Lisa Niver Rajna is a member of the prestigious Traveler’s Century Club, a unique group limited to travelers who have visited 100 or more countries. She enjoys trekking to new locales so much, she even co-authors a popular blog with her husband, We Said Go Travel. Over the last few years, Lisa has been hiking, biking, boating and walking across Asia but there was a time when she could barely walk a mile without feeling exhausted. She has so many stories she could write a memoir, and she did, but the adventure that gave Lisa the most satisfaction was her weight loss journey. Though it spans years and thousands of miles, it’s one of her favorite tales to share.
In 2001, Lisa was single, fit and working on a cruise ship. Then, the tragic events of September 11th enfolded. Subsequently, her company went bankrupt, she stopped traveling, moved in with her parents and turned to food for comfort. Her weight crept up so slowly, she actually argued with her doctor who told her, “I don’t care if your clothes still fit. You gained more weight.” After an honest self-assessment, she finally saw what the doctor was trying to tell her. Initially she started walking, and made it her mission to keep going until the weight came off. At the time, Lisa was a science teacher. ”For three years, I walked to work. It was two miles each way,” she said. “There were several other teachers (who were younger and lived closer) who all drove every day. When it was rainy, cold or dark, it was hard to keep going but I chose to walk.” She was making great strides in her weight loss when she met a man named George. Their whirlwind romance led her to join him on a year-long sabbatical in Asia. Shortly after their arrival she exclaimed, “I’ve lost 12 pounds, I’m skinny now.” When George replied that he hadn’t noticed, Lisa was angry but then realized that although the comment seemed brusque, he was right, she still had a long way to go before she felt fit and healthy again.
Determined to change her body and make it stronger, Lisa intensified her walking, hiking and also started keeping a food journal. When she returned to the United States 11 months later, friends and family didn’t recognize her. Her weight loss even caused some confusion with an immigration officer who thought she might be carrying the wrong passport. In one year, she had the adventure of a lifetime, lost almost 60 pounds and even got engaged – under water.
Lisa and George recently published a memoir about the year that changed both of their lives forever, Traveling In Sin.
After already achieving one of Lisa’s wacky weight loss goals, fitting into the pants of her, “tiny mother,” Lisa says she plans on maintaining her weight by walking, eating smaller portions, and hula-hooping. She swears the beloved childhood activity is great for exercise. She even bought one she can travel with.
What advice would Lisa give to someone struggling with weight loss? “Don’t give up! Dreams can come true. I lost the weight, I found my true love, and I spent months traveling in Asia. If you had asked me if I thought I could lose the first five pounds, I would have said, I will try but I am not sure. I lost more than fifty pounds after turning thirty-nine and have kept it off for over four years. I know you can do it!”
Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is a speaker at the Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Dallas Travel and Adventure Shows for 2023. Her podcast, “Make Your Own Map,” has been watched in more than 11 countries on 4 continents. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. Look for her memoir in Fall 2023 from Post Hill Press/Simon and Schuster.
You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have nearly 2 million views.
With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club.
As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries.
For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.
Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals
including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo.
National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards
2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out”
2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver”
2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art
Southern California Journalism Awards
2022 Finalist: Book Criticism
2021 Winner: Technology Reporting
2021 Finalist: Book Criticism
2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt”
2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature
2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway”
2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile
2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers”
Social Media Presence
YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.7 million views)
Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts
Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers)
Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers)
Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views)
Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers)
LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)
5 responses to “True Weight Loss Story: Diets in Review”
Wonderful article. Good for you, Lisa, in losing all that weight.
Eileen, Thanks so much! It was a lot of weight to lose and I have kept it off for many years! I feel like a whole new me! Lisa
Wow! Incredible transformation. Congratulations! Tim
Tim, Thanks so much!It is literally a huge change. I could not believe it when I almost could not get back in the USA since I changed so much from my passport photo! Thanks for your comment! Lisa
Hey Lisa, I want to say I was very impressed with your story. That weight loss completely changed your look.