In September 2016, after years of struggling with my weight, I finally hit my breaking point.
I have struggled with my weight since I was 4. Seriously, you can look at my childhood photos and go ‘aw, what a cute chubby child,’ but even once I hit 12 and “became a woman” (ew, I hate that phrase), childhood never went away. I was teased by boys in grade school, never felt quite as stylish as the other girls in high school, and was just plain uncomfortable at times in college. I’ve gone through phases of intense workout routines, had a personal trainer for several years, and lost over 20 pounds just walking more when I studied abroad, yet my weight has remained consistently problematic for me. Now, when I say problematic, I don’t have ANY health issues, love to travel and have no issues spending a day adventuring, and regularly force myself to go to the gym for 2 hour cardio and weight training sessions. So naturally, I blame my weight on genetics. Truthfully, I like to cook and eat.
I had tried Weight Watchers in college, pre-packaged portioned meals, vegetarianism, veganism, and none of it stuck. Weight Watchers taught me the value of the foods I’m putting into my body, how to monitor fats, carbs, proteins, but I found myself thinking I can stick to those concepts without meticulously counting points. I did. And then I didn’t.
Flash to September, when after a couple years out of college and living on my own I still managed, despite my uptick in gym visits, to not gain, but not lose weight. I hadn’t weighed myself for several years, beyond the annual doctor’s visits, and I honestly stopped thinking about it. I was happy with what I was accomplishing, my job, friends, hobbies, etc. But every time I went shopping, caught myself in a mirror in passing, or saw myself in photos from a friend’s wedding, I always thought to myself “is THAT what I look like?” That’s when I knew it was time to take things into my own hands.
I found HMR on suggestion from my OBGYN who sold me by saying “it’s really the only medically monitored way to be guaranteed weight loss.” Sold.
I started by attending an informational session at my local health clinic, learned what the program really entails and the multiple options for where to start. Similar to Nutrisystem or Jenny Criag, HMR starts with packaged meals that you simply microwave, a variety of meal-replacement protein shakes, and snack bars to satisfy your sweet tooth. I went all-in and started with the Decision-Free program which requires you to drink 3 shakes and eat 2 meals on a daily basis, no questions asked. You can choose from 15 different meal options and have to eat the minimum 5 MRs (meal replacements), 2 shake flavors, and a cereal (oatmeal)/soup to supplement your meals. Here’s the kicker: still hungry? Eat more. HMR meals range from 180 calories to 280 calories, the shakes being 110-150, so if after your 5 required meal replacements you’re still hungry? Go for it. You’re only consuming about 900 calories per day, but feel full, satisfied and even some days, stuffed.
An interesting fact I didn’t know going into this, in order to maintain your current body weight, for women, multiply that number by 10. For men, multiply that number by 11. That’s how many calories you can take in on a daily basis to MAINTAIN your body weight. So for women in my class who weighed 200+ pounds, they can take in 2000 calories to maintain, but with HMR we only consumed about 900-1100, meaning with that calorie deficiency we were almost guaranteed to see results on the scale each week.
Now, it’s not a perfect science. Some weeks I saw no loss, some weeks people saw half-pound gains, it depends on your water intake, and how well you “stayed in the box” as they say. But from September until February, sticking pretty well to the program (yes, even over Thanksgiving), I lost 46 pounds. 46 pounds I probably never would have lost had I stuck to my existing, unmotivated lifestyle. In December, I moved to the Healthy Solutions phase of the program, where in addition to your 5 MR requirements, you slowly incorporate fruits and vegetables; and as of March, I’ve begun Phase 2, where I’m adding in lean proteins. I’ve still got ways to go, ideally, I want to at least double my weight loss, but I’ve started making moves. Literally and physically. I’m now more motivated to go to the gym, try new things like weightlifting, rowing, and the ever intimidating stair master (it’s seriously killer on the lung capacity). Ultimately, I want to feel strong, motivated and happy, despite the number on the scale.
I’m hoping to use this platform to document my experience with HMR, fitness, and share a few recipe ideas for those otherwise underwhelming boxed meals if you are already on the program! If you have any questions about the program, my journey, or have any tips for my wellness journey, leave them in the comments below and hopefully we can inspire one another!
Image via HMR