How I Lost Over 80lbs: Tips For Starting A Weight Loss Journey

Read about my 80lb weight loss journey, how I developed a healthier relationship with food and discovered joy in exercise. How my approach evolved into a sustainable lifestyle, inspiring me to share my story and empower others on their weight loss journeys through this blog.



Hey there! I’m Brooke, and in this post, I want to share how I changed my habits, my mindset, and basically my whole life to lose over 80lbs! This wasn’t a quick fix where I suddenly became a fitness enthusiast overnight or only ate salads for a month. It was all about slow and steady progress, finding stuff I actually like doing and getting my head in the right space. Keep reading to hear my story and my tips for starting a weight loss journey!

Starting A Weight Loss Journey

Table of Contents

Time For A Change

Back in the day, I was in a place where I wasn’t feeling my best—physically and mentally. I was carrying around a lot more weight than I wanted and was constantly stuck in a yo-yo dieting loop, either severely restricting or binge-eating.

Physically, I felt awful. I was struggling with asthma, I could barely walk for 20 minutes and definitely could not walk uphill. I always felt tired and sluggish, and most things always just felt like a lot of effort for me. Mentally, I was worse. I was caught up in this loop of not feeling great about myself. It wasn’t a fun spot to be in.

Then came 2020 and lockdown. And I was forced to really think about my health. I was 29 at the time, and placed in a high-risk category because of my asthma – which was really scary. Looking back on it, I guess the turning point was realizing I wanted more for myself. I wanted to feel good, not just look good. It wasn’t about meeting some impossible standard; it was about making a promise to treat myself a bit better.

So I decided “Okay, enough is enough.”

And here I am, thinking back on the starting line of this journey. It wasn’t about sprinting; it was about deciding to take the first step, no matter how small.

Starting A Weight Loss Journey

Starting A Weight Loss Journey: An Unsustainable Start

In the early days of my weight loss journey, like many times before, I was lured by the promise of quick results and a rapid loss. There was one diet I hadn’t tried yet, and that was Keto – a low-carb, high-fat diet. And despite some negative side-effects in the beginning (tiredness, brain fog, and the constant cravings for sugar), I couldn’t ignore the number on the scales. At first, it was like a weight loss dream come true. I was losing more weight than I ever had before, the numbers kept dropping, and my hopes for my dream body kept soaring.

But the honeymoon phase with Keto was real, and as time went on, I found myself at a crossroads. Yes, I was losing weight, but at what cost? As weeks turned into months, I started to become fed-up of always being on the lookout for hidden carbs and trying to keep my body in a state of ketosis.

I was in a constant carb-counting battle and the initial excitement turned into a daily struggle.

Another Fresh Start

It became evident that the keto approach, while really effective in the short term, was not a sustainable solution for me. It wasn’t the lifestyle change that I craved. The rigid rules and constant monitoring of macros felt like a weight of its own. And I found myself yearning for a more balanced and flexible approach to my health.

This realization marked a turning point in my journey. It made me question the sustainability of the methods I was trying, and where my mindset was at.

As I transitioned away from keto, I began to discover the true meaning of sustainable weight loss.

Shifting My Mindset To Sustainable Weight Loss

I knew if I wanted to maintain my weight loss and continue to lose weight, it couldn’t be about crash diets or anything extreme anymore. It had to be about making changes that stuck around and became a part of my everyday life.

I wanted a lifestyle that I could enjoy and maintain. One that wouldn’t make me feel like I was missing out on all the good stuff.

But after years of being stuck in an all-or-nothing mindset, I didn’t know where to start when it came to making small changes. And there were times when I still tried to go all in, only to hit roadblocks. You see, the all-or-nothing approach was my comfort zone – in all aspects of my life if I’m being honest. I’d dive headfirst into a new diet or exercise routine, fuelled by the initial burst of motivation. But when life inevitably threw its curveballs, my all-in commitment would waver, and I’d find myself back at square one.

