Categorized | Nutrition & Health

Livin’ It: Weight Loss Edition

LorenLoren Hoffman is certainly livin’ it. Working at her dream job as an editor for her local paper, the Poughkeepsie Journal, she is surrounded by supportive friends and family. When we spoke, she was practically blushing through the phone about the great man in her life. But things are not always as simple as they seem and Loren’s life is the result of  a lot of hard work, professionally as well as personally.

Loren, like so many Americans, has struggled with her weight since she was a child. Despite her mother’s attempts to shield her from the negative body images seen in the media, limiting the magazines she read and keeping their cable basic, Loren was unable to escape the cruelty of classmates’ remarks. “I do recall the nightmare that is high school and the negative attention that I received for my weight. Girls are vicious and teenage girls more than any other breed.”

But, like many of us who had the good fortune to not peak early, Loren has been able to get through the hard times and come into her own. Her confidence comes through the minute you start a conversation with her and when she tells you about her battle with weight loss you feel like you’re speaking with the author of an award-winning book on the subject. Loren is accomplished, yet approachable. She’s also quite self-aware: “it’s really easy to be on the success side [of weight loss], and it’s not so easy to be on the fighting side… because you are fighting yourself, a high school version of you saying ‘no, you’re not, you can’t.’”

Her Plan: From Dream Job to Dream Life

Loren was a stress eater who liked to see her results ASAP—so losing weight was not something that was easy to achieve, let alone maintain. She tried many diets, from cleanses and Atkins to starving herself. The methods she used weren’t the only factors that proved effective in the long-term; it was also her timing. Loren’s A-ha! moment was fairly straightforward: two years ago she landed that dream job and everything seemed to be going her way—but she was 250 pounds. “Something clicked and all of a sudden I was ready to be committed to my own health,” she says.

She used Slim Fast to kick-start her weight loss and transitioned into six small meals a day. “I really concentrated hard on what I was eating, not just a diet… and started going to the gym.” In other words, she did it the old-fashioned way.

A self-proclaimed meat-and-potatoes Irish girl, Loren is not one to deprive herself of the foods she loves, so the secret to her success lies in portion control. She does allow herself to splurge on weekends—and on shoes. There’s something therapeutic about buying shoes. She says it’s comforting to not be forced to go into a specialty store that offers plus-sizes or worry that they won’t fit in a few months, “no matter what size dress you’re wearing, shoes always fit.”

Footwear isn’t the only way Loren rewards herself for all of her hard work. She also made a bucket list. However instead of an age-related system hers is based on weight loss. Loren’s list ranges from day-to-day accomplishments, like being able to buy clothes off the rack, to more extreme activities like sky diving, which she checked off recently, despite a fear of heights. Although, after speaking with Loren for an hour, it’s clear that fear doesn’t stand a chance against this girl’s will and determination.

Lessons Learned: Be Kind to Yourself

As with all change, there are some downsides to this process. Reentering the dating world in her new skin was a challenge. Loren had to learn to let her guard down and trust that people are capable of liking her for her personality. She had to readjust her old mindset—that she was the heavy girl among pretty girls and someone in the group of guys “got to take one for the team.” Old habits can be hard to break, especially since there are still plenty of guys who don’t have the best intentions no matter what you weigh, but she’s working on holding back the snarky remarks, since “most guys don’t react well to being belittled.”

Having been stuck at the 175-pound mark for the past four months, Loren knows that she must tolerate the weight loss plateaus. “It’s a big mental battle, [it feels like] I can’t break the threshold,” she explains.

Sometimes she has to change-up her workout routine to kick her metabolism back into gear, other times it’s about getting back to eating right, but either way she knows she doesn’t have to view these snags as failures.

One lesson in particular, bestowed upon Loren by her grandmother, was both simple and challenging at the same time: be kind to yourself. On a day like any other Loren’s grandmother was telling her how great she looks. Loren tried to brush off the compliments, but her grandmother simply instructed her to “…be kind to yourself, take the opportunity to compliment yourself.”

Since complimenting yourself can be difficult, Loren has found a quick fix in Facebook. She finds that posting a status like, “I lost another pound! It’s only a pound, but it’s better than gaining another pound,” and having people ‘like’ it is really uplifting. At a wedding, she met a group of girls who also struggle with their weight and they have formed an unofficial support group, finding comfort in ‘liking’ pictures on each other’s profiles that positively reflect their weight loss progress.

The Biggest Winner is the One Who Keeps on Fighting

Staying motivated is Loren’s biggest challenge and one that is ongoing, but the more weight she loses the more stamina she builds on the elliptical—as well as in life. Through the support of “really awesome friends and family…[who] are more than happy to listen me whine and pull me back from a cliff,” Loren says she is constantly reassured that she hasn’t just lost weight; she has made a long-term, healthy lifestyle change.

Loren encourages others who are trying to lose weight to have faith in themselves. “You can do it and whenever you feel like you can’t—STOP. Take a minute to reassess and say ‘yes, I can, I just need to exhibit self-control. It’s my plan, I’m going to own it.’ Don’t allow yourself to define yourself by your weight. You’re a human being, you’re a person and you have value beyond that.”

Loren has lost 75 pounds so far and, while she is still 20 pounds away from where she would like to be, she can look in the mirror and say, “Yeah, I’m okay with where I am. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m damn close.”

Article written by Kim Coughlin for Moxy Magazine, November 2012. Images courtesy of Loren Hoffman.

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About Kim Coughlin

Kim Coughlin is an enthusiastic control freak who enjoys pop culture minutiae, judging, wine and telling people how little she paid for her designer shoes. She has a Masters in English and creative writing with a concentration in creative non-fiction and experience writing for trade and bridal publications. Moxy is her 5th basic food group.

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