It was the tragic near-death of her mother that helped Savannah realise her own health was at risk. During Savannah Ortiz's senior year of high school, her mother was hospitalised for three months because of diabetes. Savannah shared, "She had toes amputated off her right foot and, shortly after, kidney failure. She was basically on her death bed and all I could do was sit there and watch."
Savannah said something clicked for her like never before: that she could be next. She told POPSUGAR, "At 18, I was killing my body from the inside out and my body was working a lot harder than it should be for a person of my age. I didn't want life to continue to pass me by and I didn't want to wait till my health was in jeopardy for me to have a wake-up call."
"I might not have had diabetes yet, but if I didn't change something, I was not far from where she was."
Savannah waited another year an half before she made a change, saying, "I just didn't know where to start." Savannah said she was done being made fun of for her weight and missing out on opportunities just because of her size and her lack of confidence because of how big she was getting. She said, "I was done feeling depressed and sad. I would smile all the time but was never truly happy. I wanted to love what I saw in the mirror, not constantly hate it."
With a starting weight of 110 kilos, Savannah began her weight-loss journey one month before she turned 20 years old. So far, she's lost 43 kilos. She's excited to hit 45 — her goal weight is 64! How'd she do it? Savannah said that in the beginning, she just ate less food to help cut her calorie intake down. Then she started calorie counting and incorporating an Herbalife shake to replace a meal. Savannah said, "Along with cardio, the weight melted off."
Savannah admitted that she knew nothing about working out; she just knew she needed to sweat. She began her journey during the NBA playoffs and, being a huge fan of Kevin Durant, she started walking 3.5 mph with a 3.5 incline, "because 35 was his number." She said, "I would walk for a good two hours until the game was over just to be able to watch him play." About six months later, she started incorporating weights.
As for food, Savannah eats every three hours. Here's what her day looks like:
- Breakfast: "Herbalife shake in the morning, along with my tea and aloe for a metabolism boost. It is easiest for me to shake in the morning because I'm on the go at 5 a.m. — and I'm not the biggest fan of breakfast."
- Morning snack: "Greek yogurt — yogurt is my favourite thing to eat."
- Lunch: "High-protein, so some type of meat and a vegetable to go along with it."
- Afternoon snack: "Vegetables or string cheese. I'll alternate between carrots or cucumbers. You can eat a lot of either and the calories still stay low. So those two are usually my go-to options."
- Dinner: "I end with high-protein, as well, with a vegetable again, and sometimes I like to add whole-grain rice. Or I'll end the night with a big salad. It just depends what the day has been like."
Along with dropping almost 43 kilos, Savannah experienced a few non-scale victories, including flying comfortably with a seat belt that has "extra slack." She's able to shop at stores for her age and find "jeans that fit my thighs." Confidence is also soaring for Savannah, and she's learned to love herself and know she's beautiful (even though she was before). She said, "I have been able to see it now and build my mental health as much as my physical." Going on adventures and taking chances is also a big win for Savannah. She shared, "Now I'm pursing my dreams head on, even applying to modelling agencies after all theses years that people told me to."
Savannah admitted that her motivation isn't always there. She said, "I have discipline. Motivation comes in spurts. I have moments I'm motivated because I never want to go back to my 'old life.' Sad, depressed, and alone isn't a way to live. I guess at times fear is the motivation." She also finds motivation in "being the best me possible. It's almost like a game of what's next, how far can I push myself?"
She said, "I use discipline throughout the week to remind myself to eat right and get to the gym." She knows if she eats the wrong foods, she'll gain weight and feel uncomfortable, "So why would I want that?" As for the gym, Savannah sees it as a blessing. "I have legs to run and arms to lift, so why take that for granted, when some people would be thankful to go? It's all about the mindset you use to look at a situation, and I feel the need to always look at the positive."
If you're on your own weight-loss journey, Savannah wants you to remember that consistency is key. Losing weight takes time — you didn't gain it all in one day, and you won't lose it in one day either. Savannah says, "Enjoy each stage of your weight-loss journey. You have to remember you are still living life while losing weight. Don't miss out on opportunities just because you are on a 'diet.' You can still lose the weight but you can never get the memory you could have made back."
Also, "Focus on your mental health throughout your journey just as much as your physical. Remind yourself you are good enough at any shape or size. Focus on being healthy in every sense of the word. You are good enough NOW — weight is not nor will it ever be the judge of that.