Fougeley Denis has lost 116 pounds in three years. From 300 pounds she went on to become an icon of sustained weight loss.  |  Photo Credit: Instagram
- At 18, Fougeley weighed 300 pounds and her paediatrician warned her she was about to become diabetic if she did not change her lifestyle.
- Fougeley Denis realised that given her sedentary lifestyle she was seriously over-eating and not exercising at all.
- She began entering every single thing that she ate into the app and tracked her weight every week
Meet Fougeley Denis (@leleygetsfit) – a 21-year-old from Maryland (USA). She works at a non-profit that supports people with intellectual disabilities. When the doctor told her she was prediabetic due to her massive weight problem, she lost over 100 pounds and overcame her binge eating disorder in the process.
This is how she did it and told Women’s Health her story.
“I had been overweight my entire life. I was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs, so I was always eating on the go. We didn’t have much time to prepare a nutritious meal every night, so fast food or quick meals were usually what I ate. I knew nothing about the importance of health, nutrition, or fitness,”Fougeley Denis told Women’s Health.
Food became her source of comfort in her growing up years and she was soon a victim of an eating disorder. She was 17 when her paediatrician warned her that unless she rehauled her lifestyle and lost excess weight, she (already a prediabetic) was all set to become diabetic.
She says that despite her family trying to warn her about the weight she was putting on, she continued her cycle of binging on food, then taking up fad diets to impress her family that she was trying, and then back again after a few days to her overeating ways. She was caught in a cycle of comfort food to guilt to sickness and back again to binging.
At 18, Fougeley Denis weighed almost 300 pounds. When she began her freshman year of college out of state she still continued to eat out all the time. She was struck by depression and a feeling of inadequacy, unable to keep pace with classmates, and ran out of breath every time she had to climb a flight of stairs. Crossing the legs when sitting was a challenge and so was any activity as her heart would beat in a worrisome manner every time she moved strongly.
By spring of her freshman year, (she tells in her Instagram post as also reported by Women’s Health readers that) she was tired of living the way she did. At her 2018 annual physical, her doctor told her that she only had a few months or weeks even before she became completely diabetic, and would most likely develop further complications along the way.
That sent her questioning her relationship with food. She says she did a ton of research and learned everything she could about nutrition and exercise. “I was completely unaware of the importance of moving your body and the benefits it could bring… I realized I needed to take away the power that food had over me,” Fougeley Denis writes.
She also redefined what food meant to her. As someone who had never eaten healthy, she confesses that she had no understanding of what a balanced diet was. “So, I downloaded MyFitnessPal, a calorie-counting app to help me stay on track. On my first day of using the app, I tracked a normal day of eating and realized that I ate over 3,000 calories,” Fougeley Denis writes on her Instagram.
Fougeley Denis realised that given her sedentary lifestyle she was seriously over-eating.
She began entering every single thing that she ate into the app and tracked her weight every week.
For the first month of her diet, she says she went completely cold turkey and stopped eating out and buying snacks.
“I saw results, but I still had the urge to binge after not having my comfort foods for weeks at a time,” Fougeley Denis confesses.
Learning portion control:
That is when she decided that she need not completely restrict herself from her old pleasures. “I just had to learn portion control. I could still enjoy my favourite foods in moderation. It was not realistic for me to eat boring salads every day, but it was also not realistic to binge on fast food every day. I let my body eat what it craved, but not in excess. I finally learned what it meant to live a balanced lifestyle,” Fougeley Denis says.
The importance of exercise:
It was not easy to start exercising either. She began with walking — slow walking. “After a few weeks of watching my eating and walking, I saw drastic changes—I lost 10 pounds in the first 10 days of my new lifestyle.”
“I would just walk until I no longer felt like walking. Sometimes this would be 15 minutes and sometimes it would be three hours. It was hard to stay motivated, but I made sure to move my body every week,” Fougeley Denis writes on her Instagram.
A typical Fougeley Denis day:
- Now, Fougeley Denis works out regularly at the gym five to six times a week.
- She also runs at least five miles a week and lifts regularly.
This is all a far cry from the early days of her campaign to lose weight when she could not walk for more than 15 minutes. “I never would have thought that I would be running miles in a million years. I have fallen in love with moving my body,” she tells Women’s Health.
Her exercise schedule? Heading to the gym early in the morning at around 7 am before going to work. She begins with 20 to 30 minutes of cardio and then starts lifting. The remainder of the day is left for staying active and also fitting in a lot of walking in-between.
Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs, an avocado, one slice of low-calorie bread
Lunch: A protein shake and fruit
Snacks: Yogurt, granola, and honey
Dinner: Four ounces of chicken tenderloins or salmon, 1/2 cup of rice, and broccoli
Dessert: One or two Outshine bars
The 3 key changes Fougeley Denis adopted:
- Eating in moderation: Fougeley Denis does not deny herself the foods she enjoyed earlier. The only difference is that she now eats them in moderation and once in a while. Her craving for ice cream and cookies is still nursed, but she knows when to stop. Food is not going anywhere, Fougeley Denis says wisely!
- Keep moving every day: Moving your body is so important for your physical health, mental health, and overall well-being. She feels she is a better version of herself now. Exercising has also taken away her urges to binge.
- She loves who she has become: Confident and happy, comfortable under her own skin. “My weight loss journey started off with a lot of self-loathing, but I realized no matter how big or small I am, I need to love myself for me. Physically changing my body will not change what is on the inside. I am more than my physical appearance. I deserve to feel loved no matter how I look,” Fougeley Denis says.
In 2 years’ time, Fougeley Denis lost 116 pounds
Fougeley Denis appreciates the wonders eating wisely and exercising have done to her body and mind. “Losing weight is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, but I am also the happiest I have ever been in my life… There were so many times when I wanted to give up after not seeing instant results, but like reaching any other goal in life, you have to be consistent… I no longer try to hide away from others in layers of clothing. I am boldly me,” Fougeley Denis writes as reported by Women’s Health.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.