How I Lost 20 Pounds And Kept It Off

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Here is a true confession that I don’t include in my bio on my website.  In the not so long ago past I had been carrying an extra 20 pounds on my not so large 5’4″ frame.  How much I weighed doesn’t matter. It was too much for me, my height, my age and my body type ( I was not a body builder so hardly had that excuse).

So how did it come to be that someone who has extensive training in nutrition and whole foods cooking (healthy cooking) carried around an extra 20 pounds?  I mean, I knew better, right?  I know all about carbs, fat, protein, and more importantly, I know how to cook.

I have a couple of excuses. The first being that I love good food and I love to eat.  I live with a husband who likes to eat.  And that is where it started.  The simple of act of getting married.  Every night was a reason to celebrate.

Next came the unexpected twin pregnancy  and then another pregnancy right on its heels. If you have ever had the chance to be pregnant with multiples then you know where your hunger is headed – to the kitchen to feed my growing babies but to also soothe myself from my ever expanding uncomfortable physical state.  The second pregnancy was significantly different but I was working with the weight I had not lost from the twin pregnancy.

My years in between then and when I lost the weight were not about me.  It was about them.  What did they want to eat, how can I make everyone else happy, what did they like.  What three young children like to have for meals is a whole world away from what I considered having for myself, but I convinced myself that it was not about me. It was about all of them.

I did other things.  I ignored how much I was eating, not giving any awareness to portion sizes.  I ate in response to my feelings rather than my hunger.  Having a bad day?  I was all over that ice cream my kids love to eat.  Food soothed me and made my crazy life with three very young kids seem manageable.

Except it didn’t.   The bowl of ice cream didn’t take away my stress, or fatigue, or kept me from wondering if I was being a good mother.

After years of focusing on everyone else first, I realized what a mistake that was and all the time I had lost on taking care of me first.  I like to use the example of flying. I always used to be perplexed when the stewardess would tell you to put your oxygen mask on first, then help the small children you were with.  How selfish, I always thought.  My kids are going to be suffering while I get to breathe?

Then it dawned on me: you cannot help ANYBODY if you are not helping yourself first.

Me first, then you.  It’s not selfish at all.  In fact, its the most selfless thing you can do.

I had an aha moment years back when I turned 40.  My father died when I was very young of an incurable cancer.  As I was nearing the age he was when he had passed away, I felt very strongly that I did not want to be responsible for a future health issue I might cause myself because I was carrying this extra weight.  I needed to surpass his last age in the healthiest way possible.  I needed to do that for my kids, and more importantly, for myself.

I started tracking my food and became a vigilant planner of my meals and of my family’s meals.  Knowing how to make healthier food taste good is a skill I am incredibly grateful for as I had that working in my favor.  My attitude about family dinners changed a great deal.  Vegetable heavy, nutrient dense, delicious meals were the order of the day.  Not catering to everyones whims also took center stage.  Checking in with myself daily, asking myself why am I eating (because I am hungry? Bored? Lonely?)  was, and still is, of supreme importance.

More importantly, focusing on eating fresh, unprocessed foods and not getting caught up in the hype of new food trends is a priority.  I listen to my intuition, and it wins every time.

I lost 20 pounds and have not gained any of it back.  I changed my attitude, embraced the skills I needed and became extremely mindful of my food.  I became mindful of me. It has paid off in many ways.  I feel more in control of my health and the health of my children.  I feel powerful.  I set out to accomplish a task and I did it.

I would love to hear from you.  Do you struggle with those “last 10 pounds” or weight you have been carrying for a long time?  What have been your struggles, or successes?  I would love to keep this conversation going in the comments below.


46 comments to " How I Lost 20 Pounds And Kept It Off "

  • Dear Heather,
    thank for sharing and the inspiration! I have struggled with the last 20 lbs for years! I lose 10 feel great and boom next thing I know I put it back on… really would to get to the point of where that 20 was off forever!!

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Kelly! I understand, losing weight is the easy part, keeping it off is another story. It takes a bit of dedication and a lot of knowing this is a process. You fall off, you get back on. It also takes knowing what to eat and how to eat – for you. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!

  • What a lovely article, Heather. I’m so happy you shared it! While I don’t have children yet, I can totally relate to eating for other reasons, because it’s around, because your husband is, because you’re bored, anxious, stressed.

    It’s great to hear your journey- it’s inspirational. I especially love how you say it made you feel powerful. Love that!

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Anne! It is great that you already have insight to mindful eating and how that can affect your weight and your health. I appreciate the feedback and keeping this conversation going!

  • Hi Heather!!!
    You are a wonderful and inspiriting writer. It is time for me to stop eating leftover lunches and think about me. I would like some help making yummy healthy dinners that I plan in advance. Can you help me? Weekly planner? Cook book? Thank you! Shari Zisman from Brooklyn, NY

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Shari! Thank you so much! Of course I can help you! Let’s talk soon, I have things in the work that I think will work for you..

