Feeling unhappy in her skin was an inevitability that Keenan Siegal couldn’t change. The sheer convenience of her unhealthy habits continued to allure her, despite how detrimental they were.
Every morning, Siegal, from Connecticut, would start her day with a sugary coffee and breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts, followed by plenty of snacks throughout the day. The 27-year-old told Newsweek that she ate all the time, even when she wasn’t hungry.
As Siegal was drawn to whatever was quick and easy, aside from her morning trips to Dunkin’ Donuts, Siegal would also eat at other fast-food chains at least four times a week.
“I think that it was just easy to grab it, and I didn’t really care about what was involved or the ingredients I was putting into my body,” Siegal said. “I wasn’t concerned with any of that. I never counted calories and I didn’t weigh myself.
“I would start every morning off with Dunkin’ Donuts. I’d get a very sugary iced coffee, a bagel with cream cheese, sometimes two,” she added. “Then I would get lunch out, and dinner would be a very highly caloric meal. There was no intentional decision-making for any of my food choices.”
‘I Just Wanted to Lose a Couple of Pounds’
While weighing 272 pounds and wearing size-18 clothing, Siegal said that she didn’t hate her body, but she felt physically limited. She didn’t exercise regularly, and when she did try new classes or activities, the exertion would quickly take its toll on her body.
After doing an exercise class that was a combination of Pilates and barre with a friend in February 2021, she noticed that her knees started swelling immediately after.
Swelling of the knee is a sign of excess fluid around the joint, and it usually occurs as a result of a sports injury, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, obesity can also lead to a buildup of fluid around the joint as excess weight can put stress on it. When the knee becomes overloaded with pressure, it can start to swell up, just as Siegal experienced.
The thought of being 24 years old and physically unable to do one exercise class because of her knees was all the evidence that Siegal needed to change her lifestyle.
Siegal said: “I was driving to work one day, and I drove past a WeightWatchers billboard, so I thought maybe I’ll just go check it out and maybe lose 20 pounds. I thought it would just help take the pressure off my knees, and that was the turning point for me.
“I never hated my body, and I was never depressed about the way I looked,” she added. “It was more that I just didn’t feel good doing things. That was kind of what prompted all of it, as I was exercising one day, and I just wanted to lose a couple of pounds.”
At the time of joining WeightWatchers, Siegal may not have expected that much to change, especially as she bought junk food right before going in. But it didn’t take long for WeightWatchers to work its magic on her, as Siegal noticed that she felt different after attending her first workshop.
“The WeightWatchers that I joined was right next to a Dairy Queen, and before I joined, I went and got a burger and fries, and then I went in. I said I was going to commit for a whole year, but I’m telling you, after fitting in that first workshop, I felt different,” she said.
“I heard people sharing different ideas about what helped them, so then I went to the grocery store afterwards and I started cutting up my fruit, and I put it on the top shelf of my fridge like somebody suggested. In the first week, I started seeing improvements after my first two weeks, I was down 9.5 pounds. So, I saw change immediately.”
‘It’s a Form of Self-Respect to Fuel Your Body’
Joining WeightWatchers has allowed Siegal to overhaul her unhealthy lifestyle completely, and she managed to shed 127 pounds in 18 months after starting. Since then, she has been maintaining her weight, and now wears a size 4 to 6 in clothes, something she never would have dreamed of before.
Siegal has conquered her unhealthy cravings and now focuses on what she’s putting into her body, which she says helped her to gain control over every aspect of her life. The regular trips to Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s are long gone, and instead, she has instilled a more-considered approach to her diet.
“The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that WeightWatchers taught me how to eat,” Siegal said. “I’m not hungry and I don’t necessarily have all these cravings since I’m getting all the food groups that I need to keep me satiated throughout the day.
“I learned that the food you put into your body keeps paying you forward, in the way that you feel about yourself. It’s like a form of self-respect to fuel your body and make sure you get the movement you need. It’s changed my mindset, my physical appearance, my everything.”
After changing her habits and her outlook, Siegal feels as though she is in the front seat for the first time in her life. Although it’s not just her diet that has been improved, as she also now loves to exercise, and has become a certified fitness instructor.
‘You Can’t Hate Yourself Into a Smaller Body’
Since walking into the local WeightWatchers workshop with very little expectations for what was to come, Siegal now implores other people to try it out for themselves.
Those looking to lose weight might think ‘the quicker, the better,’ but Siegal said that those are not sustainable methods. She added that she has built a lifestyle around WeightWatchers and it’s changed her entire mindset, rather than just what’s on her plate.
Siegal said: “Everyone is so focused on how fast they can get there, and I always tell people to focus on the direction and not the speed it takes. You can’t control the speed at which the weight is going to come off your body because there are so many factors that come into play, like age, health conditions, stress levels.
“But if you focus on the healthy habits, and are going in the right direction, you’re going to get there,” Siegal added.
“You can’t hate yourself into a smaller body, you have to love where you’re currently at and realize you’re more than that. Think about how you can get to a place where you can love the skin that you’re in.”