My name is Faith Sloop (@trainingforamazing), and I am 23 years old. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, and I am a content creator. Competing on The Amazing Race became my goal and motivation. It pushed me to start incorporating more nutritious foods into my diet and running every week. I’ve lost 190 pounds.
Before my current weight-loss journey, I counted calories, restricted, and watched my weight for as long as I can remember. Growing up low-income and busy (I wanted to be in every club), cheap fast food was most of what was accessible and convenient.
All my life I had been in the diet cycle—restricting and binging—over and over. By the time I was 16, I had gained and lost the same 10 pounds what felt like a million times. After a certain point, I stopped weighing myself.
I remember during my freshman year of college, I weighed in right around 400 pounds. I was only 18 at the time and was terrified of what my health would end up like if I continued on that path.
I had been looking for the motivation to get healthy for a while, but things shifted into place when I took a job working at my college’s admissions office as a tour guide over the summer of 2017.
We had loads of free time, and I decided it would be fun to pass the time by binge-watching a TV show. I opened up the Hulu app on my phone and got a new show suggestion, The Amazing Race. There were 27 seasons available, so I slowly started making my way through.
Everything changed from that day. I immediately knew I would do everything in my power to achieve my dream of competing on The Amazing Race. I also knew that being over 400 pounds and in the position I was in at the time, it would take a total reinvention to make that dream a reality. I decided on that day I had to get healthy, so I could one day compete on the show. (My dream hasn’t come true yet, but it continues to motivate me!)
As someone who had been dieting since childhood, the best thing I could do was go slow.
I never took anything out of my diet (carbs, sugar, etc.). Rather, I focused on adding more nutrition from healthy foods. Incorporating more of the right foods, rather than taking out the “bad foods,” is what worked for me.
Here’s what I eat in a day now.
Breakfast: Superfood smoothie (apple, spinach, peanut butter powder, chia seeds, almond milk)
Lunch: Thai shrimp gyoza from Trader Joe’s, edamame, low-fat string cheese, seasonal fruit
Snacks: Dried apricots, rice cakes, popcorn, bell peppers
Dinner: Spaghetti squash with meatballs, turkey burgers, and cauliflower tater tots, or veggie heavy stir-fry bowls (brown rice, choice of meat, peppers, onions, pineapple)
Dessert: Outshine strawberry popsicles, Enlightened ice cream, Rice Krispies treats
I also started exercising by walking on the treadmill at a slow pace while watching an episode of The Amazing Race.
That hour I gave myself at the gym was my escape from classes, assignments, and responsibilities. Nowadays, exercise looks a little more intense. I try to jog or run four days a week, and am hoping to sign up for my first half marathon this summer!
I like the feeling of getting my body moving every day, whether that is a YouTube dance workout (EMKFit is my absolute favorite) or a walk! I like working out at my own pace, so doing things on my own ends up always being my choice.
Not going to lie–I got into running because I knew that if and when my dream of competing on The Amazing Race comes true, running is going to be a pretty key skill. But I have found love for being able to move my body in a way that I never used to be able to.
These three changes have made my weight loss a success.
Take it slow. I used to always try to rush my weight loss by cutting out major food groups and restricting like crazy. It would work for a week, but then I would binge again. It wasn’t until I started changing who I was (making exercise an important part of my life, learning what veggies and fruits I liked, and incorporating them into my day-to-day diet) that things actually changed. I always tell people who are looking to lose weight, “If you’re not ready to change your lifestyle and habits, you’re not ready to change at all.”
Listen to your body. I now consider myself an “intuitive eater,” meaning I don’t necessarily stick to a prescribed three-meal-a-day plan. Rather, I listen to my hunger cues. As a snacker, this has helped me curb so much of the mindless snacking that I had been accustomed to. I call it “mouth boredom.” Sometimes if I hadn’t eaten in a while, I would eat something just because. But now I really listen to my body and ask what it needs.
Learn to like moving your body. I love telling people who are looking to lose weight, “If you don’t like running, you can still lose weight and never run a day in your life.” Growing up in America, so many of us learn to hate exercise because it’s forced upon us. You can lose weight by dancing, swimming, kayaking, walking, and about a million other ways. Find one you like and do that!
I have lost a little over 190 pounds, and it took about 3.5 years.
People ask me all the time, “How did you keep the motivation for so long?” And the truth is I didn’t. What I did was build habits that I would continue even on days that I wasn’t feeling motivated. People think losing weight has to be non-stop exercise and salads, and that is just not true.
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