Britney Vest is here to tell you that balance is everything when it comes to maintaining your weight.

By Faith Brar
March 14, 2018
How This Woman Lost 85 Pounds and Kept It Off for 6 Years

If you follow Britney Vest on Instagram, you'll likely see pictures of her working out with friends, trying new recipes, and basically, living her healthiest life. It's almost hard to believe that nearly eight years ago, she weighed 250 pounds and ate mostly junk food.

"Growing up, I never cared about the way I looked, but everyone around me was concerned about my health and how my eating habits were going to impact my future," she recently told Shape.

Britney's parents and grandmother would try to bribe her with money, gifts, and clothes to encourage her to lose weight and stop snacking before dinner-and while she'd cave and lose a couple pounds here and there, over the years, her weight continued to spike.

"It's weird because I was actually a pretty active kid," Britney says. "I played soccer, swam on a year-round swim team, went to workout classes with my mom, but I hardly lost any weight." Britney's mother began to think Britney had a medical condition that was causing her weight to plateau, but after several thyroid exams, it became clear that it was her poor eating habits that were the problem. (She ate mostly processed food.) Her mom and grandma had her try things like Atkins and Weight Watchers, but nothing stuck for long.

Things got worse when Britney graduated from college. "I got my first job and was going out with coworkers every day for lunch," she says. "After work, I'd go to happy hour and get takeout or go out to dinner again because I was too tired to cook." (Related: 15 Healthy Smart, Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food)

It wasn't until her boyfriend made a comment about her weight that things were put into perspective for her. "Of all the people in my life, my boyfriend at the time was the one person who had never given me crap about my weight," Britney says. "He'd always accepted me for what I was, and then one day he called me out for putting on a few extra pounds. He said he was tired of me being overweight. I was so angry and we ended up breaking up that weekend, but I was also sad and confused."

It took Britney awhile to get over the breakup, but once she came out the other end, she finally realized that she wanted to make a change for her. "I woke up one morning and said that enough was enough," Britney says. "It was now or never."

She went to her family and friends and for the first time ever, asked for help. "This was a huge step for me," Britney says. "My whole life, people had been telling me what I needed to do about my body. But this was the first time I was taking initiative and holding myself accountable."

She started by going to Weight Watchers again but paid for it herself for the first time. "There's something about not wanting to have your hard-earned money go to waste," Britney says. "That was a major motivator for me. If I cheated on meals or skipped meetings, I wasn't just doing myself a disservice, I was wasting money-and as a graphic designer I didn't have enough to be throwing it around like that."

Britney also started journaling-keeping a detailed log of everything she was putting in her body. "I still do this today," she says. (ICYDK, following an über-restrictive diet usually results in bingeing.)

After three months of following Weight Watchers, Britney started to introduce some exercise into her weekly routine. "Every day my old roommate would go to the gym and ask me if I wanted to go with her," she says. "I always said no until one day I decided to say yes."

Britney started going a couple days a week and doing whatever felt good. Eventually, she started running as well, but she wasn't following a strict plan and didn't know what worked best for her body. To learn more, she decided to hire a personal trainer, which helped her build a solid workout foundation. "I had some experience with weightlifting but never knew how much it could really change and shape your body," she says. "Having a trainer taught me so much and gave me the freedom to ask questions. I was so curious about certain exercises and what I needed to work on and how much cardio to do. After three months I saw huge improvements in my body and felt amazing."

Over the next year and a half, Britney had one goal: consistency. "As I started losing a lot of weight, I began seeing a lot of excess skin around my stomach and hips," she says. "I knew down the line I'd want skin removal surgery, but was nervous about the recovery time and falling back into my old habits. So I spent the time leading up to it making sure my new lifestyle was as sustainable as possible. I promised myself that if I went through with the surgery, it was going to be the last one I'd ever have." (Related: 8 Ways Exercise Affects Your Skin)

After reaching her goal weight of 165 pounds, Britney had her skin removal surgery. After about four weeks of recovery time, she was back at it and has never looked back since. "I continued following Weight Watchers for a while after to make absolutely sure I was going to stay on track, but eventually weaned off of it," she says. "Today I follow an 80/20 rule where I'm eating well most of the time but never so no to a scoop of ice cream (or two) when I feel like it." (It's true: Balance is the best thing you can do for your health and fitness routine.)

Britney credits that mindset for allowing her to keep 85 pounds off for the past six years. "People ask me all the time what I did to lose all this weight and I tell them that it all boils down to consistency and balance," she says. "Just because you don't see change on the outside right away doesn't mean that something isn't happening. You need to keep making the right choices, every day, for a long time and eventually, that will become your rhythm-something you'll be able to sustain."