My Journey Losing 250 Pounds Without Surgery Or A Prescription And What I Eat Each Day

Olivia Salvatore
By Olivia Salvatore

I was overweight for most of my life. I knew that I wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t take it seriously.

I was 30 years old when I experienced changes in my health. Friends encouraged me to go to the doctor after months of brushing off the symptoms.

I told the doctor the problems I was having; numbness in my toes, drinking a lot, weight loss. He sent me to have blood work done.

I found out that I was diabetic, with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In fact, my A1C was almost 9 and my glucose level was over 400. 

I was given two medications for cholesterol and high blood pressure, and a glucometer for diabetes.

I also got a booklet on what foods to eat and which to avoid. I was good for a while, but I did stop following the diet over time. I told myself that it was okay to have the foods I missed because I lost some weight.

At one point, I lost my insurance and stopped everything I was doing to manage my diabetes. I immediately fell back into my old pattern. 

As I felt fine, I ignored any signs my body was giving me that something was seriously wrong.

It would take an additional ten years and a massive health issue that required substantial hospitalization for me to make permanent changes.

"Change your lifestyle or die."

The doctors were blunt. 

I was obese and my A1C, glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure were dangerously high. I met with a diabetic counselor and nutritionist, who offered some recommendations for my diet and exercise.

I followed these recommendations and had some success. 

My weight was going down, and my lab work was improving, but I wanted to do better, I wasn’t satisfied with myself. I decided to start experimenting with what worked for my body and what didn’t.

With the recommendations I was given, I could eat most foods if I limited my sugar and fat intake. 

I started to eliminate certain foods from my diet and see what changes I experienced in my body. 

I gave up all soda (including diet), no sugar at all, no white flour, white rice, no fried foods, no fast food, no salt, no baked goods, chips, or processed meats. 

I only ate fruits and veggies (I prefer frozen to fresh on most veggies), whole grains (no wheat or oats because I gain weight when I eat them), lean meats, fat free dairy (plain yogurt), nuts and healthy fats including olive oil, coconut oil and avocados.

I don’t take supplements and I don’t follow fad diets. 

But I do measure my portions. I experimented with the amounts until I found the portion that was nutritionally balanced and was also satisfying. 

I was full, but not to the point of being overly full. With these changes to my diet and walking for one hour every day, I started to notice positive results quickly.

An image of healthy vegetables with the words, You Are Worth It.

I was losing weight steadily, gaining muscle, had more energy, better skin and my lab work was improving steadily. I reached my goal weight and have maintained it for almost 2 years.

My diabetes is well controlled, my cholesterol is at a healthy level and my blood pressure is holding steady.

My doctor is incredibly pleased with my progress. He saw me at my worst and is happy to see that I am healthy.

I am not going to say that this journey was an easy one because it in no way was. I know I will always have to keep myself on track and not let my guard down in any way.

What I Was Eating To Get Healthy In 2019 - 2021


⅓ Cup Fat Free Yogurt

½ Piece of Fresh Fruit (Pear in Photo)

1 ½ Tbsp Ground Flaxseed Meal

2 Tbsp of diced Ginger

2 tsp of Coconut Oil

Cinnamon to taste


1 cup Frozen Mixed Vegetables (thawed, not cooked)

1/2 cup Quinoa or Barley

1 Whole Avocado

2 Tbsp EVVO

Assortment of Herbs and Spices


1 Cup Cooked Green Lentils

3 Tbsp Tomato Paste

2 Tbsp Picante Sauce

1 Cup Roasted Chicken Breast and Thigh (boneless and skinless)

OCCASIONAL SNACK: 1 Sheet of Nori Seaweed or 1 Package of Roasted Seaweed Snacks (usually every other day)

August 2023 Update

The world has changed a lot since I wrote this article and I thought it would be a good time to update all of you on how it’s going with my journey, so here we go!

The biggest change we’ve all dealt with, of course, has been the Covid pandemic that threw the world into chaos in early 2020.

We had to learn to live very different lives due to the lock-downs, supply chain issues and rising food costs.

I learned that I had to listen to my body and understand what it needed in order to be able to complete the workouts I was doing. Knowing that when I was feeling weak or tired during a workout, that my body was telling me that it didn’t have enough fuel.

