Janelle In Real Life: How I Lost 25 Pounds in 2017


How I Lost 25 Pounds in 2017

Photos by Paige Nicolle Photo | Activewear- c/o  Zyia Active Alicia | Shoes- Nike | Headphones- c/o Sudio (use code REALLIFE15 for 15% off)

At the beginning of 2017, I was slightly overweight and very unhappy with where I was at.
It wasn't just that there was extra baby weight on my body from the baby I had 2 years previous, and it wasn't just that I was wearing pants 3 sizes larger than what I'd worn in previous years. I was just so unhappy, unmotivated, and uncomfortable in my own skin.
Women come in so many shapes and sizes and there was 100% nothing wrong with the size I was. The problem was with how I felt!
I decided it was time for a change and set goals for myself in January of 2017 (like many do with the new year). I remembered from a class I took in high school that to accomplish goals, they should be realistic and measurable. So with that in mind, here's what I ended up with:

- I will go to the gym 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes and do some kind of exercise
- I will limit eating out to 2 meals per week and cook the rest of my meals at home

And that was it, at least in the beginning. Those 2 goals set me on a course that helped boost my self confidence and gave me the energy to keep up with my kids and be a better individual.

There's something important to note here: my goal was health-focused and not so much weight-loss focused. This was important because I wanted to change my lifestyle and habits rather than drop some weight only to gain it back later. If you want a quick way to loose 25 lbs in a month or two... this is not the way to do that. I also didn't spend any money on programs I used (fitness or diet) aside from my gym membership that I already had. I definitely believe some of the gimmicky fitness programs or diets are a waste of money and it's 100% doable without spending a lot!


The short version:
I tried to include more veggies, grains, and lean meats as my meals. I counted calories for a month to see where I was at vs where I should be. I cut back on sugar a little and explored healthier recipes I found on Pinterest and from my friend Kelli's cookbook.

the long version:
Now, I promised to share everything I did to shed the pounds and get back on track with my health. So we'll start with the thing I did worst at: my diet.
I love chocolate, Chick-fil-a, and Dr. Pepper and I couldn't just give those up cold turkey. So I made and adjusted goals throughout the year that helped me make healthier choices without eliminating all the good things. I did not stick to my goal of only eating out for 2 meals a week. It was harder than I thought it would be! Running errands, working, and taking my kids to/from activities left me busy and tired. So my fall back was to hit up a drive thru! I did do better about finding healthier options that had drive thrus, but those were more expensive so I couldn't always rely on that. I'm renewing this goal this year because when I make my own meals at home, I have control over what goes into them and I end up eating healthier and smaller portions.
I have collected several healthy option recipes over the past year and made tofu, zoodles, brown rice, and steamed veggies staples in my weekly meal planning! (Side note: searching specifically for vegan or vegetarian meals is really helpful in finding healthier options! They're usually veggie and grain based, and will fill you up without having a lot of fat or carbs). I also used a cookbook written by a blogger friend of mine! Her name is Kelli and I LOVED making the meals and treats she has in her recipe book. If you follow me on Instagram stories, you probably saw me post several recipes I got from her!
Basically, I just made an effort to eat healthier and make my own meals without limiting myself a ton. This worked well for me, and while I still have a ways to go with my diet, it's a good start.

I also counted calories (but only for a month). This is obvious, but the way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you eat. So to be able to lose weight, you need to be aware of how many calories you're eating and how many you're burning in an average day.
I've had a Fitbit fitness tracker for a while and I LOVE it for tracking my activity level! It can also track the calories you burn in a day. I didn't pay attention to that religiously, but it was helpful to see. And then as mentioned, I counted my calories.
Counting calories is not super fun, wouldn't you know. It's hard to find an accurate number based on your portion size, and it's actually easier to count calories when you eat out rather than make it at home (unless you obsessively use a kitchen scale... I did not). But I committed to do it for a month, and starting out I didn't change my diet at all, I just tracked about how many calories I was eating in an average day. Turns out I was eating a lot more calories than I needed to be. I'm not a doctor, and this is not meant to inform you just tell you of my experiences-- but I was eating over 2,000 calories a day, which for a person of my size, fitness level, and health was too much to be able to lose much weight. I started cutting the higher-calorie, unnecessary things from my diet (like soda) to bring me back down to a more reasonable level. I also found that if I ate lunch at In N' Out for example, that was most of the calories I should be eating in a day. So instead of eating high calorie fatty meals, I focused on spreading my calories evenly between all 3 meals and eating things that actually gave me energy and not wasting calories on the things that left me feeling tired.
I only did this for a month, because counting calories regularly would be exhausting for me. I also have a bit of an obsessive personality, and I know I would become unhealthily obsessed with calorie counting if I kept it up. But I felt doing it for a month was useful, because it helped me realize my portion sizes were too big, and I was eating too many empty calories. It gave me the time to adjust my diet slightly to be more conducive to weight loss and set the course for eating right going forward.


the short version: I made myself show up to the gym 3 times a week. I also participated in 2 workout challenges, used my FitBit to track steps, and found small ways to motivate myself at the gym (before/after photos, listening to music, wearing cute workout clothes etc.)

the long version: I started out the year with a goal to just go to the gym 3 times a week and do something there, and I more or less did that!! Life happens and there were some weeks I only went once and other weeks I went 6 times, but I did average about 3-4 times a week.

