Best Year Yet – Lesson 3: Get Healthy

My Size 4 Ass Does Not Miss My Size 10 Ass At All.

Heaviest Ever – December 2006

Two months before I decided to get in shape – March 2009

September 2009 to Present. :)

I love you at any size and I love me at any size, but I’d be lying to say that I miss the days of wearing empire waist dresses and shirts every day because it was the only way to hide my stomach.

I’m not a nutritionist or registered dietician, but I know what I did to get healthy. I didn’t count calories, hire a trainer, or order strange supplements from a late night infomercial.  (Not that there is anything wrong with those things, it’s just not what I did.)

And I don’t have anything to sell you.

I started making smart decisions. I educated myself as I went. I took it one day at a time.

And here I am. 30 pounds smaller with opinions and a personality as big as ever ;)

I’m here to tell you that you can loose weight, keep it off, and still eat drink and be merry.


Here is what worked for me:


1. Work-out.

You aren’t going to be able to get where you want to be without getting off your ass. So get up and go outside. Either start walking or get in your car and drive to the gym or a place to go walking. Now.

It’s that simple.

When I started I decided I was going to go the gym 5 days a week. It was May 2009 as school was out for summer. I was taking summer classes and working a lot, but I decided now was the time to change my life. There will never be an ideal time.

I quickly found that 20 minutes on the elliptical each day bored me to freaking tears. So I alternated in a weekly yoga class. Then I discovered how much I liked walking/jogging on a pretty trail near the river. Then I borrowed my sister’s bike a couple of times and realized I loved long bike rides.  Then I discovered the usefulness of all sorts of equipment at the gym. Before I knew it, I had so many options for my daily work out. Since I was able to pick whatever workout sounded good that day, working became a fun part of my every day life.

The gym-5-days-a-week plan was quickly replaced by something that makes you sweat every day.

I didn’t take designated days off, because inevitably, there was always a day I just couldn’t fit it in. It was my goal to be active each day.

On really busy weeks sometimes the best I could do was a work out DVD or YouTube video in my living room at midnight. As a college senior this is what worked for me.

You have to find what works for you. 

I heard that the more muscle you have, the more calories you’re burning all the time. Loosing weight while sleeping and watching Gilmore Girls sounded like fun so I decided to learn a little about building muscle. Weights are surprisingly not complicated. Mimic someone at the gym. Look up some exercises on YouTube. Or walk up to a weight machine and read the directions. I actually did the later. I decided to do arms and abs because those were the fattest parts of me.

Doing 10 reps of 3 arms workouts and 3 ab work outs two times only added 10 minutes to my total workout. It was so exciting to see my arm-pit fat go.

Thirty min of cardio most days with 10 minutes of weights every other day was doable for me.

The first ten pounds fell off.


2. Eat better.

Once I started loosing weight and feeling better, I didn’t want to slow progress due to my intense love for Heath bars and Cheetos…so I started grabbing an apple on the way out the door for breakfast and picking up fruit for snacks. I was shocked the sweetest things in the world to eat were so good for me.

Some people will tell you to limit your fruit intake because of the sugar. I completely disagree. It’s natures candy and it’s EASILY processed by your body.

No one gets fat from eating fruit.

Replace junk food with fruit and see what happens.

I decided I had to give veggies a chance too. At first I couldn’t eat them without smothering them in cheese. That’s okay. Start where every you are at. Veggies and cheese are better than no veggies at all.

I discovered I love pistachios. Later humus became a huge staple in my diet. Over time, one day at a time, I found healthy food I loved!


3. Read Nutrition Labels – Replace Yucky Foods

So at this point my energy was through the roof. My body was totally loving all the fruit and veggies I was giving it and working out was a regular part of life.

So I decided I had to learn more about what was good for me. Luckily, my mom is a healthy person and was able to sort of help as I went, but in the end, it’s up to you to know the implications of what you eat so I started reading nutrition labels.

A lot of things that are supposedly healthy, really actually suck. Next time you are at the grocery store compare some of your usual foods with other similar products. By comparing food I was used to eating to other foods on the aisle, I was able to pick the healthier options.

I would check out the calories, but I would also check out the ingredients. Things that had sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or bleached flour as one of the first few ingredients were deemed unworthy.

White bread was replaced by wheat bread. Cheddar was replaced by Provolone. Ham was replaced by turkey and later salmon. A venti white chocolate mocha was replaced by a tall soy vanilla latte. Sugary cocktails were replaced by red wine or vodka soda. Mayo, ranch, butter, and whole milk were completely removed from my life. I found dressings and condiments that were much better for you like spicy mustard and balsamic vinaigrette.

I started making salads and sandwiches that actually tasted really good.

If you make food that requires actual cooking, this process would work to find plenty of substitutions for your regular ingredients. I just don’t do the whole cooking thing. ;)


4. Refuse to diet.

I did not deprive myself.

If I wanted What-a-Burger at 2 am, I took my thinning self to the drive-thru.  I would remind myself that eating right and working out that day was the reason why a late night snack on the weekends was no big deal.

Today, I don’t eat usually beef or fast food, but back then, it was important for me to not feel deprived. Anything you are not allowed to have, you are going to want that much more.

Do not skip meals.

You have to keep your metabolism going. So eat when you are hungry and work toward getting your portions small.  I learned to keep nuts, fruit, and Luna bars in my purse or car. Healthy snacks keep you from over-eating at meals.

This was not a diet. This was a new way of living. This was a path to a better me – it wasn’t dropping weight to fit into a bikini for summer.

I only made changes I could stick with… one day at a time.

A 30 minute workout every day and lots of fruits and veggies were so doable.

That’s why it lasted. That’s why 2 and 1/2 years later I haven’t gained any weight back.

By the time my Senior year of college started (3 months from when I started) I had lost around 20 lbs. By my birthday in mid-September I had lost the entire 30 lbs.


5. No judgement.

I am not 118. I am not a size double zero. That’s not me.

Let go of the idea of how much you “should” weigh or what size you “should” be and work toward being healthy and feeling good.

This isn’t about weight or size. Those things help us measure our progress, but this is about living a balanced, amazing life.

It’s about finding exercise you enjoy and healthy foods you think are scrumptious.

It’s about learning what works for you. It’s a process. It’s one day at a time.


Today, I work out 3-5 times a week. I love yoga. I love running. I love feeling good.

I don’t always feel like working out.

That’s okay. I do it anyway.

Today I have NO desire for Taco Bell or any frozen pizza-like products. I can actually not think of anything in the world I want less, but I still sometimes accidentally eat way too many kettle chips!

That’s okay. I’m human. And I effing love kettle chips.

If I were to judge myself every time I hovered over the buffet at a party or skipped the gym I wouldn’t have made it. I am not, nor will I ever be perfectly healthy.

But I’ve made positive changes along the way and reap the rewards every day.

I love that I can walk into a store and pick up a small size and it fit. I love that (and I still super surprised every time) someone refers to me as little. Most of all, I love that I worked hard, got results, and reminded myself that I can do anything I put my mind too.


Enjoy the process. And remember you deserve a life you love and body you feel hot in.


The only step you are responsible for right now, is the next right step.


So take it.



Amanda Frances

As always, send questions, comments or concerns to to be answered on the site. Love you.

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