Healthy and Sane

Photo inspiration: 10 years of yo-yo dieting

November 30th, 2011 · 50 Comments · diet free living, weight loss struggles


I’ve been working on a food photo collage for our kitchen and yesterday decided to print a few inspirational photos of myself – both at my heavier and lighter weights. This was the most inspiring exercise I’ve done to-date. I couldn’t believe how much I’ve fluctuated in weight over the years!! The picture of the “thinner me” looked to me like what I should look like. I don’t see someone that’s too thin. I see someone that looks “right.” I see my bone structure. I see my smile. It looks like it should (in contract to pictures of a thinner Adam, who’s fluctuated in weight by the same amount, that just looks too skinny to me… interesting). The pictures of the “heavier me” instantly bring tears to my eyes. I am unfortunately getting too close to that weight and I refuse to get there. I will not let myself go like that again!!

These are pictures going back to 2002 in no particular order.




Camera Pics 005




















Katy, Allison and me in NYC




[Toy gun for Halloween Smile ]







This is me today:


I actually think this picture hides well all of the weight gain but I’m reversing this trend starting TODAY.

Here is my plan:

  • Start P90Xas soon as I get better (I’m nursing a cold). I’m hoping this will give me good structure with my exercise which I’ve definitely been missing lately.
  • Eat (mostly healthy eats) when hungry. Stop when I’m full.
  • Limit the amount of dessert I eat. I refuse to put myself on a diet and limit my caloric intake (I’ve dieted nearly my entire life and these pictures show that it just doesn’t work in the long term). But indulgent meals need to be limited. I’ve been in denial about my food. No more living in la-la land. It’s time to buckle down!!

What motivates you to stay (or become) fit and healthy?

Related Posts with Thumbnails

50 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Cara

    What a fun little exercise – and fun for people like me to get to know you a little better by seeing what you’ve been up to over the past 9 years! Like all of us, you have certainly changed a lot. My immediate, honest thought was that I like you best right in the middle – that’s really where you look happiest, most comfortable, and most like YOU. Good luck with your plan, you know I’m here to chat if you need!

  • #3 - Michelle

    I have definitely fluctuated a lot in weight since college and looking at photos can be a tough one…depending on the year. You are a strong and courageous person for going through these photos and posting them. Thanks for always being such a great inspiration.

    • #4 - Elina

      Glad to hear it was inspiring to see. It was definitely inspiring for me to find these (and even post them!).

  • #5 - Hogger & Co.

    You certainly look good no matter which size you’ve been – I want to start this P90X too!

  • #6 - Leaura


    This is both beautiful and inspiring! Thanks for sharing! :)

    I am very close to someone who is on his last week (13, I think?) of the P90X program and I can vouch first hand that by following the program, coupled with a proper diet, you will see some serious results. Get ready to get ripped and brace yourself for some serious pull-up action!

    You can do it! :)

    • #7 - Elina

      I plan on eating better but I will not follow their diet. I know that never leads to good things (in the long term).

  • #9 - nicole

    wow you are so brave posting the pics. I went through my pics this past weekend to back them up on an external. holy hell. I don’t think I could post the pics just yet. ouch!

    Price’s brother did P90x and loved it. he did it for a long time actually. Price has the kit now and his brother advises not to start until the new year. the holidays would be so hard and you would be discouraged about it with parties… cookies, snacks, drinks… so when you slip one day and then another you get bummed and then start to really slip in the program. so he is suggesting to do light to curb things and get it going but not to commit until after the new year. but do what works for you.

    • #10 - Elina

      Interesting to hear about the holidays. I’m very eager to start it and I also hope it will motivate me THROUGH the holidays. We’ll see… since I’m sick right, it’s going to have to be pushed back anyway… and my gym membership is paid through December so maybe it will be January after all :)

  • #11 - Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic

    I’ve fluctuated in weight over the years too and this post is reminding me to be more vigilant about my weight. I always admire your honesty, it is very inspirational. However I hope you know Elina that you look beautiful in every picture, regardless of the weight. But I completely understand that you want to get back to the weight that feels right, so I’m wishing you good luck! And I have friends who do P90X – it is awesome!

  • #12 - Alicia

    I always fluctuate in weight, I think its because I’m so short that I show the lbs quickly even when I only gain or lose 5 pounds. I gained a LOT of weight in college, and one of the things that I did to lose it was to adopt 1 healthy habit a week. Just one. For me, when I try to overhaul my whole lifestyle overnight, I’m bound to fail.
    I just got engaged last month, so I’m back in the ‘watching what I eat’ phase and jumpstarting my workout program again. I started by trying to be more mindful about when I am hungry/full vs. just bored, and drinking a lot of water and making sure I get 2 fruits a day and 1 veg per meal. Starting working out this week. We’ll see how it goes!
    Good luck with P90X – I’ve heard its amazing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the workouts and if you think its worth the cost.

