What a 50 Pound Weight Loss Looks Like – And Feels Like!

186 v 136Can I share with you something crazy personal? This is me. On the left, in 2012, on a 10 year anniversary trip with my husband to Cape Cod.

And that’s me again on the right, 3 weeks ago, on the Friday before my son’s Bar Mitzvah.

You know those before-and-after shots where people say “Wow, what a difference 4 months (or however long) makes!”?

Well, my story took a bit longer. 4 years longer.

But still, can I say: “Wow, what a difference 4 years makes!”?

First, there is the obvious: I am exactly 50 pounds less in the picture on the right, which is the lowest I’ve been in over 14 years. Yes, I finally weigh less than I did when I got pregnant with my oldest. You know, the one who just had his Bar Mitzvah?! It only took me 13 years to lose the baby weight!

Self-effacing comments like these are no doubt my way of deflecting. The truth is that sharing this picture and this post with you makes me feel (more than) a little self-conscious. I know, it’s kind of weird that I’m a blogger, which is a pretty public “profession”, and yet I’m actually quite a private person in real life.

But I’m doing this because I believe I’m not alone. Not alone in struggling with my weight and not alone in struggling with my self-esteem as a result.

Gosh, I spent many, many years feeling terrible about myself. And just straight up feeling terrible. Being 50 pounds overweight is exhausting – physically and emotionally.

I’m also doing this because I know that sometimes those before-and-after shots can seem like “magic”. Like, “Oh, I found this program, this pill, this food, this exercise regime… and now look at me!” Well, I’m here to tell you that there was no magic for me.

There were, however, many, many, MANY false starts. I lost 30 lbs, and then gained back 15. I lost 15 lbs, and gained back 5. And then another 5.

But finally, finally, this year, in 2016, when I committed to making small changes to beget big changes, I set to it and stuck to it. And I lost those last 30 pounds for what I hope and believe is the final time.

Without a doubt, mine has been a classic 2-steps-forward-1-step-back journey. There have been many victories and quite a few dark moments along the way. But at nearly 45 years old (YIKES!), I think I may finally have a semi-grip on myself — on what works for me, physically and psychologically, when it comes to weight loss.

But before I share some of the lessons I’ve discovered, I want to underscore this one very important point: I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t even have it all figured out for me yet, let alone for the entire population of people interested in losing weight.

I say this because it’s so easy to get the impression on the Internet these days that there is some “universal truth” about weight loss. Paleo is the answer! No veganism is the answer! No cross-fit is the answer! They can all be great answers, for the right people … at the right time in their lives. But I just don’t believe that there is a universally right way to do this.

So just like when I’ve shared the story of how my husband and I got out of debt, or how we budget so that we stay out of debt, the “weight loss story” that I will share is definitely not meant to be proscriptive.

I’m the last person to be able to tell anyone, “Do this and you’ll definitely lose weight!” But what I can do, hopefully, is share my experience and provide some empathy and inspiration for those of you on the same path.

… Or gazing longingly at the path and wishing you could get on it.

… Or wondering what the heck happened to your path and whether you’ll ever find it again.

(Been there, felt that. Too many times to count.)

Over the next couple of weeks, I will share more about what I’ve discovered on this four-year plus journey (hint: certain foods trigger me like nobody’s business and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that sugar is stronger than my will).

But in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Have you lost weight and kept it off? I’d be so happy to know how you did it – and how the process changed and affected you.


  1. Emmy Friedenberg says

    Over the last 25 years I have lost and gained the same 30 pounds several times. I have been a Weight Watcher all that time. I have my goal weight and have been below that for several years. I have to admit, though that I set my goal weight at the highest number suggested for my height. At the same time, I set a “happy weight,” which is about 15 pounds less than my goal weight – still within the suggested weight range for my height. About 3 or 4 years I started following the Simply Filling plan on Weight Watchers. I love it! It is the first time since my weight loss journey began that I have been able to stay within a few pounds of my desired “happy weight.” I attend a weekly Weight Watcher’s meeting and have become good friends with a group of women at that meeting. We phone, text or email each other with problems and with encouragement. Many of us share our daily food journals via email and offer each other encouragement and suggestions. Our meeting is in the morning, so most of us don’t eat breakfast before the meeting. Instead, we gather at a locally owned (and Vaad supervised) bagel shop, just a few doors down from the meeting. Because of this, we have become known as The Bagel Broads. The support of these women and attendance at the weekly meetings is extremely helpful to me in keeping me on track and motivated. I’m 61 years old, walk 60 minutes almost every day, do weight training once a week and ride the stationary bike almost every day. This, along with the Weight Watcher program has helped me to lose weight and keep it off.

    • Mara Strom says

      What a beautiful “testimonial” about the importance of having support. I know for many people, that is really the key. And I love your name – the Bagel Broads!

