How I Lost 25 Pounds Without Joining a Gym — Or Giving Up Pizza

A Philly nurse-turned-fitness coach who changed her life for the better — with room for cheat meals.

Photographs courtesy Jasyra Santiago.

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

Who: Jasyra Santiago-Hines (@Fit4aRN), 28, retired nurse turned fitness coach from Northeast Philadelphia

Starting weight: 130 pounds (I am five feet tall, so 130 is overweight for my height)

Ending weight: 105 pounds

When I started: March 2012

How I changed my diet: “I made a ton of changed to my diet, but I don’t call it a diet, I call it a lifestyle change. Nutrition has been a journey and with years of learning I have tried many different things. My diet when I first started was horrible. I only ate two times a day and it was always fast food. I never ate veggies either. Now I don’t eat fast food or fried foods. I have minimal gluten, and my cheat meals are about twice a month. I eat all food groups — fruits, veggies, carbs, proteins — all the essentials you need for a balanced diet. I do love me some pizza, cookies, and Hooters but I keep that to a minimal.”

How I changed my exercise routine: “When I first started I tried the gym and a trainer but it just didn’t work for me because of my crazy nurse schedule. I started to work out at home with home workout programs (I have done a ton of Beachbody programs, which I currently still do.) They have been the best for me and have given me the best results because they’re all inclusive. You get a full game plan with workouts, nutrition, a cooking show, and even online support. I work out six times a week and my workouts are a mix of lifting and cardio.”

“I feel like I am a brand-new person who just loves to wake up and tackle the day.”

What improved for me: “My entire life has changed because I decided to put my health first. I am in the best shape I have ever been. I am no longer depressed, and my anxiety is controlled. I feel like I am a brand-new person who just loves to wake up and tackle the day, which us a huge difference.”

What I’m most proud of: “My discipline to stay consistent. It’s been a tough journey, and I have had many ladies join me and quit. Starting a fitness journey is never easy, so being able to stick with it for this long is my proudest moment of it all.”

The hardest part: “The hardest part for sure is nutrition, and I still struggle with it. Healthy eating can be delicious of course, but I love Insomnia Cookies, Hooters and a gluten-free Dominos pizza. I also don’t love veggies, but because I love my body — and keep my cheat meals to a minimum — I try different veggies out. Nutrition is a constant struggle, but what helps is when you go grocery shopping, don’t bring anything bad home. I have no access to bad foods in my home and that makes it easier to stay on track.”

What I’m working on now: “I am proud for how far I have made it today but I am always a work in progress. I am working on building more lean muscle, having six-pack abs, and building a booty.”

What I want you to know: “You don’t have to be perfect to get a transformation. I still love my cheat meals, and I don’t always love to workout. But I do it because it makes me feel better and it gives me so much confidence that I never had before. As long as you start and create the habit, eating healthy and working out will become like a habit — similar to brushing your teeth. It will never be easy but its will be worth it.”

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly—here’s how: