My name is Shannon Clay (@shannonelizabethfitness), and I’m 35. I’m from Barrie, Ontario, and I am a full-time blogger. I realized I wanted to lose weight when I was struggling to play with my kids. I had been following a plant-based diet for a while and found a workout I love—and I’ve now lost 110 pounds.

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. But I actually started to gain weight rapidly when I was in my early 20s, despite the fact that I felt like I was constantly on a diet. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and emotional eating was my way of dealing with all of my issues. I had no idea how to deal with life’s issues in a healthy way.

I became caught in a negative cycle of feeling bad about myself and my weight, followed by overeating or binge eating. Then I would berate myself for having “no control.” I was always in a state of feeling bad about myself. At my heaviest weight, in 2015, I weighed 249 pounds.

My turning point came that same year when I was 30 years old. At that time, my children (I have twins) were just over a year old.

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I realized that I couldn’t run around and play with my kids.

I couldn’t walk up our stairs without getting completely winded and working up a sweat—I was that out of shape. And that wasn’t the mom I wanted to be for my children.

I had also had two close relatives who both had strokes within months of each other, and it was a wake-up call. I realized that even if I was in good health (which I wasn’t), I was still at risk of having a stroke later in life. It’s become my mission to do my best to not have to deal with those health issues.

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I started my weight-loss journey by eating a plant-based diet, and have been eating this way for six years now.

I chose this style of eating after seeing a close friend have such positive changes in her health and life by eating this way. However, during my first year of eating plant-based, I wasn’t doing it in a healthy manner. I was still eating a lot of processed foods. Once I shifted to eating more whole foods, I began to notice a significant difference in my weight loss.

Plant-based eating works for me because I don’t spend much time thinking about calories or fat content, as most of my meals are focused on vegetables and legumes.

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Here’s what I typically eat in a day now.

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  • Breakfast: Smoothie made with one banana, 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries, 1 cup of almond milk/water, 1/2 cup of spinach, and 1 scoop of high-quality protein powder.
  • Lunch: A measured portion of rice, mixed vegetables, marinated and baked tofu, and stir-fry sauce.
  • Snacks: An apple with peanut butter or popcorn.
  • Dinner: Lentil tacos topped with tomato, peppers, onions, dairy-free cheese, and dairy-free sour cream, plus a side garden salad.
  • Dessert: Black bean brownies.

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I typically try to exercise five times a week, and I love doing home fitness programs like P90X.

That was the first home fitness program I tried, which was introduced to me by a friend who had lost a significant amount of weight doing it. I wanted to change how I felt about myself and was willing to try anything at that point, even an intense fitness program. It ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me.

I’m always mixing up the workouts I do. I’ve done everything from classic HIIT workouts to barre ballet to shadow boxing programs—I’m just always trying to have fun and try something new.

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These three changes helped me see the most noticeable results in my weight loss.

Change one: I followed a fitness program. Following a fitness program helped me in that it told me exactly what to do and when to do it. Even now, I don’t have to think about what I’m doing from day-to-day. I simply look at my program calendar and do what it says for the day.

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Change two: I properly addressed my emotional eating. This took a lot of personal development work, but it played a key role in my weight loss and weight management. I discovered new tools and strategies (including exercise!) that help me deal with life’s challenges in a healthy way instead of turning to food for comfort.

Change three: I have an accountability partner. This is someone who knows my goals, cares that I achieve them, and who is going to call me out on my nonsense if I start to give excuses or act lazy. My accountability partner supports me when things get tough and encourages me to stay on track.

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Now, I’ve lost about 110 pounds over two and a half years.

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I want women to know that weight loss is about so much more than a number on a scale. It’s about all the positive changes that occur in your life while you’re on your journey.

It’s about the confidence to try new things and the ability to thing you never thought were possible—like run a half-marathon! It’s about getting rid of toxic people and habits, smiling in the mirror, and running races in the park with your kids. Those are the real joys that come from weight loss.

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