featured-fitnessIssue 16

Losing 150 Pounds, the Healthy Way

 Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 3.21.06 PMBY ALEX CANTATORE

January 7, 2014. It’s the day that Amber Flores decided to change her life.

In the past 15 months, Flores has lost 150 pounds. And it all started with a seemingly simple decision.

“I just sort of said, ‘I’m done. Enough,’” Flores recalls.

That one, transformative moment was years in the making. Flores knew her weight was a problem, and with age 30 rapidly approaching it was “definitely not baby weight at this point,” she deadpans.

It’s a simple math equation, Flores says. You have to balance your calorie intake with the number of calories you burn.

One day, Flores was talking to her mother. Flores had been married for two years and held a great job, serving as Development Manager at the Gallo Center for the Arts.

“You’re happy,” her mother said. “Why are you still eating?”

A light bulb went off. Flores realized she didn’t need food to make her happy. She needed food to nurture her body, so that she could enjoy the countless other joys in life.

“I have a really great life and I am purposely cutting it short,” Flores said. “… I wanted to be healthy. By changing my life, the weight loss was a byproduct.”

Flores had attempted to lose weight before, following all the so-called “miracle diets.”

“They don’t exist,” Flores said. “I’ve done them all.”

So Flores went back to basics, tracking her calories using a free phone app, MyFitnessPal. And the numbers began to add up.

“It was startling at first,” Flores said. “Suddenly my weight made sense.”

Those foods she used to love, sodas and fast food and hearty breakfasts chock full of sugars and salts, were high in calories.

It’s hard to follow restrictive diets. They focus on what you can’t eat, inevitably making you want to eat it.

This time, FloreScreen Shot 2015-05-05 at 3.22.23 PMs focused on the nutritional value of what she did eat. She thought about the good that her new healthy diet was doing, and it inspired her to keep going.

Now, Flores eats incredibly clean. A fruit and spinach smoothie starts the day, followed by a small snack at 10 a.m., a sandwich and side salad for lunch, fruit in the afternoon, and a chicken breast and steamed vegetable for dinner.

That diet is balanced with exercise. Flores doesn’t have a gym membership, and she’s never been to a trendy boot camp. For Flores, it was important to do things on her own, not relying on others to succeed or fail.

Flores simply started walking. At first, she could barely walk a mile; now she jogs 2.5 miles a day.

The change has been slow, steady, and gradual. Flores isn’t always perfect with her diet, or her workout regimen. But she kept at it, improving all the while, ignoring the scale and focusing on how she was improving her life.

You’d think the hard part of this transformation would be changing what you eat, or starting to exercise.

“It’s not. It’s about changing your relationship with food,” Flores said.

Flores used to derive comfort and joy from food. It was like an addiction, a drug she used to feel better.

Now, she views food as nothing more than fuel for her ever-shrinking body.

It’s been a big change. Flores has dropped eight sizes – and had to rebuy her wardrobe four times in 15 months. Some people don’t recognize her; others don’t know what to say.

But it’s the little things that have truly transformed Flores’s life, things she never knew she
was missing. Before, she would schedule naps and time to rest; now she spends that time working out, cooking with herbs she grows herself, and feeling alive and full of energy.

“I feel like my life is totally different,” Flores said.

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