My name is Kaylin Lynn Gealy (@walkingandcounting). I live in Greenville, South Carolina and am a data and document management technician. Using the CICO diet rule and walking for weight loss, I lost 96 pounds in about two years.

Before starting my weight loss journey, I was constantly tired and struggling to find energy. I found myself canceling plans and not attending events that required energy or exercise for long periods of time. I found consolation in going to the store and indulging myself with sweet treats.

My doctor was also concerned about my diet and lifestyle. My blood pressure was high, as was my cholesterol, and health issues related to these two issues occur on both sides of my family.

While the health issues scared me, my motivation ultimately came mostly from watching YouTube videos, watching Instagram transformation images, and hearing testimonials from women like me who, like me, had lost weight and how their lives had been positively impacted. I had got a new job that went from waitress to office work, and I wanted to change my life even more.

I vividly remember driving home from work one day and seeing a treadmill next to a trash can. There was a sign on it that said “FREE”. In my eyes it was a sign that now was the time to start.

I couldn’t keep telling myself that I would start next Monday or make some other excuse. It was now or never. And this treadmill came home with me! The day I decided to start was May 10, 2018.

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I barely had room for the machine, but it was an important tool for me because I was still too confident to go outside and go. The incline feature on the treadmill didn’t even work, but it got me moving. I made a goal to walk on it every day and I started my Instagram page to hold myself accountable. I wanted to keep track of my exercise, height, and meals.

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Diets have always been trial and error for me. I’ve seen a lot of people have success observing portion sizes, but I like large plates full of food.

When I realized that reducing the portion size would not be sustainable for me, I read on intermittent fasting. Eating only between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. worked well for the first few months. I could still eat what I wanted, but in a smaller window of time. But after a while I realized that if I ate before 12 p.m. or after 8 p.m., I would be hungry in the morning or later at night and feel like I was failing me. Not a healthy mindset.

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I decided that I had to try something different because I wanted to improve my mental health, not just my weight. That’s when I discovered Count calories, or the CICO rule.

CICO stands for “calories in, calories out”. I’ve read so many documents and listened to many nutritionists about how to be calorie deficit to lose weight. I loved vegetables, so I downloaded an app to keep track of what I was eating and started learning more about the amount of food I eat and how different types can energize my body differently.

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I could eat when I was hungry, eat larger portions, and still lose weight by eating more vegetables, fewer carbohydrates, and more lean proteins. It was fantastic! I’d put together some of the best salads and come up with great recipes by simply replacing some of the high-calorie, low-volume foods with vegetables and other low-calorie, high-volume foods. Most of my weight loss came from simply being a calorie deficit.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with Low carb, ketogenic eat to see how my body reacts. So far it has been the best nutrition plan for me in terms of energy, but I am still debating which eating habits will be most sustainable for me in the long run.

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Here is what I eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Scrambled bowls with vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes); Bacon; Hot sauce omelettes; Chaff with sugar-free maple syrup; and coffee with sugar-free Torani and unsweetened vanilla-almond milk.
  • Having lunch: Chicken and broccoli; grilled salmon salad; Allspice and cheese sandwiches; Roasted Brussels sprouts with parmesan and pieces of bacon.
  • Snacks: Babybel cheese, almonds, rinds, celery, paninos, blackberries, Quest bars (birthday cake is my favorite flavor).
  • Dinner: Salad wrap cheeseburgers; air fried wings; chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese, jalapeno and bacon; Ribeye and Green Beans; sugar-free Sweet Baby Rays on BBQ with cauliflower rice; Zoodles with marinara and meatballs.
  • Dessert: Smartcakes; Bake chocolate; Whipped cream; Rebel ice; Halo Top Ice Cream; Almond butter on toast; 90 percent cocoa bar.

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    I started exercising by just walking. My goal was to run every day and I’ve stuck with it.

    It was hard at first because I was used to sitting on the couch, snacking and watching TV. I first switched to the treadmill while still watching my favorite shows, and now I’ll be running around my neighborhood listening to podcasts. True crime podcasts are my favorites, and I find that when I watch or hear something interesting, time flies by and is more fun.

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    I try to run five days a week. Walking is free, good for you, and effective. Besides running, I do gardening and gardening. I added pushups and crunches to my daily exercise, but nothing big. I once heard that weight loss was 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise, and it worked out for me.

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    These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight loss results.

    • I started eating more vegetables and reducing carbohydrates and sugar. Finding replacements for the things you love is easy and can reduce caloric intake. You don’t see how little volume a serving size of pasta is until you read the serving size on the packaging. It is overwhelming to see how 100 calories of pasta or bread compare to 100 calories of vegetables or fruit, almond milk instead of normal, cauliflower and cheese instead of macaroni; and water or seltzer water instead of soda or juice.
    • I started moving. Parking further from the door of a store or work helped me make more steps / movements throughout the day. Halfway through my lifestyle change, I bought an activity tracking watch and I would be so proud to meet my step goals for the day.
    • I’ve set myself small goals and rewarded myself for achieving each one. All progress is good progress, and even if you have a standstill or a mess at times, remember that it is not a failure. For me, weight loss has never been linear. I decided to reward myself when I reached a goal, such as buying a new piece of clothing for every 20 pounds I lost, or going on a weekend getaway when I reached a goal.

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      In total, I lost 96 pounds. It took about two years to get lost, and I’ve kept it for the last year.

      You will feel more and more like yourself as you set and achieve such a goal. My confidence, happiness, fear, health, stress, sleep, energy, and much more have improved more than I could ever have imagined.

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