"I lost 140lbs, changed my relationship with food and now I'm a dance instructor—Here's how"

Amanda Phillips lost 140lbs of weight after surgery, Jazzercise, changing her relationship with food—and getting an Apple Watch

Amanda Phillips
(Image credit: Amanda Phillips)

In 2017, Amanda Phillips decided enough was enough. She had always struggled with her weight, having grown up “the bigger child” even while being active. But shortly after giving birth to her daughter, she realized her weight had spiralled out of control. 

“I wasn't even able to get down on the floor and play with her,” said Amanda. “My husband was the one that we would go to the park, and he'd climb up on the slides with her and things like that. And I realized, she's not going to have any memories of her Mom doing things, it's always going to be her Dad, I’d always be the one taking pictures, unless something changed.”

Amanda tried lots of different weight loss strategies and several different crash diets. Generally, eating healthy is all about sustainable choices, swapping sugary sodas for water from the best reusable water bottles or learning how to manage portions with a portion size guide (like ours). Coupled with the best exercises for weight loss, this tends to result in a gradual shedding of lbs. But restrictive crash dieting often proves unsustainable long-term. 

“I actually had the gastric sleeve surgery in February 2017,” said Amanda, “and that began my total change of how I viewed health and fitness. A lot of people will think that weight loss surgery is a way to cheat weight loss. And unless you've been through the experience, I can say, it's definitely not. It's a tool to help me in working with my addiction to food.”

Dance class

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After Amanda lost her youngest brother to suicide shortly after the surgery had been completed, she struggled without her former coping mechanism of binge eating. Searching for a new, healthier way to cope, she found a thriving, friendly community in Jazzercise.

“Jazzercise has become my therapy, where I can kind of go and just leave everything at the door and just have fun. I was able to find people who were encouraging and excited whenever I would meet goals with my weight loss journey. That reminded me on those hard days that you know, hey, this is a chance for you to come in and do better and do well.

“I also started incorporating more movement every day by getting an Apple Watch and giving myself little movement goals, so that I was making sure that even on the days that I wasn't doing Jazzercise, I was still moving my body.”

Moving regularly, breaking up long periods of sedentary time using alerts from the best fitness trackers, has been proven to aid in weight loss according to research published by The Obesity Society. The Apple Watch has also consistently ranked in our list of the best fitness watches, and helped Amanda track her workouts, heart rate, and get competitive by comparing statistics with her Jazzercise support network. 

Along the way, she still managed to indulge in her favorite treats, but limited her portion sizes rather than resorted to binge-eating: for example, putting her chips in ziploc, pre-portioned bags instead of opening up a large family-sized packet and unconsciously snacking.

So what would be Amanda’s words of wisdom for people starting where she was in 2017? “Do your research and realise that everything you see on social media is not always what it appears. One mistake does not erase everything that you have you have attempted to do. 

"And find something that you enjoy, even if it is just walking outside. It doesn't have to be super intense, but you have to find something that you love. And for me, it was Jazzercise and I can't imagine doing anything else.”

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Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.