— -- Arielle Calderon has struggled all her life with yo-yo diets, but she says it wasn't until she committed to eating healthy and becoming more physically active that she finally found success, losing 85 pounds in eight months.
In an interview with ABC News, the 26-year-old Calderon said she has lost weight before -- but ended up gaining it all back.
"I would count calories a lot, which was horrible for me personally. I just got to obsessive with it...I would limit myself to about 400 calories a day and I would burn off like more than a thousand a day," she said.
Calderon, who is the director of community at the website BuzzFeed, learned that for her, slow and steady weight loss was the answer. She used apps to help her track her progress –- Weight Watchers for meals, Plant Nanny for water intake and her Apple Watch for physical activity.
She also uses Fooducate, an app that allows users to scan a food item and get a letter grade about that item and a breakdown of its nutritional information.
Calderon, of Manhattan, has even used her Instagram account as a diary, sharing her joys and struggles online in her own BuzzFeed article, including her account of an encounter she had when she had already lost about 20 pounds.
"It was on the subway. It was my birthday and I was carrying a bunch of stuff and flowers that my friend had given me and I was standing and then a man offered to give me his seat and I thought it was because I was holding a lot of stuff. And then he said, 'Yeah, you should sit because you're pregnant.'"
She added: "I think that's what really was a turning point for me, is that something, like, so soul-crushing didn't lead me off of the path and it would have before."
Her honesty has made her an Instagram star. She started with 115 followers and now has more than 51,000. Her follows have said her struggles motivate them.
Calderon said she now takes the stairs instead of the elevators, stands rather than sits, stopped drinking alcohol, educated herself about nutrition and learned to cook her own healthy meals. She said she walks everywhere and also took up running.
Maya Feller, a registered dietitian, commended Calderon’s approach.
"The way that she did it is absolutely the right way to do it. She looked to make sustainable realistic changes that fit within her lifestyle, so I think that's really the key for weight management success," Feller said.
Feller added that it was important to set good habits in your twenties.
"What people do in their 20s informs the latter part of their life with regard to their risk reduction regarding diet related chronic illnesses," Feller said. "Specifically diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, so if you make healthy food choices then you're more likely to sustain that and be a reasonable eater and be at a reasonable weight for the remainder of your life. Which will in turn make you healthier."
Calderon said she is no longer afraid to look in the mirror. She focuses on small goals and "non-scale victories," such as being able to run a mile in a faster time, not needing a seat belt extender anymore or seeing a bath towel wrap completely around her body, she said.
"I think that there's like these little things that, you know, maybe you don't think about often. I think that focusing on these non-scale victories and setting yourself small goals is really going to help you," she said.