Category Archives: Success Stories

*Inspiration* Ready to Talk: My Story of Obesity

From You should read this post. It might contain some language, but man, is this a good post! If you’ve ever struggled with weight (and I’m assuming you have if you’re reading this), at least a part of this will probably hit home. If this woman and all of her food demons can do it, so can YOU!

You’re going to have to click HERE for the full post and before and after photos!

That was me. Just over two years ago (May 2009) and over 110 pounds ago. This is such a hard, emotionally raw topic for me that I’ve written dozens of posts about it over the past year and discarded them all. But I really want to start sharing my story as I begin work on my newest project – a low-cal, full-flavor cookbook (which I haven’t gone so far as to look for a publisher yet but imma get on that part real soon). ;)

I’ll share a little background with you… by sixth grade I was 180 lbs. By 18 I was pushing 200. By 29 I was 265 (ish… that was the last time I stepped on a scale months before I started losing weight. Probably a little higher than that in reality but I wasn’t able to face it.) I’ve been “overweight” or “obese” the majority of my life. As a kid, my mom always said “oh the allergy shots you had at 7 years old made you gain weight” but lets face it, eating large portions of unhealthy food mixed with a lack of exercise are what really made me gain weight and continue my upward course. It’s so. Effing. Hard to change your habits, regardless of what they are – eating, drinking, smoking, exercise, etc. It’s so easy to say, whatever, I’m fat, this sucks, there’s no end in sight. No way to imagine how to shed 100+ lbs. Shit, it’s hard to even own up to the fact that youneed to lose 100+lbs. Nobody starts off life at 265lbs, but over the years somehow you just wake up one day and it’s gotten to that point. And you don’t like looking in the mirror. And you don’t like stepping on the scale. And you can’t stand photos of yourself or, god forbid, video.

Having been overweight for nearly all of the first 30 years of my life, I know exactly how people treat you. In grade school you get called names like “thunder thighs” or the likes there of (that one still echos clearly in my mind), as you get older people just stop looking you in the eyes. Everyone makes judgments or assumptions on the type of person you must be to have “let yourself” get to that point. I even had a local vendor at the Ocean Beach farmer’s market say to me “Yeah, you should definitely eat some more [grapefruit] and lay off the french fries” as I went to sniff the citrus at his stand. Another time when I was a personal chef in Rancho Santa Fe, I went to buy some beef jerky for the family I was working for and asked a store clerk for help finding it. He took me to the tofu jerky section, aisles away from the actual beef jerky section, and said, “I think this would be better for your needs”. Really? Do you know my needs? Because I “needs” to keep my freaking job and buy beefjerky for my client. Don’t assume, people. (Sorry, 2+ years later, it’s still as raw as if it had happened yesterday.) If you’re overweight, or have ever been overweight, you have undoubtedly shared similar experiences. It sucks. People are mean. I, personally, consider myself a judgment-free zone. (If you know me, this is a phrase you are well-familiar with.) In all situations, not just regarding weight, I try not to judge other peoples actions, choices or lifestyles. Nobody knows what life situations anyone else has been through to evolve and shape them into what/who they are today. Just be nice and treat people with respect and love.

So, August of 2009 my two best friends from high school came to visit with their significant others. My friend Cristin’s husband happens to be obsessed with video documenting all aspects of their life (which I love/hate). We were on the beach and he, unbeknownst to me, took video footage of the day. Later that evening he plugged his camera up to our TV and started playing the recording. There I was, 265+ lbs, IN A BATHING SUIT ON A BIG SCREEN TV!!! I was mortified. It took all of my self-control not to run into the bathroom and start bawling. It’s one thing when you never have to see yourself and avoid mirrors, it’s another when your moving, breathing image, in a damn bathing suit, gets slapped up onto a big screen. No way to avoid the truth.

