My name is Carlie Smith (carlie.fit28), and I am 24 years old. I currently live in Kansas and I am an occupational therapy student. I started tracking macros with Avatar Nutrition and doing at-home strength training workouts to reach my weight-loss goals.

For as long as I can remember, I had a desire to lose weight. In elementary school, I noticed I was bigger than the other girls but really didn't know what to do about it. As early as middle school, I had already tried so many diets, but nothing ever worked for me. I was extremely active while in middle school and high school, playing volleyball and being involved in dance and cheerleading. However, the weight just seemed to continue to pile on. This continued for me during my years at college and graduate school.

My weight made me self-conscious over the years. But no matter how hard I committed or told myself I would finally lose weight, I never did...until April 2020.

I was 23 years old, and Facebook Memories surprised me with a picture of myself from my high school senior prom. My heart broke over how self-conscious I was in those photos. I was uncomfortable and quite frankly, miserable. Seeing those pictures got me thinking about my upcoming wedding (in July 2021!) and I thought to myself, Do you want to feel this way?

That night as I was getting ready for bed, and I took a long, hard look into the mirror. I asked myself this question that I 100 percent believe is what has led me to my success with weight loss: "You put so much time and effort into hating your body. What if, this time, you took that effort and put it towards making a true difference?" Starting that next day, that is exactly what I did.

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I came across an Instagram influencer who promoted Avatar Nutrition. I decided to look into it.

I was blown away by the access to online coaching, the flexibility, and the price. Desperate for anything to work, I decided to sign up, and I am so thankful I did! Avatar is an app that counts macros (which is basically just really precise calorie counting!).

It follows the "if it fits your macros" mindset (or IIFYM, as many fitness and nutrition fanatics call it)— meaning that you can eat whatever you want while losing weight, as long as you stay within your macros.

There are so many reasons why this program works for me.

The biggest reason is that it has helped me get rid of the "all or nothing" mentality with dieting. It has shown me that I can eat fun foods like brownies and ice cream and still see results. It works for me because it allows me to have all the foods I love and crave within moderation. It also works for me because it has taught me how to fuel my body properly to feel my best and satisfy my cravings at the same time.

Here’s what I eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Turkey sausage breakfast burrito with protein coffee (this is the recipe!).
  • Lunch: Turkey and salami sandwich with carrots or some type of chips.
  • Snacks: Strawberries.
  • Dinner: Ground beef tacos with homemade guacamole and a side of green beans.
  • Dessert: Rice cake with protein nut butter.

When I started my weight-loss journey, I was recovering from hip surgery, and all the gyms were closed due to COVID.

At the beginning, all I did was walk our dog between one and two miles, five to seven days per week. At home, I would follow strength training programs using what I had (laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, and a resistance band!). I lost 10 pounds before ever stepping foot in the gym.

Once the gyms opened in early June 2020, I started strength training regularly. I got into strength training out of curiosity. I had read about how lifting weights can be beneficial for weight loss, and I am not a fan of long cardio sessions. So, I bought a lifting guide from an IG influencer and started with that.

Once I started I was hooked! Lifting weights is something I actually enjoy and I love how *strong* it makes me feel. Now, a typical week of exercise for me looks like four days of strength training and at least 8,000 steps, six days per week.

These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.

  1. I exercise for enjoyment—not for weight loss. I used to think you had to burn 500-plus calories on a cardio machine to lose weight When I started exercising in ways I enjoyed, instead of trying to burn the most calories, I actually stuck with exercising and made it a staple in my life. I can't go without my morning workouts now.
  2. I live a balanced lifestyle, and I fit in fun foods when I want them. You don't have to cut out your favorite foods. You can eat cookies, pizza, and cake; but maybe not all in the same day! There are no bad or good foods—there is just food.
  3. I focus on eating foods high in protein. Counting macros has taught me that eating high-protein foods keeps me full and satisfied, which makes trying to lose weight a little more enjoyable. Foods like lean turkey, chicken, beef, and Greek yogurt are some of my favorites.

I've lost 51 pounds total, and it took me 12 months.

My weight loss has changed my life in so many ways. I'm happier, more confident in my own skin, and so much more active than I was before. I just overall feel so much better.

I didn't have to restrict to lose weight, or spend hours on the cardio machines doing exercise I don't love. I didn't have to give up my favorite foods. I just had to be in a calorie deficit consistently.

I have been far from perfect on my journey, and I have still reached my goal. You can have days where you overindulge, skip a workout, or days where it doesn't just come together. In the past, I always tried to be perfect with weight loss. But consistency is what gets you to your goals.