How Quitting Extreme Workouts Helped Ginger Lose 19 Pounds*
*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Ginger lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on myWW™.
As told to Katerina Gkionis
I was in sixth grade when I realized I had a weight issue. Though my parents served balanced meals at home, my palate always veered to the carbs. At dinner, I’d have an obligatory bite of greens and protein, then help myself to seconds of pasta and potatoes. Chips were my snack of choice.
A boy who rode the school bus with me started making rude “jokes” about my body. My friends told me to brush it off (“He probably just has a crush on you!”), but the bullying affected my self-esteem. During gym class, I’d hide in the back of the group whenever captains picked teams because I was certain no one would want me.
My parents became concerned and tried their best to help. At one point, they even asked my aunt—a WW member, interestingly—to share some tips with me about healthy eating. I remember her explaining how she weighed and measured her food. At that age, I didn’t really understand how portion sizes might be relevant to my life. I just wanted to shop for cute clothes in the same store as my friends.
My habits became more extreme in college as I tried to get a handle on the 40 pounds I gained during freshman year. In the dining hall, I tried to avoid overeating by getting small salads. But restricting meals meant I was still hungry afterward, and I’d snack continuously throughout the day.
I figured, “OK, well, let me go hard at the gym.” That’s when I developed an unhealthy obsession with exercise—I worked out every day at 5 a.m. and then again at 7 p.m. I wasn’t happy; I was physically exhausted; and I wasn’t even losing weight.
In the years after college, I tried using various other methods. I downloaded a fitness app and tried participating in a challenge. I tried counting calories on another app but lost patience with it. For a little while, I even joined WW with a friend and was having some success. Unfortunately, my friend dropped out after about three months, and I followed suit because I had been relying on her as my accountability buddy.
A one-year work assignment in South Carolina ultimately brought me back to WW. The job was in a fast-paced manufacturing plant, and the days were long. That meant I was eating out a lot—and not always making healthy choices. By the time I returned to New Jersey, in 2017, I knew I needed a real change. I deleted my other apps and went back to WW as a Digital member that October.
From the get-go, the WW app was a great resource. I joined Connect and searched hashtags such as #wwcommunity, #healthyeating, and #balancedmeal. One goal of mine was to cut down on the convenience foods I had become accustomed to, and I needed ideas. Starting that first week, I found ways to bring more whole foods—such as grilled chicken and kale—into my meals. I also made some swaps. For instance, I traded my usual white pasta for a whole grain version. It didn’t seem hard, and it’s what my body needed.
I also decided to get a food scale—yep, just like my aunt had back in the day. Only now, the idea made sense to me. I could still have the carbs I loved; I just had to know how much I was actually eating. The first food I measured and weighed was a 4 oz. portion of cooked spaghetti, and that was a wake-up call. I had been eating twice that amount as one serving. Educating myself felt good.
What Ginger ate then vs. now
|Sausage-egg-and-cheese frozen breakfast sandwich; frozen waffles|
Greek yogurt with nut butter, protein powder, and fruit; egg white omelet with mushrooms, onion, and spinach, plus a side of air-fried potatoes
Pizza; burger with fries; fruit punch or lemonade
Kale or butter lettuce salad with a protein (grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon), fresh strawberries, dried fruit, shredded mozzarella cheese, and dressing of olive oil and vinegar; sparkling seltzer
Pasta with classic marinara;
Chickpea pasta with chicken, mushrooms, zucchini, hearts of palm, and no-sugar marinara
Tortilla chips with creamy dip or queso
Popcorn; sliced peppers, broccoli, or cauliflower with Greek yogurt French onion dip; cherries, watermelon, nectarines, or plums
Setting healthy limits
Starting a workout routine had never really been my challenge; it was more about developing healthier attitudes toward exercise. I started sharing my journey on Instagram (@gingergetsfit_ww) and followed the hashtags #fitness, #fitnessjourney, #journeytofit, #girlswhorun, #girlswholift to help discover workout ideas. I loved taking virtual hip-hop dance classes or trying a new leg routine.
Exploring online helped me form virtual connections with people who supported me and kept me from overdoing it. Back in college I had put so much pressure on myself to sweat through 14 workouts each week because I thought that would get me the best results. My online friends were great in reminding me to ease up or take a rest day. I needed that.
Trusting the tools
About 10 months later, in August 2018, I was down 19 pounds* and ready to cruise into maintenance. Throughout my time with WW, I had worked hard to move past my all-or-nothing mindset. Now it was time to really dig in.
I struggled at first. If the number on the scale started to go up even a tiny bit, I’d feel an immediate surge of anxiety and think, “What if I gain it all back?” Over time, I learned to rely on my healthy toolbox to keep me on track.
Say I’ve just taken a vacation where I was indulging more than usual: Once I return home, I start eating my ZeroPoint™ foods again; I track my water intake and sleep in the WW app; and I reach out to my support network in the community. This journey is more than a Caribbean trip or one friend’s wedding. With any challenge, it’s all about how you rebound.
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My self-esteem is no longer dictated by some bully on the school bus—or anyone else. On days when I feel self-critical or start to pick myself apart, I remind myself that I’ve worked hard to get where I am today. This body is what moves me forward. It deserves kindness.
I also think about how great I feel when I go on a walk with my friends, or how wonderful it is to share a meal with my family. I’m living a healthy, beautiful life. Each day I try to appreciate that.
Explore more WW member transformations here.
This article was reviewed for accuracy in July 2021 by Christi Smith, MS, CSCS, associate manager for science translation at WW. The WW Science Team is a dedicated group of experts who ensure all our solutions are rooted in the best possible research.