Aylin Bayramoglu, singer, actress, voiceover artist and second place finalist on season two of Oxygen’s The Glee Project, struggled with weight and body image issues virtually her entire life. After trying so many diets and weight loss programs unsuccessfully over the years, she has lost 50 pounds and finally feels fit and comfortable in her own skin. Aylin shares what sparked her remarkable transformation and what finally has her singing a different tune when it comes to her health.
*You’ve stated that you have faced challenges with your weight most of your life, can you tell us a bit about your experience?
Like many women who come from a close family with a strong ethnic culture, I think I grew up in a “food is love” type environment. With so many wonderful, home cooked meals, I don’t believe I ever really learned how to eat healthfully. While I was active as a child with dance and soccer, I gravitated towards the chubby end of the spectrum and always felt self-conscious about my body shape. I look back over the years and think of the many different diets and fitness programs I had tried without any long lasting or meaningful success.
*What do you believe led to your incredible transformation? What was different this time?
I don’t think I am alone in saying that the pandemic and lockdown was a tough time and emotionally challenging. My weight had continued to creep up until, to my own utter disbelief, the scale tipped to 180 lbs. I remember thinking, “What have I done to myself?” For perhaps the first time in my life I was fraught with negative thoughts in terms of my career goals. When I would get auditions, I found the voice in my head saying, “You’re not going to get this role because of your size.” It was this realization that led me to reach out for help.
I had seen photos of a friend and choreographer, Brooke Lipton, on Instagram and she just looked amazing. I messaged to ask what she was doing, and she recommended Ultimate Performance, a global group of personal training facilities that incorporates a style of weight training known as German Body Composition. Ultimate Performance appealed to me as they seemed to specialize in body transformations. Their mantra of “maximum results, minimum time,” really appealed to me.
Once I had some direction, I decided I wasn’t going to “half ass” this attempt. I signed up for a twelve-week session and committed to making my health and fitness a priority. There was just an immediate sense of not being judged and being fully supported in my new journey.
*Can you describe a bit about your workouts?
My trainer, Irina, accepted me where I was starting from, which, honestly, was my being thirty years old and physically out of shape. At the beginning I had very limited range of motion and my knowledge of proper form and technique while working out was almost non-existent. Initially, we focused on body weight movements and functional training. I was working with my trainer for an hour three times per week and learned so much about proper form, avoiding injury and the incredible importance of building lean muscle mass. In addition to my Ultimate Performance sessions, I also incorporated aiming for 10-15,000 steps per day to increase overall activity level.
*How did your relationship with food and your food choices change during this time?
Ultimate Performance explained and helped me determine my daily macros so that I could effectively meal plan. At first, I ordered through Macro Plate, a high protein, low carb meal delivery service. I love food, so this journey was a big adjustment for me. For the most part, I am dairy free. I typically try to avoid dining out. It has been my experience that restricting something completely, can lead to binging or poor choices. Finding healthier alternatives that were sustainable for me long term helped fuel my success. For example, I swapped out high sugar and high calories soda for Zevia, a stevia based, calorie-free soda, found a 30-calorie keto friendly bread and a protein based pasta. It was necessary to retrain my brain to fight old habits like “you need to finish your plate,” and that food is fuel, not love.
*How do you stay motivated?
There was a sense of embarrassment of having tried so many times to lose weight and then gaining it back again. I would have some success, receive compliments, and invariably gain it back. I would try to avoid seeing people so that they wouldn’t see how big I had managed to get again. The entire journey is quite a spectrum and hard at first. Looking at old photos of myself is very motivating to me and helps me focus on how far I have come. It has been freeing to finally feel that I have the tools to get where I want to be. It has also been wonderful to see how my transformation has inspired the rest of my family to adopt a healthier and fitter lifestyle.
*What other advice would you share with someone starting their own health journey?
It is so helpful to think in terms of right now, rather than forever. When you focus on exerting more self-control rather than a restrictive or a deprivation mindset, you will start to believe that your goals are achievable. I try to save splurges for when I am in my goal range.
*What was your experience on The Glee Project like for you?
It was an interesting experience, and I was proud to make it to the very end. I was only nineteen years old and extremely impressionable. Singing is my first love! Once I left Chicago for Los Angeles, my phone was immediately taken away and we were disconnected from our typical world. It truly felt like living in an alternate reality. Ultimately, it created great exposure for my career and some wonderful opportunities.
*What is something that would surprise people to know about you?
Most people would be shocked to find out what a huge dork I am! I love Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and am an avid gamer.
*You mentioned having a negative inner voice before you lost weight, has that changed now that you have successfully lost the weight? What would you say to other people struggling with the same issue?
One of the toughest lessons I learned was how necessary it is to be kind to myself. I repeat this message to myself throughout each day as truly you wouldn’t talk as harshly to a stranger as you do to yourself. There is nothing about mean-spirited self-talk that is helpful to achieving success in any aspect of your life. Finally conquering my weight battle and turning off that harsh inner critic, has left me feeling so much more confident, and I feel physically and mentally stronger. Be kind to yourself and perhaps find your own glee!
You can follow Aylin Bayramoglu on Instagram and Twitter at @aylinsings