  2. Wow Mara! You look great and have much to be proud of.

  3. Miriam Weinberger says

    Good for you, Mara! I have struggled for my entire (since age of 5) with weight. I have tried everything -Weight Watchers(lost 50 lbs.–gained 45 back), a fasting diet – lost 70 lbs. kept it off a year and gained it all back. In January, I started a low carb diet and have taken 30 lbs. off. I am also diabetic and with this style of eating have managed to go off of short term insuline (18-20 units befor e a meal) anr reduce my long acting insulin to 18 units (down from 45). My A1c test last month was 5.3–which is better than many non-diabetics.
    I am at a plateau and am struggling, but want to lose another 10-15 lbs. Won’t say I’ve never lapsed, but when I do, I’ve learned to pick myself up, dust me off, stop ranting at myself and go back on the program. I will do this the rest of my life. But I totally agree with you that not carrying that extra 30 lbs. around has made a huge difference.

    I recall watching Oprah Winfrey show when she was losing weight. She brought out a wagon with 25 lbs. of fat. It was appalling. But the image stuck in my mind and I still bring it up when I am tempted. I wish anyone struggling with this issue much strength and fortitude!

    • Miriam: Good for you – what a fantastic
      achievement!!!!! I am pre diabetic and have sustained a 20 pound weight loss since last year, at my highest I weighed 20 pounds more than that. My a1c is 5.8, no meds. I would like to get an additional 15 pounds off but am really having trouble. Are you still doing WW? My nurse advised me not to do it because the only way I can stay full enough on Smart Points is to fill up on fruit – and I am not allowed.

    • Mara Strom says

      Great job on your labs! And yes, I often think about that Oprah episode, too! Even just seeing what 5 lbs of fat looks and feels like (a doctor’s office had a “block” of fat once that I picked up) — it’s shocking!

  4. 4 years is a long time, but 50 lbs is a LOT of work – kol hakavod to you!

  5. Leah Fishman says

    I’m a lifetime loser in Weight Watchers. I could never keep the weight off. Then I discovered OA and learned that food wasn’t my problem, but the solution I used to deal with my problems. OA has taught me how to deal with life without stuffing something in my mouth. I’ve been maintaining close to a 60 lb weight loss for 4 years. My friends know better than to call this a “diet”. They nod and say, “I know, it’s a way of life.” I say it’s a way of living.

  6. Aviva Gold says

    Mara, You look amazing! I lost 40 lbs on an amazing program! If anyone would be interested in hearing more, I’d be happy to talk to them!

  7. I am so glad you are writing about this! I just read your Whole 30 posts a few weeks ago and my husband and I are on Day 9. I would love to hear how you have done after Whole 30 and how you got off those 30 lbs! You are right, it makes such a difference to know the person you are seeing in those before and after shots! Look forward to more posts of this!

    • Mara Strom says

      How’s your Whole30 going? The first one that I wrote about really kick-started a lot of this for me… although it was definitely a long and winding road (many “false starts”).

  8. BH

    Thank you for being so real and honest about it! It can be hard seeing all these people on these magical extreme diets and wondering why we can’t keep it off.

    • Mara Strom says

      YES! I definitely know that feeling – as I’ve had it myself (and then that leads to more negative self-talk: What’s wrong with ME?).

  9. Are you going to keep me in suspense, just like that?!
    You look fantastic. So inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

    • Mara Strom says

      Haha! Sorry!!! Another post is coming soon – maybe even today…. And thank you for your kind words! xo

  10. I am so looking forward to reading the continuation of this story. I had lost 50 lbs before I became pregnant, gained it all back with pregnancy and now that baby #2 is turning 5 (!) it is time to get it off. I can’t wait to read your story and your hints! I am doing WW now and have lost 10 lbs, but keeping my motivation up is hard.

    • Mara Strom says

      That is one of the biggest challenges for me, too! Hopefully knowing that you’ve done it before gives you the confidence to know that you can — and will — do it again!

  11. wow – amazing. so inspirational!

    I’ve also just lost a lot of weight (41 lbs so far, and going for another 9!) so I appreciate reading your post so much! Mara can do it and I can do it too!

    And for anyone who wants to know, I do Weight Watchers and LOVE it!

  12. Michelle Hardoon says

    I’m looking forward to hearing too
    I stress eat…. (don’t we all)
    But being diagnosed with celiac and going gluten free didn’t help
    Gained 10 lbs in first month and then a medication made me gain more.
    Can’t wait to get chizuk to finally get inspired to do better

  13. Naomi Stroock says

    I am going through exactly what you went through. I injured myself a few weeks ago and can no longer exercise. I did a Whole 30 2.5 years ago and try to eat mainly clean but I have cheated too much and it shows. You have inspired me to intensely focus on my nutrition. I would love if you add a post with a weeks worth of menus as to how you eat on your 80/20 approach.

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