I gotta say, this Real Life Biggest Loser is a force of nature. Don’t believe me? Then check out her Facebook page, Twitter feed, or blog. She epitomizes healthy lifestyle. She’s inspiring just because she is who she is. She recently moved from Chicago to Boston after getting hired by Weight Watchers, a job move that she talked about with such tremendous excitement. She is at least 75 pounds down from her all time weight and there is no doubt she will accomplish anything she sets out to accomplish. Sometimes people ask me what is the personality or mindset of someone who is successful at losing weight? Dani is a good example. Her mindset is unstoppable, she knocks out her goals one after the other, continuing to surprise even herself about how much stronger she is than she gives herself credit for. Who knows what she is capable of, but follow her if you want to catch her virus.
Occupation: Weight Watchers Receptionist
All time high weight: Ohhh good question. I would say probably in the 230s or higher maybe? I can tell you I was 217.4 on November 2, 2009 when I started Weight Watchers.
Current weight and height: I am 155 and 5-8.
Total weight loss: 62.4 lbs from when I joined WW.
How did you gain the weight? Poor food choices. Way too much bar/fast food.
When did you begin your weight loss journey? I have tried on and off for years, but I really started November 2, 2009.
How long have you kept the weight off? I hit my goal weight with WW on January 10, 2012 so I have been working on learning how to maintain since then.
What motivated you to lose weight? Did you have an A-HA moment? I was 100% unhappy in the body I had. I HATED myself and many times in my life before then did not want to go on living. My A-HA moment to finally join WW came on Halloween 2009. It was on a Saturday and I saw the pics on Sunday and was so appalled by what I saw that on Monday I signed up for WW and haven’t looked back.
To what extent had your weight affected your health? I didn’t let my weight get bad enough to truly affect me physically, it was more mentally. I used the extra weight as a shield.
How did you lose the weight? Tell us about your diet and exercise regimen. I have always been an active person so what I learned through WW was that I was working out for an hour or two, but then heading to the bar to eat fries and tenders and beer. Not really what you should be doing. WW taught me I didn’t have to head to the gym for hours on end to lose weight. I needed to get my food choices in order and the working out would complement it. And boy did it. I enjoy going to the gym, but now I don’t feel forced to go. I go for as long as I am happy. Before I would hit the treadmill for an hour and the elliptical for an hour and the bike for 30 min, but saw no results. Now I can work on the elliptical interval session for 45 min and see more results than the 2.5 hours – all because I got a better handle on the food.
For me, I LOVE running. I had major back surgery in January 2011 and was banned from all exercise from December 2010-May 2011. Wow, that was tough. But I learned that as long as I followed WW, I would lose weight. So even though I was laid up for that long, I still lost over 10 lbs. But, once I was allowed to work out again I got right back to it. I ended up running about 14 road races from June to December 2011. Yeah, I re-caught the running bug. I even did a half marathon that August. I also now LOVE Spinning and cannot wait until I am certified to be an instructor.
Who was the most influential person/people to you during the process of losing weight? I had a small group of friends that I would text after every weigh-in. But most of all, my wife was there for me day in and day out. She supported me – and continues to – even when I want to give up. In addition, the social media community has meant more to me than I could ever imagine. Twitter, Facebook and blogging opens up my life to a worldwide healthy lifestyle/Weight Watchers community. These are people going through the exact same thing I am. I feel closer to some of these people than I do with people in my everyday life.
Have you ever lost weight and then gained it back? If so, how was this time different? I have. The biggest time was in 2006 when I really battled both types of eating disorders. This time has been completely different as I am in a healthy place. I have actually never eaten as healthy as I do now.
It’s easy to let your diet drift or slowly stop exercising. What do you find to be the key to STICKING TO IT? I find that even if I slack for a couple days or weeks, my body lets me know it is ready to get back on plan. I have taught my body to yearn for the healthy eating habits I have instilled in it over the past couple years. So now when I go on vacation or just get lazy – my body lets me know if it is over the “old habits” and ready to be back.
Just starting off, losing weight is hard. Tell us, did it get easier or harder for you over time? I think for me it was easy at the beginning – in the honeymoon phase if you will – but over time once I got the gist under my belt, I found it easier to calculate and plan in advance.
What is the hardest part for you now? Not getting lazy. Now that I am living in someone else’s house – there are more tempting foods entering my environment. Before I controlled everything that came in to and out of the house, now I can’t. So I need to work on staying away from my trigger foods and sticking to the food plan I set for that day.
If you could tell your former self anything, knowing what you know now, what would you say? Get out of your comfort zone and take the leap of faith to change your life because for the first time in your life, you will like the person you will become. You will be proud of what you are accomplishing.
Do you worry about gaining weight back? How do you prevent yourself from gaining it back? I do. The scale is always looming. But, I have spent so much money on new clothes and put in too much time and sweat into getting to where I am not to gain it all back. May I fluctuate by a few pounds? Sure – I am human and I will go on vacation, etc. But I always keep my “before” picture around to keep myself in check.
Can you tell us how your participation in social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs (reading them and writing your own) has impacted your weight loss journey? It has made this journey 1,000 times better. I have a constant group of people there to support me, pick me up when I am faltering and give me the high five I need when I succeed. I have learned about new products through the medium and I think Twitter challenges like #plankaday #7daychip & my own #100ozchallenge motivate me more than the creator even knew.
What is different (if anything) about your life (and/or health) now that you have lost the weight? I am so much more confident than I was before. I am liking myself and working on loving the person I am today. My race times continue to steadily improve into times I never thought I could post. I continue to show myself I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for.
Dani recently moved from Chicago IL to Somerville MA with her wife, Tori, and their two dogs.
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