Nearly every weight-loss journey begins with a catalyst — an event or moment when a decision is made to get on a new track and commit to a new way of life. For some, it’s seeing a photograph of themselves, being unable to play with their kids or maybe even getting dire news from a doctor.
For 31-year-old Ontario resident Brie Simeoni, that moment was a flight of stairs.
“I’d gotten to the point where walking up some stairs left me winded, and I had to take a break to catch my breath,” she recalls. “I’ve been overweight my whole life, but something about having to do that changed things for me.”
That was January 2017, and although she acknowledges New Year’s resolutions don’t often stick, she made one anyway. It wasn’t about getting to a certain “goal weight,” she says — a term she doesn’t like — it was a goal based on how she wanted to feel in her body.
“I was just uncomfortable in my own skin,” she says. “I didn’t even look in the mirror anymore then. When I thought about being unable to go up stairs without feeling worse, I thought: If I don’t change now, I never will.”
She also had health issues in mind. Simeoni had been diagnosed with high blood pressure at age 25 and was so embarrassed about it, she kept it from friends and family. But that just made her feel more alone.
To get started, she began researching as much as she could about nutrition and eating plans, and she downloaded MyFitnessPal to track her food. As Simeoni began gravitating toward low-carb meals, the app was hugely helpful for keeping her focused, she says. Her nutrition focus transitioned to the keto diet, and MyFitnessPal became even more important for figuring out her macros.
“MyFitnessPal was one of the biggest reasons for my success because I learned so much using it about how to calculate macros and what each food contained,” she says. “Using it, I also saw that there was so much I could have. I didn’t think about everything I wasn’t eating like cookies or chips.”
Within the first month, she had her first non-scale victory, she recalls: Her daily energy levels were soaring. Simeoni was shocked since she didn’t expect that effect. In fact, she didn’t even realize she had been sluggish until she no longer had mid-afternoon crashes. Suddenly, she had the energy to go for a walk when she got home from work, instead of hitting the couch as usual.
“That gave me more motivation to keep going because now I had the energy to do so much more and it made me wonder what else I could do,” she says.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > Brie Simeoni lost 80 pounds with @myftnesspal, but her non-scale victories were most important to her. #weightloss
Another big shift Simeoni didn’t expect was lower inflammation — she’d had aching knees her whole life but it wasn’t until she began losing weight that she realized it didn’t have to be that way. The longer she stayed on the keto diet, the better her knees felt, and that was a major motivating factor for joining a gym about three months into her journey.
“Although I’d tried going to a gym before, I felt self-conscious,” she says. “But at that point, I’d lost 20 pounds and I had more confidence. Obviously, exercise was still challenging, but it got easier to increase the incline on the treadmill, and I even did the Stairmaster.”
Over the course of four years, Simeoni consistently tracked her food, maintained the keto diet, and regularly hit the gym, helping her lose 80 pounds. And, while she did notice the number on the scale, it still wasn’t the most important milestone for her.
Instead, she appreciated her energy levels and decreased blood pressure that had dropped to a normal level. Today, she has a resting heart rate below 50, which she’s proud of since it shows how much work she’s done to get healthier. When she gets married next year, her efforts won’t be about fitting into a certain dress, they’ll continue to be about how she feels as she walks down the aisle.
“I just want to feel good and strong,” she says. “When people ask about my goals, I say I want to get faster and lift heavier. That’s not about a number on the scale. It’s a mindset that I’ve come to embrace and appreciate.”
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