Weight Loss

How she achieved her weight-loss goal

Photography by Joe Kim Image by: Photography by Joe Kim Author: Canadian Living

Weight Loss

How she achieved her weight-loss goal

Occupation: personal support worker
Height: 5’6”
Previous weight: 196
New weight: 163
Previous pant size: 18
New pant size:

Check out Luana's before photo here.

Where she started
“I wasn’t happy with my weight for a long time,” says Luana McDonald, a personal support worker in Peterborough, Ont. After seeing a photo of herself with a group of girlfriends, the pin dropped. “It’s when I first realized there was a lot more weight there than I thought,” she says.
After the birth of her daughter, she lost the baby weight without effort and could eat french fries and chips with no repercussions. She ate few wholesome foods. “It’s not how much I was eating, but the quality of the food I was eating.” On top of her poor diet, she quit smoking after 12 years, began a new medication for her systemic lupus erythematosus and started to gain weight. That extra weight gave Luana a rounder face and thicker midsection.
She spent many mornings trying on clothes that would never fit right. “They pinched and bunched and pulled,” she says. “There were days I even cried. It’s hard to be so unhappy in your own skin.”

How she did it
After reading The G.I. Diet (Random House, 2001) by Rick Gallop, Luana was inspired. “You want to eat foods that don’t just spike your sugar then leave you hungry,” she says. “The less processed the food, the more your body must work to break it down and the longer it stays in your body.” She began avoiding all white foods – potatoes, white rice, white bread and pasta, and sugar – and ate more fibre, including lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy.
Luana found a gently used elliptical machine online for $30. “My goal was 45 minutes, five times a week.” She started by doing 20 minutes, gradually increasing her time. Luana made her meals at home and brought healthy snacks like veggie sticks and cheese and crackers to work. She also began eating breakfast. When Luana began her fitness journey, she counted calories and logged them at MyFitnessPal, a food-tracking website. She soon found the counting too restrictive. “It’s more important to choose quality, unprocessed foods,” she says.

Where she is now
Luana has moved to a weight maintenance phase, which includes reintroducing white foods to her diet. She recently bought her first bag of potatoes in over a year and allows herself to have white rice once every two weeks. She’s also invested in a new elliptical machine because she mastered all the levels on her old one. Although she’s cut back her cardio to three days a week, the new machine has harder levels and provides a greater challenge. She’s also now lifting weights.
“I was losing maybe one to two pounds a week, which is good. But once the weight starts coming off and people start noticing, you’re really encouraged to keep going,” she says.

Lessons she learned
• “Eat regularly and eat before you’re hungry. I still eat everything that I did before, just a healthier version of it.”
• Motivation should be whatever moves you. “I have a favourite show that I only watch when I exercise.”
• “Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake.”

It's really difficult to change your lifestyle to lose weight but there are a lot of women who are doing the same. Want to read more inspiring stories of women who lost weight the healthy way and kept it off? Check out Kayley's story or Jessica's story.

This story was originally titled "How she achieved her weight-loss goal" in the June 2013 issue.

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Weight Loss

How she achieved her weight-loss goal