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I Lost Over 90 Pounds After Years of Trying to Lose Weight the "Wrong Way"

Here is everything Leann Ellington did to get in shape.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Do you want to lose weight the right way? Leanne Ellington, 41, stopped weighing herself after she topped the scales at 250 pounds. However, she decided to change her life and embarked on a weight loss journey, going on to lose 90 pounds. Here is everything she did to get down to 160 pounds.

She Was Overweight as a Kid


Leanne's weight struggles started when she was young. She explains that she was an "overweight, sedentary, unhealthy" kid and teenager, "and I brought that into adulthood with me.

She Stopped Weight Herself Because of the "Shame"

Weight Gain. Desperate Black Girl Crying Standing On Weight-Scales Slimming, Not Losing Weight On A Diet At Home. Copy Space

"I stopped weighing myself after I reached 250 pounds. The shame became too much to bear," she continues.

She Hit Her "Enough Is Enough" Point in Her 20s

Overweight unhappy asian woman extra heavy body cellulite sitting on bed at home. Upset oversized lady worry diet weight loss suffering from extra weight. Obesity unhealthily concept.

"I hit my 'enough is enough' point in my early 20s when I realized that I was a shell of a version of myself, and I was not showing up as a reflection of who I was created to be. Yes, it was about the weight, but it was more about getting my life back," she continues. "Now I weigh around 160 pounds."

Initially, She Lost the Weight Doing the Wrong Things

Emotional eating, mental disorder, depression, loneliness, stress. Lonely woman eating sweets and watching tv late in the night. Nerve food

Leann reveals that her weight loss journey didn't get off to the healthiest start. "Unfortunately, I did it in all of the wrong ways, and I gave myself disordered eating and a horrible self and body image to get there," she said about her initial 100-pound weight loss. "All in all, it took about a year."

She Then Would Gain and Lose 20 to 40 Pounds at a Time

feet standing on electronic scales for weight control. Measurement instrument in kilogram for a diet control

After that, she went through the "bounce back effect" over and over. "I would gain/lose, gain/lose 20 to 40 pounds at a time until I healed the root problem," she says.

She Discovered Strength Training


This was when she discovered strength training. "I was fortunate enough to learn about the power of resistance training pretty early on, so I was able to functionally train (and tone) my entire body along the way. That was one of the ways I also prevented excess skin," she says.

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She Eats Mostly Nutrient-Dense Foods

Sea food Burguer with Salmon.

As for her diet, Leann eats mostly "nutrient-dense, hearty, and delicious foods," she says. "But I allow myself treats from time to time, never depriving myself. Deprivation and restriction is the opposite of freedom. But also, it's about making sure that my day-to-day way of eating is delicious and filled with foods that I can enjoy so that I don't ever feel deprived or restricted."

Nothing Is Off Limits

Chocolate chip cookies with flaky salt on a cooling rack, homemade freshly baked cookies

"Nothing is off-limits for me. I eat in a certain manner most of the time because I'm always focusing on how I want to feel (and eating foods that will help me reverse-engineer that). But I'm human, and allowing myself a delicious warm chocolate chip cookie or a slice of my favorite cake with buttercream is part of how I create balance in my life. Because if loving warm chocolate chip cookies is wrong, I don't want to be right," she says.

She "Retrained" Her Mind

Sad Overweight plus size woman thinking about problems on sofa upset girl feeling lonely and sad from bad relationship or Depressed woman disorder mental health

What was her biggest achievement on her weight loss journey? " It has more to do with the way I retrained my mind, my brain, and my heart when it comes to food and my body," she says. "I completely healed and changed my relationship with food and my relationship with my body. I stepped into a new identity that reflects the woman that I want to be, rather than just focusing on a number."

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And Stopped Using Foods as a "Coping Mechanism"

Hands of a woman playing with nails in stress

She adds that when she was just focusing on a number as her definition of "success," it kept her "chained inside a prison of restriction, deprivation, punishing my body, and doing things that didn't serve me," she says. "When I healed what was happening in my brain and learned how to be emotionally available to myself without using food as a coping mechanism, everything shifted."

You Must Change Your Identity to Get Rid of Old Thinking

Choosing between apple and donut

"My biggest setback was the realization that I lost 100 pounds and totally made over my body, but my self-image was still seeing myself through (what I call) fat goggles," she says. "Because I never changed my identity and self-image, I just brought the old way of thinking with me. But that was also a blessing because it forced me to go heal the problem and address the root cause of my relationship with food and my body. "

You Can't "Positive Think" Your Way Through Body Struggles, She Says

Woman trying dress in looking in mirror cheerful and happy.

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to body image is just to 'positive think' your way through body image struggles, but that never allows you to reconcile what's actually happening in the present moment," she says. "And those struggles will keep coming back if you don't address them."

Feel Your Feelings


"Now I've learned how to feel those feelings and hold space from them (even when they aren't fun), but then aim for peace and acceptance in that moment instead of slathering on 'fake positivity' because those emotions are so much more attainable in those moments," she says. "And this is how I've learned to be emotionally available to myself in those negative body image moments — instead of ignoring them, stuffing them down, or using feel-good affirmations that don't necessarily resonate."

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She Is Happy That More People Are Talking About Body Image Struggles

Two young women share a moment of friendship and happiness on the beach. With wide smiles and carefree laughter, they embrace each other, fully immersed in the fun and leisure of the coastal paradise.

"Honestly, I'm a bit biased, but I do love that disordered eating and body image struggles are becoming more of a mainstream topic," Leann admits. "15 years ago, when I first started my journey, it wasn't being talked about, but it's so important. Integrating the mental, emotional, and social aspects of health and fitness is critical."

She Is Following Positive People


A big part of her social media strategy is more based on who she is not following. "It's really important to me that I'm not following anyone that is perpetuating an unhealthy version of health," she says. "For me, it's more important to follow people who are helping spread positivity on the mental/emotional side of things. Because when that is in balance, all of your physical goals become possible. And without it, the physical stuff falls by the wayside. Her favorite account? The Good Quote.

Be the Best Version of You


Her biggest piece of advice? "Make sure that you're stepping into the identity of the version of you that would have that body, that would have that relationship with food, and that would have that confidence in herself," she says.

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It's More Than Just Your Weight


"It's not just about your weight; it's your thoughts about your weight. It's not just about the food. It's your thoughts about the food. It's not just about your body. It's your thoughts about your body. All of this matters so much more than the food or the workouts or the weight," she says.

Stay Focused and Be Patient


"For me, it's about staying focused on the long game and thinking big-picture. When I'm only following my desires for the short-term gratification trap or rapid results, it's always at the expense of my health and goals AND at the expense of my happiness. Be the tortoise, not the hare," she says.

Her Favorite Motivational Quote

Wikimedia Commons

Her  favorite motivational quote when it comes to fitness? "You will act like the sort of person you conceive yourself to be," from Maxwell Maltz.

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Follow Leanne Ellington on Social Media

Athlete using mobile phone app fitness tracker for tracking weight loss progress during running exercise. Fit girl woman touching smartphone texting or playing online games or video workouts.

For more on Leanne Ellington, Author, Educator, & Podcaster, head over to her website. You can also follow her on Instagram. And if you enjoyed this article, take advantage of these 15 Quick Ways to Lose Body Fat Percentage in a Week.

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