My mom is a firm believer in living by what you see on your body, and not the number on a scale. Except sometimes, you start to forget that a pair of jeans shouldn't give you a muffin top, and your bra is not supposed to dig into your skin and leave a mark.

I got accustomed to feeling like my clothes just "didn't fit well." And without a scale, I couldn't physically see the pounds I was gaining one after another.

People use being "big-boned" as an excuse for why they're heavy, but no matter how much weight I lose, my hips will not fit into anything less than a 4. But this shopping trip showed I couldn't just blame the bones in my body.

The first thing I did was limit the junk in my life. When I was younger, my mom taught me how to read a nutrition label. Just because something like low-fat yogurt sounds healthy does not mean it is. She told me all about fat, carbs, sugar, and vitamins in foods. As a fitness instructor, she taught me what I needed to do and know. But now, it was up to me to make a difference in my life.

My problem area, though, was at the top of the label: serving size. Whether I was eating something healthy or not, I always craved a large portion. Just limiting my consumption of food was a big deal for me, especially since food has always been a huge comfort.

salmon, fish, seafood, fillet, trout, sashimi, steak, meat, lemon, sushi, salmon steak, smoked salmon
Jonathan Chan

However, food is essential to life, so finding a healthy way to look at it is important. Moderation is key. If the cake in front of you looks delicious, feel free to eat it. Just have a few bites. Even if I'm eating strawberries, it is easy for me to devour an entire carton. Putting a single serving of food on a plate will make it easy to not overeat. If you only have a certain amount of food, you'll know when you're done.

Limiting processed foods and making your own meals is a great way to see what you're putting into your body. Foods like cauliflower fried rice and honey-dijon glazed salmon are super simple to make, and way healthier than any foods you can purchase. Just because you're limiting certain high-calorie foods doesn't mean you are eating less. As a matter of fact, eating healthy snacks throughout the day will actually boost your metabolism. 

lemon, water, lemonade
Caroline Liu

Drinking water throughout the day is important, too, and is the easiest thing you can do. Studies show that drinking water can increase the amount of calories you burn. Water also gives your body the feeling of being full which results in less food your body wants to take in. There are apps on the market that make it easy to track your water intake. My main issue with drinking water is running to the bathroom what seems like every five minutes.

I also started using my gym membership. (Note: I have had one for a few years but since I don't have a license, I have to rely on my dad to drive. Fortunately for him, he got to start working out again.) I started out with the elliptical for 20 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of the treadmill. At first, I was so winded by the elliptical, I could barely walk on the treadmill, let alone run.

Gradually, I was able to run for longer and longer distances. I started running outside and recently ran a 10k. Not only have I lost weight, but I'm now fit. 

Lila Seeley

I'm fortunate enough to have a gym membership, but if you can't afford one, do at-home (or in-dorm) exercises. YouTube has tons of different exercise videos to choose from. There are also plenty of free workout apps such as Sworkit, fit8, and Seven. They don't require anything but a small space you can work out in. If you're in college, hit up your fitness center. They may even have classes to take for free, or at a low cost.

Although I'm extremely lazy, I try to move as much as possible. Even when it comes to walking my dog, I make sure to take him on a longer route. Any movement you make is burning calories and any extra burned calories are a plus.

I then started taking before and after pictures just to show my progress. Since I don't weigh myself, seeing the difference in a picture can be a huge confidence booster.

I don't consider myself to be on a diet, but rather, just living my life with healthy foods in mind. My mom, formerly 260 pounds (yes, the one who is a fitness instructor) taught me that living on restrictive diets simply doesn't work. She was on a diet roller coaster her entire life—moving from one fad diet to another. She would lose weight and then gain it back plus some.

I don't want that to become my life. I know I will never have a body like Kendall Jenner's, but I can do everything in my power to look the best I can.

beer, coffee, pizza, wine, tea
Marisa Palace

When looking at the pictures, it reminds me of how far I've come. Without the pictures, I don't think I'd be as confident. Looking into a mirror day to day, the changes made in my body seem to be non-existent. But through the pictures,, I can see that all the hard work was worth it.

The two pictures were taken less than a year apart, and I didn't start my new "diet" until halfway through the year. It's amazing to see how all the little changes to my life, like eating well and exercising, could lead to big changes in me.