How Kristen Dropped 50lbs by Eating Less and Moving More

Kristen Lindsey Before and After Weight Loss
Kristen went from 170lbs (left) to a slim 120lbs (right) by eating less and moving more.
  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’6″
  • Before: 170lbs
  • After: 120lbs
  • Weight Lost: 50lbs!

Kristen dropped 50lbs by…

Eating less, and moving more. Kristen started packing smaller lunches, parking further away from her destination, and making other small changes that work towards that mantra.

Planning multiple running routes near her house. This way she could always take a shorter route, instead of not going running at all, if she wasn’t feeling like running.

Committing to transforming her body. Kristen wanted her new body more than she wanted to cheat on her diet or skip her running routine.

Do you remember the moment when you decided you HAD to lose weight? What was that like?

Yes. I was boxing day shopping with my boyfriend, and I had around $350 saved. I had so much planned that I was going to buy! I needed jeans, so we went to my favorite store (a pretty popular one for jeans) and I tried on, unknowingly, their largest size. It didn’t fit.

I asked the sales associate through the change room door if he could grab me a size up. He had to explain, through the door, that they didn’t carry anything larger and that I would need to go online to see what they offered in terms of plus sizes. I could hear his embarrassment in his voice through the door. It felt awful.

I gave the best, “oh okay, thank you!” that I could, but I started to cry. I took photos right there and then, and decided this couldn’t go on any longer.

What was the first step you took towards transforming your body?

At first I was so lost, I didn’t know what to do!

I decided that I simply needed to eat less and move more, so I did that. I started bringing smaller lunches to work, parking further in parking lots, taking the stairs, etc.

Then I saw a YouTube video of a girl with similar starting stats to where I was at. I wasn’t even searching for weight loss videos, it just popped up on my feed. I watched the whole thing, and could relate to everything she said! The difficulties of being bigger, the fear of losing weight, the love of food and being social, etc.

She talked about counting calories, eating healthier, and exercising, so I started doing that. I downloaded MyFitnessPal and began to track and slowly reduce calories. That’s when I really began to experience progress.

She talked about counting calories, eating healthier, and exercising, so I started doing that. I downloaded MyFitnessPal and began to track and slowly reduce calories. That’s when I really began to experience progress.

What did you do for exercise?

To lose the first 35-40lbs, I just did really basic exercise that I don’t think contributed much to my weight loss. I did some calisthenics from home, yoga off YouTube, and walking when the weather was nice.

I focused more on finding activities that I enjoyed rather than something that would help me lose weight, since at the time my biggest hobbies were eating snacks and playing video games (very counter-intuitive to my goal of getting healthier).

What kind of adjustments did you make to your diet along the way?

I made very, very slow changes over time. I wanted them to stick forever, and to feel natural.

So first it was simply tracking calories 5 days a week. Then 7 days a week. Then I reduced my calories to around 1,400 calories 5 days a week, with Saturday and Sunday still tracking, but not caring. Eventually, I applied the 1,400 calorie limit 7 days a week.

After that felt good, I reduced a bit further to 1,200 calories on weekdays, 1,400 calories on weekends. While doing this, I also began to research recipes, and got really good at cooking. I bought a food scale and a bunch of measuring cups so I could really accurately track everything. I also bought a lot of healthy canned food, such as soup and tuna, to keep in my car for when I forgot my lunch or didn’t make one. I stopped getting take out for lunch completely.

Eventually, I stopped drinking pop and have switched exclusively to water and black coffee. Now I’m working with an online nutrition counseling service, and beginning to track macros more closely than just general calories. I also bought a whole bunch of meal prep stuff off Amazon (containers, freezer backs, lunch bags, etc), and I’m beginning to prep a lot more of my meals than just the occasional lunch.

I made very, very slow changes over time. I wanted them to stick forever, and to feel natural.

What were your go-to staple foods?

