We sat down to hear an amazing story of weight loss over tea with designer-friend Mondana, 28, whose incredible story of losing 40 pounds by making healthy life choices is motivation for us all. See what Mondana had to say about making those choices, eating out in New York City, and believing in being kind to yourself.

Share with us how you got started on your healthy journey.
Well, I moved to New York City about two years ago. Before that, I was living in California and had much more of an active lifestyle, spending a lot of time outdoors, hiking and I was a lot more fit. Moving to New York, I got caught up in big city life. I stopped working out and started eating out all the time, which lead me to gain about 25 pounds in just two years. I wanted to be healthy for so long but always had trouble sticking to a routine. But in November 2014 so many things were happening in my personal life that left me feeling depressed and generally not good about myself. I started running and making small changes to my diet to achieve a sense of control over my life, which started to feel so out of control. Unfortunately the start of my journey was not a pretty one though. I spent the majority of December in depressive highs and low, and unable to eat complete meals. Sadly there were days I could only manage to force myself to eat a banana. I had lost about 15 pounds from all the stress and inability to keep much food down. I knew I needed to do something to get emotionally and physically healthy. I started slowly adding more and more food to my very limited diet and I started practicing yoga again on a daily basis with mediation for my emotional health. After a few weeks I started feeling like my old self again, which was the most amazing feeling in the world. I kept up the momentum and started slowly adding other forms of physical activity to my routine. Finally, I was able to balance out my diet and eat well again. By February I was down 25 pounds and felt incredibly proud of myself for taking a bad situation and turning it around.


Who or what motivates and inspires you?
My mom has always been one of my strongest inspirations for everything in my life. She passed away five years ago from pancreatic cancer. After her passing I started making healthier choices in life, but found it hard to stick to a routine.


Have your goals changed?
Yes, my original goal was to lose 40 pounds. Which I reached just this week! My new goal is to lose another 20 pounds, making my total weight loss 60 pounds. But now, I’m more focused on how I feel than any number on the scale. So if I feel happy before I reach that then that’s all that matters to me.

That is so true – happiness and feeling good are the key to well being. What’s your daily routine like? What foods are you eating?
A typical day for me starts with breakfast. It’s hard for me to eat a full meal upon waking so I normally have a protein shake with carbs in the morning. I like to workout in the morning after my smoothie. My workouts vary from spinning, circuit/bootcamp style classes, kick boxing, pilates, and yoga. After my workout I have a snack, which is normally either a protein shake, nuts or fruit and tea. Lunch is normally a well balanced salad with protein, veggies, fat, and carbs or sometimes I will have an omelet. Later in the day I will have another snack. For dinner I like to have another balanced meal of protein, veggies, fat, and carbs. If I am craving something sweet I like to make banana ice cream or homemade nutella from your blog.

How did you manage to embrace a healthy lifestyle?
I make it my daily goal to eat right and perform some kind of physically activity every single day. I like to keep track of my steps per day and always aim to hit my 10,000 steps minimum. I try to do my homework ahead of time and know the restaurants in my area that offer healthier alternatives, or at least a salad. I don’t believe in “cheat days”, but I do believe you need to be able to enjoy yourself from time to time. I find that if you don’t look at unhealthy food as “cheating” and completely off limits you don’t desire to have it as much. If I’m craving ice cream I will go out and get some ice cream. Since I’m not saying I can never have this ever again I honestly don’t crave it as much.

That’s a great approach, everything in moderation. What were some of your food challenges in the beginning, and how did you overcome them?
One of the hardest things to kick in the beginning was sugar. I love sweets and have always had a very big sweet tooth, so instead of depriving myself I found healthier alternatives. I try to eat fruit first and find the sweeter fruits like mangoes or very ripe bananas help a lot when you are detoxing from sugar. When fruit couldn’t do the trick I would find healthier alternatives like homemade nutella, plain dark chocolate, or banana ice cream.

Sugar can be hard, but you’re eating mindfully! How about working out, were there any challenges there?
I think I had the same problem a lot of people do in the beginning, finding the motivation to make working out a priority and routine. A friend told me about this new workout membership called ClassPass that gives you access to over 100 studios in New York to work out. I decided to give it a try and mostly focused on yoga in the beginning, then slowly added other forms of exercise. For me, ClassPass was genius because their policy is that if you cancel a class with less then 24 hour notice you will be charged $20. In the beginning when I wanted to make excuses not to attend a class I would force myself to go because the last thing in the world I wanted to do was pay money to not even attend!

What advice do you have for women who are struggling and want to accomplish what you have so far?
I know we all hear this a lot, but there really is so much truth in it –start off slow and make changes gradually! I think this is even more important with exercise than with food because food you can fall off the wagon and get right back up. But with exercise, if you push yourself too hard and severally hurt yourself, you will send yourself even further back. Be kind to yourself! We are sometimes our own worst critics. If you have a bad day or week or month don’t give up! We all have highs and lows in our life and we can either let them get the best of us or we can make them improve us.