Transformation

How I Lost 35 Pounds — Without Giving Up Ice Cream

One Philadelphian who used nutrition and CrossFit to transform her body.

Photographs courtesy Alyssa Porambo

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one Philadelphian’s transformation story. Want to share yours? Email me at ccunningham@phillymag.com.

Who: Alyssa Porambo, 31, works in public relations, from Center City

Starting weight: 192

Ending weight: 157 (although I’m still a work in progress, so I wouldn’t necessarily call this my “ending” weight)

How long it took: A little over a year

Why I wanted to change: “First, turning 30 made me realize how many years I had spent living an unhealthy lifestyle; I had gone 12 years (!!!) of gaining and losing and gaining and losing and gaining weight, and I wanted that yo-yo cycle to end. Secondly, my family has a history of heart disease and high cholesterol. Finally, my brother got engaged and his wedding date was set for September 23, 2017, which served as another motivator — I had attended too many weddings feeling like the fattest person in the room, and I did not want my little brother’s wedding to be a sad or frustrating memory for me.”

Alyssa Porambo took up CrossFit as part of her transformation. Photograph courtesy Alyssa Porambo

How I changed my diet: “Simply put, I stopped eating crap and started caring about what I was putting into my body. I stopped ordering delivery every night because I felt lazy and started cooking lean proteins, vegetables, and good carbs like sweet potatoes, corn, and beans. I started eating as a means to fuel my body, versus eating stuff just because I wanted to or craved it. Full disclosure: I have a HUGE sweet tooth, so I also swapped pints of Ben & Jerry’s for pints of Halo Top (so good). Nothing can take me away from my beloved ice cream.”

How I changed my exercise routine: “A few months after I started with OnPoint Nutrition, I joined CrossFit Rittenhouse. And I have to say, the combination of overhauling my diet with overhauling my exercise routine has completely changed my life. I never would have thought I would have become a CrossFit person, but I am here to tell you that joining that gym is the best decision I made in 2017. I go to CF three or four days per week. And on days where I’m not WODding, I either take a SoulCycle class or go for a run, and always make sure to take a rest day (sometimes two, depending on how rough that week’s programming was).”

It’s an incredible feeling to be in control of my body.

What else changed: “I became so much happier, more energized, and generally far more pleasant to be around. I learned how to cook, how to exercise, and how to finally have a healthy relationship with food. I am so much happier because I am not stuck in a cycle of binge eating, feeling guilty about it, and beating myself up for it to the point where I binge again. I am confident that I can make good choices even in the toughest of situations (hello, holiday season!), and even when I do slip up, I know I can recover from it quickly. It’s an incredible feeling to be in control of my body.”

The hardest part: “I went through a pretty long plateau period, and that was really hard for me to reconcile. I was doing everything right, but was not seeing the results I wanted on the scale. I really leaned on my nutritionist Emily to help get me through that; she worked with me on recipe ideas, the timing of my eating, and more. She helped me not give up when it would have been very easy to do so.”

What’s left: “I’m definitely still working on myself, but I am so incredibly happy with my progress. When I originally set out on this program, my goal weight was 140, but now, I’m not so sure. At this point in my journey, I like to measure my success in how I look and feel — how many sizes I’ve dropped (I’ve gone from a 12/14 to an 8/10), how many miles I can run without stopping, or how I don’t feel sick after eating way too much in one sitting.”

What I want you to know: “That you really CAN do it. I know it sounds so cliche, but it’s really true. If you set your mind to something, with the right tools and support system, you can make it happen!”