  • Wonderful essay, Heather! I really benefitted from reading it this morning. Even though I know better, I still fall into the trap of making food to please picky eaters rather than serving the healthful foods we should all be eating. Portion size is a continuing issue for me and I’m starting to wonder whether that nightly glass of red wine that helps my brain is NOT good for the waistline. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your honest and inspirational story! Have a great day!

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Laura! Thank you for the reply! Not pleasing everyone was a big aha moment for me, especially when I know that what I am making tastes good! It is about you first, you know what you are making tastes good (I have a feeling you are not offering something really scary) and it sometimes means standing strong. And yes, portion sizes are key – we all too often underestimate how much we eat in a day. As long as the glass of wine fits in to you daily calories you are okay with that – no worries!

  • Heather,
    What a fantastic piece to read with so much insight and personal perspective. Simple words to follow and a lot to gain [and lose] from them. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  • Hi Heather!! Enjoyed reading your post. I worry about my kids eating healthy and developing a taste for fresher and less processed foods. I find the biggest struggle is finding healthy meal options that work for my family of 6, dairy free for me and nut free for my son. I often feel like a short order cook, making different options for everyone – they are picky eaters too. That is exhausting! I could use some kid friendly, quick and easy (can’t require hours of chopping or prep with our busy schedules) dinner recipes that are both dairy and tree nut free. thx!!

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Rochelle, I understand your frustration when you have multiple food allergies going on in one household. The key is to find meals that work for all of you – dairy free, nut free, etc – and that is entirely possible. Meal planning for you is essential, I imagine you are burnt out by the end of the week! I am happy to have a private conversation with you if you would like to email me.

  • Hi Heather,
    You inspire us all in more ways than just eating healthily. I am trying to focus on me!

  • Thank you for sharing your journey Heather!

    It’s such a reminder that mindfulness is a practice, as it is too easy to skim over how we really feel and what we really need in the rush, rush, rush of life.

    I often choose quite healthy foods but when I’m in major work mode, I end up eating too much of those foods too (yes, too much of a “good thing!”). And of course any kind of late night work needs a little sweet to sustain me…so being mindful of what my “triggers” are and, as you say, asking my body what’s REALLY going on is key (as truly, I’m usually just needing a glass of water – or some rest!).

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Sabrina! Mindfulness is truly the key and it is a skill that eventually becomes a habit. We all have our triggers and the important thing is to honor them sometimes and the go back to what works for you. Thanks for keeping this conversation going!

  • What a great post! It all start with the right attitude. I found that it’s the driving force behind it all! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Such a great post, Heather!!

    A few years ago, I decided I needed to lose an extra 30 pounds I was carrying! I had gained it after I finished running a marathon because I stopped running, but continued to eat crazy amounts of carbs! I ballooned up fast!

    It didn’t occur to me that I was carrying this extra weight until I had 3 people at 3 different occasions ask if I were pregnant!! I wish I could say that I woke up and realized that I needed to get healthy, but it really was other people’s comments that jump started my healthy habits! I lost the 30 pounds from planning & education — planning out healthy meals, learning what was good to eat, and getting back into a fitness routine!

    Thanks for sharing your story!!

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Jennifer! If only people could keep their cruel comments to themselves! That’s breaking girl code, asking someone if they are pregnant! I am sorry that you had to hear that but it sounds like that is what prompted you to lose the extra weight you were carrying! It sounds like you did a great job of educating yourself and taking your power back – good for you!

  • Heather, this is a lovely post. I’m a fitness trainer who definitely needs to take off 5 pounds which I realize is insignificant but on my 5’2″ frame, it shows! My chocolate and sugar addiction has been the root of many of my posts and jokes but my lack of better eating makes me sad. I feel like a fraud when I coach my clients to improve their eating when so often mine is nothing to write home about. Thanks for reminding me that I need to look again at my motivation for eating and when.

  • Heather Carey

    Hi Elyssa! Thanks so much for posting, you have a lot of awareness around your issues with sugar, etc. and I think that makes you sound like a real human being to your clients. You share their struggles, that is great. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Heather! Putting ourselves first is something we are often not taught. As wives, mothers, caregivers and friends many women could benefit from your insight. Becoming mindful is so powerful!

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Susie! That is so true, we women are usually taught to be second in line. Self care and caring for yourself first seems selfish to many women. Thanks for sharing!

  • I think there are very few women that live in a Western country that have it all together in regard to their weight. I completely agree with taking care of yourself first. This was my problem for many years and it ended in hormone disfunction. Like you Heather, this is my business and I completely relate. I feel food is the foundation but mindset and self-care are where the real differences can be made. Thanks, great article.