Canned soup for sure. It’s so cheap, especially when you get it on sale, and it lasts forever. I usually have at least 10 cans in my car of all different kinds. So if I ever need a lunch, I have something handy. It also has a lot of water content, so it fills you up for relatively low calories. I usually tried to go for clear-broth soups over the cream-based ones, to keep calories low. And I tried to make sure it contained some form of a meat, so I was getting protein with it as well.

Chicken and salmon are the best sources of protein by far. Every dinner, I will have some form of chicken or salmon (usually chicken because it’s much cheaper), a vegetable, and usually a small carb. So, for example, one of my favorite meals is a lean chicken sausage barbecued, then chopped up and put on top of a salad. I’ll have a small bowl of popcorn as a snack while I’m barbecuing the chicken. It’s delicious, and something I always look forward to after work.

Popcorn is a definite snack-staple as well. It’s not too terrible for you (compared to most other snacks), and gives you something to munch on when watching TV or relaxing. I love popcorn, and always have at least one bag in my house.

Almond milk. It’s very low calorie, and I prefer the taste and texture over regular milk. It’s perfect for making smoothies! I’ll never go back to cow milk.

What was the hardest part about your journey? How did you overcome it?

I really wish I kept a journal so that I could remember the hard days. I’m a very, very stubborn person, to a point where it’s a fault. I remember days when I was so hungry, but I simply refused to eat more because I wanted to lose the weight that bad, nothing would get in the way of it.

I remember some nights, after reaching my calorie limit, my boyfriend sitting beside me and snacking while playing video games, knowing that I couldn’t have any of it. It was really, really hard. I often would remove myself from the situation when this happened and go for a run or something.

I also remember one morning specifically. I had lost about 30lbs or so, and was in that weird stage where none of my normal jeans fit anymore (as they were too baggy), and none of my super old jeans from high school fit either (still too tight). I was so frustrated with that situation, feeling hungry and defeated, and I threw myself on to my bed and cried for like an hour, wondering why I was doing this and was it all worth it. I then collected myself, and went in (very late) to work and just kept on with it. A few weeks later, I just went and bought more jeans to hold me over.

Another big challenge I faced in that regard was not feeling like running. So I mapped several different routes around my house, all slowly building off each other, so I knew where I could turn if I ever decided I’d had enough. The shortest route was 1 mile, and the longest was 10km. If there was ever a time I simply didn’t feel like running, I’d at least put my clothes on and promise myself I’d run the 1 mile. Most of the time, I’d end up going further once I got going!

A trick that really helped me shift to exercising in the morning instead of at night was sleeping in my workout clothes. Nothing feels worse than taking off workout clothes without actually working out!

What was the best advice you received (or read) along the way?

I spent a lot of time of weight loss boards (especially /r/loseit), and whenever I saw anything that was really meaningful to me, I saved it in a document on my computer:

  • When losing weight, it’s normal for your brain and self-image to lag behind in reality. I often felt like I was bigger than I was. So someone told me to spend as much time as I could doing things like squeezing between spaces, even doing silly things like seeing if I could fit in a box or under a table. This really helped me keep in perspective my actual size compared to the size I thought I was.
  • Weight loss isn’t linear. There’s going to be peaks of high water retention, plateaus, and major drops. It all comes in stride and is part of the process. There’s no getting around it.
  • Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself, and learn what you can from the experience.
  • There’s nothing in the next bite that wasn’t in the previous one. – When you make a mistake, imaging climbing a giant flight of stairs. You trip and stumble a bit, maybe even fall back a few. What do you do; throw yourself off the whole flight completely? Or get back up and just continue climbing? The same logic applies to weight loss. Everyone has bad days, and makes mistakes. You just need to take what you can from those days, and continue moving forward towards your goals.
  • Persistence matters so much more than perfection.

What apps/websites/resources did you use?

As of the date this interview was published, you can find the Fitbit Charge HR on Amazon for under $200.

