01/15/2014 06:34 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2014

My Recipe for Inspiration: Get Healthy


Like basically every other woman in the United States, I have battled my weight for most of my life. There were two marvelous years in high school where my body, freshly released from a casing of baby fat, was actually something I was proud of. I worked out/took dance/tumbling classes once or twice a day, five days a week, and also, because I had the metabolism of a 14-, 15-, 16-year-old, chased those workouts with Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and Cheetos.

A serious battle with depression my junior year of high school left me with an extra 50 pounds, 50 pounds that I still haven't shifted (in its entirety) in the past 13 years. I have tried diets, spent lots of money on gym memberships, attempted to reintroduce my body to dance via Zumba -- but nothing stuck. About two years ago, after seeing a few horrifying pictures of myself from vacation, I decided to go on a diet, joined a gym, and after about three months, I'd lost 12 pounds. The first 12 pounds seemed magical enough for me to quit dieting all together, and so I decided just to self-regulate -- I'd eat what I wanted and diet when the scale got too close to the danger zone.

Unfortunately, this plan did not account for a multitude of life changes in the ensuing years, and so I gained most of that weight back -- a full six pounds of which I packed on between Thanksgiving and Christmas OF THIS YEAR. (In the words of my spirit animal, Dr. Mindy Lahiri: "Guys, over the holidays, I had like five hams and a goose. I am a wolf in a children's story.")

I love to cook, I love to eat, and the idea of denying myself the simple pleasures afforded me by a job well-done in the kitchen seemed too much. But I also come from a family with a history of high blood pressure and heart problems, and I know that keeping fit and healthy will help me along toward a long and happy life.

Spurred on by everyone else's favorite reason to make major life changes, the brand new year, I decided to take stock of my diet and increasingly sedentary lifestyle. With the help of the My Fitness Pal app, I recorded the calorie count for what I eat on a normal day. And it was SHOCKING. Grazing in the office, unregulated happy hour and a Coke here and there really and truly add up. I mean, I knew I wasn't eating well, but I didn't realize just how poorly I was eating until the thousands of calories were staring me in the face.

So, I made a pledge to cook five nights a week, to replace my beloved Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry's with an ounce of dark chocolate (I have a sweet tooth!), to stop drinking Coke (sniff, sniff), to eat a real breakfast, pack a healthy lunch/snacks for work. I enrolled in Flywheel classes. I am currently following Bon Appetit's Food Lover's Cleanse. I have realistic expectations: I do not think I will ever get back to the size I was at 14 -- I mean, I am not 14 anymore. But I want to teach myself how to make healthier food choices and reintegrate fitness into my life (also one of my "30 Before 30 goals" is to lose 30 pounds).

As adults, we quickly fall into routines that we think are unchangeable -- habits that may not be great, but seem to just be. But I realized that if I approached my job the way I approach my health, with a lack of motivation rooted in the thought that "this is how it has to be," I wouldn't have a job. To be healthy and happy with my body, I have to put in effort and I have to make changes.

My scale hasn't moved much, and truthfully, I'm trying to ignore it lest it give me too much or too little encouragement, but I feel a little bit better, there's a little bit more spring in my step. And most importantly, I don't feel like I'm punishing myself with these changes -- I feel like I'm improving my life and taking a more measured approach to the things I choose to put into this one body I was given for my limited time only trip around the sun.

How do you keep motivated to make healthy choices?