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I Lost 30 Pounds and Here's Everything I Learned Along My Journey

One weight loss warrior reveals the simple changes she made to lose weight. 

Sarah Dunn (@sarahdunnfit) is a college student and weight loss warrior who lost 30 pounds in her Freshman year of college by making a few simple changes to her diet and fitness routine. In one of her viral videos, she reveals exactly how she transformed her body. "How I lost 30 pounds my freshman year of college," she says at the start of the clip. 

She Lost Her "Coach" and "Routine" When She Went to College

@sarahdunnfit if i did it, so can you 😌 #fatlossjourney #fatlosstips #onlinefitsscoach ♬ original sound – sarah

Sarah explains that while in high school she played lacrosse. "I've always had that structure of having a coach, having a routine, and just having to show up I guess." However, when she went to Penn State for college, she "did not have that anymore" but was still eating the same way, she "kind of gained some unwanted weight" and ended up "skinny fat" but not fat. 

She Started Lifting Weights


"I started going to the gym, not really for the purpose of losing weight because I have been down that road so many times," Sarah continued, explaining that she didn't believe she could experience a "crazy transformation" like many girls on social media. "I have never lifted before I started going, that was a completely new thing for me. Had no idea what I was doing. Absolutely zero clue. Kind of just started to fall in love with it. It was fun. It was my escape of the day, especially my freshman year of college was the peak of Covid," she continued. 

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Early Morning Workouts

@sarahdunnfit sharing everything i've learned along my 30 pound fat loss journey, part 1 🙂 #onlinefitnesscoach #fatlossjourney #fatlosstips #transformation ♬ Collide (sped up) – Justine Skye

Because it was the pandemic, Sarah had to sign up for the gym ahead of time and "you were fighting for the time," she said. "The only time slot that was ever open was 5:00 AM every single day. So that kind of forced me to build that habit of going at 5:00 AM every single day. It was literally the best part of the day. My alarm would go off at four-something in the morning. I would jump out of bed so happy because I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I get to go to the gym.'"

One Celsius Every Day

Los Angeles, CA - July 20, 2023: Cans of new Celsius energy drinks on wooden background.

She also started each day with an energy drink. "I would drink a Celsius every single day. This is not sponsored, 'I lost 30 pounds drinking a Celsius every single day.' No, I do not think it contributed to it. And no, they're not the best thing for you. But it didn't stop me from losing fat," she explained. 

A "Mindset Flip"


"I think one of the biggest things that contributed to me reaching my goal was my mindset flip," Sarah continued. "I always was working out for the sole reason to achieve the goal. I wanted to achieve, obviously, look better physically, but the time I actually did it and it was actually sustainable was when I just fell in love with the actual process."

Maintaining a Caloric Deficit

Calories counting , diet , food control and weight loss concept. woman using Calorie counter application on her smartphone at dining table with salad, fruit juice, bread and vegetable

She also explained that it's hard to figure out what to eat with dining hall food, even though the macros are listed, which "is super helpful for tracking," she said. However, she notes that the portion sizes given to you are "a lot more than one serving size" so she would "just try to portion everything," tracking her calories "very loosely because I had no idea what the exact amount of anything I was eating was" trying to stay within a caloric deficit. 

She Took Weekends Off


Sarah "tried to stay in the deficit five out of seven days of the week" but allowed herself a little wiggle room on the weekends so she could go out.

"I did not cut out my social life to achieve this goal. And I feel like that's one of the big things is you have to just make it a lifestyle balance. And if you cut out friends, you cut out social gatherings and all of the things, then that's not realistic. And the mindset I learned with food. If you are not planning on cutting out the food that you're thinking about cutting out for the rest of your life, do not cut it out while you're going through a journey. It's not worth it because as soon as you eat that food again, whatever it may be, pizza, ice cream, whatever, you're just going to gain weight back. You're cutting it out, you're going to shock your body when it has it again. It definitely took me a while to grasp that concept, but once I did changed everything."

Related: I'm a Nutritionist, and Here's Is All the Delicious Food I Eat in a Day



Consistency "is the biggest thing," Sarah concluded. "If you feel like you messed up on the weekend, you did not ruin your progress, just keep going, get right back at it Monday. It's not over. You did not ruin your progress or your journey. A journey's not always highs. A journey isn't a journey without its lows. Don't give up on yourself, especially if you know this goal will be in your mind until you get there. So just do it. Just take the time, do it, and be your most confident self."

An RDN Weighs In On Her Workout


The Body Network reached out to The Diet Diva, Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD/N, ACSM-CPT, a Board Certified Sports Dietitian to weigh in on her tips. "I love this approach and mindset," says Collingwood. She went in just wanting to be healthy and toned so lifting weights was a natural to go towards. It's funny how normally a college kid wouldn't exercise at 5 AM, but if that is your only option, it makes it easier to get up and go because you know it's your only chance for the day."

Related: I'm a Dietitian and I Lost 100 Pounds With These Delicious Foods

An RDN Weighs In On Her Diet


"The balance of aiming for calorie deficit most days of the week is good and mixing that with having some fun with friends and not being as strict one or two days is good," she continues. "Depriving doesn't work, but limiting portions and frequency of higher calorie foods can work.  I also love the advice of the highs and lows. There is no such thing as perfect. You aim to do well but if you have some moments that you indulge, it's OK. You just get right back to it and keep going."

💪🔥Body Booster: If you are struggling to lose weight, take a moment to ponder on your mindset. Try and shift ideals or goals that aren't working. 

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more