Just a couple of weeks before my friend, Nicole, had started the Couch to 5Kprogram – a jogging program that lasts for 9 weeks and starts off with you jogging for 60 second intervals at a time and works you up to jogging for 30 minutes straight (or 5K) by the end of the program. Though I had always said I would never be a jogger, I begrudgingly started the program alongside her. Not gonna lie – in the beginning I didn’t even know if I was going to make it through the entire 60 seconds of jogging. But each week I continued to surprise myself and was able to succeed at increasing the length of the intervals on schedule with the program, though some weeks that meant pushing myself more than others. About half way through, the flip switched in my head. You know what? Ican do this. And that’s the thing! It’s all in our freaking heads! When your inner dialogue is filled with “I can’t run for 5 minutes” “I can’t say no to that slice of pizza” “there is no way I’m ever going to shed 100 lbs” “I’m fat, I’m ugly, even Idon’t want to look at me, how can anyone else” all of these negative thoughts just constantly circling over and over and over, yeah – you know what? YOU NEVER WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE ANY CHANGES. You have to believe in your ability to do it first. It’s going from having an “I can’t attitude” to an “I can” that allows change to happen. Seriously – I truly believe that anyone can doanything if they really put their mind to it and STICK WITH IT! No, nothing will change overnight. It’s thought patterns that have allowed us to reach the weight that we’re at and it’s thought patterns that will similarly allow you to make healthy changes in your lifestyle. That’s the problem with weight-loss surgery as a “solution” and why such a high proportion of people who have it continue to struggle with their weight even afterward. The real problems come from our relationship with food and why, for whatever personal reasons, we over eat.

Personal reasons aside, weight-loss happens when you burn more calories then you are consuming. That means that a) you should be aware of absolutely everything that you eat and b) you should be aware of how much you are burning! There are some really great online tools these days that allow you to do this super easily and quickly. The one that I’ve been using for the past couple of years is The Daily Plate (which eventually picked up). You put in your height, weight, age, gender, etc, and then tell it how active you are and what your weight-loss goals are and it tells you how many calories per day you can eat an still achieve your goals. BUT BE HONEST! By claiming to a machine that you worked out more than you did, move more in your day to day life, or don’t record your honest caloric in-take, the only person you are cheating (and trying to fool) is yourself! I, personally, didn’t share (and still don’t) my account with anyone. I find it easier to be upfront with my slip-ups when it’s only my eyes that see what I’ve eaten. Hiding what I’d eaten is part of what got me to 265 in the first place. Having an honest relationship with myself about the amount of food I am honestly consuming has allowed me to continue eating bacon every day, or a serving of insanely rich mac & cheese or devilishly delicious peanut butter mousse brownie pie and still continue on a downward track from 265 to 153 over the past two years. Shit, I wrote and ate a cookbook on food porn after I started my weight-loss journey. ;) Yes, some days I eat more than what the calorie counter says I should (hello football game days!), but I don’t hate myself for it and I don’t give up! I just log it in, sigh, then try to do better the next day… and the next day… and the next day.

Also – one thing that I really want to touch on before I move on is the importance of not making unrealistic goals! Sure on reality tv shows where you have a trainer whipping your ass 6 days a week, no job to focus on or kids/spouse’s mouths to feed it’s possible to lose 8 or 10 lbs in a week. That’s an insane and unrealistic goal in the real world. From the beginning, I never set goals of more than 2 lbs a week. Two pounds is an attainable goal for someone with a significant amount of weight to lose. When you set a goal that you can actually reach, you can accomplish it, feel great about it and set a goal for the next week. If you set unattainable goals you are just going to reinforce that “I can’t” attitude as opposed to reprogramming your brain into an “I can” state of mind.

So why am I now, after two years on this journey, sharing my story with you guys? Well, I’m finally getting comfortable with my new self, and trust that I amnot going to return to my old way of life. I mean, I spent nearly 30 years obese. I was really scared for a long time that I would be just another statistic and revert back to my old habits. After two years of building positive habits I no longer have that fear. I believe in myself and my ability to maintain control of my life and eating habits. But more importantly, food is what I love. It’s what I live for. Beyond that, it’s my livelihood. I run two websites dedicated to food and write cookbooks. I’ve always wanted to spend my life doing something to help others and right now, I feel like I have a great opportunity. I know that I have a low-cal cookbook in me that will show that getting healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up things like bacon or cheese or chocolate. It just means learning correct portion sizes, feeding your metabolism regularly and moving a little.

Yes, I will continue to post desserts and high calorie content foods on this site, because true to my life, I will continue to make and eat them. But I’ll do so along side of healthy, delicious recipes. I hope you guys will continue along this journey with me. I have about twenty more pounds until I reach my goal weight, and these last twenty are the hardest. Let’s all be accountabilibuddies, through the good, the bad, the mac & cheeses and the bean & corn salads. If anybody needs support, I’m here. If you’re just beginning your journey and need an ear or want to chat, not in a public forum feel free to email me rather than comment below. (My email is at the bottom of the about page!) Or, alternately, let’s start a community of support. We all need someone to give us a push when we aren’t feeling it, or uplift us when our inner dialogue is weighing us down!

