This Woman Only Weighed Herself Twice and Lost Over 100 Pounds

Is a scale your friend or foe when it comes to losing weight? Sandra Elia couldn't find weight-loss success until she stopped weighing herself.

sandra elia beforeCourtesy Sandra Elia

Some people who are trying to lose weight will check their progress with daily or weekly weigh-ins. But when Sandra Elia was 29, she realized she had a very dysfunctional relationship with her scale: “It had the power to ruin my day. It told me if I was good or bad, it dictated whether I would have a good day or a bad day. If I should eat or not eat that day.” And it wasn’t until she ended that abusive relationship that Elia was able to improve her life.

sandra elia beforeCourtesy Sandra Elia

“I was on a path of self-destruction,” she says. “I was morbidly obese, completely out of control, experiencing paralyzing depression.” Elia ate to soothe her stress, loneliness, and sadness. Food addiction was ruining her life, and at 262 pounds something had to change, starting with getting rid of her bathroom scale. “The scale didn’t take into consideration who I was as a person, what I’d accomplished, how I was contributing to the world.”

Elia threw her scale in the trash and went from compulsively eating to eating for sanity—starting by eliminating all refined sugar and refined flour from her diet. She lost about 75 pounds in the first year and another 25 during her second year of avoiding unhealthy food and not weighing herself. The only way she knows this is thanks to her yearly doctor appointments when she had to get on a scale. (Learn the 30 little diet changes that can help you lose weight.)

sandra elia afterCourtesy Julia Dantas

“Numbers make me crazy, all kinds of numbers. Measuring tapes, calories, weight—I stay away from them all,” Elia says. “I had to find other goals to achieve and feel proud of.” Those goals included running a half-marathon, sitting comfortably in a plane seat, wearing beautiful clothes, riding down playground slides with her daughter, and feeling comfortable in her own skin.

Sandra elia afterCourtesy Julia Dantas

Like any weight-loss journey, there were bumps in the road. “When I experienced a setback, I would practice mirror work. I would look into my eyes, tell myself that I was loved and everything would be fine. This way the guilt or remorse would wash away. Loving thoughts are energizing, thoughts of judgment or self-condemnation always drained me of energy.” What really led to Elia’s long-term weight-loss success—now 13 years and counting—was an internal transformation. “The real work has been an ongoing, daily commitment to spirituality, appreciating that my thoughts are powerful, and cultivating a loving connection with myself and the universe.” The true prize will never be a number on a scale for Elia. “The prize is how I’m feeding my body, how I’m moving my body in fun ways, and how I’m living my life. The prize is how great I feel!” Next, check out the 50 things your doctor wishes you knew about losing weight.

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Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer and writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among others. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.