Niki Tuck lost 63 pounds, thanks to hard work at the gym and inspiration from fitness gurus on Instagram.
Niki Tuck, 22, 5'3", from San Diego, California
Before: 175 lb., size: 18
After: 112 lb., size: 0/2
Total lost: 63 lb.
Total sizes lost: 8/9
I grew up being the fat, funny friend, always feeling like my personality had to match my size. By senior year of high school, I weighed 160 pounds and was ready to make a change. Hoping to become a new and improved Niki, I moved from New York to San Diego for college in August 2013. Since people out west are active and outdoorsy, I assumed I would be, too; I also thought I’d kick my junk food habit. The problem: My meal plan gave me access to every fast food chain on campus. In two months, I gained the freshman 15 on top of my already overweight frame.
Finding what works
By spring semester, I realized my size was making it hard for me to get around. Fed up, I began logging an hour and a half on the elliptical early each morning in the empty campus gym. I dropped 20 pounds in three months. Unfortunately, I also tried several fad diets, which resulted in a year of ups and downs on the scale.
So I spent the summer before my junior year studying body-building sites, learning from fitness influencers, prepping meals, and eating clean. By August, I was down to 138 pounds, and for the rst time ever I liked my reflection in the mirror.
Falling for fitness
I continued to strength train five or six days a week during my junior year and entered a 12-week body transformation challenge in January 2016. I didn’t win, but my preparation brought me down to my lowest weight: 109 pounds. These days, I’m still lifting weights and eating right. I’ve also added hikes around Cowles Mountain to my regimen. Five years ago, I’d never even gone to a gym. Freshman year of college, I’d show up at dawn, too ashamed to be seen. Today? I’m taking sweaty sel es and loving it.
Four tricks that helped Niki get in the best shape of her life
1. Scale down. Buying a food scale was critical for me, since I always overate. Weighing my meals helped me learn what a proper portion size actually looked like.
2. Share your success. I used to love seeing people’s progress pics on Instagram; they made me feel like change was possible. I now share photos of my own transformation on my account, @nikituck, hoping to motivate others who are on a weight-loss journey.
3. Choose a motto. My favorite quote is from George Bernard Shaw: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” This pushed me to keep working toward my goals and reminded me that I could make whatever I wanted of myself.
4. Go ahead—splurge. I’m all for indulging, because the occasional blowout teaches my body to appreciate the healthy foods I typically eat. My go-to splurge? Mexican food, always.
As told to Anthea Levi