A woman has opened up about how she ‘brainwashed’ herself to lose 30 pounds and get sober after years of feeling ‘insecure’ and ‘hopeless.’
Heather Maldonado, 27, from Austin, Texas, went from 152 pounds to 122 pounds after overhauling her lifestyle. She detailed how she rewired her brain to make these changes in three years in a video shared on her eponymous YouTube channel.
‘When I say I brainwashed myself into losing weight, I don’t mean that I strapped myself to a chair and only fed myself water and [watched] America’s Next Top Model. What I did was take action to finally commit to my new self,’ she explained.
Maldonado recalled hitting rock bottom during the pandemic in 2020, saying she drank excessively and spent 12 hours a day at her computer between work and gaming.
Heather Maldonado, 27, from Austin, Texas, detailed how she ‘brainwashed’ herself to get sober and lose 30 pounds in a video shared on her eponymous YouTube channel
Maldonado went from 152 pounds (left) to 122 pounds (right) after overhauling her lifestyle over the course of three years
‘I was overweight and thought so poorly of myself that I used to disrespect my body by binge eating [and] binge drinking,’ she admitted.
‘Brainwash’ yourself to a better body
- The first thing Heather Maldonado did to change her life was ask herself what was not serving her mind or body and give it up
- Next, she took actionable steps to retrain her mind and body by undoing all the negative self-talk that was holding her back
- Finally, she gave up short-term rewards and trained herself to embrace discomfort while working toward her goals
Her growing hatred for herself also led her to push away people who cared for her.
She knew if she continued on that path, she would end up alone with no one to blame but herself.
Maldonado said her problem was not that she was overweight, it was her unhealthy lifestyle that was leading to excessive weight gain.
She sought short-term rewards and fulfillment to dull her negative feelings while shaming herself into thinking she couldn’t change.
‘You can’t hate yourself into a body that you love,’ she said.
Maldonado explained that reaching rock bottom forced her to look inward and ask herself if this was who she wanted to be.
The first thing she did to transform her life was to ask herself what was not serving her mind or body.
After realizing she was using alcohol as a crutch, she gave it up.
‘Mentally, it was fueling my insecurities. It fueled that tiny voice in my head, the belittling ideas I had of myself, my small self-worth, and it always made me feel like I was the victim in my life,’ she said.
Alcohol also negatively affected her body because she was consuming hundreds of empty calories per weekend in addition to the cheesy, carb-laden foods she would binge eat while drinking.
‘I was overweight and thought so poorly of myself that I used to disrespect my body by binge eating [and] binge drinking,’ she admitted
The first thing Maldonado did to transform her life was ask herself what was not serving her mind or body. After realizing she was using alcohol as a crutch, she gave it up
Maldonado also stopped gaming and took up other hobbies, including boulder rock climbing
‘Cutting out alcohol was one of the best life decisions that I ever made. It had a dramatic effect on my weight loss even just by cutting out those calories,’ she said.
‘It helped me reprogram my brain and increase my mental health in healthy ways because then I was forced to deal with my feelings.’
Maldonado said the next thing she did was take actionable steps to retrain her mind and body by undoing all the negative self-talk that was holding her back.
‘It’s time to start introducing new voices into your head that believe in you, that are telling you that you can achieve it, and that change is possible,’ she explained.
She started listening to empowering podcasts, reading self-help books, and subscribing to YouTube channels that promoted the lifestyle she wanted for herself.
Maldonado paired this with the physical action of working out at the gym.
‘When I was getting my steps on the treadmill, I was reading my Kindle. When I was lifting weights, I was listening to a self-help podcast. When I was sitting down eating a healthy meal that I wasn’t so excited about, I was putting on a transformation YouTube video,’ she said.
Maldonado said the next thing she did was take actionable steps to retrain her mind and body. When she walked on the treadmill, she also read books on her Kindle
Maldonado would listen to empowering podcasts while lifting weights at the gym
When she was eating healthy meals, she would watch transformation videos on YouTube to keep herself motivated
She added that she also had to stop focusing on the scale because she stayed the same weight for a long time.
Maldonado recalled stepping on the scale after a month and a half of working out and changing her diet and seeing she still weighed 152 pounds.
‘If my goal was to lose weight, I never would have done it,’ she said. ‘I had to focus on my mindset and shifting that and my lifestyle. You know what motivated me? Not looking great in a bikini, but being terrified that if I continued on the same path of gaining weight, eventually I would be so unrecognizable to myself.’
She noted that it took three years of dedicating herself to incorporating small tasks into her daily routine to become the person she dreamed of being.
Maldonado said the third thing she did was to give up short-term rewards and train herself to embrace discomfort while she was changing her life.
‘Successful people that achieve goals have a higher frustration tolerance,’ she explained. ‘This means they’re able to tolerate higher amounts of unwanted thoughts and feelings in order to achieve their ultimate goals.’
She shared how she used to bury uncomfortable feelings by watching Netflix, ordering takeout, and playing video games.
Maldonado also started journaling and reflecting on the negative beliefs she had about herself
Maldonado said the third thing she did was to give up short-term rewards and train herself to embrace discomfort while she was changing her life
Maldonado has been sober and has lost a total of 30 pounds since she started making these changes three years ago. ‘You have to think long-term,’ she said
Maldonado admitted she felt lost when she quit gaming and stopped hanging out with her old friends, but she soon discovered new hobbies, including indoor boulder climbing, reading, and skating.
She also started journaling and reflecting on the negative beliefs she had about herself to help rewire her brain.
‘The interesting thing I learned is it’s never the situation that’s the problem, it’s our thoughts about the problem that are the problem,’ she said.
Maldonado gave the example of how she used to tell herself she was fat and would never lose weight. She learned to take that negative thought and reframe it.
She would now tell herself: ‘I’m not where I want to be yet, but I believe that change is possible. I believe that it can happen for me, and if I keep making small changes, a healthy mindset and body must result.’
Maldonado has been sober and has lost a total of 30 pounds since she started making these changes three years ago.
‘You have to think long-term,’ she said. ‘You have to think of what’s going to be sustainable for you.’