Irvy had just started high school when she began struggling with her weight. "I started to pack on serious pounds and ultimately reached my highest weight of 310 pounds," she told FITNESS in an exclusive interview. After graduation, she put in the effort to change her ways and even managed to lose 135 pounds, but eventually she gained most of it back.
For the next decade, Irvy yo-yoed in her weight. It wasn't till 2015 that she made a conscious decision to change her life once and for all. "Every aspect of my life was falling apart: friendships, relationship, career path. I was extremely depressed and at the end of my rope," she confessed. "In what I refer to as my zero-hour, I had a light-bulb moment where I realized instead of trying to control or change my external circumstances I needed to change myself."
To kick-start her weight-loss journey, Irvy decided to create a YouTube channel, hoping it would keep her accountable. Unfortunately, that didn't happen at first.
"I thought that seeing myself in videos would make me feel uncomfortable about how I looked," she said. "Unexpectedly the opposite happened, and I lost all sense of insecurity about my weight."
Irvy realized that the only thing motivating her to lose weight was society's expectations of it being the right thing to do. "Most females, I find, don't talk about their weight," she said. "In our culture...[weight] is supposed to mean something or determine someone's worth. So for me, when I spoke publicly and openly about it, I lost that feeling of its power over me."
As a result, Irvy lost the last external motivator that had pushed her to embark on her journey in the first place. "I ended up gaining a few pounds, and stopped uploading [videos]," she said.
At this point, she realized that her YouTube channel was only a tool to help her become successful, but the actual change had to come from within. "I clued into the fact that the only authentic and long lasting motivation is internal," she said. "You have to be self-motivated; you need to do it for your own reasons and strictly for yourself."
Now, Irvy goes to the gym six days a week, focusing on weight lifting and minimal cardio. "I try to stick to this split as much as possible, but every day is different, as I like to switch things up all time to keep my body from plateauing," she says.
She also drastically changed her diet, but says she did so gradually in order for it to become a lifestyle as opposed to a quick fix. "In the beginning. I didn't cut out or change everything. I slowly started adding in...lean foods like chicken, steak, veggies, and fruits," said Irvy, adding that she simultaneously eliminated sugar-laden foods from her diet as well.
"Over time, the effort I put in and the progress that I saw was so great and exciting that I found myself naturally making healthier choices," she said. "Now, I'm in the kitchen two hours per week, and I have food for the whole week and zero excuses to eat like crap!"
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That said, Irvy admits that she lives an 80/20 lifestyle—giving herself the opportunity to indulge once in a while. "I believe that is the key to weight loss and long-term maintenance. It has to be a lifestyle, not a fad," she said. "I love pizza, gelato, and burrito bowls. I still eat these things...[just not] all the time."
Over the past two years, Irvy has lost 118 pounds and couldn't be happier about the progress she's made. "I feel amazing, and I'm very proud with regards to how far I've come, mostly on an emotional and mental level," she said. But she says her journey isn't over yet.
"This coming year, my goal is to lose the remaining 30 pounds and reach my ultimate goal weight of 160 pounds," she said, also revealing her plans to launch her own line of luxury organic wellness teas. "2017 isn't just about smashing goals; it's about exceeding them and then some!"
Now that's something we can all get behind.