'A High-Protein, Low-Sugar Diet Helped Me Lose 150 Pounds'

My name is Lainey Selby (@lainlifts), and I am 24 years old. I am from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and I am the manager of The Vitamin Shoppe in Gaithersburg. After struggling with binge eating for many years, I followed a high-protein, low-sugar diet to lose weight and take care of my mental health. I also started lifting, which eventually led to the beginning of my career as a competitive bodybuilder.


Going into the freshman year of high school at age 14, I was at an average, healthy weight. I had struggled with some knee injuries as a young athlete playing lacrosse, but continued to push through and play the sport I loved. But that year also brought struggles that I wasn’t quite ready for—depression and anxiety, which led to severe binge eating episodes. As my time at high school went on, I continued to gain weight. By the end of high school, I was over 280 pounds.

Despite being heavy and obese, I was signed to play NCAA Division II lacrosse in college. One semester in, my mental health was at the lowest point it had ever been. Playing a college sport without being in proper condition was painful physically and mentally. I lost motivation for everything—practice, class, social gatherings—and continued to secretly binge eat. I hit a breaking point and made the unfortunate decision to try to take my own life. I’m very fortunate and grateful that my attempt was unsuccessful.

I returned home from school and slowly eased myself into the workforce. By 2018, I was working in a full-time management position. I left a job in 2019 to have MPFL reconstruction surgery on my right knee, which had me in physical therapy for two months. (I was also informed that I have arthritis in both knees.) My weight hit its highest at 330 pounds. The recovery was rough, but I got through it.

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In January 2020, I decided I would work on little things to better myself.

I started doing squats every day (even if it was just a few), drinking a lot of water, and eating more produce. I lost my first 20 pounds through these small changes in the first three months. Then, COVID hit and everything shut down.

I was out of work from March to June 2020. I was at home doing absolutely nothing and talking to absolutely no one. I wasn’t in a relationship. I had no distractions. This was the first time where I had no one to blame for my problems, and no situation to lay my anxiety upon; it was all me—and only me. I got the opportunity to reflect on myself in a way I had never done before. I realized that weight loss was going to be an extremely hard mental change. I knew that I would have to change my mindset on so many levels, and I would have to take responsibility for my actions and thoughts.

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Between 2011 and 2020, I tried so hard to lose weight through gym memberships, weight-loss medication, food plans, and more. I would start a strict diet, painfully work out, not see results, then give up. And then that cycle would repeat. I promised myself that 2020 would be different. I accepted that it would be the hardest thing I had ever done. I also learned that I had prediabetes, high cholesterol, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

I allotted myself the time and patience to get used to each change before adding a new one. For example, I got used to my greens and water intake before adding protein goals. I wanted to be able to eat all food groups. I didn’t want to choose a specific diet that cut out a lot of my options, but I ate as many non-processed foods as I could. I didn’t restrict how much I ate, and stuck to fruit, veggies, poultry, fish, some complex carbs, beans, seeds, nuts, and limited dairy. When I ate snacks, I would go for organic or low-sodium options. I still had my cheat meals, which consisted of whatever I felt like.

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Overall, the only numbers I focused on were drinking a gallon of water daily, eating a serving of greens daily, and staying high protein and low sugar. I also cut out soda and juice.

Here’s what I eat in a day now.

  • Breakfast: Four egg whites, spinach, two slices of Ezekiel bread toast with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spread
  • Snack: Iwon protein sticks
  • Lunch: Brown rice, half an avocado, 4 oz. salmon
  • Snack: Dymatize protein shake
  • Dinner: Roasted Brussels sprouts, 4 oz. grilled chicken, half a sweet potato
  • Dessert: Greek yogurt with granola and dark chocolate chips

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    Once I got used to the nutritional adjustments, I added a more specific fitness regimen.

    It slowly morphed from a little bit of strength and cardio to more intense lifting. I didn’t start full workouts immediately, but went for walks and did squats here and there throughout the day. After losing about 40 pounds through better nutrition and a little bit of exercise, I got a gym membership when gyms reopened in the summer of 2020. It was manageable for me because I had already lost some weight and was on the right track.

    I worked with a trainer for a little while, who taught me how to properly lift and create sets. This encouraged me to come to the gym even when I wasn’t with my trainer. Eventually, I started going to the gym five days per week with two rest days.

    When I was down 100 pounds in February 2021, I decided that I would compete in my first bodybuilding competition in October 2021. I registered for the Summer Shredding Classic in Houston, Texas. I continued to work out and had the help of my new coach and PNBA bikini pro, Char Forero. I placed ninth out of 64 beautiful women in the transformation division of the show, and couldn’t be happier.

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    This opened the door to the beginning of my bodybuilding career, where I want to pursue NPC Wellness. I’m currently in off-season, where I’m maintaining my weight and working on growing muscle mass at my gym, BenAFits Body Shop in Rockville. I currently work out four days a week. Regardless, I always get over 10,000 steps a day between my job and the gym. My workouts consist of core, strength training, and cardio. My strength training days are divided into push, pull, and legs.

    I developed a love for a healthy lifestyle and made it a hobby! This eventually turned into bodybuilding, supplement research, and helping others reach their goals.

    These three changes have led to my weight loss success.

    1. I changed my mindset. If you change your mindset to “it is what it is” while dealing with hard situations, it sets your mind up to endure the challenges. Changing your mindset to accept that things will be hard makes you stronger. Accept that a lifestyle change will be painful and be ready for a challenge.
    2. I made sure I had a good support system. Throughout my journey, I constantly had people around me who supported me and even joined me! Between my family, friends, boyfriend, coworkers, gym family, and social media, I always felt like there were people who were rooting for me, which kept me going.
    3. I put myself in a work environment where I was happy. Being at The Vitamin Shoppe makes me happy because it fits my life as I continue to spread knowledge and awareness of healthy living through supplements and lifestyle tips. It pushes me to continue to be my best self for my team, customers, and everyone around me
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        Overall, I’ve lost just over 150 pounds. Since then, I’ve maintained body fat and continued to grow muscle mass.

        Throughout this journey, I’ve learned that our mental health is closely correlated with our physical health. Serotonin is our body’s mood stabilizer, and our gut produces 95 percent of your body’s serotonin. Knowing this, I decided to put clean foods into my digestive system and eventually saw a night-and-day difference. My fitness routine helps me release stress and tension. When you’re taking care of your body, you’re taking care of your mind.

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        Finally, if you’re on a weight-loss journey or trying to make a lifestyle change, accept that you can’t rely on motivation. It’s about discipline. Be ready to endure the pain of the journey.

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