Mandy Muniz, the first member of the Joy Fit Club, lost over 170 pounds in just over a year and is sharing her journey with TODAY. TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer talked to Mandy about her current lifestyle and then gave her assessment of Mandy's chance of successfully keeping the weight off....
Joy Bauer: While losing, did you ever fall off the wagon and if yes, how did you motivate yourself to get back on your weight loss plan?
Mandy: Occasionally, I would go with friends and family out to eat and have some extra wine or a dessert, but I never got back into binging. What kept me going? For one, the accountability of weighing in three times a week with a counselor. There was no time to cheat. I’m traditionally a people pleaser and loved the praise when I did well (each visit, I’d show my counselor my food logs and step on the scale). The last thing I wanted was a negative session. And I never cancelled or postponed a meeting… partly because of monetary incentive… LA Weight Loss Center offered to give me back half my start up money (about $320) if I didn’t miss one single meeting.
Joy Bauer: In the past, you say you thought about food 24/7. Do you still have an intense relationship with food?
Mandy: Yes… you can definitely say that. I’m still focused on food but now it’s all about health. I do a lot of planning, thinking ahead, and continue to log my food and exercise on a daily basis.
Joy Bauer: Do you ever allow yourself to indulge in old favorites?
Mandy: Yes, sometimes….about twice per month. I love sweets! Chocolate Mousse.
Joy Bauer: Do you have “personal trigger foods” .... foods that are off limits because once you start eating you cannot stop?
Mandy: YES….Any sweet or dessert that’s not personally portioned or measured out. In other words, if I measure out half cup scoop of ice cream, I’m in complete control. BUT once I dip my spoon into the large container I’m in big trouble. The same goes for pastries, cookies and cake.
Joy Bauer: A lot of people think that once they lose weight they can loosen up and be much more liberal with their food plan. BUT I can see from your portion controlled, healthy menu that you’ve figured out this is a lifelong commitment.
Mandy: Absolutely! I know firsthand that I’ll gain weight if I’m not careful with my food choices. It’s happened and it makes me nervous. This is a lifelong commitment, but well worth it the payoff.
I’ve learned that when I really splurge, … I swell up, retain water, feel lethargic, heavy and can gain up to 14 pounds (in one day!). Obviously it’s a lot of water weight, but it still makes me feel horrible. It’s crazy to think I used to eat like that everyday.
It only happens occasionally….the key for me is to not let it snowball into several days. Instead, I shake it off the next morning and start right back on track.
Joy Bauer: What gives you the day-to-day will power to stick with it?
Mandy: How terrific I feel! Plus the accountability of the scale. I weigh myself every morning – and it’s my reality check.
Joy Bauer: Have you thought about having kids? After losing such an amazing amount of weight, does the idea of gaining weight for a pregnancy get you nervous?
Mandy: It does. I didn’t want to get pregnant when I was so heavy. I knew that it would be dangerous for both me and the baby. Now that I’m thin, I’d like to enjoy my new body for a while…. But eventually plan for a family and yes, the weight gain makes me a bit nervous. Although, I’ll work hard to be super careful and gain an appropriate amount.
Joy’s thoughts on Mandy's current menu:
In terms of her new menu, she’s found a great rhythm that works for her.
It’s about 1600-1800 calories, and combines appropriate portions of high quality carbohydrate and lean protein at each meal. This plan enables Mandy to maintain her exercise level, socialize, dine out, and enjoy a glass of wine and even low-fat ice cream. She also allows herself a splurge twice a month – but is careful to not let it snowball. Because her personality needs control, measuring and pre-portioning her food helps keep her focused (she no longer counts calories). She definitely thrives on the private accountability of her scale, as well as logging her food and exercise each day.