Mom Adrienne Osuna is proof that the number on the scale does not always reflect a person’s fitness level.
“I really want women to know that the scale should not be the only factor they consider,” the Santa Maria, California-based photographer tells PEOPLE of why she shared the image. “They should take measurements and pictures and go based on how they feel and look. Freedom from the scale is so liberating!”
While Osuna has a healthy relationship with the scale now, she admits she didn’t always feel this way. The mom-of-four used to resort to extreme dieting and exercise to lose her pregnancy weight and get the number on the scale to drop.
“After baby number four I lost 62 of the 80 lbs. I had gained and reached 182 lbs., at which point my body was done,” she says. “I was not eating enough. My metabolism was shot. My hormones were out of balance, and I was often sick.”
“I was training for my third half marathon, breastfeeding and barely eating 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day,” she continues. “If I messed up one day on my diet or the scale wouldn’t move I’d binge. After about six months of the scale not moving, I decided enough — enough beating myself up and enough running for hours and barely eating.”
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Osuna replaced her excessive cardio exercise with weight lifting four days a week — including a mix of powerlifting and bodybuilding — and only doing cardio twice a week. She stopped dieting and began intermittent fasting, which means she does not eat from 7 p.m. to 11 a.m. six days a week, although she does allow herself coffee with cream in the morning.
“I finally decided I was going to focus on what my body could do and what it’s capable of instead of what it weighed,” she says. “After a few months, friends and family kept telling me I was shrinking and losing weight but I kept saying, ‘I wish! The scale hasn’t moved!’ “
“Finally I realized all my clothes were too big,” she continues. “I compared pictures and couldn’t believe my eyes. I was almost the same weight but looked dramatically different! I realized what was happening and it fueled me. It also made me want to share with other ladies that the scale is not the ultimate factor in your success.”