Even though the pandemic has, for the most part, ended, we’re still dealing with the after effects of it and probably will be for some time.

I’m happy to report that I made it through the pandemic, and I avoided acquiring the pandemic 15 that many people put on. That’s right, NO PANDEMIC 15 HERE!!!

I actually lost more weight (20 lbs to be exact) and became more fit during it.

How you ask?

Well first off, I didn’t let the pandemic stop me from eating a healthy diet or exercising, I kept it up even during the lock-downs. 

When I first wrote this article, I walked 4 miles every day outside as my method of exercise, but when that wasn’t an option anymore, I didn’t know what I was going to do.

Photo of the Gazelle Glider by Tony Little for weight loss.
The Gazelle Glider

Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to have a friend that gave me a Gazelle Glider (yes I know, I doubted that it would work too), and it totally changed my workouts for the better.

I thought it was going to be easy. 

I thought I could just get on and go for my 4-mile glide, but hell, I was I wrong.

This glider kicked my ass!

I tried to do the 4 miles, but I was only able to do half of that the first day, and I was sore as hell the next day. 

I had no idea how much this machine did.

It was a lot more of a cardio workout than my usual walks, and worked my arms and legs more effectively than walking did.

Needless to say, you have to build up slowly to increase your stamina. I slowly increased my distance every day, and it became a competition with myself to push just a little bit longer. 

In the 3 years that I have been using the Gazelle, I’m now doing 11 miles, which I break into 2 workouts.

I had to increase my food intake when I increased my workout which was something I was very scared to do, because I was afraid that I’d gain weight. But, I was losing too much weight and putting myself at risk of damaging my health and body.

Seven miles in the morning and four miles in the afternoon. So, I end up doing 62 miles a week now, as opposed to the 28 miles I did when I was walking.

I’m proud of how much I have improved my weight and health with this Gazelle, and I feel bad for originally doubting its effectiveness. I would recommend this machine to anyone that is looking for a way to work out safely and effectively in their own home.

After putting in a lot of hard work to change my lifestyle from fat and lazy to fit and active, I’ve lost a total of 250 pounds!
Now, to put that into perspective, look at the image below…
A photo depicting animals and a scooter that each weigh around 250 pounds including a giant panda, harbor seal, Honda scooter, dolphin and spectacled bear.
I used to wear a size 26-28, and I now can wear a size 4-6.
I’m still shocked by that! I even went to the store and put on a pair of pants in my old size. Both of my legs now fit into one of the legs of my former size.
I’m very proud of getting here, and I have promised myself that I will never get to that point again. Stay strong and focused on your journey, and you can reach your goal weight, too. 

As for my diet; I’m still eating a very healthy and natural diet, with some changes that were needed due to the increase in my workouts.

“I know a lot of people say it’s too expensive to eat healthy, but that’s a convenient lie!”

Olivia Salvatore

Even during the lockdowns, I was able to get the healthy food I needed, and they were a lot less expensive than the unhealthy options a lot of people were choosing.

Just think about how much money you spend on junk foods like chips, cookies and ice cream, sodas and let’s not forget the take-out and restaurant dining.

Even though I was doing this alone, I had to work hard even when I didn’t feel like it. I had to override the excuses that I was telling myself for why I didn’t want to work out. I found that the more I did that, the easier it became, and now I am programmed to work out at a certain time and for a certain duration, no more excuses. I actually feel guilty if I can’t work out due to an appointment or meeting.

The cost of those choices continue to increase, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.

I choose fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and dry beans and lentils to make my meals. 

I found that it’s not all about changing your diet and exercising to achieve your goals. I had to change my mindset. After all, that's what got me to the situation I was in. That had to go!

I eat no sugars, no processed food, no fried foods, or what they call white foods (sugar, white flour, white rice and white potatoes).

I also never eat fast food or dine out.

Now, if you compare how much my food bill is every week (roughly $50 a week, and yes, you read that correctly), compared to a food bill from someone that eats unhealthy, you’ll see a remarkable difference.