You know I couldn’t do this post without sharing a healthy recipe, right? The super flavorful baked spiced tilapia filets with black bean and corn salad & tangy fresh tomatillo salsa verde below serves four and rings in at 373 calories per serving! So good it’ll make you wanna slap yo’ mama but so healthy that you won’t feel guilty about cleaning your plate. (Now you might feel guilty about slapping yo’ mama, but that’s a whole different story!) ;)

A Low Cal Recipe, by Amanda

Spicy Baked Tilapia with Black Bean and Corn Salad and Salsa Verde

For the Salsa Verde:
6 medium tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled & roughly chopped
1/2 – 1 1/2 jalapenos, stem removed, roughly chopped (vary depending on how spicy you like it)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
juice from 1/2 fresh lime
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus extra
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, plus extra

For the salad:
3 large ears sweet corn
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 large clove garlic, peeled & minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled & chopped
1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, stem & seeds removed, chopped
1/4 head red cabbage, core removed & finely shredded
juice from 1 lime
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, plus extra
3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus extra

For the fish:
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 (4oz) tilapia filets
1 tsp canola oil

Make the salsa:
Place all ingredients for the salsa into a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 72 hours.

Make the salad:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil corn for 3 minutes. Remove from water and run under water until luke warm. Cut kernels off cobs and place in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients for the salad into the mixing bowl with the corn kernels. Stir until ingredients are evening dispersed. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with more kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Before serving, toss to coat with juices and taste once more. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Make the fish:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together first six ingredients for the fish in a small bowl. Place tilapia on a sheet pan and drizzle filets with oil. Toss to coat evenly with oil. Season each filet evenly with 1/4 of the spice mix. Bake at 450 degrees until fish is just cooked through, about 7 to 9 minutes.

To plate:
Spoon 1/4 of salad onto a plate. Place a fish filet on top of the salad then spoon salsa over the fish and around the plate. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Servings: 4
Calories per serving: 373
Total cooking time: about 1 hour


*Success Stories* She Hit the Gym …

From Fitbie… Click HERE for the full post (including before and after photos!) and links to more stories!

Mary Squillace fitbie

Before: 385 pounds
After: 213 pounds
Age: 38
Height: 5’11”

When Tonya Weber, 38, was in her early twenties, she was diagnosed with multiple health problems, including a thyroid condition, kidney stones, sleep apnea, and arthritis. She was in constant pain and at one point was taking seven prescription medications plus eight to 10 ibuprofen a day in order to cope. “I wasn’t really living, I was just surviving,” she says.

“I didn’t feel like doing anything. Shopping took a horrific amount of energy and I’d always have to stop and rest.” Because her medical issues made it difficult for her to lose weight, she found herself using them as an excuse for poor eating habits. “I’m from Texas. In the South everything is about food. You eat when you’re happy, sad, or celebrating.” In 2009 she had three major surgeries within 6 months, and during her recovery the weight kept piling on, eventually reaching nearly 400 pounds.

The Turning Point
Once Tonya’s weight soared to 385 pounds, she started to fear the consequences. “I was afraid I’d be one of the people who get trapped in their house or that I’d die before I hit 40.”

One-minute weight loss secrets

The Lifestyle
In 2009 Tonya joined a regional weight loss club, SlimGenics, where she learned to eat better, but realized she wasn’t eating enough. Then in 2010, she joined a gym and met her trainer, Callan. “He saved my life,” she says. “In my first session I almost passed out. I could barely do curls, but Callan said to keep coming back and not to give up. At the time I wasn’t strong enough to believe in myself, but I didn’t want to let him down.”

Search: Strength training exercises

After a year of working out, she’d built muscle strength and whittled her weight down to 321 pounds, but wanted to lose more. In January 2011, she sat down with her trainer to set goals and formulate a plan of attack. “We got my calorie count right and kicked up the intensity of my workouts. I started losing 3 to 4 pounds a week, and I am only about 30 pounds away from my satisfaction weight.”

