‘I Took Up Running, Cycling Classes, And Tracked Calories To Lose 113 Pounds’

My name is Terray Kauffman Buel (@terraysjourney), and I am 30 years old. I recently relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona, from Portland, Oregon.After I added consistent exercise into my schedule and began tracking calories, I lost 113 pounds in 22 months.

I was always medically overweight or obese—I can’t remember ever being at a healthy weight. Growing up, there was a lot of addiction in my family, and I vowed to never turn to drugs or alcohol. Instead, I turned to food.

In 2007, at 17 years old, I was 255 pounds. I lost 65 pounds and stayed at 190 until 2012. Then, in 2012 while running on a treadmill, I passed out. I got shot off of the machine and suffered a traumatic head and brain injury. My skull was broken, my brain was bleeding and swelling, and I had a badly sprained neck. Some of my family stepped in to take care of me because I couldn’t stand, drive, make my own food, or even be left alone. It took over six months to recover, and I gained weight during that recovery period, as I couldn’t take care of myself or move around.

Over the next few years, the scale number continued to go up and up. On New Year’s eve in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, I told myself that I’d really lose the weight this year. Every year I’d start out with the best intentions. But around mid-February to March I’d fall off the wagon—and my weight would creep back up again.

In 2018, I finally began to address why I was gaining weight.

I had to do some of the hardest work of this entire journey and address my mental well-being. I was surrounded by toxic relationships that I was putting more effort into than I was putting into myself. Making the choice to remove myself from these relationships was extremely difficult—but I was knew I was ultimately harming my own health by dealing with them. After removing the toxic parts of my environment in December 2018, I was able to begin devoting the time and energy I needed to better my health.


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For so many years I would do a total 180 with my diet and exercise on January 1. I’d go to the gym at 5 a.m. and eat oatmeal with fruit and coffee with unsweetened soy milk for breakfast. Tofu, vegetables, and brown rice would be my meal for lunch every single day. Essentially, I used to make too many drastic changes all at once, and it wasn’t sustainable.


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This time around, I changed *one* habit at a time.

While it’s true that you can’t outrun a bad diet, I started by adding consistent activity to my schedule. Once that was a routine, I added in calorie tracking.


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The major difference for me this time around was that I started tracking the calories I was consuming rather than cutting out my favorite foods. I didn’t consider any foods or drinks specifically off limits, but what I consumed had to fit into my caloric needs. If I wanted pizza, pad Thai, or ice cream, I could have it—but I planned the rest of my day to account for those calories. The idea that you can have it all, just not all at once, was most helpful to me this time around. No matter what foods you choose to eat, you have to be in a calorie deficit. I used a TDEE calculator (which gives you an estimate of your total daily energy expenditure, or calorie burn) to get an idea of my caloric needs. You can easily find a free one online!


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I also eat a largely vegan diet, and I always eat vegetarian. I have eaten this way since my early teens. It was an ethical choice for me, not one that I made directly for weight-loss reasons.


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Here’s what I eat in a day:

  • Breakfast: Iced coffee and oatmeal with soy milk and strawberries
  • Lunch: Vegetable fajita tacos
  • Snacks: English muffin with peanut butter and banana
  • Dinner: Tofu vegetable stir fry
  • Dessert: Low-calorie, non-dairy ice cream


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I started by working out four times per week before work.

I found a small spin studio with body-positive instructors I loved (@mobcycle in Portland), and I went to cycling class two times per week. I also utilized the Couch to 5k app and used it twice a week. The running app is designed to be completed in 10 weeks, but running at 300 pounds was hard! I needed to repeat each individual weekly plan multiple times as I built up my endurance and cardio ability, so the program took me a year to complete.


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I currently run five to six miles two times per week. I also complete two virtual cycling classes twice a week, and I weight train two times per week. When the weather allows, I also like to add in a weekend hike.


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These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.

  • I increased my activity. I started by working out four times per week before work. Once I’d made that a routine I began to meal prep and track calories. I consistently worked out four times per week even during weeks when I ate too much. Maintaining a sense of consistency with my workouts made me feel like I never totally threw in the towel, even when I didn’t make the best food choices from time to time.


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  • I weighed myself daily. It’s so easy for me to not step on the scale, and then three months later I realized I’ve gained 30 pounds. While using a scale is definitely not for everyone, for me, the scale is a tool that helps keep me grounded in my reality.


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  • I prioritized my mental well-being. I started focusing on why I was overeating, and that work was some of the hardest of this journey. Removing myself from toxic situations and relationships allowed me to focus on my relationship with myself and time to engage in fulfilling relationships and activities.


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I have lost 113 pounds in 22 months.

This averages out to around five pounds per month. While many people are able to lose the weight quicker, I’ve found that a slower and steadier approach has been more sustainable for me.


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After losing 113 pounds, I’m still me. I was deserving of a happy and enjoyable life at 300 pounds, and I’m deserving of one at my lower weight too. Losing weight isn’t going to make you more worthy than you already are—but it has made my life easier. It’s easier for me to hike to the tops of mountains. It’s easier and more affordable to find clothes I like. It’s easier to sit in a booth at a restaurant.

This process isn’t easy. There’s no magic shake, pill, or fad diet that’ll take away the struggle and do the work for you. I haven’t been perfect along my journey. I overeat some days. I’ve had days that I wanted to quit tracking calories. I struggled. But I kept going when things were hard.


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