My 2-Week Walmart Cart & Receipt

NOTE: I did not need barley, lentils, or quinoa on this trip as I have 2 weeks saved up to use. These items would have added $10.50 to the total.

Meal prepping is still key, for me.

It helps me control my portions and also helps reduce the risk of grabbing something easy (unhealthy) while telling myself that I don’t have time to cook.

If you have a freezer full of cooked ingredients that are ready to go, you can grab what you want to have for lunch and dinner and let them thaw the day before. 

I learned that I am solely the one responsible for getting myself into the horrible health that I was in, I was the one that was responsible for the food I chose to eat, the amount I chose to eat and being lazy. I had to stop blaming other people, which I did a lot, they had nothing to do with my choices, it was all on me.

You can put a healthy meal together in no time when you get home or are heading off to work.

No convenience excuses needed!

I cook a week’s worth of my whole grains, beans or lentils and meat, portion them out into freezer bags or containers, and it makes things so much easier to keep myself on track.

What I'm Eating Now - August 2023

Here are some examples of my usual meals, including the additions I had to make.


1/2 cup of fat free yogurt mixed with canned pumpkin and seasoned with cinnamon and ground ginger. I also add about ⅓ cup cooked quinoa on top for some extra whole grain carbs for fuel.

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies (thawed but not cooked)
  • 1/2 cup cooked barley or quinoa (even a mix of the two for variety)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A nice apple cider vinaigrette (I make my own without oil) with different herbs and spices to add variety of flavors
  • 1 cup cooked lentils or beans (I never use canned, I cook them from dry)
  • 1 cup of mixed or California blend veggies (thawed, not cooked)
  • 1 4-6 oz piece of cooked chicken breast
  • I will season this with either a mustard vinaigrette (I make my own without oil) or just different herbs and spices to add variety.
    1. I eat 1/2 can of chunk light tuna twice a week for added protein after my morning workout
    2. After my morning workout, I will mix about 4 Tbsp of ground flax seed with about 1 cup unsweetened almond milk to make a little smoothie, to give my body some healthy fats and fiber to recoup.
    3. Occasionally, not more than once a week, I will enjoy about 2 cups of popcorn that I pop using a Tbsp of water to steam pop the kernels, no oil needed. I also never salt my food.

May 2024 Update

I promised to keep you all updated on how things are going with my weight loss/weight management journey. Here are a few new things I’ve been trying out since my last update. I hope this update will help keep you motivated to continue your journey and improve your new healthy lifestyle.

The first thing that I started a couple of weeks ago, was increase my workout on the Gazelle glider. I was doing 11 miles, 5 days a week (7 miles in the morning and 4 miles in the afternoon). That included one day a week of 7 miles in the morning, and then I took one day off completely.

Since I’ve been working from home now, and sitting at the computer since business has picked up, I find myself uncomfortable and restless in the early evening. It was driving me a little crazy. I struggled to focus on my work.

I’ve learned a lot about the importance of self-care for both your mental and physical wellbeing. It was time to put that newfound knowledge to work! So, I added another workout to my day with 4 miles around 6pm.

Now, I’m doing 15 miles total, and it’s improved my sleep and my ability to focus, particularly in the evening. I feel better overall, both mentally and physically.

I have noticed that I’ve lost more subcutaneous fat in my abdomen lately. Now I can’t tell if I’ve dropped pounds because I don’t weigh myself often.

I used to weigh-in every morning. But that started to deeply affect me. If I was up a pound, I instantly got very stressed out thinking that I wasn’t doing enough, or I must be eating too much, which I knew deep down wasn’t true. I was sticking true to my meal plans and hadn’t increased anything. So now, I don’t focus on the scale anymore, instead I go by how my clothes fit and how I feel.

The Pain That Comes With Losing All The Fat When You’re Sitting

When I lost those 250 pounds of fat, I lost any cushion that I had around my tailbone (coccyx). Meaning, I’ve had a lot of discomfort while sitting, especially in my computer chair. Cushions don’t help much – let me save you the trouble! Even with a cushion, I was still in pain and the skin around my tailbone was irritated and seemed to be developing a callous. I started to lotion it 2 times a day to keep the skin soft and healthy.