Today Tonya works out 3 days a week on her own and 3 days a week with her trainer, plus she adds extra cardio after training sessions. She’s also cut out most processed foods and sticks to around 2,000 calories a day on workout days and 1,800 a day when she doesn’t go to the gym. She also keeps a 1 to 1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates and limits her consumption of grains. “Callan changed the way I look at food,” she says. “Viewing food as fuel and not as a reward or punishment system completely changed my outlook on life.”

Burn 100 Calories Right Now

The Motivation
“I love to shop, so when I get to buy new clothes it’s huge for me. There’s that and the energy I feel,” she says. She genuinely looks forward to gym sessions, which she says are sometimes downright laugh fests because they’re so much fun.

Tonya also works toward incremental goals. During her first year of weight loss, she ran a 5-K. When she ran her second 5-K this year, she blasted 18 minutes off her original time (her goal was to knock about 8 to 10 minutes off), finishing the race in 35 minutes.

Print It: 12-Week Training Log for Runners

The Reward
After about 3 weeks of working out, her pain dissipated and she could stop taking ibuprofen. She’s now off all but one of her medications . “People have also noticed that I don’t get angry anymore,” she says. “The gym has been a big stress release. It’s helped me find a work-life balance.”

And then there are the seemingly little things. Tonya recently returned to an amusement park where, in the past, she’d been too big to get on many of the rides. This time around she was not only able to fit into the seat , but also had to tighten the safety straps. “The numbers on the scale are great, but being able to take that ride was a spectacular moment,” she says. “I stopped calling myself fat that day.”

Don’t give up. “It’s not going to be easy. If it’s fast and easy it won’t last.”

Don’t punish yourself. “I know one meal or one setback will not ruin my program. Accepting myself as a work is progress gives me the strength to move on with purpose.”

*Success Stories* How did they lose hundreds of pounds?

From ABC News….

They had compelling, deeply-personal reasons for embarking on a life-changing mission to lose weight and regain their quality of life.

 Kim Eidson, Eric Freemyer, Wendi Tillem, Marty Moorehead and Ken Schooltz worked hard — exercising, dieting, eating well and resisting temptation. And they’ve lost a total of 696 pounds

 Here are their stories:

 Eric Freemyer

 Eric Freemyer

Freemyer is a Dallas attorney who’s married, with 13-year-old twin boys and a 4-year-old daughter. Freemyer said he wanted to sleep all the time before he started his diet. Before he began to lose weight, he couldn’t play with his children and his wife worried that he would die of a heart attack. He was afraid he wouldn’t be alive to walk his daughter down the aisle.

A trial attorney, Freemyer said his weight affected the way juries perceived him. Now, he runs a mile every day with his twin 13-year-old sons. Freemyer’s brother and sister, who were also overweight, went on the diet and have dropped pounds.

Current Weight: 185 pounds

 Total Weight Loss: 130 pounds

Diet: Medifast. The diet calls for five daily Medifast meal-replacement drinks or foods (available only through the company), plus one meal of lean meat or fish, plus salad or green vegetables, according to The high-protein, low-carb plans allow dieters about 800 to 1,000 calories a day, and is designed to yield a loss of two to five pounds per week while preserving muscle mass. Freemyer started the diet in March 2009 when he weighed 315 pounds, going down to 185 pounds in October 2009.

Wendi Tillem

Wendi Tillem

Tillem, a married mother of two, works in fashion retail but, because of her weight, could never wear the clothes she sold. The Monroe Township, N.J.-woman had lost two uncles and an aunt to Type 2 diabetes. Her father was dying of complications from the disease, and his doctor told her she, too, would die if she didn’t do something about her weight.

Before her father died last spring, he saw that Wendi was well on her way to a healthy weight and getting fit. Tillem has put her entire family on her diet, and now runs 3 to 4 miles per day.

Age: 44

 Current Weight: 156 pounds

 Total Weight Loss: 124 pounds

 Diet: Younger (Thinner) You Diet. The diet is based on a book by Dr. Eric Braverman, who says that imbalanced brain chemistry is the reason we have trouble losing weight and keeping energy levels up. His plan explains how different foods, spices and teas can help to bring these chemicals back into their proper balance. Tillem started out at 270 pounds and lost the weight in 18 months.

For more, click HERE

*Success Story* Tammy – Jillian Michaels

Have you heard of Jillian Michaels from the Biggest Loser? She has her own weight loss program, and apparently it’s working well for some people! Click HERE for her website.