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Cheryl! I agree, Cheryl, putting yourself second, goes well beyond just your weight – your hormones, emotions, stress – it all gets affected. Thanks for sharing!

  • I so resonate, Heather, though I never went through pregnancy. I was bulimic for years, and the real key to my healing was mindfulness, combined with self-compassion.

    The more I can pay attention to my hunger, my desires, when I’m sated, what I’m truly hungry for (which often isn’t food!), the less I have problems with overeating. And when I do overeat, which still happens occasionally, I no longer beat myself up.

    It all boils down to what I call my Golden Formula, which applies to every area of life:

    Self-awareness + self-compassion = the key to everything good.

    Thanks for a lovely post!

  • as an eating disorders aftercare coach, i so appreciate the way you approached and resolved your situation. it was individually unique to you, it was not a selfish act (i personally do not see the word “selfish” in a bad light), you continually check in with yourself (“am i hungry? or lonely? or bored?”), and you do not follow trendy diets. thank you for this lovely piece, heather.

  • Oh don’t I know the emotional eating roller coaster ride!!! It’s been a long journey but realizing the need for putting your self first and taking care of yourself, and really what that means, sure changes things from the inside out! Thank you for your wonderful post and for being so bare naked about your experience. I think it will help other women to put themselves first, to take the time to care… for themselves…and in doing so, teach their children and those around them to do the same. Bravo on finding this, keeping it off, and sharing your experience with others so they too know, they can do it!!!

  • Fantastic story about learning how to self care after giving, giving, giving to others. A common dilemma!

    And yes, trusting your intuition is so important, to start listening to our own bodies and our own inner sensing what is right for us.

    I had a similar journey of giving too much to others until I learnt I needed to give to myself.

    Love to you.



  • I’d love to know how you weigh intuition against that voice that says, “I really WANT that other thing and I’m happier to have it,” when that voice isn’t being rebellious or greedy, but really, really is competing with the intuition.

    Does that make sense? I love this post so much and I want to be able to make better choices too. Just sometimes the less-good choice wins and I think working on forgiveness with that would be a good tool too.

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Bonnie! Thanks so much for your comments. You make a great point and I really appreciate you bringing it up because you are right, sometimes our less than better choices win out on us. I know for me that if I am sleep deprived or not feeling my best then I am a sitting duck for mindless eating, and you have to allow that to happen sometimes and simply let it be. A couple of key points though: I think the difference between people who succeed and the people who struggle is that the people who are successful don’t let one setback ruin all their good intentions. You had a bad day – pick yourself up, get your sites straightened out again and start over. It’s so important to focus on why you are in it – that keeps you going. The next is highly attuned awareness to what and why you are eating. This is a habit that we need to cultivate. We live in a very distracted world so it does take extra effort sometimes. I know for me, talking on the phone and being in my kitchen at the same time is a recipe for disaster. I totally tune out and suddenly will catch myself talking and rummaging through the food cabinets! So now I talk outside of my kitchen if I can. I would love to continue this conversation, please feel free to email me!

  • Hi Heather, I so enjoy posts like this one that promote healthy long term solutions to weight loss. You are so right that putting on the oxygen mask first not only allows us to help others, it models healthy behaviors and self-love. Lovely post, full of inspiration.

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Dana! Thanks for your feedback, a long term approach is the only way to go – we are in this for the rest of our lives.

  • My issue…for the first time in my life [after going through menopause] I have to lose weight. It’s not easy to lose weight from the middle, but I am determined to put my best self forward and take care of myself first. I want my sons to have a healthy mom. I am taking baby steps. I removed all except for gluten. Now it’s time to complete my task.

    • Heather Carey

      Hi Denise! Baby steps are the way to go, no point in leaping and failing. You have your “why” – you want to be a healthy mom for your sons. I felt, and feel the same way. I want to be my healthiest for my children. Thank you for responding!

  • BRAVE! You are truly courageous and authentic to have shared your heartfelt story. Thank you for sharing so boldly. xoxo

  • Thank you for sharing your story here, Heather. It’s not always easy to admit, as someone who’s supposed to “know better”. I’ve seen the same thing in my life – gaining weight and coming up against health challenges, just when I was learning how to help others.

    Turns out, by focusing on the externals, we just perpetuate the problem. Really diving deep to your own needs and fears is the greatest step you could have taken for yourself. Well done, Heather. And your clients only benefit from the exprerience.

  • Hi Heather,
    This was so good to read. Thank you for sharing your story.

    It is very timely as I have just come to the same realisation. I am looking after me and as a result the weight is starting to leave my body. Choices and awareness are big drivers in my journey.

    Thanks again, Heather xx

  • Heather,
    Can you please make a cookbook- e book and or hard copy of the Carey’s new family dinners, snacks, breakfasts etc.
    Your cooking is amazing as always! You even make boring grilled chicken taste great.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *