A woman who once weighed 255 pounds overhauled her lifestyle and dropped six clothing sizes after noticing she got out of breath and ‘sweaty’ just walking to class.
Olivia Shanks, from Front Royal, Virginia, lost 101 pounds in just two years out of a desire to feel ‘genuinely happy’ with herself on the inside. The 24-year-old Radford grad has always loved herself, but as the years went by, she felt her self-confidence decline.
One day in her junior year of college, Olivia was walking to class, and was shocked by how taxing she found it.
‘What really sparked my motivation to lose weight was walking to class one day at the end of my junior year and I was literally losing my breath walking a few flights of stairs,’ she said.
‘I was so embarrassed with myself about how sweaty I had gotten just walking to class and after that day, I told myself it was time to take control of my life and get my health right.’
For Olivia, losing weight wasn’t just about physical changes. She also wanted to reboot her mindset.
‘I was always the happy girl but I wanted to genuinely be happy with myself inside and out so I started my weight-loss journey,’ she said.
Growing up, Olivia remembers always being the biggest out of her seven siblings. She would often sit back while her brothers and sisters took part in activities.
Olivia, a former emotional eater, thought losing weight would never be in the cards for her.
‘I’ve been a bigger girl all my life so I never thought I could lose weight or get healthy. Whether I was happy, sad, angry or emotional I would use food as an escape to eat my problems away,’ she said.
‘I never really put too much thought into my health or my eating habits growing up so food was my go to for any occasion.
‘I’ve always loved myself but I started to notice my self-confidence was becoming less and less the older I got.’
Olivia started tweaking her eating habits, and now finds that low-carb meals work for her. She has gone from a size 22 to a size 8 to 10.
‘I got serious about my eating habits and got active. I stopped eating fast and going out to eat. I started eating from home every day,’ she said.
‘I started meal prepping weekly until I was disciplined to eat without slipping up or binge eating. Over time, the food I once craved, I no longer thought about.
‘My whole mindset was different. I went from eating whatever I wanted to caring about everything that I put into my body.’
In addition to losing 100 pounds, Olivia discovered she loves to coach others looking to accomplish the same feat.
‘I’ve found my passion for helping others lose weight and get healthy. It’s a such a wonderful feeling to see my clients gain their confidence back and feeling good in their own skin,’ she said.
‘It’s just the small things that I took for granted that I’m so grateful for now, like being able to walk upstairs and not be out of breath.’
Her advice to others wanting to embark on a weight loss journey is to be patient.
‘I get a lot of positive feedback from family and friends, just saying how proud they are of me and how genuinely happy to see me happy in my own skin they are. Or they don’t recognize me for a while until I say who I am,’ she said.
‘My advice to those who want to lose a significant amount of weight is to trust the process.
‘It won’t be easy. Nothing in life is easy, but it’s worth the fight. Don’t let your excuses win, make your health a priority and not an option.
‘Surround yourself with like-minded people and positivity. Not everyone is going to support your journey and some people might treat you differently but remain true to who you are and remind yourself that you have a purpose.’