When Kristen White moved away to attend college, she defied the odds by losing 30 pounds instead of gaining the dreaded, “Freshman 15.” Faced with a new routine, different foods and, “more natural movement around campus,” Kristen lost weight without really thinking about it. The epiphany that she could lose weight without fad diets and by simply eating in a more mindful way, gave Kristen the motivation to lose more. Now, 85 pounds thinner, she’s excited to focus on her next learning experience, a new baby!
Family strife can have a profound effect on the way we take care of ourselves. Kristen’s parents divorced when she was just nine years old. She recalls this life event being the catalyst for future years of emotional eating. “I didn’t know how to manage all the emotions that stirred up,” she explained. “I did a lot of comforting myself through food. This became a habit that took years to break.” She tried losing weight in high school, but the diets never stuck.
After losing 30 pounds during her first year in college, Kristen felt empowered. For real weight loss, she focused the following:
- Getting healthy on the inside; healing old wounds was a huge factor of success for me.
- Learning to eat more mindfully (i.e., eating when I was hungry, stopping when I was full).
- Learning about food and nutrition so I could understand what would be healthy for my body.
- Learning to exercise in a way that I enjoyed.
Learning to like exercise was a big hurdle for Kristen. She knew running burned major calories but she hated every second of it, so she set out to find other activities that kept her moving and sweating without the dread. A few of her favorites over the years have included Tae Bo, Yoga, Paula Abdul’s workout video and Step classes at the gym.
All that Straight Up dancing with Paula Abdul must have built up her endurance because in grad school, Kristen recalls one of her biggest triumphs: “I decided to compete in a sprint-distance-triathlon,” she said.”I’d never been athletic, so this felt like a bigger victory than my doctorate.”
Today, although Kristen is looking forward to the new baby, she admits that being pregnant has created a new challenge. ” I LOVE growing a life inside of me,” she said. “But it’s hard mentally to feel ‘fat’ again, and it takes my body longer to bounce back.” Looking to the future, Kristen is determined to focus on her family since losing weight no longer takes up so much of her, “mind space.” She and a friend have also created a company, Diet Free Forever, to help other women learn how to eat mindfully and avoid pitfalls like emotional eating.
Kristen’s advice for other dieters: “Stop focusing so much on losing weight. Focus instead of being healthy–inside and out–and learning to enjoy food without gorging on it. Then the weight lose will come naturally.”