Success Stories - Tammy
Tammy, Houma, Louisiana

Tammy has lost 142 pounds* and finally knows just how strong she is. Plus, as a Challenge winner, she received a training session with Jillian herself! 

I have been overweight my entire life, but the weight gain became noticeably more significant around fifth grade. My home life as a child was far from ideal. Although I didn’t realize what I was doing as a small child, I used food and my increased weight as a bandage and a form of protection.

The event that spurred me to make a major change was when my husband asked for a divorce in November 2007. I took the following month to really look at my life. I started by asking myself one simple question, “Are you happy?” I quickly realized that if I was honest with myself, the answer was no. I was only going through the motions. I had hit rock bottom, and was just so tired of being tired. I began by making a list of what I really wanted my life to look like. I wrote down everything that came to mind. Nothing was too big or too little. It included things like “Go back to college and finish my nursing degree,” “Dare to have my beautician cut my hair with a razor instead of scissors,” “Lose weight,” “Take a vacation just because I want to,” and “Tip a waiter/waitress $100 regardless of the price of the bill and make his/her day.” I carried that list around with me for the full month of December, and any time something came to mind, I’d grab a pen and add it to the list. At the end of the month, I looked at all the things I’d written on my list and reevaluated my life. I decided to start with two items: a large change and a small one. On January 5, I had my hair cut with a razor and I began my weight-loss journey.

I had never watched The Biggest Loser, but I’d heard of Jillian’s reputation and decided to give her online program a try. Once I’d joined and spent a few minutes browsing the site, I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had tried to lose weight on my own countless times throughout my life, but I’d always failed. Jillian’s approach made sense. Weight loss is a simple math equation: calories in, calories out. You had to burn more calories than you ate. Simple. Not easy, but simple.

When I first began my journey, I followed Jillian’s program pretty strictly. I worked out five days a week with, two rest days, used her circuit training from the site, and followed her suggested calorie limit — between 1200-1400 per day; I also kept a diary of my food intake each day. In addition, I used Jillian’s DVDs. In the beginning, I was ashamed of my size and very self-conscious about being in a gym with other people. I joined a 24-hour gym and would workout between midnight and 2 a.m. to increase my chances of being alone in the gym. After following this routine for four months, I decided to change to a gym that offered classes. I soon discovered that not only did I not care what other people thought (or whether they might be watching me), I actually enjoyed working out with people around. Their presence helps push me further in my workouts and keeps me moving when I’d rather stop. Today you’ll find me in the gym six days out of seven. I work with a trainer once a week and take strength-training, kickboxing, step, and cardio classes, and I’ve recently added running to my routine — I go out with a group of friends from the gym. I still use Jillian’s circuit-training routines from the site, as well as her DVDs, to enhance my workout.

The same day I began this journey, I joined a local weight-loss competition. I competed against 24 other people for a prize worth $2,500. I didn’t win the competition — I placed third behind two men — but the prize I won was far greater than any amount of money: I lost 45.5 pounds in 10 weeks. The competitiveness and having something to strive toward helped me remain focused in those beginning weeks. Then in April, it was announced that I was the winner of Jillian’s New Year Challenge, and I learned that Jillian would be coming to my home to spend the day with me and give me a one-on-one training session. My upcoming day with Jillian kept me motivated and on the right path. Having had the opportunity of a lifetime to spend the day with the person I respect and admire most in this world continues to be what drives me to reach my goal. Having said that, I realize that not everyone has the same situations or opportunities I was blessed with, but find whatever it is that encourages you — something you can strive toward or look forward to. Focus your sights on that goal and keep moving forward.

Obviously, I am physically different from the way I was, but I am emotionally different too. Physically, I can exercise for hours, I can run, clothes fit me, I have muscles, I am strong. But I think the bigger changes, for me, have been the emotional ones. We all know Jillian is a fantastic trainer — she can pull hundreds of pounds off people and “beat” them like no other — but what sets her apart from everyone else is the love and compassion she gives. I truly believe the battle of weight loss is 98 percent emotional, and that is where Jillian does her best work. Her heart is so much bigger than her beatings! The hardest and most productive workout was the beating given between my ears. She made me see how strong I truly am, and what I can do, not what Ican’t.

