Fitness Tips

How I Lost 25 Lbs and Kept it Off — Without Going to the Gym

These days, exercise is something that brings me a lot of joy — so much so that I have an ISSA personal trainer certification as well as this whole blog dedicated to the subject.

However, I didn’t always love fitness. I absolutely hated exercise when I was younger and would avoid it at all costs. Back then, I was blessed with a fast metabolism, so I ate whatever I wanted and still stayed slim throughout my teens and early twenties.

But that party ended (literally, one day after my 24th birthday) when I began my first full-time job working in an office.

My early attempts to combat weight gain

You know how office jobs are. Very little reason to get up from your desk and frequent opportunities to binge on donuts, which are somehow always available in the breakroom.

The pounds started creeping on slowly at first. After a year or so, I noticed I had to go up a pant size but wasn’t too perturbed by it.

But then I went up another size… and another. Eventually, I swore off jeans and anything with a zipper, opting instead for stretchy pants and flowy tops that skimmed rather than hugged my figure.

In my late twenties, I took up running as a way to combat my sedentary lifestyle and the mounting body image issues that accompanied it. I grew to really love running and started competing in races, including two half-marathons.

I did lose a few pounds during this time, and although I was still a long way from my college weight, I felt things were looking up.

Unfortunately, the constant impact from running took its toll; I sustained a hip injury that put an end to my running. By this time, I was in my early thirties, and the pounds started piling on with alarming speed. By the time I was 32, I’d put on nearly 30 lbs from when I was in college.

From a BMI standpoint, I was right on the cusp of being overweight. But it wasn’t even really about my weight so much as it was about how crappy I felt. I had no energy and experienced long stretches of low moods that almost felt like depression.

Turning it around

The turning point came in 2017 when I finally made up my mind to take control of my health. My fitness journey eventually led to a 25-pound weight loss that I’ve managed to keep off for about a year now. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been and, more importantly, I feel great and have more energy now than I ever did in my 20s.

How did I do it? To say I exercised and ate better is true, but a bit of an oversimplification.

So, I’ve broken down how I lost 25 lbs (and kept it off) into 7 key takeaways that I hope you may find helpful if you’ve been struggling with your own fitness journey.

1. I didn’t try to lose weight too quickly

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It took me 3 years to lose 25 lbs.

Yes, you read that right.

No one really likes the idea of slow weight loss. It’s not an exciting concept and doesn’t offer any instant gratification. Yet, taking my fitness journey slowly was arguably the most impactful thing I did.

I’m not saying that weight loss needs to be as slow as mine was. (In fact, I definitely did go about it a little bit too slowly — I hit a plateau that lasted nearly a year.) It’s also important to note that how quickly the pounds come off depends on how much you have to lose. The more you have to lose, the faster it will come off (at least in the beginning).

But losing too much too quickly usually doesn’t last.


In a nutshell, it’s because rapid weight loss requires a large daily calorie deficit, which is problematic because:

  1. Your metabolism will start slowing down after a while to compensate for the deficit
  2. Your willpower will likely crumple from pushing yourself too hard, too fast
  3. You’re hungry all the dang time

During my weight loss journey, I kept my daily calorie deficit in the 200–500 range for a few weeks, then switched to maintenance calories for a stretch before alternating back to a deficit.

This gradual approach ensures that your body never goes into “starvation mode”, which can damage your metabolism and make maintaining your weight loss incredibly difficult.

2. I walked a lot

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Here’s another unsexy strategy that tends to make people roll their eyes. But trust me, if taking it slow was the most important thing I did, then walking a lot was a close second.

My fitness journey actually began when I was gifted a FitBit for Christmas, and I became obsessed with “getting my steps in”.

Before I got into more intense forms of exercise, I managed to lose the first 10 lbs just by walking 10,000+ steps a day for six months.

Walking also became an important part of my strategy when it came time to bust through my fitness plateau. (More on that in a bit!)

Currently, I walk 3–4 km, 6–7 days a week.

Why is walking so effective?

Mostly because it’s easy, enjoyable, low-intensity, and low-impact. It’s something you can commit to every day without needing to change into sweat-wicking clothes or risking injury. Plus, over time, the calories you burn from walking every day can really add up!

3. I scaled back on vigorous cardio and dialed up the resistance training

Me after a workout
image by author

In my early attempts to get fit, I spent a lot of time doing cardio.

Now, I’m not saying that cardio is bad for you in the least. In fact, it is important to your overall health, and you should still incorporate some cardio into your fitness regime.

But if all you do is cardio, you may have a tough time reaching your fitness goals.

For one thing, too much cardio can throw your hunger hormones out of whack and cause you to overeat. For example, I remember inhaling most of a large pizza by myself after a 10 km race.

Let’s do the math here:

A 10 km run will burn approx 650 calories.

A large pepperoni pizza is about 2500 calories – but I didn’t eat the whole thing, so let’s say I ate about 2000 calories in pizza.

That means I ate three times as many calories as I burnt from running! (Ugh, I knew there was a reason I didn’t like math!)