    • #13 - Elina

      I like the slow positive changes… definitely a lot more approachable. Cutting down on desserts has been hard for me. It’s the “one” change that I wish I could embrace. I think the rest will follow. Sounds like you have a great plan for your pre-wedding fitness regime :) Oh and I will definitely blog about my P90X experience. I promise!

      • #14 - marie

        I also have a strong, vicious sweet tooth! FWIW, what has worked for me is to have dinner and then immediately go floss, brush my teeth and use obnoxiously strong mouthwash. If I still want dessert once the minty fresh flavor has subsided, I go right ahead and have it. This makes me pause and really think about whether I want the treat or if I’m just having it automatically. It also takes away the “forbidden fruit” aspect because I can have the dessert if I really want it; I just don’t automatically reach for it.

        Good luck! I’m sure you will prevail and figure out what works for you.

        Finally, thank you for your raw honesty. It is appreciated, and empathized with, more than you know.


        • #15 - Elina

          I like your trick to force yourself to slow down. Do you find that after doing it for a while you are more mindful even without the mouthwash?

  • #17 - Kelly

    You’re not the only one who fluctuates so I appreciate the honesty. I think the thing you might want to consider about your lowest weight is not just whether it looks healthy but whether it is truly sustainable. That’s how I feel about my lowest weight. Even though it looked healthy, it required a degree of activity and calorie counting that I can’t and don’t want to sustain. For me, now that I am in weight loss mode (again) I’ve realized that I want something that is more realistic – that allows me to get back in all my clothes but that doesn’t take it too far, and that I want to lose the weight in a way I can maintain, even if that means slower loss.

    • #18 - Elina

      Yup, yup – all points well taken. 😀

    • #19 - Lara

      Yes, this! I agree that even if a weight looks healthy, whether or not you are mentally healthy when trying to maintain/achieve it is equally important.

  • #20 - MelissaNibbles

    I think you look beautiful and happy in all these pictures. I know a picture doesn’t show what a person is feeling inside, but it looks like you’ve traveled, had fun with friends, found a man who loves you, got married and started a life together. I see a woman leading a full, happy life. That speaks more to me than what size clothing you’re wearing in the pictures.

    I know feeling uncomfortable in your own skin sucks and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight. I wish you success in finding your happy place. I just wanted you to know what other people see when they look at these photos.

    • #21 - Elina

      Thanks, Melissa – that’s very sweet. It’s not what I see… and I just don’t understand how people say I look beautiful in all of them. You are right – I am very lucky to have an amazing husband to share my life with (who doesn’t care about my weight!)… and I know that goes a long way towards finding balance and happiness.

  • #22 - Jordi

    THANK YOU for posting these! I have over the past 20 years (I am 40) gone up and down, seriously 80 pounds!!! : ( I am now at 173#, as of this morning and freaked out! I have been 120 pounds but felt too skinny and it was too hard to maintain. I’m 5’7. I feel my best at about 145#. The holidays are hard for me. I LOVE to bake and indulge while going out with friends. My husband (of 15 years) has stayed at about 165# for some 25 years now. ARGHH! Sooo, not fair! I am now at a size 12-13. Way too much.
    What is the answer? I do not know! After all my yo yo dieting and exercising over the years I guess for me just keeping movement in my daily life (walking) is the key and knowing that we are our own worst enemy! You really are a pretty woman and personally I think you look good with some pounds. Too skinny is unattractive and not healthy looking. I agree with the posts that say you have lived and loved and enjoyed your life to the fullest. A man once told me that a woman who was too fit and thin did not enjoy her life. He liked a woman who enjoyed good food and was proud to show off her curves!
    Good luck in your journey! Rejoice in the person who you are right now!

  • #24 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    Really cool montage! You look great in a lot of them, though! I can tell you were unhappier in some of the photos, and I think you will find your way to a good point, whichever of these photos reflect it!

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  • #26 - Carly

    What a great post! I really like the picture of you in the green turtle neck sweater and the one above it with Adam. I’ve definitely fluctuated my weight over the years too – from anorexic (smaller than size 00) to college binge drinker (size 8). Right now I am challenging myself to not eat a fattening dessert every night. I know that Christmas is a tough season for me because I LOVE cookies, but I’m really trying to eat fruit every night so I can shamelessly indulge on Christmas Eve and Christmas with ZERO guilt! Good luck!!!