I couldn’t have achieved my goals without any of these resources:

  • MyFitnessPal – any calorie tracker will do, but MFP was my favorite for their large database and community.
  • – there’s an amazing group of people there. Everyone is really supportive and has really great suggestions. They’re a shoulder to cry on for your bad days, and a support to cheer you on for the good ones.
  • Libra – this app just helps smooth your weight trend over time, so that the bad days don’t seem so terrible.
  • Fitbit Charge HR – this one wasn’t as essential, as I didn’t get it until I had already lost around 35lbs. But it really helped me with putting the math into perspective, and motivated me to be more active. If you’re the type of person who is motivated by data, I highly recommend getting one.
  • A food scale – I just got a cheap one off Amazon, then upgraded to a really nice glass one about 6 months later. I use it every day, it makes calorie tracking so easy, especially when cooking!

How has your life changed since the day you took your before photo?

It’s actually changed quite a bit. The biggest thing is definitely confidence. I feel a lot more confident in myself, not because of my physical fitness or appearance but because I know that I can achieve whatever goals I set for myself, as long as I’m willing to really dedicate myself to it. I know that I have a lot of drive and discipline.

In a more measurable sense though:

  • My hips and lower back don’t ache anymore
  • Doing laundry is way quicker (smaller clothes = less loads)
  • I work in IT and no longer question whether or not I’ll fit in someone’s chair when helping them
  • People take me more seriously when I speak with them (they look me in the eye rather than through me, come to my office to talk rather than sending an email, etc)
  • I have less patience for people’s bullshit now. Not even with fitness, but with pretty much anything. A lot of my friends say things like, “oh I wish I was good at this” or “oh I wish I had that” or “I wish I looked like so and so”, but then do nothing about achieving any of it. It really frustrates me.
  • Some of my friends from the gym have told me that some of the guys ask about me. This absolutely blows my mind, and is always a crazy ego boost every time I hear about it. Stuff like this never used to happen.
  • I have a much bigger interest in fashion now. I love trying different looks, and I think I’m finally finding a “style” that is actually unique to me. The last time I felt like this, I was in high school and simply dressing as “emo/scene” as I could because that’s what was cool back then. It feels really nice to feel proud of how you express yourself to the world.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to our readers who are starting off as the ‘old’ you?

I remember for the longest time before losing weight I would feel so much fear, doubt, and insecurity about the idea of actually trying to lose weight. I had tried so many times before, but didn’t really commit to it. I was embarrassed by this, embarrassed to try again and scared that I would fail. But I think that day in the change room I was even more embarrassed in that moment than I ever felt I’d be when failing at losing weight. So please don’t feel scared or intimidated. It’s completely possible, and anyone can do it if you really, truly put your mind to it.

Something that really helped me was thinking about weight loss like climbing a ladder. I used to work for a window cleaning company, and I remember being really nervous on the ladders. Looking up, or looking down, always freaked me out because it reminded me of how high it was! So to get over this fear, when climbing a ladder, I simply looked straight ahead at the rungs in front of me. I just kept climbing, watching the rungs move past, until there weren’t any left. By the end of the summer, I could scale up and down ladders faster than anyone else!

I applied the same mindset to weight-loss: don’t focus too hard on how much you’ve lost or gained, or what you need to lose. Just focus on where you are right now, and what choices you need to make to get where you need to go. Keep doing that every single day, and eventually you will be there.

Another thing I like to keep in mind is that something different will always work for someone. For me, it was counting calories. Others find great success in intuitive eating, intermittent fasting, keto, paleo, going vegan, etc… I think it’s important to keep an open mind, and be willing to try many options. If something doesn’t work for you, that’s completely fine, you can always try something else.

There’s so many options out there, and there will definitely be something that works for everyone. You just need to figure out what it is that works specific to you (based on your dietary preferences and lifestyle habits), and remember that in order to lose weight, all it comes down to is consistently eating less energy than your body is expending.

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