Food had always been a central part of Ariel Tranchell’s life. “My mother is an amazing cook, so food was always a big part of family events, celebrations, and special occasions,” she says. As a result, she was always on the heavy side. “My love for food quickly became an addiction and took over my life,” she remembers. “I spent the majority of my time eating or thinking about eating. I would eat when I was happy, sad, angry, or bored.” Over the years, the pounds piled on. Her weight hit 250 pounds in high school and finally sailed to over 300 pounds in college. “In high school I thought I’d get taller and I would gain weight, but in college I just gained more,” she recalls. “My eating got out of control.”
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The Turning Point
The excess pounds took their toll on Ariel’s mental health. Once outgoing, Ariel found herself becoming reclusive in college. “I hated going out because I didn’t have clothes that fit,” she remembers. “I wouldn’t look in a mirror because I was disgusted with the way I looked.” Her weight even sometimes deterred her from going on job interviews because she felt she had nothing to wear.
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Finally, after college, Ariel decided she’d had enough. She knew her depression was related to her weight, and she knew her physical health would also begin to suffer if she didn’t act. “I knew I had a problem that was only going to get worse and shorten my life. I was fed up with letting food control me,” she says.
Ariel kickstarted her diet with an office-sponsored Weight Watchers program. “My company made a deal where if you finished a 12-week cycle, you’d get half of your money back, so I figured the most I could lose would be $50,” she says. (Search: Find a Weight Watchers near you)
Ariel learned how to control her portions using the Weight Watchers Point System to figure out how much she should eat. Additionally she began to develop a healthier relationship with food, instead of eating compulsively like did in the past. “I worked hard to become in tune with my body's actual needs versus what I wanted,” she says. “At times, I had to stop myself in front of the fridge and say out loud ‘Am I hungry?’ If the answer was no, I would close the fridge and move on.” Once her portions and cravings were in check, Ariel began to look at the quality of the foods she ate and made healthy swaps. She turned to wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to fill her up instead of junk food.
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Meanwhile, she slowly ramped up her physical activity, exercising about three times a week. She started by practicing Pilates in her living room and eventually worked up to running several times a week as well. “I could never run as a kid due to my asthma and my weight, but after losing 50 pounds I decided to try it and fell in love,” she says, and she recently completed a 5-K.
Ariel has held herself accountable by telling her friends and family about her weight loss plan. “I decided if I was serious about this, I needed to be 100 percent honest about my journey,” she says. “I was motivated to stay on track knowing that there were people out there rooting both for and against me.”
Since shedding more than 100 pounds, Ariel’s blood pressure has gone down, and her heart is in great condition. Her self-esteem and mood have improved as well. She also loves the positive feedback she gets from her friends and family. “Now people call me ‘Skinny Minnie’ all the time,” she says.
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Don’t just think of an end goal. Instead of resolving to lose 100 pounds, Ariel continually made goals in 10- or 20-pound increments over shorter periods of time to make her goals more attainable.
Tell people you’re trying to lose weight. “It might be scary, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Ariel says. “I found people were more supportive than I thought.”
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