“Not to be mean but you’re too big. I’m looking for pretty girls.”
These are the harsh words a classmate said to Ashley Javar when she wanted to volunteer as a backup dancer for her fifth grade end-of-year talent show.
Ashley knew it too – she was overweight and “different” to the other kids.
In that moment, Ashley came to terms with the fact that she needed to do something to lose some weight. But as much as it was a cruel wake-up call, it wasn’t sufficient to make her determined enough to reach her goal.
“I tried everything to lose weight but nothing stuck—I’d give up each diet after just a few weeks,” she told Women’s Health.
“I just tried one fad after another, feeling like a failure when I couldn’t make them work.”
It wasn’t until Ashley was 24-years-old where she hurt her back and was sent to hospital – simply by bending down to pick something off the floor.
“I couldn’t believe that such a tiny movement could cause so much pain… I suffered a different kind of pain—the kind that came from being so heavy that it took many nurses and staff to get me into and out of the wheelchair, bed, and bathroom,” she recalls.
“After I got home from the hospital, I had to sleep downstairs because my husband was unable to help me up and down the stairs.”
Embarrassed and ashamed, Ashley made the decision there and then to change her life for the better.
Learning from her previous mistakes when it came to weight loss, Ashley made sure to take small steps this time and “to be as gentle as possible” with herself: “I knew it would take time to retrain my mind and my relationship with food.”
She started by following four simple rules when it came to her diet:
1. Start counting calories
2. Measure portion sizes
3. Eat more home-cooked food
4. Cut out all drinks except for water, tea and coffee
Ashley also made sure to track everything she ate on the free app, My Fitness Pal. 14 diligent months later, and Ashley shed 64kg just by making these changes to her diet.
Here’s what Ashley’s typical day on a plate looks like:
Breakfast: Non-fat Greek Yoghurt with honey cinnamon, and a small banana.
Morning snack: one serving of unsalted almonds.
Lunch: a lean ground turkey burger on a 100-calories sandwich thin, topped with lettuce, tomato, and mustard; and carrots and hummus on the side.
Afternoon snack: low-fat cottage cheese with mixed berries.
Dinner: grilled chicken breast and sautéed zucchini.
Her workout routine
Her exercise regime wasn’t hardcore either; there was no gym, HIIT workouts or one-hour runs involved. Instead, she made use of her surroundings and ensured she kept on her feet.
“I took every opportunity to walk, window shop, and play outside with my daughter—but I didn’t step foot into a gym. Still, the positive changes I saw in the mirror and compliments and encouragement I got from others kept me motivated.”
However, it wasn’t always a walk in the park for Ashley; the concept of losing weight took a toll on her mental health, which she took to Instagram to speak about:
“I used to pride myself in losing weight, losing it “naturally”, how fast I did it, the number on the scale, etc,” she revealed to her 62k Instagram followers.
“Towards the end/my goal weight I was restricting my calories to the point where I was weak and tired all the time because I wasn’t getting adequate nutrition. I was focused more on my appearance than how I felt as a whole. I was having issues with binge eating followed by days of extreme restriction just to balance out the damage done the days before.”
It’s a pattern that many people who embark on a weight loss journey go through, and a key message Ashley wants to highlight.
“I recently realised that when I decided to lose the weight once and for all I got an idea in my head and hyper focused on achieving this goal… as soon as that goal was over I was in a panicked state… [cue] binge eating. That was my new goal. To over indulge on my favorite foods in mass quantities and not have the repercussions of gaining because I could then restrict until I got back to my low weight and then do it all over again,” she adds.
“It was a vicious cycle which I struggled with until March of this year when I got re-diagnosed with ADHD and mood disorder. I was previously diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Most mental illnesses have comorbidities which can often mask the actual issue and true underlying condition.”
This “vicious cycle” is becoming more and more apparent with the increasing use of social media, triggering stress, anxiety and depression amongst many.
Despite this, Ashley explains that regardless of your weight it’s important to only use other people’s weight loss success stories as inspiration, and ensure you remember every person’s body reacts differently and at different timeframes.
“Don’t let someone else’s success in pictures on [Instagram] make you feel less than for not achieving the same. We all have our struggles and demons. Be kind to yourself. Focus on being healthy as a whole; mind, body, and spirit not just a number on a scale.”
For more weight loss success stories, this is how the Dubrow Diet helped this one woman lose 40kg in 6 months, and this is how another woman lost 88kg thanks to a simple meal-prepping hack.