Photo credit: Courtesy

Photo credit: Courtesy

From Women’s Health

My name is Jeanne DeClue (@finessecurves314), and I’m 32. I live in St. Louis, Missouri, and am a professional copywriter. After struggling with my weight for years, I started following a keto diet, then switched over to a plant-based diet and took up rowing to lose about 55 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first time I actually noticed that my weight starting to go up was toward the end of high school. I was used to playing sports and being active, but my life became a little more sedentary after I graduated. My weight continued to increase throughout much of my adulthood—so much so that my doctors suggested that I get weight-loss surgery.

But I decided against that. I was extremely terrified of going under the knife because I never had before, so I was more interested in losing weight through diet and exercise. Still, committing to switching up my diet and routine took me a while.

It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I seriously committed to losing weight.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, I was transitioning jobs. At the time, I really wanted to feel my best, so I had started to focus on my health more. As I learned more about the new coronavirus, I also became scared of what it meant to be considered high risk, so I felt an even greater pressure to start getting healthier right away, which meant being more aware of my weight.

First, I turned to the keto diet and logged what I was eating using MyFitnessPal.

I used the app for help keeping track of my calories and macros. I tried to stay within my calorie range by not eating more than 50 grams of carbs a day. I would do this by having low-carb shakes in the morning, salads for lunch, and a protein-heavy meal for dinner. I did this from the end of March until June. I quickly dropped 25 pounds, and it felt really good to reach this milestone.

I saw that weight loss as a victory, but soon after I didn’t feel so great on the keto diet, so I stopped counting macros and switched over to a plant-based diet. Though I noticed the weight didn’t fall off as easily, I had a lot more energy and felt healthier.

I still eat cheese and have what’s considered junk food occasionally, but the way I eat looks a lot different than what it used to. I track everything I eat to make sure I meet a calorie deficit.

Here’s what I eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Smoothie Shred green juice

  • Mid-morning snack: Fruit or nuts

  • Lunch: A salad

  • Dinner: A type of veggie power bowl or zoodles; sometimes I add cheese or shrimp, but I really try to limit animal products

I also learned a lot about rowing as fitness, and that really helped me live a more active lifestyle.

My fitness routine started in August 2020, when I got introduced to Row House Chesterfield. After being sedentary for quite some time, working out was really intimidating for me. So when Row House Chesterfield reached out to me to try a class, I was really nervous and almost didn’t go. But during my first class, I felt really empowered and surprised at how much I liked it. It wasn’t about who was performing the best, it was about doing your personal best.

Certain segments of the class also focused on working together as a unit to hit targets, which was pretty cool. I also found it to be very relaxing, falling into somewhat of a trance with the neon lights and the rhythm of the rowing motion. It was the first time in a long time that I felt like I could do something and not feel ostracized or totally bent out of shape afterwards. It’s a total-body workout but it’s also low-impact, which was perfect for me considering that I hadn’t worked out in years.

Now rowing is my go-to exercise. I row a couple of times a week. I like it because you can track your personal stats (split, distance rowed) and see how they improve over time, which gives me motivation to keep getting better. It feels so good to hit new PRs.

Since November 2020, I’ve also been doing dance aerobics and strength training. The dance aerobics is fun too because it pushes me in a different way than rowing does. I don’t have a set schedule, but I try to row two times a week and I also try to go to a dance aerobics class or two each week.

Switching up my eating style and starting a fitness journey has helped me lose 55 pounds.

I started at 420 pounds and I’m currently at 365 pounds. I think the biggest thing that has really helped with my weight loss is limiting my caloric intake for breakfast and lunch, which allows me to have a little wiggle room for dinner. I know you hear that you’re supposed to eat more calories during the beginning of the day, but this is what really works for me. I think changing the kinds of snacks I eat has also helped. Now, I try to reach for fruit instead of the fat-heavy snacks that I would indulge in while I was on the keto diet.

The other main thing is that I learned how to be consistent. It wasn’t until I saw my lifestyle changes through, even if I messed up, that I actually started to see results. I learned that bad days are inevitable, but that you just have to keep pushing.

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