About one month and one week ago, on May 3rd, I looked at myself in the mirror and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I was only a week away from turning 20 and I weighed 206 pounds.  Something needed to be done before it was too late; before I developed serious health issues.

I couldn’t believe in one single, stressful, and over-worked semester, I had managed to gain about 45 pounds. I used food as a crutch to suppress my stress but instead it added more stress and my low self-esteem added to deep feelings of depression.

Thankfully, I was able to snap out of it and get some help.  In the past, I had dieted here and there as all young women do at some point, but I needed to shed some serious pounds. I knew my case was one that required medical guidance. 

I sought the help of a very competent doctor who specializes in personalized, monitored weight loss and nutrition programs.  At my first appointment, he took my weight, measured my fat percentage, and took my blood pressure, among other measurements.  It was determined that in order to be at a healthy weight for my height and age, I needed to lose 71 pounds.

I also had a full blood panel.  The results were scary.  It turns out that if I had continued my unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle coupled with my excessive overeating, I would have developed diabetes in less than 2 years, at age 22.

With these factors motivating me, I jumped into the diet the doctor recommended for me.  I have yet to break it once (knock on wood).

My Diet Regimen

My 2-stage diet consists of only lean, grilled proteins, fruits, and vegetables.  For the first five days, something my doctor called “stage 1,” I only ate protein. On my diet, I am allowed to eat only eat 16 ounces of lean protein a day. These include grilled fish, grilled chicken breast, egg whites, and fat-free cottage cheese.  I can eat lean red meat only once a week, if it is grilled and cleaned thoroughly of fat.

After those very difficult first five days where I felt as though I was constantly starving even though I was eating at appropriate times in appropriate portions, I moved on to “stage 2” of my diet.

“Stage 2” is the final stage. I can eat two small portions of fruit and 1 cup of raw or ½ cup of steamed vegetables in addition to my 16 ounces of protein.  My doctor gave me a detailed list of allowed and prohibited foods.  Among prohibited foods are even some fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, mangos, and cantaloupe.

Lettuce is free so I eat as much as I can.  I also drink one gallon of water a day and take several supplements to make up for anything I might not be ingesting enough of in my diet.

I eat small portions every three hours to keep my metabolism up.  This is very important, because after dieting for about 5 hours, your body goes into starvation mode and stops burning fat quickly to save energy.  Then, when you do eat again, it stores the energy as fat to make up for another possible long period of time without food. If you don’t eat, you won’t burn fat.

I weigh myself and take my blood pressure weekly to make sure everything is on track.

I lost 20 pounds in the first two weeks! It’s a great feeling to know when hard work and sacrifice pays off.

My Exercise Regimen

My exercise plan is very simple.  I just do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights.  Every other day, I do an hour of cardio and abs to give my muscles a break. At first, I hated having to go work out but now I have to go or my day doesn’t feel complete.

How I Overcome My Daily Struggles

It is really, really hard to stay on track.  I love pasta, breads, chocolate, rice, potatoes, and pretty much everything that is delicious but terribly high in sugar and fat.  Even milk or any dairy products are prohibited to me.  Whenever I get tempted to break my diet, I think about how nothing tastes as good as feeling healthy and beautiful. 

I still have a long way to go until I reach my goal of 130. Thankfully, I have a great support system of family and friends to keep me on track.

I’m learning for the first time at 20 how to eat to live not live to eat.  Seems like a simple concept, but for me, it’s harder than it sounds. Every pound lighter on my scale gives me more joy than any piece of chocolate ever could.

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You can contact Daniela Goncalves at Daniela.Goncalves@FoxNewsLatino.com 
Twitter:
@Dani_SLG

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