Bahar Nessa loves to travel. In her 20s, she backpacked across Southeast Asia for three months and visited Egypt for a month, finally seeing the pyramids she’d always imagined. But once she got there, she couldn’t climb them. “I was too big,” she says, noting her disappointment.
Soon after, Nessa decided to make a change. Upon graduating from university at age 27, she moved from England to Glasgow, Scotland for a job in engineering, using the opportunity as a springboard to prioritize her health. “I knew that if I kept going the same way, I wouldn’t be able to live the life that I want,” says Nessa. “And sitting down all day for my job, I didn’t want to have a heart attack when I’m 30.” So, she enlisted a personal trainer and began using MyFitnessPal to count calories.
At the time, Nessa carried about 245 pounds on her 5-foot-2-inch frame. “If you looked at my eating habits, I would usually have one big meal in the evening, so I never felt like I was eating too much, and I always ate fruits and vegetables,” she says. “But once I started counting calories, I realized I was spending too much on drinks.” Sugar-laden coffees, fruit juices and smoothies accounted for 800–900 calories per day, and seemingly healthy snacks like peanuts added to her daily calorie surplus.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > Read how @myfitnesspal helped this UK woman lose 120 pounds.
Nessa used MyFitnessPal to count her calories and track her macros, realizing her diet consisted primarily of carbs. She began eating three meals per day, prioritizing proteins like chicken breast and white fish. She started to drink more water and fewer juices and measured out items like cooking oils and sauces. “I was actually eating more than I did before, but I was making smarter choices,” she says. Paired with her efforts in the gym — strength training mixed with cardio, usually boxing — her hard work began to pay off.
Along her journey, Nessa tracked her weight, used the MyFitnessPal app’s built-in barcode scanner to help her make good food purchases at the store and adjusted her calorie allotment as she began to drop pounds. She also saved her favorite MFP blog recipes so she could cook interesting food at home.
“I like eating a variety of food,” says Nessa. “I don’t want to eat chicken and broccoli all day. Calorie counting gave me flexibility to eat different types of foods.” If she went out for dinner, she’d look up the calories online and build them into her plan. And rather than deprive herself of the foods she loved, she would occasionally treat herself to stay balanced.
That dedication paid off, and Nessa’s weight dropped from 245 to 123 pounds. Now 34, she still hits the gym regularly to strength train and box multiple times per week. She no longer counts calories every day, saying she’s learned so much from the process that she now understands how to make good food choices, but she likes knowing the app is always there if she needs it. She even got certified as a fitness trainer and hopes to one day make fitness her career.
Nessa’s transformation is a success story, driven by her desire to make long-term change. But that doesn’t mean it’s always been easy. A family tragedy took her off track for more than a year. She gained back some of the weight she lost and had to refocus her efforts. But this time, she was armed with the knowledge and tools to make it happen.
“The journey isn’t a straight road,” she says. “You will have ups and downs, but don’t give up.”
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