It was a frustrating cycle, and I realised that sustainable change required a different strategy. So I started by identifying specific aspects of my lifestyle that I could realistically tweak.

I knew my biggest issue was with nutrition. My meals were mostly made up of takeaways and junk food (when I wasn’t trying a new diet), and I was getting very little nutrients. I really wasn’t doing my body any favours. So I decided to start by improving my understanding of nutrition.

before and after losing 80lbs


Understanding Nutrition

I knew that understanding what I put into my body was key to creating lasting change. My first challenge was confronting the fact that my diet was largely comprised of takeaways and junk food. A habit that had become more of a comfort than a conscious choice.

Educating myself about nutrition became a cornerstone of my journey.

I started by devouring articles, books, and many many online resources that broke down the fundamentals of a balanced diet. It wasn’t about memorising calorie counts or following rigid meal plans. It was about understanding the impact of different nutrients on my overall health.

Eating For Satiety

I began to learn that food wasn’t just about counting calories but understanding how different foods affect satiety. Little did I realize that my diet of ultra-processed foods was sneakily contributing to a cycle of constant hunger and cravings. The lack of essential nutrients meant my body was missing the signals that told it I’d had enough to eat. Instead, I found myself in a loop of constant snacking, always wanting more.

Understanding the connection between processed foods and my persistent hunger was a turning point.

This realization led me to learn more about whole foods, and macronutrients and adopt a more mindful approach to eating.

Balancing Macronutrients

Understanding the balance of macronutrients – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates – became a key point in my nutrition education. I learned that proteins played a crucial role in keeping me full and satisfied. That fats didn’t have to be avoided to lose weight. Carbohydrates, instead of being the enemy that they were when I was doing Keto, became my main source of energy.

I started paying attention to the composition of my meals, making sure they contained a healthy balance of macronutrients. It wasn’t about restriction but about nourishing my body with foods that contributed to both my physical and mental well-being.

Allowing Treats

Again, these mindset shifts were not an overnight fix. I realised that I was still putting food into a “good” or “bad” category and found myself avoiding certain foods completely because I had deemed them “unhealthy”. Which only made me want them more. So I needed to find a way to enjoy treats, without overdoing it.

This is where I found out about the 80/20 approach. A method that became my guiding principle, and one I still use to this day. The idea was simple: aim to make 80% of my food choices nutrient-dense, whole foods while allowing myself the freedom to indulge in the remaining 20%. This approach, over time, changed the way I viewed “treats” or less nutritious foods. It wasn’t about banning them entirely; it was about enjoying them in moderation.

This method not only provided the flexibility I desperately needed but also helped to remove the guilt I still associated with less nutritious food. It was about finding a balance that worked for me. Allowing me to savour the occasional treat without feeling like I had failed my “diet”. The 80/20 rule became a practical tool to help me make healthier choices without feeling restricted.

It wasn’t about perfection but about creating a sustainable and enjoyable relationship with food.

food freedom after weight loss


Finding Joy in Exercise

Exercise, for the longest time, was a chore. I never enjoyed it; it was just a means to an end. Burn calories, check off the daily requirement, and move on. Workouts felt like punishment, and I approached them solely as a way to offset meals.

It was a mechanical process – minutes on the treadmill to balance out what I had eaten.

I decided I should explore different types of exercise not solely for their calorie-burning potential but to find something that I would do even if I didn’t want to lose weight. I was, however, limited with my choices, due to the lockdown. Gyms were closed, there were no classes, and we weren’t allowed to meet up with others.

A Lockdown Challenge: Couch to 5K

Because of the limitations, I saw an opportunity to set a personal challenge that I could actively engage in. I could measure progress, and work towards a bigger goal. I knew if I had a bigger goal to work towards, that wasn’t weight loss, I would feel motivated to continue and find more enjoyment in it. The answer came in the form of the Couch to 5K program.

