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I asked my beautiful sister, Shani, to write down some pointers of how she lost 40 lbs, without depriving herself, gaining confident, eating foods she enjoys, and keeping it all off.

Here’s what she had to say:

“1. Stop giving excuses. Once I started treating exercise like a task that I must complete, just like taking a shower and brushing my teeth, I incorporate it into my air tight work/class/internship schedule and ran out of excuses to give.

2. Diet. I count calories (not obsessively though) and make sure I get enough protein. Not very surprising as losing weight is all about calorie deficit.

3. Don't deprive yourself. I didn’t give up anything: not sweets, meat, or my dear friend, alcohol. I knew that if I did, I would feel like I’m on a diet and would eventually trigger the “binge-diet” cycle, so I didn't deprive myself of anything. This helped me achieve my “healthy lifestyle” mindset instead of the “temporary diet” mindset I had up until that point.

4. Exercise. I followed a workout routine that I actually enjoy and saw myself sticking with. For me it’s lifting 3 times a week, and pole dancing 3 times a week (seriously an amazing workout). When I get sick of a routine, I change things up a bit.

5. Keep active. I became more active and tried to walk as much as I can. Moving to Chicago without a car and having to rely on public transportation made this a lot easier. My general rule is: If it's less than 2 miles (and it's not freezing cold), walk there.

6. Take your time. Took me about a year and a half to lose this much with a ton of plateaus in between, but I knew this was the only way to slowly but surely build muscle, lose fat, and prevent saggy skin.

7. Say no to perfectionism. I came to terms with messing up. This was the hardest for me because I wanted my diet to be perfect at all times, but after realizing that I can’t/shouldn’t be eating healthy 100% of the time and that messing up every now and then is okay as long as I get back into eating healthy and keep working out, I grew out of that unachievable “perfection” mindset.

8. Track your progress. I took a ton of progress pictures. At first I didn’t take any pictures, but after losing those first 5 pounds, I started tracking my progress and motivate myself whenever I felt discouraged.

9. Learn what works best for you. I didn't set up goals for every week/month. I tried that at the beginning but realized it doesn't work for me. By pressuring myself to lose a certain amount of pounds by a certain date made me feel like I'm on a diet, which I didn't want to feel. Also, if I didn't reach the goal I set up, I became extremely discouraged and felt terrible about myself. My main goal was to become fit and healthy, and feel better about myself, and that's what I focused on.

10. Educate yourself. I educated myself about healthy eating and exercise, and whenever I was unsure about a certain supplement/form or needed a fitness related advice/emotional support, I asked my beast of a sister/fitness goddess Sivan.

So no waist trainers, magic pills, weight loss tea here.. just straight up being fed up (pun intended) with being fat and dedicating the time and energy to reach my goals”. I’m super proud of how far Shani has come, and it's been a pleasure watching her transform, inside out. If she can do it, so can you.

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