My name is Luz Arteaga (@luzwontgiveup), and I’m 23 years old. I’m from San Jose, California, and I work as a healthcare administration clerk. After a family trip made me realize how much my weight was holding me back, I started following a low-carb diet, weighing my food with a scale, and walking at least 10,000 steps a day. I've now lost 80 pounds in under 11 months.

I have been overweight most of my life. In my early teen years I was always heavier than most of my friends. I’ve always been plus size (size 16 in high school). Although I was overweight, I was still comfortable enough with my body. But when I was 19 years old, I started battling anxiety and stress. Food was always a form of comfort for me, but I soon realized that my eating habits had spiraled. I avoided my scale and jeans for months. Soon enough, I had gained nearly 100 pounds. I was really ashamed, and I felt that I was too far off track, so I accepted where I was. As much as I tried to laugh it off or ignore how miserable I really felt, I knew how far I was from the person I had been and even further from the person I wanted to be. I reached my heaviest weight of 329 pounds at 20 years old.

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My first wake up call was in 2018. Shortly after turning 21, I went on a family trip.

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Being away from my normal routine made me realize just how much my weight gain had affected my ability to do small, enjoyable things.

Struggling to sit in small seats on planes and avoiding plastic chairs in restaurants were uncomfortable things I had to be aware of. I also would get rude comments from strangers. I completely avoided cameras because the person I saw in the photos was completely unrecognizable. I got tired of being the biggest person in the room. I started my journey on July 14, 2019. It was certainly a wake up call that I needed and I’m grateful for it.

In the beginning of my journey I started a low-carb meal plan and began using a food scale. Weighing my food has been the best decision ever!

It helps me stay accountable and keep track of how much I’m eating. Although my diet is low-carb, I’m still able to enjoy foods I grew up with like rice, beans, tortillas, etc., only in smaller portions. I don’t feel completely deprived of the food I love, so it’s sustainable for me.

Here’s what I typically eat in a day.

Breakfast: 3 eggs, 3 turkey sausages

Lunch: 4-6 ounces of protein, greens, 1 carb

Snacks: Nuts, cheese

Dinner: 4-6 ounces of protein, greens

I would say that 90 percent of my weight loss has been a result of my diet, but I make a goal of walking 10,000-12,000 steps a day.

This first year of my journey, my main focus has been to improve my relationship with food and eating habits. But moving forward, I will make exercise a priority and set new goals for myself.

These three changes helped me see the most noticeable results in my weight loss.

Change 1: I took things one day at a time.
One of of the reasons it took me so long to start is because I knew it’d take months to see change, and I’d get overwhelmed. The truth is time passes so quickly! I’m so happy I pushed myself to start when I did.

Change 2: I worked on staying consistent.
If you consistently eat right, you will continue to see results over time. In the past if I had one cheat meal I’d be so disappointed, and soon it would turn into a never-ending cycle of overeating. Being consistent doesn’t mean being perfect. Every day is a new opportunity to get back on track and be committed.

Change 3: I did my best to educate myself about weight loss.
When I used to see other weight loss stories, they seemed so inspiring, yet it always felt impossible for me! I’m sure many can relate and the truth is we are all capable and strong enough. Don’t doubt yourself. Start with what you know and learn as much as you can along the way.

I’ve lost over 80 pounds in under 11 months.

My weight loss journey is far from over and I’m excited to see my transformation in the years to come. I’d like to encourage other women to start their own journey. It has been the best, most liberating choice I’ve made. We are all capable and worthy of becoming the best versions of ourselves!