I couldn’t run. The first week of Couch to 5K, with its alternating 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking, was a very humbling experience. My asthma flared up, and every step felt like a monumental effort.

But I persisted.

I had to accept and understand the concept of progress, not perfection. There were weeks when I had to repeat sessions and I needed to accept that that was okay. I hadn’t failed. I learned to view each rerun as a stepping stone toward building the endurance I needed.

beginners running guide

Reaching the halfway point, running for a full 15 minutes without stopping, felt like I had climbed a mountain. I never thought I would get to that point. What started as a fitness challenge became a weekly source of triumphs. Every run, every added minute of jogging, was a victory.

The small improvements I witnessed became the driving force behind my enjoyment of exercise.

This Couch to 5K challenge turned into a testament to my personal growth. It wasn’t just about running; it was about challenging my assumptions about what my body could achieve. The experience proved that fitness goals weren’t reserved for the already fit; they were attainable by anyone willing to put in the effort. And now I was willing.

I wanted to see what else my body could do.

Trying New Things

Once the world started opening back up, I decided it was time to find something else I could enjoy as much as I had come to enjoy running.

The key was learning to just try.

I wasn’t setting out to become an expert in any one activity. I wanted to look at each class, each session, as an opportunity to learn something new about myself and to find pleasure in the movement.

But, having recognized that tangible progress was the fuel for my motivation, I looked for activities where improvement was measurable – but not through the scales. I went swimming and counted each lap to see how many more I could do each time. I started aerial hoop classes and worked towards perfecting a particular pose.

starting a weight loss journey and aerial hoop classes overweight

Progress became visible not only in the mirror but also in the sense of accomplishment and my newfound strength.

Getting Strong

As time went on, my fitness improved. I wanted to set myself more challenging targets. I wanted to be able to do a push-up, a handstand, a pull-up and so much more. So I started going to the gym and found a love of weight training. Feeling myself getting stronger and being able to increase the weights I was lifting was more motivating to me than the scales ever had been.

Not to mention, I began to see muscle definition all over. Something I never knew I wanted, but it felt pretty amazing.

To amplify the challenge, I joined a boot camp to really push myself. The intensity of the sessions was hard at first, pushing me beyond my perceived limits. But I quickly came to love these sessions when I realised how much fitter I was becoming. I went from achieving one push-up to being able to do 20. I could endure battle ropes, I could sprint, and so much more. What made these classes even more special was the community that surrounded them. Everyone encouraged each other and celebrated every small victory.

The exercise was no longer just about losing weight; it was about gaining strength, endurance, and a sense of community. The scale became background noise, overshadowed by the tangible progress I had made in improving my health and fitness.



So far I have made starting a weight loss journey sound like it was easy and a clear-cut path. But I encountered my fair share of setbacks.

I had to learn to view these setbacks as lessons.

There were weeks when the scale refused to budge or went up, despite my efforts. Instances of emotional eating resurfaced and I occasionally allowed old habits to creep back in. These setbacks were not just physical; they tested my mental resilience and commitment.

One significant setback was a period of emotional eating triggered by a very personal challenge. The comfort I found in food offered a temporary escape from the stress I was feeling. As a result, my weight began to rise, and the progress I had worked so hard to achieve seemed to be unravelling.

I had to confront the deeper issue at hand – the connection between emotions and eating habits.

I learned that truly sustainable weight loss wasn’t just about changing physical behaviours; it required an understanding of the emotional triggers that influenced my relationship with food.

Overcoming this setback required resilience – a willingness to learn from the experience and adapt my approach. To replace emotional eating, I explored and incorporated healthier coping mechanisms. Emotional eating is still something I occasionally struggle with, but I am better at recognising when it’s happening, and I know what to do when it does.

The Current Me

Starting A Weight Loss Journey and food freedom

Reflecting on the person I am today in comparison to the beginning of my weight loss journey really shows the impact of my lifestyle and habit changes. The changes, which were once thought out and deliberate, have become a natural part of my daily life.

