Recently, Annamarie Rivera opened up to Women’s Health Magazine about her personal journey to find a healthier, happier self.
Rivera said she had been concerned about her weight since middle school, but never really did anything about it.
As she moved into her 20s, she began eating more fast food and developed a 48-can-a-week Diet Coke habit. The overeating was exacerbated by an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. The more stressed Rivera felt, the more she ate. She described it as a “vicious circle” that culminated with her weighing 401 pounds.
But one day a switch suddenly flipped.
Rivera told Women’s Health, “On my way home from work one day, I passed a gym near my office. For some reason, something just clicked and I thought, ‘I need to get a gym membership so I can try to change my life for the better.’ I did a U-turn, pulled into the parking lot, and signed up.”
It took awhile before Rivera was comfortable working out in the gym, though. First, she started a daily walking routine, adding more laps as her health improved. Eventually, she was walking three miles a day.
However, an improved diet was probably the biggest lifestyle change.
Rivera started researching the food she was eating and decided to cut out soda completely. Instead, she started drinking water, which was no easy task. “That was extremely hard for me. First off, I rarely drank water. Seriously, even when waiters would bring it to the table at restaurants, I wouldn’t touch it–and I sure wasn’t drinking it on my own.”
Soda wasn’t the only thing Rivera cut out.
She started cooking for herself, grilling and baking her proteins and loading her meals with produce. She stopped eating out all together for a period to avoid temptation at restaurants and the drive-thru. However, after getting her diet under control, Rivera started allowing herself a cheat meal every now and then.
“I knew that if I didn’t indulge in the foods I craved in moderation, I would end up eating them anyway and going overboard,” she said.
The benefits of making healthy eating choices and exercising affected the rest of Rivera’s life, too. After about a month, she had the confidence and courage to leave her abusive relationship. She continued her weight loss journey and after two years lost 190 pounds.
Unfortunately, she was involved in a car accident that sidetracked her workouts for an entire year (although the healthy eating continued) and caused her to gain back 45 pounds. When her doctor cleared her to return to the gym, she lost that weight and more. Her transformation will continue when she has surgery to remove excess skin.
You can follow Rivera’s Instagram account, which chronicles her weight loss and has amassed more than 20,000 followers.
She’s been a true inspiration!