Losing weight—especially 100-plus pounds—may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. ACE-certified Personal Trainer and registered dietitian Gina Crome shares her story of how she shed 171 pounds and discusses the strategies she followed and the tips she swears for truly make a lasting lifestyle change.
What started you on your weight-loss journey?
In 2001, I topped the scales at 312 pounds and I was tired of sacrificing living life to the fullest because of my size. I wanted to be healthy and active, much like others who were my age, but all my life my weight always seemed to hold me back from so much. I now currently weigh 141 pounds and I work to maintain my current weight between 140 and 145 pounds. One of the lessons I’ve learned along the way is that the maintenance of weight goals is a life-long effort.
How did you drop 171 pounds?
I started by simply tracking what I ate. For a while, I continued eating the foods I normally ate, just less of them to help bring my portions a little more under control. Exercise was painful and difficult, so I found the easiest thing for me to begin doing was simply to walk. I walked around the block a few times each day with my husband every night after dinner. Later, I realized that if I made changes to the foods that I ate—swapping high-fat foods for lower options, eating out less often, etc.—I could increase the actual volume of food and feel full on fewer calories. I eventually began to enlist the help of an exercise physiologist friend of mine to help put together a complete workout program for me that incorporated all three aspects of a complete fitness program: cardio, strength training and flexibility.
What difficulties did you face and eventually overcome?
There are always challenges when it comes to weight loss. The biggest difficulty I had was trying to understand why my weight never seemed to come off consistently. Even if my calories and activity were consistent, the weight loss wasn’t. This was a difficult concept to grasp. As a fitness professional and registered dietitian, I now understand that this is the normal way our body gives up weight—it’s not usually consistent week after week. But if you simply hang in there—even on the weeks where you feel that you should have lost more—and not let it get you down, the weight will eventually come off.
At what point during your journey did you decide that you wanted to become a personal trainer?
In 2002, I was about half way through my weight-loss journey. At that point I had lost a little over 100 pounds and I realized that my loss was beginning to inspire others around me. That got me thinking about the possibility of working with people who were dealing with the same issues I’ve struggled with my entire life. I completed the weight-loss phase of my journey in 2003 and my exercise physiologist friend recommended that I look into the personal trainer certification through ACE.
Does your own weight-loss success help you to better understand your clients who have weight-loss goals?
Most definitely! Not only do I feel better equipped to understand the issues my clients are facing, but I believe they are more comfortable knowing that I’ve walked a mile in their shoes, so to speak.
What are your top three tips for losing weight and keeping it off?
Tip #1: Avoid weighing yourself every day. Weight fluctuates day-to-day and it can be discouraging if you’re not expecting it. Instead try weighing yourself weekly.
Tip #2: Keep track of everything you eat. If you change nothing else, the simple act of recording your intake will inadvertently impact the amount of food you consume.
Tip #3: Get physical. Keep in mind that the most common characteristic found among those who have successfully lost weight and kept it off is regular physical activity. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym every day, but instead try to incorporate more movement in your normal daily activities.
What take-home message do you have for someone who has struggled with weight loss?
Remember that weight loss is only the first part of your journey. Keeping it off for the rest of your life is the much bigger goal. Focus on making healthy lifestyle changes that you can maintain for the rest of your life, rather than follow fad diets that promise quick weight loss. In addition to being healthier, you’ll also learn a great deal more about what will keep you at your goal weight if it takes you longer to get there.
Learn more about what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to losing weight.