This woman lost 165 pounds thanks to a drastic change of mindset

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Alyssa Cerez is 28, 5’2” tall, and currently weighs 135 pounds. In 2012, after years of struggling with her weight, she thought of her future and was determined to treat herself and her body better. This is her weight loss story.

The Turning Point

When I was perhaps six or seven years old, I was called “fat” by another young girl in first grade. It was the first time in my young life that I realized weight was something that people judged. As I grew up, this statement unfortunately stuck with me. Even though I always played sports, I began to eat very unhealthily. While experiencing life changes and depression in high school, my body continued to show the results of poor eating and less movement. Depression and bad choices took over for quite some time. I remember fighting with myself and with my body every time I went clothes shopping or simply to the fridge.

The turning point came just before my 23rd birthday. I was laying in bed and began to realize that I had never actually tried to like my body. This realization evolved into asking myself the question, “What would it feel like to love my body?” I then understood that I didn’t want to keep living in a body that I hated and resented. I asked myself, “If it were my last day on Earth, would I still loathe the body I was in?” I could not let the answer be “yes” any longer.

The Changes

The first step was deciding to practice self-love and self-kindness. This body is my home, after all. I would practice smiling at myself and my body in the mirror. This created the path toward feeling worthy of change — my body and mind deserve to be appreciated.

After practicing self-love and kindness, step two came much more easily to me: I made small changes to my lifestyle and eating choices. Personally, it served my body to take meat and dairy out of my diet, replacing them with raw vegetables and other sources of protein. I also made a point to get moving. I was self-conscious about working out in front of others, so I began walking a mile or so each day on a treadmill. Eventually the walks became more brisk and sometimes I alternated between walking and jogging.

Throughout the whole process I felt really good. Regardless of how my body looked on any given day, I was trying to just simply live for the moment. Eating, working out, hanging out with friends, I just tried to very purely enjoy all of it. Content with the process of working with my body, I continued to shed pounds.

For me, it always comes back to self-love and creating a feeling of worthiness within the body. If we respect the body, we will care for it. If we find gratitude for the little things inside the body, we gain more energy, thus gaining more motivation. I used this refrain often — “my mind and body both need a workout.” This is the primary reason I shifted towards practicing yoga. I liked the combination of self-care with movement all united through the sound of breathing. A true moving meditation.

Photo: Courtesy of Alyssa Cerez

The After

As I was losing weight people began noticing, and at first I was very uncomfortable to be put on the spot about my weight. It took time to get used to this. I remember after one and a half years on this journey I was photographed hanging out with a friend. It was the first photo taken of me in over a decade in which I didn’t recognize myself. I hadn’t noticed the changes in the day-to-day, but through the photo I saw how different I looked. I felt great, physically. Emotionally, I believe I was still working through years of self-mistreatment and improper care of my body.

Finding your true self is like peeling back the layers of an onion, and sometimes the outside is dirty and dusty. Eventually we get to the heart of it, the center, and it’s glorious — more than worth the time and work.

I think one of the first surprising moments on this journey was realizing I no longer understood how my body worked in space. I would bump into things at work, and I’d even bump people. It seemed like my balance was off, and my coordination needed fine tuning. After a few months in my “new” body it started to come back. Practicing yoga also helped cultivate more balance and confidence.

Another surprise is how I now like to have fun. My expression of fun has shifted greatly — at this point I would much rather go for a long hike with friends than out for dinner or drinks.

As for food, I eat pretty healthy but I don’t restrict myself. It’s not about being worthy of a treat or not, it’s about feeling good and eating for wellness.

Photos: Courtesy of Alyssa Cerez

The Maintenance

I really enjoy being active, which is why I try to at least walk a mile or practice yoga every day. Having a dog helps me get outside and get moving, but self-motivation is key to get on my mat for yoga or get outside. Once I am on the mat or outside, it seems like the energy flows easily and I am more than willing to put the work in.

Each day is different. My workout may consist of a 1- to 4-mile hike or a yoga practice. Sometimes I work out for 15 minutes or practice yoga for an hour. Other days I work out in my home, doing cardio or circuit training. It’s important for me to follow a schedule but to allow freedom and flexibility within my workouts.

Meditation has been important in my journey. Watching the breath rise and fall in the body is one of the simplest and most humbling ways to create health. After meditating, it seems like finding gratitude is much easier.

I’ve also found journaling to be enormously helpful. Sometimes it’s rambling, other days it’s a list of where I find gratitude. It’s just another tool for allowing the workout in my body to be fueled by a clean mind.

I practice meal prepping. Sometimes I make a few meals ahead for the week, or just the night before. Whether it is just one meal, or breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it makes the morning more pleasant.

I try to get to my yoga mat everyday. Whether I am stretching or practicing an entire flow depends on my body’s needs and time available. A simple rule I have used in this process: 10 minutes doing yoga or working out is 10 minutes more than not doing anything.

I think we all have something that humbles us, whether it be the physical body, someone we love, or the source/God/the universe. I like to remind myself that when I do something good for myself it has a ripple effect. What is good for me is good for others. Sometimes I don’t have self-motivation and trick my brain by dedicating my workout to someone else — maybe they’re too busy or having a hard time. It still amazes me how much energy I gain from giving love and care freely, without expectation.

Photos: Courtesy of Alyssa Cerez

The Struggles

Physically I struggle with extra loose skin.I don’t have insurance that would pay for a surgery to remove the skin, so it has created an opportunity to find self-acceptance. I try to find lots of love for my skin, as it illustrates hard work and dedication. Like everyone else, I too can be self-conscious, which can affect my emotional body. In those moments, I go back to the beginning: Looking in the mirror, finding one hair on my head or a part of my eye that is captivating — this is the way I compliment my body. Small things such as the strength of my legs — after all, they’ve held me up all these years.

If I am feeling sad or depressed, as hard as it seems, I get myself outside of the house. When I am outside in nature the world expands: birds come into view, deer enter the trail, and the wind blows away my stresses as I continue moving forward.

Photos: Courtesy of Alyssa Cerez


Find a practice of self-care and self-love. Some people love therapy or talking it out with friends, or with themselves in the mirror. This is your life, so how do you want to feel at the end of the day? Once you have that answer, work backwards. “How do I create that feeling now?” Little by little it grows and flourishes. And of course, a gentle reminder that at the end and beginning of each day, there we are. The body you have is your body and it always will be, so you might as well love it unconditionally.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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