'I Lost 142 Pounds By Watching My Portion Sizes'

After being diagnosed with PCOS, Ashley Lewis knew it was time to make a change.

Ashley Lewis

For most of my life, I would make this promise to myself every night: Ashley, you're going to start being healthy tomorrow.

But without fail, the next day would come and I'd treat myself to a donut or fast food and end up frustrated because I'd ruined the whole day and would have to try again tomorrow.

I was also a very emotional eater: If I was bored I ate, if I was alone I ate, if I was depressed I ate. My mornings kicked off with a sugary drink from Starbucks followed by Pop-Tarts or a huge bowl of cereal. From there, it was mostly fast food for the rest of the day. Honestly, looking back now, I can't help but wonder how I'm still alive.

At 22, I finally broke the cycle after being diagnosed with PCOS.

I was about 360 pounds when I found out I had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance which can affect fertility. That was a huge wakeup call, because I've always wanted to be a mom.

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Getting in some cardio in the summer heat! Still going at it and somehow my makeup is still on point??? HOW!? What is this wizardry?! 😂😂😂 My contouring is more powerful than my sweat, apparently. 💁🏻🙌🏼😂💪🏼💕 #cardio #makeup #contour #sweat #heat #summerheat #workout #exercise #ketogenic #keto #ketodiet #ketogenicdiet #weightlosstransformation #weightlossjourney #weightloss #confidence #workit #fit #fitness #fitgirl #healthy #healthylifestyle #healthyeating #healthychoices

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I knew I was going to have to get healthy in order to regulate my hormones and improve my chances at motherhood, so at that moment I decided I was going to join WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) — which ultimately turned out to be my winning ticket. It was honestly the best choice I could've made.

WW forced me to become intentional about what I was eating.

WW is a points-based system where no food is off-limits. Instead, the plan focuses on regulating portion-sizes — which had always been my biggest struggle. The program put me in a situation where I had to measure things out and take a minute to think about it, track it, and log it before moving on to the next meal.

I also focused on eating more nutritious, whole foods, instead of eating mostly takeout or fast-food options. Today, I make sure I get three meals plus two snacks (a.k.a., I'm never left feeling unsatisfied or hungry). Here's what my daily diet typically looks like:

  • Breakfast: At least 32 ounces of water before my coffee, a CLIF Builder's Protein Bar (if I'm in a rush), or three or four eggs with turkey bacon (if I have time to cook).
  • Snack: A banana.
  • Lunch: A bowl of soup (my fave: Progresso Light Zesty Santa Fe Style Chicken Soup).
  • Snack: String cheese or an apple.
  • Dinner: Two-ingredient pizza dough made with Greek yogurt and self-rising flour (seriously, try it!) cooked and topped with a light sauce, reduced-fat cheese, and turkey pepperoni (even my husband will eat it, and he's not on a diet).
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    A post shared by Ashley’s Weight Loss Journey (@ashleysweightlossjourney) on

    Losing weight also made it easier for me to work out — something I shied away from when I was heavier.

    Because of my size, I stayed away from the gym at first. I was super self-conscious and thought everyone would stare at me. But looking back, I realize no one would have cared — most people are only looking at themselves, anyway.

    Before joining a gym, I'd go on really long walks and work out by following Jillian Michaels DVDs at home. Once I started losing weight, I got the confidence to go the gym five to six times per week.

    The weirdest part: I actually started looking forward to my gym workouts. I'd make strict daily schedules planning when I'd exercise and thought of it like a date with myself. If a workout was in the books, I was not missing it. It was hard, but the moments after a good sweat are so worth it.

    While losing weight was amazing, there was still something holding me back: loose skin.

    After I'd lost about 143 pounds, I realized how much my loose skin was getting in my way. I wanted to add running to my routine, for example, but the rubbing and chafing was really painful.

    I knew I had to do something, so I reached out to my insurance company, who almost completely covered a tummy tuck and skin-removal surgery on my arms. I ended up getting rid of five pounds of loose skin, and hitting my lowest-ever weight of 215 pounds.

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    After that happened (and I took the proper amount of time to heal and train, of course), I was finally able to start running like I'd always wanted. I was even able to complete a half marathon and a 25K run. Running became therapeutic for me,

    Even more good news: After losing weight, I was able to get pregnant — I gave birth to my daughter in June.

    Now, four months after giving birth to my daughter, I have to admit that my workout schedule has changed.

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    These humans are my everything. They are why I choose to eat healthy. They are why I choose to workout. They are why I do back to back @flexcityfitness classes from time to time. They are why I try to cut out gluten and carbs. They are why I tend to pass on the offer of sweets, potlucks, and movie theater popcorn. Lol They are why I want to live a long and healthy life. Yes, I obviously want all of this for myself as well. But, once you have a family, priorities change. They are my first priority. I vow to be the healthiest and happiest mama/wife I can possibly be, because they deserve that. They deserve 100% of me. #family #familylove #fitness #weightloss #weightlossjourney #postpartum #postpartumjourney #love #myloves #priorities #healthy #healthymama

    A post shared by Ashley’s Weight Loss Journey (@ashleysweightlossjourney) on

    For example, instead of spending time at the gym before or after work, I'm now taking 30 minutes during lunch to use the gym at my office. I'll crank out a couple of miles on the treadmill or spin bike. It's a great way to break up my day. And if I've got more time after work, I'll finish off my workout with a HIIT session, or yoga at home.

    Overall, my weight-loss journey helped me become the healthiest mom that I can be — and if I'm healthier, that means my daughter can be healthier too.

    No one taught me about nutrition and health growing up, and I went through hell and back to figure it out, but I did. Now, I'll be raising my daughter with everything I've learned, while still encouraging her to take care of herself and love herself regardless of what she looks like.

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