I believe in myself more than I ever have before. I have a greater sense of self-worth; I put myself first often; I am able to make decisions and follow through with them even if it hurts or is scary; and I’ve learned that change can be a good thing and an opportunity to grow. One of the most rewarding changes has been that I’ve gained people in my life whom I consider invaluable, and whose paths most likely would never have crossed my own had I not made the decision to change my life. My journey will never be over — this was a lifestyle change for me. I am currently 11 pounds from my goal weight, and I have no doubt I will reach the finish line!

Best compliment: Each compliment I am blessed to receive touches my heart and means the world to me, but the greatest compliment came from Morgan, the 3-year-old girl I take care of as a private nanny. One day a friend and I had lunch together, and I had Morgan with me. The waitress came to the table to take our drink order and asked Morgan what she would like to drink. She answered, “Water with lemon because it’s healthy for you.” The waitress giggled and said, “You’re right! That is healthy!” Morgan then said, “I’m gonna grow up to be strong like Tam.” She made my eyes well with tears. It made quite an impression on me, and I’ll never forget it. Her life will be different and healthier because of the way I’m changing my own life.

Activities now: I recently ran my first 5K race with seven dear friends who have come to feel more like family to me. But it’s the little, everyday things that most people take for granted that have made such a difference to me. I can climb stairs and not lose my breath. At home, I can lean over the bathtub to bathe a baby, cut the lawn without stopping, tie my shoes with ease, and scratch the center of my back. When I go shopping, I can find something that fits me in any store. On an airplane, I can easily buckle the seat belt and have to tighten it. Also, for the first time in my life, I can cross my legs at the knees, not only at the ankles.

Advice for others:

  • Educate yourself on weight loss and health as much as possible. Listen to those who’ve been there before you, and allow them to help you.
  • Find a workout buddy, a partner in crime. Pick someone who will push you when you need the encouragement but who can also comfort you when the stress gets hard to manage.
  • Use to your advantage. Ask questions, get to know people on the Message Boards, use the circuit-training workouts and the recipes, the Weight Tracker, and the Fitness Diary.
  • Take pictures along the way. I have trouble seeing changes in the mirror, but I can tell the difference in photos.
  • Believe in yourself and know that you’ll cross the finish line. No one can want it bad enough for you. You have to want it for yourself — and more than anything.

I love that for the first time in my life, I believe in myself, feel I am worth something in this world, and know I can do and have anything I want. I am strong… The next step is always mine to take.

*Weight loss varies by individual. You may not achieve similar results.

*Success Stories* I Never Thought I’d Wear a Size 4!

From fitbie

“I Never Thought I’d Wear a Size 4!”

College living took a toll on Amy Banfield’s waistline—and self-esteem. Then she lost 69 pounds and gained confidence in every area of her life
By The Editors of Women’s Health womenshealth
After  |  Before
Image: Greg Ruffing

Before: 199 lbs
After: 130 lbs

Thanks to a childhood filled with drive-throughbreakfasts and take-out dinners, Amy Banfield, now 22, was always one of the chubbiest kids in school. By fourth grade, she recalls, “I was heavier than my friends and felt self-conscious changing for gym class.” Her eating habits worsened when she enrolled at Miami University in Ohio in 2007. “My dorm was next to a 24-7 mini-mart, so I could snack all day or night,” she says. During freshman year, she packed 25 pounds onto her 5’7″ frame. With summer looming, she vowed to bring her scale back from the brink of 200 pounds.

Don’t starve yourself! Check out the 10 snacks that fight fat

The Change
To avoid facing the music about her weight, Amy lived in oversize tees and sweats. But in January 2008, when she was turned away from a fraternity party with a harsh “No fat girls allowed,” she decided she needed to act. “I was humiliated,” she says. She committed to fixing her weight problem for good.

Search: How do I start losing weight?

The Lifestyle
Amy meticulously measured portions and replaced cheese-laden snacks with oatmeal or hummus and carrots. Fast food became a rare indulgence, and she found low-cal options online before heading out to eat. She also started working out on the elliptical for 30 minutes five days a week. By the time she began her sophomore year at a new school, the University of Kentucky, she was down 25 pounds. There, Amy took up swimming, cycling, and running and lost 44 more pounds by her junior year. She proudly wore a size-4 swimsuit on a trip to Mexico that May.

Reveal your abs for good!