My nutrition has changed from overly processed foods and takeaways to a more balanced, nutrient-rich diet that fuels not only my body and makes me feel good.

Regular exercise, once seen as a chore, has become one of my biggest sources of enjoyment. My asthma is fully under control and I haven’t had to use my inhaler in years.

I have a healthier relationship with food. I can enjoy all my favourites and nothing is off limits! Learning to celebrate small victories has become second nature, motivating me in all areas of my life.

Despite all this, challenges still persist, whether they are uncontrollable life events or occasional struggles with maintaining consistency. However, the resilience I have built throughout the journey equips me to face these challenges head-on.

A New Chapter

It took me around 2 years to lose 80lbs and it has been 4 years since I started the journey. At the time of writing this, I am actually nearly 9 months pregnant! So I have obviously gained a little weight back. But thanks to my mindset shift, I have accepted these changes with positivity and have put even more focus on nutrition.

My journey wasn’t just about the numbers on the scale; it was, and is, a continuous effort of learning and adapting. Now, as I wait to welcome a new addition to my family, the principles of balance, joy, and resilience that guided me through my weight loss journey continue to shape my approach to a healthy and fulfilling life.

Starting A Weight Loss Journey and finding joy in exercise

Inspiring Others

My weight loss journey has improved my life so much and is what inspired me to start this blog. I wanted to share the joy in the journey that is sustainable weight loss.

It’s about reclaiming not only a healthier body but also a sense of agency and vitality in everyday life. I want this blog to be a testament to the belief that sustainable changes are not only achievable but can be enjoyable. A space where I aim to break down the complexities of weight loss into manageable steps, by providing scienced-based information along with holistic mindset changes. Empowering other people similar to me toward healthier, happier lives.

If my experiences can serve as a source of inspiration or guidance for someone starting their own weight loss journey, then this blog has fulfilled its purpose.

Key Tips For Starting A Weight Loss Journey

  • Start Small, Build Gradually: Begin with manageable changes to avoid overwhelming yourself. Gradual adjustments build over time, laying a solid foundation for lasting change.
  • Celebrate Every Victory: Acknowledge and celebrate every achievement, regardless of size. Small victories are building blocks of motivation.
  • Find Joy in Movement: Find physical activities that genuinely bring you joy. Exercise should be a source of pleasure, whether it’s dancing, hiking, or finding your next challenge.
  • Mindful Nutrition: Shift focus from restrictive diets to mindful nutrition. Understand the nutritional value of foods, how to make meals the most filling they can be and savour each meal consciously.
  • Adaptability is Key: Accept that setbacks are part of the journey and use them as opportunities for growth. Adaptability is crucial for long-term success.
  • Embrace the Journey, Not Just the Destination: View weight loss as a positive journey, not merely a destination. Enjoy the process, appreciate the lessons learned, and celebrate the person you become along the way. Recognise the intrinsic value of your efforts.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Establish achievable, realistic goals to avoid setting yourself up for disappointment. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Reflect and Adapt: Regularly reflect on your journey, assess what works for you, and be open to adjustments.


Starting A Weight Loss Journey: Conclusion

The Shape & Joy blog isn’t solely focused on my story; I started it to help other people taking their first steps, with the knowledge I have gained from my own experience.

If you’re starting, know that change takes time. Those tiny steps you’re taking? They add up. And you should enjoy each step. I hope my words make things a bit easier for those of you on the lookout for a bit of inspiration and support in your journeys.

Starting a weight loss journey isn’t just about the scale numbers – it’s about feeling good and being happy.

The trick to doing well on this journey? Find that sweet spot – make small changes, enjoy some movement, and be mindful of what you munch on. And don’t forget to cheer for yourself, no matter how big or small the wins are. When things get a bit tough, being flexible, learning, and never giving up are key.

Is there any part of my story that has resonated with you? Or do you have your tips for starting a weight loss journey to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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