Dara on giving herself the gift of better health.
My Weight Loss Journey
I’ve struggled with weight my entire life. I grew up in a family where morbid obesity was fairly common—we’re a big Jewish family that likes to mark celebrations with ample food, cake, and dessert. Even though I’ve been a vegetarian since around age 10, I think my lack of nutritional education, love of simple carbohydrates, and genetics made it difficult for me to lose weight healthfully and sustainably.
That being said, I’m no stranger to diets. I first started WW in the third grade and have been on and off various programs ever since. The feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment about my size started early, too. My fraternal twin sister and I were often teased in school, and I remember how self-conscious I would feel in dance class when the teacher would measure my waist in front of the other students, announcing the number out loud so that everyone knew I was three times bigger than them.
As I got older, I began widening my search for weight loss solutions. I tried step aerobics, personal trainers, and registered dieticians, just to name a few. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t keep the weight off. What’s more, none of the solutions felt healthy. When I was on strict diets, I felt like nutrition was being overlooked. When I was working with a personal trainer, I felt like with every setback I faced, I was letting my trainer down. It gave me guilt and anxiety, with little reward. Ultimately, I knew that these solutions would never be sustainable.
Then, when COVID hit, I turned to food for emotional support. As a teacher, I had to constantly juggle new roles, mandates, and requirements—all while meeting the needs of my own children too. Being a teacher fills me with a great deal of pride and fulfillment, but during this uncertain time it also contributed to feelings of increased stress. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression before and this difficult time took a toll on my mental and physical health.
Before 2020 came to a close, I felt exceptionally uncomfortable in my body. Up until that point I had identified as a “curvy” girl and accepted and owned it as my persona. But now I was feeling lethargic and particularly unhealthy. I told my husband that I felt I needed to make a change, and he said he fully supported any decisions I made. After years of putting my family first and always finding excuses for avoiding self-care, I was ready to commit to giving myself the gift of better health.
How I Found Calibrate
I first learned about Calibrate through a friend. When I saw how much success he had in such a short time, I was super excited for him and couldn’t wait to begin the same journey. He sent me the link to the website and later that night I told my husband that I was ready to sign up.
We both initially had reservations about the cost of the program, but then I did the math. Comparing Calibrate to the years of powdered foods, premixed meals, personal trainers, and other programs that I had tried and were ultimately unhealthy and not sustainable, Calibrate truly seemed like the deal of a lifetime. Plus, I’d have access to real doctors and supportive coaches that would help me along every step of this journey.
I realized that I couldn’t put a price on my health and decided to sign up for the benefit of my mind and body.
My Experience So Far
I joined in March of 2021 and found the onboarding process to be very easy and straightforward. I was so excited to get started that even before gaining approval for the medication I started reading the material on the app. I went to the grocery store to stock up on whole foods so that I would be prepped and ready for success.
When I did get started, my coach eased me into the program—she has been a real cheerleader and beacon of support for me. I’ve also realized how much I love walking and learning healthier habits!
I was thrilled to say goodbye to the points system used by WW and others and instead focus on the nutritional value of the foods that I eat. Without points, I no longer feel like I’m “cheating the system,” but instead working with my body. I’m learning what’s right for me and might not be the best approach for someone else. When I go out with friends or decide to reward myself with a great bowl of pasta, I don’t call it a “cheat day,” because I no longer feel like I have to punish or starve myself for enjoying good food.
One aspect of the program that has been particularly helpful is the emotional health pillar. Having struggled with mental health, it’s incredibly meaningful to finally be a part of a program that recognizes the importance of mental health on our physical health. I feel seen by this approach and have the relief of knowing that neither my coach nor my doctor will ever judge me during this process.
My New Day-to-Day
After over three months on the program, I’ve lost about 16% of my body weight, or over 31 pounds. In fact, it was around Mother's Day this year when I looked at a photo that a family member had taken and realized how much you could see the difference with the weight I had lost.
In addition to losing weight, I already feel an enormous boost with my self-confidence and energy. Having lived the majority of my life in a bigger body, I got used to going on shopping trips with my mom and sister where they could both find items in their size and I couldn’t. I’d often admire the clothes and fabrics that were made for smaller bodies before moving on to the accessories section, the only section where I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. But that’s already changing. Just the other day, I went on one of those shopping trips and was able to find clothes in my size!
When it comes to movement, I’m enjoying going on daily walks by myself. Where I used to hate exercise, now I look forward to it. I’ve found the alone time to be therapeutic, and am now walking at least four miles every day. Tracking my steps has become a fun new challenge!
Finally, Calibrate has helped me gain greater mindfulness in regard to my emotional relationship with food. I’m so grateful to have found a program that takes my whole wellbeing into account, rather than just addressing my weight and physical health.
Finding Calibrate has been a real gift. I’m learning healthy habits that are realistic and supportive of sustainable, lifelong weight loss. But that’s not all. I’m putting the time into improving my sleep, stress, nutrition, and emotional health too. If anyone else is interested in investing in their health, I cannot recommend Calibrate more.
Four Pillars Lightning Round
Favorite food: Cheese!
Best sleep tip: Sticking to a routine: I like to have a wind-down ritual, including skin and oral care before hitting bed.
Favorite type of exercise: Definitely walking.
Emotional health tip: I strive to be the healthiest and happiest version of myself. Sometimes that means going out for cocktails with friends and sometimes that means making healthier choices. At the end of the day, it’s all about balance and figuring out what makes me feel most happy and fulfilled in the moment. As a mother and a wife, I’ve always put everyone before myself—now, I have finally taken the time to make myself a priority, and I find taking care of my health and my family has made me happier and more fulfilled!