Since I was starting out as a not very active person, I decided to ease my way into a fitness routine and I'm so glad I did! At first I just used the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, followed by some random ab & arm workouts. I would get a little bored so listening to music and watching Netflix became a way to distract myself & relax a little more. I also wore my FitBit throughout the day and while at the gym to get an idea of what my activity level was. I started learning that the days I was doing 10,000+ steps in a day were the days that I was actually starting to show some progress with my weight loss and fitness. So I pushed myself to do 10,000 steps everyday. I didn't totally accomplish that, but it helped to have a goal to hit everyday!
 Beginning in February I did a 30 day fitness challenge run my my girl Fatima of @stylefitfatty! This girl is a BOSS and is in fantastic shape. She also has 2 kids and works out at home so she gets the struggle of finding a time & place for fitness. All of her workouts were doable for me (although I was sore a lot) and could easily be done at the gym or at home. I chose to do most of my workouts at the gym so my kiddos wouldn't be climbing all over me. There was a Facebook support group in conjunction with the workouts you received so you could chat with other girls doing it & watch videos of Fatima to learn the correct form for each exercise.
After doing this challenge for 3 months, I found I was actually ENJOYING my time at the gym! Instead of being a chore to go, it was becoming a way to release stress, get a minute away from my hectic life, and a way to improve my self and build some confidence back up. I starting running in addition to doing the challenge workouts, and I found that being in better shape overall meant I could run farther and faster without losing my breath. I dropped about 7 lbs by May and actually seeing progress with my weight loss and overall health was so encouraging.

After 3 rounds of doing Fatima's challenges, I was ready to challenge myself even more and started doing Kayla Itsines' BBG routine. This is kind of a cult favorite workout program among a lot of women I know, but sooo many complained about how hard the routines were. I would HIGHLY recommend starting with Fatima's workouts if you feel BBG is too difficult. It was the perfect stepping stone for me going from just lightly exercising for 30 minutes to doing BBG.
BBG is basically 28 minutes of strength training 3 times a week. There are a lot of squats, lunges, burpees, push ups, sit ups, etc. in different variations. I just used the old version of her workout plan because a friend sent me the PDF for free, so it was 12 weeks of those exercises, plus HIIT (high intensity interval training) once you reached weeks 9-12. I LOVED this workout plan because it pushed me, but it was still doable. I would usually do the 28 minutes of BBG and then 30 minutes of jogging or running on the treadmill after. After finishing the 12 week BBG challenge, I had lost 18 lbs!

Something else I did that was so helpful was taking before/after photos. I took a photo of myself before doing Fatima's Programs, before starting BBG, and after finishing BBG. Sometimes I would feel like I wasn't making any progress because I wasn't seeing results on the scale. Even though I lost most of my weight from doing BBG, the biggest change in the way my body looked came from doing Fatima's challenges! That 7 pound loss made a huge difference in the way I looked. Something I WISH I'd done is taken some better photos... I have the ones I took below, and while they're not the best lighting or quality, I think they show the difference fitness and diet made in my life this year!
So here it is-- my 25 pound weight loss before/after photos:

And there you have it. These photos are pretty vulnerable for me to share, but I want to illustrate how big a difference my goal setting last year made for me.
And even more than accomplishing my goals, I am HAPPIER now than I was before making an effort to improve my health. I feel so much more energized and motivated to take care of my kids, make dinner, spend time with my husband, go to work, and all the other things I do on a daily basis.

And the biggest take away I want for you is to know that YOU CAN DO THIS. I realize that prioritizing your health is so hard. And there are illnesses and predispositions that may make your journey to positive health harder and look differently than mine, but you can take step in the right direction. One of my greatest struggles was that I would put a little effort in to trying to loose weight or eat better and wouldn't see any results. I would try for months and nothing. But instead of giving up this time, I adjusted and moved forward. And it worked! And I'm so grateful. I have a long way to go before my diet and fitness routines are perfect, but I'm grateful to be on a good track. And I hope some of you who are in the same position I was, feeling hopeless and down about myself and lacking the motivation to get out, will find inspiration here.


  1. I love the balance and determination you have! Good job :)

  2. So motivating .. I myself am struggling with weight loss and though I m loosing weight it sometimes feels like it will take forever. But reading ur story was a sure lift up.. keep up the good work. I know it takes tons of determination.

  3. You look awesome! Your hard work definitely paid off!

  4. UGHHHHH this post resonates with me so much and i'm so inspired. THANK YOU SO MUCH! You look amazing!