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Last year, Holly VonDemfange was on vacation with her family and felt very unhappy. She was the heaviest that she had ever weighed and instead of enjoying time with her family, she was hiding.
“I was in Palm Springs feeling frumpy and disgusting and not wanting to go out,” VonDemfange, 43, of San Jose, California told TODAY.
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She started scanning the Internet and stumbled across an article by Jennifer Joffe. In the article, Joffe, a holistic health coach and founder of Project Healthy Body, shared her struggles about being a compulsive over-eater and VonDemfange felt an instant connection.
“I spent that entire night stalking Jennifer’s website,” VonDemfange said. “Her honesty resonated with me.”
At the time, VonDemfange weighed 325 pounds at 5 feet 7 inches tall. She knew she had to lose weight and it seemed Joffe had figured out a way to stop overeating and live a healthy life. VonDemfange sent her an email and crossed her fingers that Joffe would help her.
Joffe agreed to take on VonDemfange as a client and they started working together in January. Joffe could relate to her struggle with food. After Joffe’s father died when she was 7, she turned to food. She started dieting when she was 12, which started a dangerous pattern from deprivation to overeating.
“That turns into compulsive eating,” Joffe, 44, of Portland, Oregon, told TODAY.
About eight years ago, Joffe, who was about 250 pounds, was putting her daughter, then 3, down for a nap. Suddenly, she felt lightheaded and dizzy after walking up the steps with her daughter.
“I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You are never going to be skinny, but there has got to be a way to feel better,’” she said. “There was no reason I should (have) felt the way I felt.”
She started by reading more about eating healthy foods and swapped processed foods for fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.
In four years, she dropped 66 pounds and was around 180 pounds. After a family emergency sent her spiraling back to compulsive eating, she refocused her attention and started exercising on top of eating.
“I started fighting for my health,” she said.
Today, Joffe weighs about 156 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches tall and took what she learned from her weight-loss experience to help others. When she first chatted with VonDemfange, Joffe knew she desperately needed help.
“One of the most emotional things for me … Jennifer looked up my BMI (body mass index) and told me that I was going to die,” VonDemfange said. “Even though I knew I was obese, it didn’t hit me until Jennifer told me.”
VonDemfange started by examining the food she was eating and considering whether it was something a healthy person would eat. She walks 10,000 steps every day and tries integrating more movement into her life. She dropped the first 40 pounds easily, but she hit a plateau and switched to the autoimmune protocol diet. VonDemfange has two autoimmune disorders.
“It really is a bit of a no brainer to figure out what my food sensitives are and go to that next level,” she said.
VonDemfange now weighs 242 pounds. While she still wants to lose more weight to reach a healthy BMI, she enjoys how she feels.
“I consciously wake up every day and tell myself I am a healthy person,” she said. “I want to be on this planet for as long as possible.”
This same positive attitude helped Joffe lose the weight, maintain the loss and set a good example for her clients.
“I can do and be anything I want to be. There are absolutely no limits,” Joffe said.
Today, the two have become close friends. Here, they share the tips that helped them lose weight:
1. Eat the rainbow.
“We eat the rainbow. We think of green as life giving,” VonDemfange said.
She adds lots of fruits and vegetables in her meals, which makes her feel like she is not depriving herself.
2. Get enough sleep.
Until recently, VonDemfange slept an average of five hours. Getting at least seven hours of sleep means she has enough energy to move more and make smart food choices.
3. Stay hydrated.
Joffe drinks loads of water and advises her clients to do the same. Being hydrated helps people avoid overeating or mindless eating.
“Often, we mistake hunger for thirst,” she said. “There is no reason to drink your calories.”
4. What does a healthy person do?
Joffe asks clients to think of their choices as healthy. Does a healthy person have a few french fries with a meal? Or does a healthy person deprive herself? (A healthy person makes balanced reasonable choices.)
“It is the small, little choices we make habitually that add up to big changes over time, and in the end, define us,” she said.
5. Don’t keep fat clothes.
“Anything that gets too big, it has to go,” Joffe said. “If the only clothes you have in the closet are the clothes that fit, you are not going to fly back in the other direction.”
For more inspiration, check out our My Weight-Loss Journey page.