  • #27 - Ali

    Cute pics through all the years! You are taking on quite a challenge during the holidays chica. But end of a year start of a new, it’s actually the perfect time. The motivation will carry you through those holiday meals. I have been through my up and downs as well. Strength training is so helpful with loosing and maintenance! Not to mention making daily tasks so much easier. Good luck! If you need some new workout outs you can stop by my site, I am adding a new workout review section. 😉

  • #28 - Hannah

    What a cool idea. It’s inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time I bet. I’m so bad at getting pictures of myself, but maybe it’s time I do it so I can see myself like this!

  • #29 - Elle

    I am like you where my weight fluctuates a lot. I have also had eating disorders that made it a lot worse. (Not trying to say that you have them at all) What really worked for me was to stop dieting and trying to lose weight. I just needed to be more active and eat healthier. It’s just about balance and your weight will balance also. A nutritionist I was seeing helped me out a lot. She said that it worked like a pendulum. If you pull it one way, it will start to swing. So if you cut fats or carbs out, you will pull the system out of whack, then when you eat the fats or carbs it will swing way to the other side. It’s important to always eat meats that have fats/carbs/protien in balance. Try to eat more veggies and fruits than anything else but don’t cut quantitiy unless you are eating a lot. Same goes with exercise, if you all of a sudden are exercising a lot, then the second you stop your body will gain it all back. You need to work with your body to create habits that will last and then you will have a steady low weight.

    Hope that is helpful. I’ve done a lot of havoc to my body over the years and caused myself to be sick. This is the only thing that works, I’ve tried everything!

  • #30 - Gretchen

    I have been a reader of yours for over a year, but I don’t think I have ever commented! This post struck me as I have used various photos of me as inspiration, whether in the good way or the bad. I think you look beautiful in all of them, and I think it’s so easy to be our own worst critic. It’s funny b/c I’m so hard on every inch of myseslf, but I think what it comes down to for me is being happy with who I am and the choices I make. When I can strike a balance and eat/exercise in moderation, I feel best which then shows on the outside too. It’s just so hard! For some reason, eating zero cookies or 10 cookies is easier than just eating one. I think it’s a lifetime of choices though! I love your blog, and I look forward to following you as your journey continues!

  • #31 - Emily @ A Cambridge Story

    Thanks for sharing. I think every woman can relate to yo-yoing weight and old photos can make us cringe sometimes. I have to say, you look happy in all these photos! Good luck with P90x!

  • #32 - Megan

    The one consistency I see across all these pictures? You look super confident!

    I can’t believe how long your hair is in some of those pictures.

    I hope you do whatever makes YOU happy. :)

  • #33 - Lara

    Elina, I truly think you look lovely in all of these photos…I see a lady who has had a whole lot of fun, is a great friend, and a great cook :) However, I know how it feels to be uncomfortable after gaining back weight that was lost :( As I’ve always said to you, my wish is that you (and I!) can find a middle ground and make peace with the bodies that are so good to us!

  • #34 - Cara

    My favorite pictures (aside from wedding pictures, because those are always beautiful!) are: you in the santa hat, you holding the martini glass with Adam behind you with a beer, you and Adam with the white crackly mirror thing behind you, and you today. Not because you are thinner or heavier, but because you just look happy! I see where you are heavier, but I don’t think you look anything like that now regardless of what the scale says. Honestly, every time we hang out you strike me as confident and happy :)

    • #35 - Elina

      The one in the green sweater is one of my favorites too. It’s actually the day after my hair trial for the wedding so it’s still professionally done. I’m bringing curls back! And the pic with the broken glass is of us before we were even dating… just as friends. I love that!!
      And thanks – I do feel very comfortable and happy around my friends. I’m glad that that’s how it looks to the rest of the world too :)

  • #36 - Hayley

    Thank you so much for posting your photos! You look beautiful! I was so inspired by today’s post. I think most women can relate to weight fluctuations and the struggle to stay motivated to keep active and eat well. I refuse to look at the scale because even though I know that I should be happy with my weight there is a little part of me that always wants the number to be smaller. Instead of focusing on the ever dreaded number I focus on feeling strong and heatlthy. Over the last four years I’ve made some significant changes in my diet, took up running, have run three half marathons, and have come to love strength training. That feeling of strength and of accomplishment is what keeps me motivated. Training for life, cheesy but true!!

  • #37 - Maxine

    Wow; great photos!
    I have kept off a 40 pound weight loss for almost 4 years now. I have though, gained back about 6-8 depending on the scale. Most of my clothes still fits, by my skinny jeans don’t, so it is a struggle to get my weight back down but tougher since I turned 30. Did I mention it is all in my stomach? Eek.
    Instead of just focusing on the scale, I use other indicators, like PH strips to focus on making sure my body is at a good alkaline level. This is for overall health and more important than skinny jeans.
    My biggest inspiration is Tosca Reno’s Eat Clan plan; my body feels the best when I follow the cooler 2 plan.
    Good luck with your new goals!

