‘I Tried Intermittent Fasting And Youtube Workouts And Lost 120 Pounds During The Pandemic’

My name is Brianna Oyewo (@beginwithbri), and I am 33. I live outside of Buffalo, New York, and work for the New York State Department of Labor.

I was overweight ever since I was a child, and even got bulled because of my weight. I remember my mother and I did a weight-loss program together at a local college when I was maybe 10 years old, where they taught the importance of exercise, portion control, nutrition, and more to parents and their children. I lost weight, but then was bullied for being too thin. I quickly gained the weight back. Then, my mother passed away.

My grandmother became my legal guardian and tried to help me make healthier choices. During my senior year of high school, we joined Weight Watchers, and I was able to lose about 60 pounds. I quickly gained it back when I went to live in dorms in college. And ever since then, I had been over 200 pounds. I became a vegetarian back in 2012, but still was not making healthier eating choices. I would join a gym off and on or get involved with different fitness activities like Muay Thai boxing, but I never committed to any of these things, and therefore never saw long-lasting results.

After giving birth to my first child in 2020 at 32, I hit my heaviest weight of 281 pounds, and was considered medically obese.

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I understood that overweight people were at greater risk for serious complications if they developed a COVID infection, and that played a huge role in motivating me to make healthier choices, especially as a first time mother to an infant at that time.


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Then on June 23rd, 2020, at 32 years old, I met up with a friend who was the same age as me for a stroll in a nearby park. As we slowly walked through the park, uphill, downhill, and through the neighborhood, I noticed how easily winded I was. I was embarrassed as I struggled to carry on the conversation because I was out of breath. I was embarrassed by how sore my inner thighs were from rubbing together as we walked.


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I thought about all the ways that I had been hindered by my weight in the recent past: having to ask for a seat belt extension on airplanes and at amusement parks, barely being able to fit into a booth at restaurants, and not feeling confident enough to dress how I wanted to. I didn’t pursue different desires because of my weight, and I realized how short life on this Earth really is. I wanted to make the most of it, and be around for as long as I could for my family, and set a good example for my daughter. I did not want her to struggle the way that I had been struggling, so I knew I needed a change.

My journey started with a prayer to God for healing and help. That gave me the confidence, hope and motivation that I needed to start my weight-loss journey and to stick with it.


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I started to read articles and watched videos about intermittent fasting (IF) and decided to give that a try.

IF is where you have a specific eating window in which you consume all your calories for the day, and a fasting window. This can help you lose weight because it may help you eat fewer calories overall. It really worked for me because with my schedule, and I was already naturally fasting during certain times of the day unintentionally.


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I also learned about the importance of creating a calorie deficit. Counting calories or points was also a huge component of the Weight Watchers program that I did as a teenager, and I knew that anything I did where I was reducing my calories and increasing my activity was going to lead to weight loss—it was just a matter of doing it consistently.

I also talked to my physician about my diet and eating plan, and took blood tests throughout my process to ensure that I was healthy and not lacking anything nutritionally.


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Here’s what I eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Greek Light and Fit vanilla flavored yogurt with Honey Bunches of Oats Granola
  • Lunch: Garden salad with kale and spinach, red onions, grape tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and zesty Italian dressing
  • Snacks: Cucumbers with feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, red peppers, and Greek dressing
  • Dinner: Vegetarian chili with black beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions in spaghetti sauce with chili seasoning, over cauliflower rice
  • Dessert: A banana with a tablespoon of almond butter

I started exercising right away, every day. My goal was to get moving for 20 to 30 minutes a day.

I started with cardio dance routines I found on YouTube. It was difficult, and I would be doing the warm up and thinking to myself, This is just the warm up?! But I knew that I needed to challenge myself, because in the past I would go for exercises that did not truly challenge me, like walking on the treadmill or getting on the elliptical. I knew if I wanted to see results, I needed to do something different.


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After a few months instead of cardio dance routines I started doing HIIT routines on YouTube and working out for at least an hour a day, incorporating 5- and 10-pound free weights into my routine, as well as 5-pound ankle weights. HIIT is super fun and challenging, and my routine consists of a lot of squats, lunges, planks, and burpees.

I have been working remotely full time since the pandemic began, and being able to workout at home in the morning before work starts or during my lunch break has really helped.


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These three changes also made a huge difference in my weight-loss results.

  • I started incorporating self-care into my schedule. Faith is very important to me, and I started praying daily, journaling, and spending time outdoors, even if it was just a walk through my neighborhood or in my backyard. With everything that was going on with COVID, listening to music that inspires and invigorates me, listening to motivational podcasts and reading empowering books, has really helped.


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  • I removed negative self talk and replaced it with positive thoughts. I thought about the big picture: my husband, my daughter, my sphere of influence at work, church, my community, and how I wanted to inspire others. My weight loss became a part of my purpose. The thought that my life had real value and meaning kept me motivated to make healthier choices. I have a master’s degree in psychology, and I used a lot of what I learned concerning faulty thinking and cognitive behavioral therapy. I essentially became my own client.


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  • I set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based) goals. I set weekly, monthly, and longer-term goals. I was not going to stop no matter how tired or discouraged I was until I reached them. I meal prepped, and I created a daily schedule, which included exercise. Exercise was no longer an option; it was something I told myself I had to do, like going to work or taking my multivitamin in the morning.


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I have lost over 120 pounds, and it took me eight months.

Making the decision to begin these lifestyle changes and to be consistent with them starts with a love for yourself. I made these changes in my diet and exercise not so that I could love myself, but because I love myself. Once I truly began falling in love with myself and taking care of myself, in combination with my faith in God, I was able to see transformation that started in my mind and spirit. Eventually this became visible physically.

Since losing weight, I can easily multi-task between being a full-time professional anda wife and mother, with way more energy and discipline than I had before. I am confident now that I am capable of achieving anything that I desire, which has just improved the overall quality of all areas of my life. I can dance with my daughter and go hiking with friends without feeling out of breath. I am filled with peace at the end of a long day knowing that I am making healthier choices for myself and my family.


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