My Life : Tips to Lose Weight

My Life : Tips to Lose Weight Before Your Wedding Or Portrait Session by Melissa Arlena Photography

My Tips to Lose Weight

So this might seem like an odd topic to talk about on a photography blog but I have always loved sharing my journey in life in the hopes that it speaks to others like me! Plus I know so many brides are looking to lose weight before their wedding so I thought my experience might be helpful. Even beyond brides I really want to speak to other moms out there that don’t want to have portraits taken with their husband or kids because they just want to lose a bit of weight first. Instead of putting off your photos let’s put off not putting yourself first and make today the day you really start to change your future!

I could give you my full backstory but I think it can be summed up simply in that I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. I’ve never been the skinniest girl but I usually wasn’t the biggest either so I figured I was ok. Fast forward to last year and a shocking photo that showed me I was a lot bigger than I thought in my head. I think most of us that aren’t happy with our weight try to bury it deep in the back of our minds, we make sure to angle properly for photos or stick to selfies at a flattering angle. It’s all about the angles and of course taking 15 photos till we get a good one we like. But when you ask a friend to take a full body shot of you to show off your booth design at a bridal show the cold hard ugly truth slaps you across the face! I seriously don’t know if I have a trick mirror or a trick mind because I did not see the girl in the photo when I looked in the mirror every day. Obviously, I knew my jean size and my top size but I didn’t see it in the mirror.

Here is the photo :

2015-02-22 15.55.24-1

Yep, that is all 181lbs of me sitting on a 5’4″ frame. Yes, internet I did just reveal my weight to you. A number I used to hide from my husband when I got on the scale. My shirt there that I loved and matched my booth was about to burst at the seams. When I took it off that night I could see all the seams were stretched to the breaking point because I wasn’t a Large like I was pretending to still be I was into the X-Large territory. So what did I do? I got a Fitbit, joined Weight Watchers online and started working out to Slim in 6. That all lasted about 6 weeks and helped me get rid of 5lbs. Then I got bored with the workouts and frustrated with trying to work out around the kids. I stopped tracking my food and started eating whatever I wanted again and canceled my WW account. My new plan was to avoid full body photos as much as I could, buy bigger clothes, better bras to ahem, emphasize my assets and wish I wasn’t so big. Yep, that is a fantastic plan, isn’t it!

Fast forward to this year and I had to get a new attitude. January 1st I weighed in at 176 and I hated it. I hated being hot all the time, even outside in the dead of winter, I would be hot. I hated putting on a Pinterest inspired outfit and then comparing only to find out I did not wear it best. I HATED my double chin!!! So I got a new attitude and prioritized ME!

Updated : I’ve lost over 32lbs since 1.1.16!!!!!! I’ve dropped 3 pants sizes and can now wear size 4-6 jeans and small shirts! I’m down 6″ in my waist and about 16″ overall!

2016-02-11 15.45.28

181 on the left and 159 on the right


176 on the left and 144 on the right!

Before is from hubby starting school in January and after is his graduation in May!

2016-02-25 16.39.22

These 3 are pretty recent but I’m so excited to be wearing smaller sizes and no longer busting out of my old clothes!

2016-02-26 09.21.08

So let me tell you how I’ve done it and maybe it will inspire you too!

My Tips to Lose Weight for your Wedding or Portrait Session

  1. Weight Watchers Meetings – I joined Weight Watchers again but this time with the support of meetings to hold myself accountable. Knowing I am weighing in each week keeps me honest with my tracking. Plus being around others going through the same battle I am keeps me motivated.
  2. Connect on the Weight Watchers App – Seriously if you are doing WW at all you need to get on Connect. It’s like Facebook but better because everyone is positive and encouraging. Seeing success stories helps me put down the cider and pick up my water bottle. It helps me press play on my workout videos. Seeing people lose 100+lbs is so inspiring.
  3. Jillian Michaels – I looked into some workout programs I could do at home that were around 30min and found 30 Day Shred by Jillian Micheals. Even better I found tons of her videos on Amazon streaming so I can take them with me on my phone or ipad when we travel. I paid for some and some are free, you can even find 30 Day Shred on You Tube for free!
  4. Sleeping in my workout clothes – I ordered some cute workout clothes from Fabletics so I could feel stylish while working out. I’m a typical girl so new outfits make me excited to wear them. I sleep in my workout clothes now. Yep, it is a simple trick that keeps me honest and motivated in the morning, even when I don’t want to work out I’ll be darned if I take off my workout clothes without actually working out! I work out first thing in the morning so all I have to do is put on my shoes and do it!
  5. AM workouts – If I tried to work out later in the day I’d never do it. Now I get up, get the kids breakfast going, put on Paw Patrol and workout where I can make sure they aren’t going to kill themselves. Is it easy? Hell No!!!! I have to beg, threaten and bribe my kids to not destroy the place. I’ve worked out with them “working out” right next to me. I’ve had to pause my workout to get Rob out of the bathroom sink where he has decided to take a bath. But I go back and I finish my workout.
  6. Stop Drinking My Calories – By this I mean I cut out soda and cut back drastically on ciders. I get 30 points a day on WW and a Coke is 9 points!!!!! Yeah before WW I literally was drinking my calories in soda and beer every day. Do I miss soda, dear god yes!!!! Will I abstain forever, no but for now we are on a break till I can learn to control myself.
  7. Wine – I have learned to savor wine instead of throwing back glass after glass. While wine is better than cider or soda on my points I still have to be careful. I do budget at least 1 glass of wine a night into my points. I’m solo parenting a 2 & 3-year-old right now while David is in school so you can bet I need alcohol!
  8. Camelbak Bottle – I am the worst for drinking water, the absolute worst. So I got two cute Camelbak water bottles and I keep them with me all the time. I track in my Fitbit every time I refill them. I heard a great tip at WW the other week where the lady doesn’t let herself have anything else to drink till she has drank all her water for the day. I think that is a brilliant idea!
  9. FitBit – I LOVE my Fitbit! I saw a cute meme the other day on Connect that said: “If I take a step without wearing my Fitbit does it really count?”. Haha so true, I hate charging mine because I can’t keep track of my step count for the day. I participate in challenges with friends to see who has the most steps. I got the ChargeHR so I can track my heart rate while working out. I like to see which workouts are really getting my heart rate up. Plus I’m the girl that got out of bed the other night to get another 300 steps in to hit 20k in one day! Gotta get those steps!
  10. No More Excuses – 3 months ago I could have given you every excuse in the book for not working out. Hell, the I have a 2 & 3-year-old is all the excuse most people need to hear. I could have justified my cider and soda habit. I could have shown you how I was active because I hit 10k steps on my Fitbit almost every day. But I decided No More Excuses, just do it. Track your food, make better food and drink choices and work out no matter what. Even if the kids are hanging off you, breathe deep and think of them as extra weight to tone up your muscles ;). Been there done that.

Now you might be reading that thinking holy cow she is totally denying herself all the good stuff to eat and drink but I’m not. I still drink, just in moderation and I make sure my activity level goes up to counteract it. This past weekend I earned my two ciders cleaning up our yard! I just had fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and a shortcake pastry while typing this! 5 Smart Points!

I want to lose another 20lbs and I’m averaging about 2lbs a week overall. So fingers crossed that by June I’ll hit my goal! Plus thanks to Jillian I’m discovering my abs which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before! As my friend Camille said when I talked about my weight loss on FB, “doing the basics… Eating well and moving. I have to keep telling myself that the “trick” is pretty simple :).”

So if you’re trying to lose weight for your wedding or get rid of that stubborn baby weight so you’ll finally get your photos taken with your kids I hope I have inspired and motivated you!

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    Melissa Arlena is an award winning Richmond and Charlottesville photographer. She recently earned her Master Photographer Certification in the Maternity, Newborn & Family categories from the National Association of Professional Child Photographers. Melissa offers maternity, lifestyle newborn, and family photography in her relaxed, natural, and joyful style.


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