    • #38 - Elina

      Yeah, my clothes aren’t really fitting but this is just temporary. Great to hear you found something that makes you feel your best! So important!! :)

  • #39 - Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    First of all, you look beautiful at every weight! Second, I noticed that you look happy in every single photo. I feel like that really means something.

    I actually think your plan sounds great, though. Exercising like that always makes me feel so much better about myself and helps me feel healthy. Feeling healthy usually means less sugar eating… Also glad to hear you aren’t going back to an actual diet!

    Thanks for bring so open and brave to share all this!

  • #40 - Rachel @Healthy_Chicks

    I love that you said you refuse to put yourself on a diet. That right there says a lot. What you’re aiming for is something bigger, something that you will achieve on your own time, not by caloric restriction or some stupid fad diet. SOOO proud of you!

    Also, I think that now you have time for yourself again and time away from a job you didn’t love, you will see the weight come off slowly. sometimes our lives are too cluttered, and once we make time for ourselves, everything gets in balance (along with your weight). YOu go girl!

  • #41 - Healthy Chicks » Blog Archive » Inspiring Pieces From Women Around the Web

    […] “Photo Inspiration: 10 Years of yo-yo dieting” by Elina, Healthy & Sane: Elina is one of the most honest bloggers I know, never afraid to share her emotions or talk about issues like weight and body image with pure honesty and confidence. This is one piece that really touched me, as I’m sure many women can relate to the struggles that come along with yo-yo dieting and finding your “happy weight.” […]

  • #42 - Jess

    Hi friend. Been awhile since I last left you a comment, but trust me – I’ve been keeping up on things with you!

    I have to say – I really dig this little photo project of yours. I think maybe it’s what you needed to truly see what it is you WANT to be vs. where you’ve been heading which youve admitted hasn’t been making you entirely happy. Your plan to exercise more and to eat healthy MOST of the time is a good one – like you said, yo-yo dieting doesn’t work, it’s about a consistent healthy lifestyle that works wonders. I have no doubt you’ll get there – and you have the tools you need,and the support you need (from your husband and your friends) to get you through this. You got this!

  • #43 - One Healthy Apple

    I could have written this same post. One thing is that you have a great smile in all the pictures and it looks like you were having a hell of a good time :) I do love your wedding pictures though- you glow like every bride should.

    Good luck with your plan. It sounds reasonable, but please don’t be too hard on yourself.

  • #44 - alicia

    this is awesome! to be perfectly honest, in the few pictures where you are at your heaviest, i can see that you just don’t look like yourself. and you probably didn’t feel like yourself, either. for the most part though, you look healthy and happy in these.
    i COMPLETELY understand that this is a struggle. i too, have tried not to care, but i’m just NOT happy where i am. but i refuse to go to extremes. i’m glad you do too :)

  • #45 - Inspiring Pieces From Women Around the Web

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  • #47 - Elina

    THANK YOU ALL!!! 😀

  • #48 - Emily

    This post is really inspiring. It’s awesome that you’ve opened up so much about your fluctuating weight and yo-yo dieting. Most people never own up to that.
    I think we all struggle with this same problem in one way or another. The important thing, though, is that you’re happy and enjoying your life. And based on all of these pictures, if looks like you are!
    Good luck with your new plan- it sounds awesome. And you’ll feel great, as well. Just don’t let it get in the way of your happiness. :)

  • #49 - Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo)

    OK I’m just gonna put it out there: as the ‘thinner’ you, you were gorgeous. As the ‘less thin’ you, you were SEXY!!! Like super hot hot mamma sexy! You can’t go wrong, Elina! At least from how others might see you. Believe that! And I think you look great now- healthy and radiant.

    As Melissa said, being comfortable in your own skin is a totally different matter, and I feel for you. I’ve been there. And I go in and out of ‘being there’ on a regular basis. I think that’s the answer to your question of what keeps me trying to strive: knowing how awful I feel in my skin when I’m bigger. I don’t think I look hideous with an extra pound or two, but i FEEL worse.

    And I agree, you are fortunate to have a husband who loves you at any weight. My husband is the same- and he stuck with me without even one single complaint or concern when I was 233 pounds. I honestly can’t imagine how he must have felt, but he says that it didn’t bother him at all. Amazing.

  • #50 - Lizzy

    I think your plan is right on. You definitely want to be comfortable with your weight and body before starting a family… because as I’m quickly realizing, you have little control on how your body handles to weight. I feel that I’m gaining faster than other friends that are due around the same time as me, but more I’m just showing more because I have such a short torso. So I think you are taking the right steps… get happy in your skin whether thats at a higher weight or lower. Weight is just a number… it’s how you feel that matters the most : )