I lost 100 pounds over three years ago.

I did it the hard way: After spending my teen years yo-yo dieting and my young adult years losing 90 pounds and then regaining almost all of it, I chose to have a gastric bypass. It has been a long journey since then (I went from my highest-ever of 231.6 pounds to now bouncing between 125 and 135, depending on the season) and I had to get reconstructive surgery to fix some things up. Now it has been two and a half years since I dropped the weight, though, and keeping it off is still a daily struggle. Luckily, I've learned a few things along the way--and these are the top 10 ways that I keep the weight off, today and for the rest of my life.

Read more ¿Qué más? Why I chose gastric bypass over a lap band

1. I eat small portions: Yes, my stomach is technically smaller--but even when I was losing weight before, I found that small portions were my greatest savior. The #1 rule I follow when dining out is that I only eat half of my plate. Instead, I take the rest home and pack it for lunch the next day. The same goes when I cook at home: I always make large portions, then divide them into about a cup and a half-sized servings.

2. I do NOT drink my calories: When in doubt, I absolutely positively do not have any drinks that will add to my daily calorie count. Yes, I still occasionally indulge in a soda but I try to keep it a diet. I know that diet soda isn't the best for you either, but that's the choice I make. The only exception to this rule is alcohol but, even then, I try to look for low-calorie cocktails or stick to the one-glass-of-wine-a-night rule.

3. I make healthy snacks: If you look in my desk drawer at work you'd freak because of all of the food I have in there. Don't fear, though--it's all healthy food. I typically keep a couple nutrition bars on hand, a bar of dark chocolate and TONS of fruit. My golden rule is to have a piece of fruit as my mid-morning snack (typically an apple or a banana) and a protein-rich snack (like a nutrition bar) around 4 p.m. so that I'm not starving when I get home. If I'm having a really awful day, I'll also allow myself one piece of dark chocolate after lunch.

4. I walk as much as possible: I live in New York City, so walking isn't really a problem for me--but it's easy to get lazy. I take the subway to work, but I make it a rule to walk wherever I'm meeting a friend for after-work plans. If I'm going to the movies or having dinner, I plan it within a 20-30 block radius of my job so that I can walk there and get another 15 minutes of some light working out.

5. I drink water like it's my job: I keep a large water bottle on my desk at work and I am ALWAYS refilling it throughout the day. I try to drink at least 4-6 glasses at work and then another 2-4 at home, you wouldn't believe how much you can mistake thirst for hunger.

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6. I go for vegetables first: Not only do I strive to order more veggies when I go out to eat and also incorporate a lot more healthy greens when I'm cooking at home, but I also start out with eating them FIRST. The trick here is that your stomach can fill up on all of the fiber and then you won't be wanting the meat or rice as much. Yes, I still eat them but typically this also helps me to cut the calories.

7. I always share dessert: I used to have a massive sweet tooth. It took a lot of training  (and I still indulge in low-calorie desserts every now and then), but these days I only have dessert when I'm at a restaurant--but I always, always make sure to split it!

8. I drag a buddy to work out: I hate working out and I always will, which is exactly why I always make sure that I hit the gym with a friend. Not just any friend, either, I always ask a friend who LOVES to work out to come with me. Their energy is usually infectious and, although I still don't love it, being with a friend makes it way more fun.

9. I always bring a dish: I know my Latin family isn't always thinking health and I'm sure you feel the same. The same goes for my friends, particularly during summertime barbecues and parties. So what do I do? I always, always ask the hostess if I can bring a dish. In fact, I insist on it! That way, I know that whatever else they're serving up, I have my own healthy dish that I can load up my plate with. That way I feel less guilty if half of my plate is my good-for-you food and the rest isn't.

10. I educate others: Now, I'm not perfect and I fully admit that to anyone who asks. But do you know what keeps me going? Getting up and continuing with my next meal as if I'm the healthiest eater on the planet. Not only that but I also try to help other's as much as possible. I do this because, at the end of the day, helping to educate others on how to lose weight actually reminds me of my OWN progress and helps me in the end.

Are you struggling to lose weight? What are your tips for dropping the pounds and keeping them off? Share with us in the comments below!

Images via Irina Gonzalez

About the author

Irina Gonzalez is a Staff Writer for MamásLatinas. She loves pop culture, social media, photography and, above all, discovering new places. She's also a foodie eating healthy and learning to enjoy exercise.

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