She slowly eased her way into exercise
“Once I was 215 pounds, I kind of felt like I was just going to be stuck there forever,” Dukes says. “My mindset was really poor and I didn’t enjoy exercise and I couldn’t honestly even think of what life was like before I packed on the weight, because I felt very stuck in my body.”
She says she didn’t exercise at all.
“And it felt very hard for me to move my body,” she says, “and frankly, I also felt very embarrassed to go to the gym. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.”
To get started, she set a goal for herself: “In the beginning, it was just move my body every day, do a little bit more than I did yesterday.”
Dukes signed up for a gym membership. Every day, she worked out on the elliptical for 20 minutes.
In the beginning, 20 minutes on the elliptical “felt like I was dying each day,” she says.
“That eventually became a lot easier because my body got stronger. I built up my endurance and my strength, and so that’s when it became more fun,” she says.
She adds, “I found I was able to do a lot more than I was beforehand because it made me want to try new things.”
After about six months, Dukes says she had lost about 30-40 pounds. She started to do more high-intensity training with weights.
Focus on one day at a time
Losing weight can be difficult, but it’s important not to fixate on the end goal, says Dukes. “It’s easy to look at how far we have to go and feel very discouraged by that,” she says.
She says to focus on one day at a time.
“Focus today on making good nutrition choices, moving your body, and then tomorrow, doing a little bit more,” she says. “Maybe drink a little more water, get a little more activity in. Maybe rather than taking the elevator, take the stairs. Just do a little more, because all of those healthy habits compound over time, and they snowball into big results.”
She says it’s also important to focus on having a healthy mindset.
“It’s not some diet or some weight loss kick that you’re going to be on,” says Dukes. “Just make the decision to be healthy and never stop. If you’re making those health decisions every day, it’s going to compound.”
Dukes says losing weight feels “amazing.”
“I never thought I would be in the shoes I am in today, but losing the weight has completely changed my life,” she says.
She says her weight loss isn’t about the weight on the scale or being able to fit into a smaller size.
“Just genuinely loving how you feel and what you look like and having the confidence, it changes everything in life,” says Dukes.
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