Sometimes, the most challenging part of losing weight, transforming your body, or achieving a certain fitness goal is simply the act of taking that first step to get started. If you’re in need of a dose of pure motivation, you’re going to want to read on to hear about one woman’s true (and truly inspiring!) weight loss journey. We spoke with 30-year-old Eat This reader Lisa Maresca, who lost a substantial amount of weight—100 pounds!—within a two-and-a-half-year period. Here’s how she did it.
“I wanted to start my weight loss journey for a multitude of reasons. I am someone who has always struggled with her weight, and it has fluctuated most of my life. I lost a lot of weight at the end of 2015 in a very unhealthy way. I was depriving myself of food and alcohol and was severely under-eating,” Maresca says. “It was not sustainable, and the second I stopped, I gained all of the weight back plus more.”
Speed up to July 2020, and Maresca was the heaviest she had ever been. This was also an unprecedented time in our collective history, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I mentally and physically was very unhealthy,” Maresca explains. “That month I went to Hershey Park with some friends and I was too big to fit on any of the roller coasters. The level of embarrassment and hate for myself I felt having to get up off a ride when the ride worker told me I could not safely ride this ride was enough for me to want to change something.” And so her real journey began.
Not setting a rigid timeframe for her end goal was integral to Maresca’s success.
Maresca kicked off her 100-pound weight loss journey in July 2020. From that time through January 2023, her weight loss was steady, with some plateaus throughout, which is to be expected. “I didn’t give myself a set timeframe to reach this goal, and I think that really helped remove any unnecessary pressure on myself,” she reveals.
Maresca also stresses it’s important to “control the controllable,” and ask yourself, “What can I control?” For Maresca, it’s her mindset and physical activity. “I think some people think weight loss is only working out and watching what you eat, but there is a huge mental component,” she tells us.
Obviously, Maresca is only human like the rest of us, and there are some tougher days when it’s difficult to make it to the gym early in the AM, or her body dysmorphia kicks in. “But I’ve learned to recognize those moments and take the actions that I need to realign my mindset. I have a great support system of friends and family that are always there for me,” she says.
This eating plan helped Maresca lose 100 pounds.
First and foremost, developing a healthy relationship with food was essential. Having struggled with eating disorders in the past, and having tried countless “crash diets” that were not easy to maintain long-term, Maresca recognized the importance of identifying a plan that worked best for her body. “I did not want to deprive myself,” she says. “I tried to eat healthy most of the time by cooking when I am home but when I [went] out to eat, I would order what I wanted without feeling guilty.”
She’s not a major fan of complicated cooking or meal-prepping, so she favors recipes that are pretty simple to whip up. One favorite? Seasoned, baked chicken thighs! “Chicken thighs are not as healthy as chicken breasts but I think they are so much more flavorful than chicken breasts. I’ll bake a piece of salmon with a little Dijon mustard on it. I am also a big fan of the lentil pasta and chickpea pasta from Trader Joe’s.”
In addition, Maresca mostly eliminated drinking at home and saves it for a special treat when out with friends.
She’s a major OrangeTheory fan.
Losing weight is a solid combination of diet and exercise. Maresca is a total OrangeTheory advocate. “I love the coaches, the classes, and the community,” she says. “I am a morning workout person, so I go before work three (sometimes four) times per week. I’m not perfect, and went through waves of not going as regularly, but once I push myself to go and get back into my routine, I feel amazing mentally and physically.”
Of course, what works for one person may not work for someone else when it comes to weight loss, because everyone’s body is unique. But Maresca leaves us all with some solid advice. “Find what works for you, and stick to it as long as it makes you happy,” she advises. “At the end of the day, you need to be doing this journey for you because you want to be healthier physically and mentally. Never, ever, think that your worth is tied to your weight. If someone in your life is nagging you to lose weight or only wants to be in your life if you lose weight, they aren’t the type of people you want around. Control the controllable.” We couldn’t agree more.