Today, cookbook author,Devin Alexander discuses her inspirational true weight loss story. After struggling with loss at a young age, Devin turned to food for comfort. She remained overweight until she learned that cutting a small amount of calories can add up to a big loss. Below, Devin tells more about her struggle, the epiphany that changed her perspective, and how she’s using what she learned to help others
Tell me when your weight struggles began: I was around 8 when my struggles began in a way that you could see it on me, but I remember eating five whole hot dogs with buns at a church picnic when I was 6 or 7. By the time I was a teen, I was brutally bullied and had a really hard time. I had been on the cheerleading squad in Little League then got chubby by Jr. High and didn’t make the squad, but ALL of my friends did. I desperately wanted to be back on the team but I just kept getting chubbier. All of my former friends were busy going to cheerleading practice and games, and I wasn’t.
What habits specifically led you to gain weight? I had experienced loss as a kid and the fear that others close to me might also die unexpectedly had me turn to food for comfort. Then, after getting a little bit chubby, I was no longer jumping around as a cheerleader or in other active ways – mostly because it’s just not fun when you’re heavier. Once things spiraled out of control, I didn’t know how to fix it. I felt overwhelmed.
What caused you to realize you needed to change? I started plus-sized modeling and I got so tired of hearing, “You have such a pretty face.” I never really had much energy either and was a bit of a bookworm. The light bulb for me was hearing that all you have to do is cut 100 calories per day and you can lose 10 pounds in a year. Having had so much knowledge about calories from trying every fad diet imaginable from 8-15, I suddenly turned weight loss into a game. I finally realized that food wasn’t the enemy, and I started being creative to cut out calories.
What diet and exercise methods do you employ? Personally, I find it much easier to eat healthy than to exercise, but being active is necessary, so I make it a priority. I try to make working out a part of my social life too. I do a ton of walks with colleagues and friends. I have a girlfriend who also conducts business meetings while walking and people respond to her in the same way – they love it!
Did you have any “ah ha” moments along the way? Learning that cutting calories meant I didn’t have to give up all of my favorite foods (or cooking, which was my favorite thing to do). Instead of being obsessed over calories and feeling bad, now I help others focus on getting healthy by concentrating on the foods and flavors they love, and show them how they CAN have them!
Biggest struggle in your journey? I am wired to love food and to turn to food – though I now know how to manage it. I am still an emotional eater, and it mostly manifests itself at night. I wouldn’t call it a struggle because I now eat small amounts of nutritious foods to placate the voice in my head, but if anyone knows how to completely rid me of that, I would vow to be their best friend for life! Anyone?
Biggest triumphs? Weight loss coaching is one of the most rewarding parts about what I do. I have coached as much as 225 pounds off of one person and recently helped a man lose 128 pounds. It feels good to help others improve themselves. I get so many nice messages from people thanking me for changing their lives.
Current/future goals? I have a new food line that I want to launch soon, called “Devinly Delites.” It’s a line of muffins and baked goods. I’m really excited about it. The muffins are super healthy, low in calories and fat, and made with whole grains. Most importantly, they actually taste good too.
Advice you’d give to other people struggling to lose weight? Don’t Diet! I yo-yo dieted for years and it never worked until I made the choice to make a lifestyle change. Also, plan ahead. If your pantry and refrigerator are stocked with healthy options, you are much less likely to impulsively eat junk food.