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I Lost 20 Pounds Without Starving Myself

Haley Thomas shares her weight loss journey with Body Network. 
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

If you have hit a weight plateau, you aren't alone. Many people struggle at some point in their weight loss journey to continue dropping weight. However, sometimes all you need to do is shift your approach. Haley Thomas (@thehaleyrthomas), who lives in Arnold, Missouri, is a Certified Surgical Tech First assistant and lost 15 pounds on her own after welcoming her first child. However, she hit a crossroads and couldn't seem to lose any additional weight – until she discovered a new way to eat and exercise.

She Struggled to Start Over


Haley tells Body Network that she "had to start from square one" at 6 weeks postpartum after a C-section. "It was hard and I felt like I had never worked out before although I worked out my entire pregnancy," she confesses. "Getting back into the gym while balancing a newborn and breastfeeding, hardly any sleep, and recovering from a c-section seemed impossible. I kept showing up no matter how hard it was. I also kept tracking my food. Eventually I was able to get into the swing of things and it became easier and easier. Some days were hard especially after being up with my son multiple times throughout the night, but I had a newfound motivation as a mom. To be the healthiest and best version of myself for my son."

RELATED: 3 Things Keeping You From Losing Extra Belly Fat

Her Weight Plateaued

White scale on a wooden table top view, fitness and weight loss concept

Haley, 31, who is 5'3", plateaued at 150 pounds. "I had lost about 15 pounds by myself but plateaued and needed a little support," she says. She went onto lose 20 pounds using the Working Against Gravity program. "I now fluctuate around 130-134 just depending on the time of the month."

She Does Crossfit, High Intensity Workouts

fit woman exercising with battle ropes during strength workout in cross functional gym, copy space. strong female concentrated on training

For her workouts, Haley relies on a Crossfit style of training, "usually with high intensity," she tells us. "My favorite exercises are pull ups, dumbbell snatches, double unders, muscle ups, and lunges. I love higher skilled movements that get the heart rate up."

She Used to Try to Eat Under 1200 Calories Per Day

Nutritional label with focus on calories.

She also shifted her approach to diet. She once believed that 1200 calories or less a day was the only way to lose weight. "I have tried every 'diet' under the sun. Intermittent fasting, keto, carb cycling, low carb, low calorie… everything," she says. "I have found through trial and error that although these diets will result in some weight loss at first they are typically not sustainable. I am a firm believer in balance and working with a nutrition coach helped me find the balance that has given me such great results."

She Now Counts Macros

"I have a prescribed set of macros that were given to me by Alex Oskian, my nutrition coach at Working Against Gravity," she continued. "My diet typically consists of whole foods like eggs, protein shakes, protein bars, lean meats, rice, rice cakes, fruit and then a few 'fun' filler foods like Greek yogurt ice cream bars at the end of the day to reach my macro goals." She hasn't eliminated any food from her diet, but she eats certain calorie dense foods in moderation. "I can track pizza, cookies, ice cream or have these foods on holidays and vacations," she says. "Balance is key! I use protein powder and creatine on a regular basis."

She Is Proud of Her Muscle Definition


She believes that her biggest body achievement is the muscle definition she has achieved. "My #1 tip would be to be consistent. Not every day will be perfect and it doesn't need to be. Life is busy. Moms are busy. Just do the best you can and the good habits will shine through," she said. One way to measure progress is by taking photos. "The scale is a good tool but can also be deceiving. Especially when you have different goals such as gaining muscle and fueling yourself instead of just losing weight," she explains.

Her Advice: Ease Into It


Her advice for anyone starting their journey? "Don't go all in if you've never had an active healthy lifestyle before," Haley advises. "You don't need to start by going to the gym 6 days a week and tracking macros every day if you don't even know what macros are. Make small changes at first then work up to those things. Maybe start by working out 3 days a week and tracking just protein or reaching a calorie goal. You don't want to overwhelm yourself to the point where results seem too difficult to reach. The point of it all is to create a healthy lifestyle so be realistic with yourself!"

Related: This Is Exactly How to Lose Body Fat This Year

Final Tip: Find Workouts You Like


Her final tip? "Find an exercise you actually like to do," she suggests. "Maybe that's a group HIIT class, spin class, maybe even running. I love Crossfit and I may not feel like going on certain days, but I tell myself that if I just show up I'll be happy I did. I've never shown up and regretted it even if it wasn't my best workout."

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