The Reward
As Amy shed weight, her self-confidence grew. She became president of her sorority and had the guts to go for a postgrad internship at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico, which she nabbed. “I never would have applied before,” she says. “Now anything is within my grasp, as long as I’m willing to work for it.”

Get the tools you need to reshape your body, lose weight 3 times faster, and look better naked!

Amy’s Tips
Plan to sweat. “I write out a week’s worth of workouts in my planner so I don’t have to think about it—or back out—during the day.”

Fake your favorite desserts. “I sprinkle cinnamon on sliced apples and pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds. It tastes like apple pie!”

Embrace intervals. “To get into running, I walked one song and ran the next to keep going longer.”

*Success Story* 200-Pound Weight Loss

Shelley Napier did it, and so can you! Okay, well, maybe not. You might need to lose a little more or a little less to reach your happy weight. Details aside, read this story for inspiration! You CAN reach your goals!

(From Shelley Napier)

Hi! My name is Shelley, I am a hairstylist from Wadsworth, Ohio and I have struggled with weight my whole life. Although I was chubby as a child, and heavy as a teenager, it wasn’t until my twenties when I gained most of my weight. At my heaviest I weighed 326 pounds. Some days I felt so self-conscious that it was hard for me to even get out of bed. Just trying to find clothes and getting dressed to go out was a challenge. I always felt like people were judging me based on my weight and couldn’t see past it to see who I was inside. I was so unhappy most of the time, which I think also made me develop a bad attitude. I used food to cope and whenever I felt happy, sad, bored or lonely, I would turn to food.

Before I changed my eating habits I would eat whatever, whenever. My weaknesses were fast food and sweets. A typical day for me would be to skip breakfast (or eat a breakfast pastry), indulge in a fast food meal for lunch, and then dinner would be pizza or Chinese takeout. And when I would order fast food, it had to be with everything. If I ordered a burger, I would put bacon and heavy sauces on top. I loved heavy sauces. And I would add a super-sized fries and soda – sometimes with chicken nuggets and a frostie. I would snack on chocolate bars at night.

The turning point for me came when I was thirty-one. My twenties had flown by, and I felt that I had wasted so much of my life heavy and unhappy and I did not want to spend the rest of my life being overweight. I work in a salon, so it is very important for me to look and feel good about myself.

I had tried losing weight in the past – one time I even lost seventy-five pounds. However, it only took six months for me to put the weight back on, and it made me feel miserable. I felt worse than I had felt before I had ever lost a pound.

Then, I decided to try Slim-Fast and to start walking. I lost the first 150 pounds using the Slim-Fast plan. I stayed on it for a year and a half. I love sweets, and I liked the way it tasted, so I didn’t get tired of it. I would usually have a shake for breakfast, a bar for lunch, and then a healthy, portion-controlled dinner of fish, chicken or pasta with lots of veggies. I would add a couple of healthy snacks during the day such as boiled eggs, carrots or a couple of crackers. My nighttime snack was usually a low-calorie popsicle or something similar.

After losing 150 pounds, I switched to back to regular food and lost another fifty pounds. Today, my diet consists of oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch and chicken or fish and veggies for dinner. I always snack in between on fruit and vegetables. The most important thing for me is portion control. I still enjoy food – and even splurge sometimes – but everything in moderation. When I go out for dinner, I will split dessert. I just try to make smarter choices.

When I first started with my exercise program, I started with about ten to fifteen minutes a day and kept adding minutes until I worked my way up to thirty minutes. At one point I was working out about forty or forty-five minutes, but that was hard for my to stick to, so I brought it back down to thirty. It wasn’t until I lost 100 pounds that I started running. I started slowly, and eventually I was running the full thirty minutes!

I was running thirty minutes, seven days a week for about a year, when an injury forced me to cut my workout down. Now, I have made peace with walking thirty minutes five days a week. When I first started losing weight, I was also doing weight training, but currently I do not do any weight training.

My advice is that it’s not about dieting – but rather about making permanent changes in your life. Find a program that fits your lifestyle and stick with it long enough to see some results. Plan meals in advance and always be prepared. This has been a long, difficult journey, but after losing 206 pounds, I know that it was definitely worth all of the hard work. Getting started was the hardest part. If you can just get started and believe in yourself, you can do it. Some days you might want to just pull your hair out and eat a whole bag of cookies, but it’s just not worth it. If I can do it, you can do it too.