I assumed I’d have to live with this pain. But while researching excess skin removal (I have a lot), I found that most people that lose a lot of weight develop this same problem. Thankfully, there are treatments!

Some treatments are temporary and need to be redone over and over, but there are a couple of treatments that are more of a permanent fix. I’m shooting for the permanent fix, which is having fat transplanted around the tailbone to provide a cushion and protect it.

Luckily, I can get it done when my excess skin is removed. I’ll be able to sit comfortably again!

Yes, the whole idea of skin removal and fat transplanting sounds scary and painful, but I’m excited to deal with some temporary discomfort to finally have excess skin and irritated tailbone handled.

That’ll mean no more having to powder my skin folds three times a day. No more worrying about skin infections. And no more pain when I’m sitting. I’ll happily deal with the temporary discomfort of healing with a smile.

I Challenged Myself To Eat Different Proteins For 10 Days (No Chicken!)

That brings me to my 2-week challenge I created for myself. I’ve named it, the 10-Day healthy or exotic meat challenge.

My entire weight loss journey has been chicken and fish, which gets boring. I needed to find other healthy meat options for much-needed variety. For the next ten days, I’ll be cooking with some different meats – all low in fat and high in protein. Of course, I’ll be sharing the healthy ingredient recipes that I am using, and I hope you find it encouraging to get a little adventurous in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to having some variety in my healthy meal plans.

I hope my updates have given you some new insight on keeping your own journey exciting and fun, and even answer some of the questions about some things you might be experiencing in your journey. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you might have, and I will continue to keep you updated on any new things my way.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or flavorless, you can experiment with all kinds of herbs and spices, different and unusual veggies, lean meats and whole grains to create meals that taste different every day.

Remember, what I eat might not be to your liking, but they are here as examples of portions and types of ingredients I use to help you better understand how to create your own.

Have fun and come back to Dakoa when we launch our recipes section and follow us on our socials (when we have them up and running) to help you find all kinds of new ways to enjoy eating healthy and natural meals.

I learned that the things I learned along the way on this journey have helped me become more committed, determined, more efficient and focused in every aspect of my life. I can complete my daily tasks for work and in my personal life so much faster than I used to, and the quality of what I do has greatly improved.

It’s going to be hard, and you will have times when you don’t know if you can keep on track. In those moments, you must tell yourself that you have come this far, and you’re not going back.

There will be times you are offered food that you know you should not eat.

You must refuse because it will set you back.

The momentary satisfaction of that food is not worth risking all the work you have done.

This is a lifestyle change, and it is a lifelong journey, and it is hard, but don’t give up, stay strong and reach your goals and maintain them. You are worth it.


olivia (at)

*Replace (at) with @ symbol.

I’m going to update this article every year so you know I’m still on track along with any new things that I’ve learned. It helps me stay accountable, too!

I’d love to hear from any of you on your own journey. 

Let me know what made you decide to get fit and healthy, how you’re doing it, and how it’s going. It’s always nice to have a buddy that can understand how difficult this journey can be. Don’t be shy, let’s all inspire each other to make a journey to a healthy and fit life.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions, contact me below!

Do you have a lot of excess skin since you lost so much weight?

Yes I do, I have excess skin on my inner thighs, abdomen, arms and face.

Does your excess skin cause you any issues?

The biggest issue I have with the excess skin is that it tends to get moist from sweat, and it will get irritated, especially where it overlaps other skin. I have to apply powder before and after I work out, to help keep it dry. I also apply an anti chaffing ointment to my inner thighs to help reduce the friction from rubbing.

How do you control your cravings for unhealthy foods like cookies and chips?

Unfortunately, the cravings will be a part of your life forever, but to avoid giving in to them, I will do something else to distract myself, I like to read or crochet, so I will just get into a good book or start a new crochet project.

How do you stay on track if you have to eat out?

When in the rare occasion that I have to eat out, I will choose a dish that has grilled lean meat like chicken or fish, and for sides I will ask for a roasted sweet potato with no butter, or I will ask for a double side of veggies instead of a potato. When I eat a salad, I ask for a vinaigrette and I ask for it on the side. I will drink water or unsweetened tea, and I don’t get a dessert.

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