By Juno DeMelo
January 25, 2011

Weight Loss Success Story: Michelle's Challenge

Michelle had struggled with her size for as long as she could remember. "I had low self-esteem," she says, "and I turned to junk food for comfort." Already heavy when she became pregnant at 33, Michelle weighed 215 pounds after the birth of her second child.

Diet Tip: Use a Rude Awakening as Motivation

A few years later, her grandfather died. "I was really anxious about going to the funeral," she says. "I hadn't seen most of the people who would be attending in years." Michelle's grandmother, whom she'd been close to as a kid, ignored her throughout the service. "When she did finally talk to me, it was to say, ‘You've really put on weight, haven't you?' I was mortified, but mostly I was angry that I'd let myself get to such an unhealthy size."

Diet Tip: Take Action

Michelle signed up for a meal-delivery system that night. And though the prepackaged food helped her learn portion control-and drop 15 pounds over three months-"eating out of a box just wasn't for me," she says. "I wanted to cut down on processed stuff, and while I knew I wasn't the type to toss ground flaxseed in my grocery cart, adding more fruits and veggies was definitely doable." Michelle also started incorporating fiber and protein into everything she ate-even snacks. "So instead of grabbing a bag of chips, which left me feeling hungry an hour later, I'd have carrots and hummus or an apple with string cheese." A year after overhauling her diet, Michelle had another weight loss success; she had lost 40 pounds.

One night at a PTA event, Michelle saw a flyer for a local gym. "I'd been walking for half an hour a few times a week, but I was barely breaking a sweat and needed someone to push me harder, so I dropped in for a kickboxing class. I felt completely out of shape and even a little nauseous after my first session," she says. "But after a few months, I was ready to sign up for a boot-camp class. Soon I was swinging sledgehammers, flipping tires, and doing push-ups with everyone else-and I had gotten down to 133 pounds!"

Diet Tip: Stand Tall

Weight loss success wasn't the only benefit of Michelle's healthy new lifestyle. "Once I started working out and treating my body with respect, I began treating myself with respect too," she says. "For years I believed I didn't deserve to be happy; I was sad most of the time, and I tried to numb that feeling by eating cookies and cakes. Now I'm proud of myself and what I've achieved-and I see food as fuel for all my hard work."

Michelle's Stick-With-it Secrets

Log on to take off: "I plateaued after losing the first 15 pounds. But going on and connecting with other women who were facing the same struggles as I was helped me move forward."

Send the sitter home: "My two kids think it's fun to watch my boot-camp class. Knowing that I'm getting in a tough workout and setting a good example for them at the same time makes me more likely to show up."

Stock your shelves: "If I don't keep healthy grab-and-go foods-like dry-roasted edamame, granola bars, and whole-grain crackers with lowfat Muenster cheese-at work, I'm bound to pop out for a muffin or doughnut."

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