When Allie Ruby hit 225 lbs., all she wanted was to slim down. But once she lost weight and got super fit — six-pack and all — she realized her emotional happiness depended on more than being skinny.
The 28-year-old information manager from Des Moines, Iowa gained most of her weight in college, thanks to alcohol-filled parties and dining hall food. By running and swapping her double cheeseburgers for chicken and cottage cheese, Ruby managed to lose 98 lbs. Before she knew it, she was down to 127 lbs.
“I would weigh myself every day, and as it would go further and further down I would decide to keep going,” Ruby tells PEOPLE. “It was self-motivating.”
She also started following workout plans on Bodybuilding.com and learned that she could burn more body fat weightlifting than from cardio alone. By focusing on lifting while paying close attention to her meals, she finally got in shape — but it didn’t come with the satisfaction she expected.
“I always thought that I would love to have a six-pack, and when I got there last year, it wasn’t all the fireworks I thought it would be. I thought that would be a huge high, but it wasn’t,” Ruby says. “The highs that I found from it was the things that I did to get it, from doing kettlebells, and meeting other people.”
A different kind of #transformationtuesday I think at least a few can relate. I thought when I was at my leanest (middle) I would be my happiest – something that was an unintentional emotional destination. I didn’t set my goals bc I hated my old self. In fact, I love the old allie and bring her everywhere. Without the added body weight in college I wouldn’t have jumped into self discovery – I may just be a soccer player who never explored self awareness. When I hit my goal weight I thought it would be euphoric – the abs, the lean strong muscle. I thought all of it would make me feel like an empowering and loving person. Of course I was those things but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt great, but I didn’t feel alive. I felt trapped. That I needed to eat a certain way to keep my image, workout a certain way and sleep a certain way. Oh yeah, and then everyone and their damn mom has an opinion on “how to love yourself” which only added more pressure to me wanting to give up the Fit Life. Today I’m a glorious 164-167 lbs., 20 lbs heavier on the right. obviously my goals have shifted. I eat for performance and culture not a look (some days are tougher than others). I sleep for energy. I train for strength. I’ve learned that fulfillment comes from being truly alive – surrendering your need for control to allow things to happen, eating a whole damn wheel of cheese with friends, sleeping in until the last minute, falling in love for the first time and getting extreme jet lag from traveling overseas. This is just a taste of what makes me fulfilled. I just do happened to enjoy the work of training and the relationships I made through it 🤗🙄
“I felt great, but I didn’t feel alive. I felt trapped,” she adds on Instagram. “That I needed to eat a certain way to keep my image, work out a certain way and sleep a certain way.”
Ruby missed parts of her old life, like enjoying Mexican food with her coworkers. Over time she decided to refocus her goals. Instead of dieting and eating less to maintain her six-pack, she ate a little more to build muscle.
“I feel more comfortable at that higher weight, with more body fat,” Ruby tells PEOPLE.
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Now around 163 lbs., Ruby says she’s more content, despite the occasional self-doubt that creeps up when she remembers weighing a lean 127 lbs.
“If you have ever lost a substantial amount of weight then gained some back you probably have an idea of that devastating feeling of going backwards — I think those feelings were more painful at that time than when I was overweight,” Ruby writes on Instagram, adding that it’s been helpful to practice mindfulness at this point in her journey. “I had to remember that a transformation is far deeper than physical.”
She has also shifted from weightlifting to powerlifting, a fitness program that’s more effective at a higher weight.
“It’s so different, because no one cares about your image. It’s all about how strong you are,” says Ruby. “I love it.”
Powerlifter Shares Proud Weight Loss Journey but Says ‘There’s More to Life Than Having a Six-Pack’