The next problem is that, while cardio is great for torching calories, it leaves something to be desired when it comes to body composition, aka, how you look naked. That’s because cardio doesn’t build much muscle — in fact, excessive cardio can actually result in muscle loss instead of fat loss!

You don’t want that, because having more muscle makes you look leaner and more toned, which is what most of us are going for. (And no, building muscle won’t make you “bulky”!)

So, I cut way back on cardio and began strength training to build more muscle. While strength training typically has a more modest calorie burn than cardio, it still helps create a calorie deficit that whittles away at the fat while simultaneously building muscle mass.

You don’t have to go nuts with the equipment either. All my workouts were done at home using various fitness apps and programs that required either no equipment or a few pairs of dumbbells. (I am a bit of a fitness app junky as you will see by the myriad of app reviews on my blog!)

Strength training doesn’t require a huge commitment of your time either. Currently, I do 30 minutes of strength training 4–5 times a week, but if you’re just starting out you will likely start seeing results doing just 20 minutes 3 times a week.

4. I counted calories (…in the beginning)


You can exercise all you want, but if you don’t have a handle on your calorie intake you are probably not going to see the results you want.

No one likes counting calories and I am no exception. Yet, it can be really difficult to optimize your nutrition if you don’t have an accurate idea of how much you’re eating.

And the thing is, most of us are absolutely horrible at gauging how much we eat in a day. I certainly was.

When I started tracking calories, I was both shocked and discouraged to realize how much I was actually eating every day; it was literally hundreds of calories a day more than I’d estimated!

But after I finished sulking about it, I started eliminating, swapping, and reducing my “calorie bombs”, which is what I call foods I eat on the regular that offer little nutrition while packing a ton of calories. (In case you were wondering, my daily 5 o’clock martini was the first thing to go.)

With a few small, gradual changes, I was able to rein in my calorie intake to a place where it was supporting my fitness goals.

The good news here is, you don’t have to track calories forever. If you eat a lot of the same meals and snacks every week, you eventually get to know how much you are consuming without logging every bite.

I usually only start logging again if I hit a plateau or I’m experimenting with new recipes.

5. I cleaned up my diet (…without going crazy)

Image by author - my low-carb PB cookies
Image by author – my low-carb PB cookies

The quality of food you eat is just as important as how much. For example, when I switched to mostly whole foods, it boosted my energy levels, reduced my urge to snack, and improved my workout performance.

Eating a diet of mostly whole foods may sound intimidating, but it really isn’t. The confusion comes from a lot of misinformation and bologna on the internet about what the “perfect diet” is.

But you don’t need to follow any fad diets, and you don’t need to eliminate entire food groups.

You just need to focus on eating foods that are minimally processed, like quality meats, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and dairy.

I follow the 80/20 rule which means that 80% of what I eat is whole foods and 20% is whatever I want that’s within my calorie budget. I don’t get too hung up on macros but I mostly stick to a “liberal low carb” diet and put an extra emphasis on protein to support satiety and muscle growth.

I also try to “healthify” my treats by baking them myself. This way, I can minimize the amount of sugar in my sweets and eliminate the harmful additives that are found in prepackaged goods. I am particularly fond of almond flour apple muffins and peanut butter cookies!

So yes, I still eat carbs, chocolate, and alcohol — just in moderate, measured amounts.

6. I stepped things up when I hit a plateau

Iosing the last few pounds.
Iosing the last few pounds.

After I lost 15 lbs, I plateaued for nearly a year. My body had adapted to my routine, and it took me a long time to figure out how to keep progressing. Last May, I decided to kick my fitness into high gear and completed a challenging workout program that had me training 5–6 days a week. (It was Body Revolution by Jillian Michaels, in case you were wondering!)

I had also gotten out of the habit of walking regularly so I started going for 30–45 minute walks every day.

Lastly, I began to utilize intermittent fasting protocols. IF isn’t for everyone, but for me it, was a real game-changer. I started with 13-hour fasts (circadian rhythm protocol) and worked my way up to 16-hour fasts (16:8 protocol).

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about IF, and it’s important to understand that it’s not about skipping meals. In fact, I still eat the same 3 meals a day as I did before, I just eat them in a smaller time frame. That said, I find it does tend to cut back on calories simply because it eliminates any snacking outside of your eating window.

By shaking things up this way, I was able to jumpstart my progress again and finally lost those last 10 vanity pounds after about 6 months.


Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle can seem daunting, but if you take it slow and make small, gradual changes, you will be surprised at how simple it really is.

My last piece of advice is to remember that no two fitness journeys are the same! Don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. Go at your own pace and do it for you and your health and vitality — not because you’re trying to meet some (shallow) societal expectation.

If you can approach fitness as an act of self-care rather than a form of self-punishment, you’ll find it’s a lot easier (and more enjoyable) to reach your fitness goals!

Corrie Alexander is a former ISSA-certified personal trainer, home fitness advocate, and founder of The Fit Careerist. A proponent of personal growth and a self-proclaimed fitness app-junkie, Corrie shares tips and product reviews with the goal of helping others on their own fitness journey.

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