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My name is Jen Piccolo (@jenthefitfoodie), and I am 29 years old. I live in Wolcott, Connecticut, and I am a NASM-certified personal trainer. I do flexible dieting, with a focus on eating high-protein, and strength train to maintain my 70-pound weight loss.

I had been overweight for a majority of my childhood and adolescence. I grew up a dancer and gymnast, where to buy generic retin from india without prescription and although I was very active, my love of fast food and dessert reigned superior. (You truly cannot outrun a bad diet.)

At 18, I hit my heaviest weight of 209 pounds. The realization hit me that I was going to graduate high school and would no longer be participating in dance or gymnastics. I needed a new hobby.

I began my weight-loss journey in the spring of 2009.

I knew I wanted to lose weight to be healthier, but there was also the vain part of me that wanted to fit into smaller clothes. But ultimately, I just wanted a fresh start.

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I tried every diet under the sun, but then I started to actually educate myself on the science of nutrition and the calorie content of various foods—and it changed my life. I believe that we need to focus more on nutrition, as that is often the root of weight gain. You can do all the workouts you want, but until you get your caloric intake in check, you won’t see a ton of changes.

I realized that the best diet is the diet that you are going to be consistent with. For me, that happens to be flexible dieting with an emphasis on eating high-protein. I track my daily calories and focus on hitting a specific protein goal.

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This is what I typically eat in a day now:

  • Breakfast: Egg-white oatmeal topped with frozen blueberries and Greek yogurt.
  • Lunch: Grilled buffalo chicken wrap with a side of veggies.
  • Snacks: Protein bar; or turkey slices, Laughing Cow cheese, and crackers.
  • Dinner: Teriyaki chicken with rice and broccoli.
  • Dessert: Yasso Greek yogurt bar or mini candy bar.

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In the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I was all about cardio. Then I learned more about the benefits of strength training.

I was walking on the treadmill every single day. I thought cardio was the only way to lose body fat, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. As I became more educated, I learned that it was strength training that was going to help me achieve my goals.

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I now workout four days a week, focusing on compound lifts such as bench pressing, squatting, and deadlifting. I love getting stronger and being able to measure progress in ways other than the scale. I also try to get 8,000 steps every single day.

My love of fitness also led me to become a NASM-certified personal trainer in 2015.

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

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I have lost a total of 70 pounds. It took me a little over a year, and I’ve kept it off for 10 years now.

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I can credit flexible dieting for my continued weight-loss success. It is a sustainable way of life for me, as I do not cut out any food group. I don’t see any foods as good or bad. There are foods that have more nutritional value and make me feel better, but there are no foods that are “bad.” I actually have a mini Take Five bar or Reese’s peanut butter cup every single day.

The key to weight loss and weight maintenance for me is balance. I had to find a way of living that didn’t require a “cheat day.” I don’t need to have cheat days because I budget my calories to enjoy the foods I love!

In the end, I didn’t need a cleanse, a pill, or a weight-loss shake to help me lose weight—I needed nutrition education. You can eat all of your favorite foods if you keep track and reach your weight-loss goals.

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