crave them more if I’m being honest, but the difference is that I’ve truly learned balance. One cheat meal won’t make you fat, just like one good meal won’t make you healthy!

"That has been the absolute biggest change with this lifestyle revamp. Not starving myself, and not endlessly bingeing. Just. Being. HEALTHY!"

The Current Day-to-Day: These days I'm working on weight/strength exercises. I lost 90 pounds from home, but joined a local gym last year to switch things up exercise-wise. I currently have shifted my focus to doing a lot of strength training instead of focusing on step goals, doing mostly cardio, etc.

I go to a lot of boot camp classes which I love, as it gets me out of my comfort zone and I’ve learned a lot of new exercises in class! They're great for socializing too. When I first started this journey, I never expected to develop a love for weights. I wish I had started using them more, sooner! My current goal is to work up to heavier weights, particularly for deadlifts, etc.

My advice for those starting out is to take pictures. I have found that documenting and comparing the changes has helped keep me motivated. Start an Instagram account to keep yourself accountable. Take measurements. There are many ways to see "progress" happening, it’s not just about a number on a scale.

Every BODY is different. Some will have success following certain plans, others like myself will find calorie counting easiest. Find what works for you! It might take some experimenting. Even starting with small changes can lead to huge results.

Everyone starts somewhere. Remember, it’s a journey.. not a race. You will get there if you keep working at it!

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