How this woman used social media to lose 65 pounds

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When Alana Nappi’s weight hit 190 pounds in 2017, she knew it was time to make some changes. She wasn’t happy with how she looked physically — or how she felt.

“I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I was out of breath from running and couldn’t sleep well. My cholesterol levels were bad. I had a lot of heartburn and digestive problems. My anxiety was high. I felt depressed and my self-esteem was low,” she said.

Nappi also struggled with binge eating and felt unsupported by her family and friends. “You doubted me. They said I had no willpower,” she said. “I wanted to prove them wrong.”

She made a weight loss plan

She tried Nutrisystem to boost her weight loss and she lost 20 pounds, but she regained it when she stopped using the program. So, two years ago, she turned to social media and started populating her feed with nutritionists and people who have successfully lost weight. “I’ve learned what to eat and what not to eat and how other people have succeeded,” she said. Now she shares her own progress on Instagram.

Photo by Alana Nappi (Courtesy of Alana Nappi)

Nappi decided to limit carbs, added sugars, and food additives like coloring. She doesn’t eat “diet” or “sugar-free” foods because she finds they intensify her cravings. She also increased her protein intake and added fruits and vegetables to every meal. With fewer carbs and more protein, she initially lost two to three pounds a week and lost 65 pounds overall.

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She has had many out-of-scale victories since changing her habits

These are some of the other health benefits Nappi has gained:

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Your energy is higher.

She’s in better shape.

She doesn’t get out of breath that easily.

She doesn’t feel as hot or sweat as much.

Her digestive problems are much better – she doesn’t get heartburn as often anymore.

Her mental health has improved.

She feels safer.

Nappi admits that making the necessary changes wasn’t easy: “It took an extreme level of dedication and persistence. I’ve fought, cried and pushed myself. There were times when I wanted to give up. There have been days, even months, that I’ve struggled and it’s gotten easier, but I’m still struggling.”

Alana Nappi (courtesy of Alana Nappi)

So she changed her diet to improve her health

Nappi, 27, admits she ate “really bad” before changing her diet. She ate a lot of fast food, drank soda, and ate lots of candy, muffins, and chips. Replacing soda with water was one of the first changes she made. Now she drinks water first thing in the morning. Over time, she switched to a low-carb, high-protein diet and recently became a pescetarian.

She said: “It feels great to eat clean. My skin has started to glow. I’m so much more positive and energetic – my mood is so much better. What you put into your body is everything!”

Nappi is studying social education and is currently doing a social internship. “I’m never home much,” she said. So preparing and packaging food helps her make healthy choices. She does grocery shopping once a week on Sundays, avoiding the aisles that she knows will tempt her.

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After shopping, she cooks up some salmon or some other type of fish and a week’s veg with a sauce like teriyaki. She mixes up her selections weekly so she doesn’t always eat the same thing. “People think it’s all chicken and broccoli, but there are a lot of options,” she said.

Alana Nappi (courtesy of Alana Nappi)

She often adds a bit of potato because, as a pescetarian, she finds it hard to get full. “That bit of carbs helps me not to snack as much,” she said. “I’ve learned that you need carbs — you shouldn’t cut them out entirely — but you should eat more whole grains and healthier carbs. I don’t eat much white flour anymore. If I have a sandwich, I eat whole grain bread.

She admits she struggles with cravings: “Even now cravings are hard for me. If I’m craving sugar, I’ll have fruit or dark chocolate.” But she doesn’t rule out other treats entirely. “I love cake, but now I have it in moderation, like a small piece at a party,” she said.

Here’s what she might eat on a typical day

Nappi aims for protein and fruit or veg at every meal and healthy carbs with one or two meals a day. She chooses foods like these:

Breakfast: A protein bar, eggs or a smoothie. Sometimes she drinks decaffeinated coffee with a cup of mocha and almond milk (Although the mocha has sugar in it, it replaces the muffins she used to eat, which had even more sugar.)

Lunch: A vegetable omelette with a salad

Dinner: Salmon or another type of fish, brown or white rice, a sweet potato or a regular potato, and a green vegetable like Brussels sprouts

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Alana Nappi (courtesy of Alana Nappi)

So walking helped

A solid exercise routine supports Nappi’s health. For exercise, she walks at least 30 minutes a day on a high-speed, incline treadmill. “I love to run. I feel like it’s helping my mental health,” she said. “And the incline strengthens your muscles more and makes it more challenging.”

When the weather is nice, she also enjoys walking and hiking outside near her home on Long Island. And sometimes she pushes herself with a Stairmaster workout. She also incorporates strength training into her fitness routine three days a week.

She is overcoming a health setback

A few months ago, Nappi was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, and getting it under control has complicated her weight-loss efforts. At first she lost too much weight, but then she gained 15 pounds in two weeks. “I worked so hard to lose the weight and then a health condition got in the way,” she said. Now that she’s on thyroid medication, she’s back on track and hopes to maintain a weight of 135-140 pounds.

Alana Nappi (courtesy of Alana Nappi)

The final result

Nappi turned to the Start TODAY Facebook group to connect with other people for support and encouragement, and to share her own successes. And she said, “The truth is, you have to want the changes. The days when I don’t feel motivated are the days when I have to try hardest because that’s when I need it the most.”

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