I Made Smart Restaurant Choices and Lost 35 Pounds


Grace Hernandez – AfterIn high school, I was nicknamed Grace "Are You Gonna Eat That?" Hernandez. I was the 110-pound cheerleader who ate everything without gaining weight. It was a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich for breakfast, a burger and fries for lunch, and fried chicken for dinner. This routine didn't change much in college or my early 20s.

About six years ago, I started dating my amazing boyfriend, Joel. We ate out almost every day during the first two years of our relationship, ordering appetizers, entrees, and, of course, dessert.

After almost three years of this lifestyle, I started to notice my jeans were forming holes and rips at the thighs. Crossing my legs, going up and down stairs, and getting in and out of my clothes was a struggle. I was 147 pounds at 4'11". It didn't hit me how much I had changed since high school until I saw a picture of me at a wedding almost popping out of my dress.

grace-before-150 grace-before-150 . My family had a history of hypertension, and I needed to change my diet. Although my doctor was skeptical, I began a popular diet that delivered food to my doorstep. But I didn't like the food or having to pay so much for it.

Something had to change. Luckily, my building has an employee cafeteria. I started to buy salad every day for lunch. For under $5, I could fill myself with vegetables and white meat chicken breast. At the same time, I changed my daily commute to work so that I would walk 10 minutes to and from the train station.

After about two weeks, my clothes started fitting better, and people began to notice my face getting thinner. It was a big motivation for me to push myself to do more. After doing a little research, I taught myself how to portion my food, find healthier snacks, and make smart substitutions. One of the biggest substitutes for me was choosing fish instead of red meat. I no longer felt stuffed after a meal or depleted of energy.

Joel gave me a pedometer for Christmas so I could count my steps and be motivated to stay active. Even though walking is one of my favorite exercises, I challenged myself to run in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge and finished the three-and-a-half mile run in 44 minutes by jogging and power walking.

Now when Joel and I go out to eat, we usually order a healthy appetizer, share an entree, and, if we're still hungry, split a side of vegetables or a salad. We don't finish our food if we are full. Now dessert is a treat for the weekends, as a reward for doing so well during the week.

I am still obsessed with going out to eat, and will always be, but I am even more conscious now of my eating habits and activity levels. Today, from all of the changes I made, I can proudly say that I am 112 pounds and have maintained this weight for almost two years.