HEALTHY LIVING
06/18/2012 08:16 am ET Updated Jun 29, 2012

Weight Loss Success: Allison McKenzie Used Exercise Goals To Stay Motivated And Lost 100 Pounds

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Name: Allison McKenzie
Age: 30
Height: 5'7"
Before Weight: 250 pounds

How I Gained It: I have always struggled with my weight, but I reached my heaviest of 250 pounds by eating what was convenient and tasted good and neglecting to do any sort of consistent exercise. I have a sedentary job (I'm an architect), so I would sit at work all day, typically eating a fast-food lunch and several snacks. When I got home I usually didn't have much energy, probably from being overweight and my unhealthy diet, so I would sit all evening too. My husband and I are both sort of foodies and enjoy eating at good restaurants and enjoy going out for drinks with friends, so the weekends were not much better and I still was not making time for exercise.

It was not unusual for me to start my day with a muffin or doughnut and I was fully capable of putting away a whole Chipotle burrito plus chips and guacamole at lunch. People are constantly bringing snacks and treats into my office, so it was also pretty common for me to grab a cookie, leftover cake or some other treat at some point during the day. My family is just my husband and me, so eating out, or doing take out was an easy option for the two of us. Pizza for dinner happened pretty frequently, and after dinner ice cream runs (I could easily eat a whole pint by myself) were common. If I wanted it, I ate it.

Breaking Point: On December 26th, 2010, I decided that I just had to do something to lose weight. I had struggled with my weight all my life and I had successfully lost weight a few times in the past, but 250 pounds was the largest I had ever been and I was simply uncomfortable doing pretty much everything. Seats were too small, airplane travel was something I dreaded and I just knew I wasn't as happy as I could be.

How I Lost It: Over the next few months I started instituting changes. I began counting calories, and I bought an elliptical machine for my home and started using it five days a week. Starting on the elliptical was so difficult! I could really only use it for eight to 10 minutes at a time at first before I was totally winded. A week after I bought the elliptical and started using it, I actually made my husband try it and tell me if he thought the resistance was broken. He confirmed that the elliptical was working just fine and I was simply seriously out of shape! I committed to pushing myself as long and hard as I could and then taking a few minutes as a break before I pushed myself again. I started at three sets of eight minutes on the elliptical with five minute breaks in between and then started adding time and reducing my break time.

Pounds started coming off and by July of 2011 I had lost over 60 pounds. I wasn't entirely sure how much I wanted to lose, but I just kept going, eventually shifting my focus from simply losing weight to eating the most nutritious foods I could find and building my strength and endurance through running and strength training.

I try to really focus on the quality and nutrition of the foods that I eat. I remembered how much I used to love vegetables and fresh fruit, so I started building my diet around fruits and vegetables with added nutrients coming from lean sources of protein and small amounts of whole grains. I make sure to pack my lunch daily and analyze the menu of any restaurant I might be going to ahead of time for what the best options are.

Exercise is what energizes me now, and getting up at 5:15 to work out is usually not a problem, because I know how much better I feel once I've gotten my workout in. I enjoy being able to increase the amount of weight I am lifting or seeing my mile run time drop by another 30 seconds, and that's what pushes me now. It's so weird, but I feel my sexiest now when I'm dripping with sweat after powering through a 7-mile run.

Maintaining my weight loss into the future is very scary, but I am hopeful that I have set myself up with the right habits to make it happen.

After Weight: 150 pounds
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