By Kristen Maxwell
July 23, 2010

Weight Loss Success Stories: Alisha's challenge

Alisha went from being a chubby child to a chubby teenager. "I was always reaching for fatty snacks," she says. Thanks to her poor diet and couch potato lifestyle, she reached 220 pounds in high school. By the time she had her third child at 27, Alisha had hit 256.

Diet Tip: Having a Primetime Wake-Up Call

Unlike a lot of women, Alisha didn't stress about gaining weight. "I was accepted for who I was on the inside, so I ignored what I looked like on the outside," she says. But when her home state of Mississippi made headlines for having the highest rate of obesity in the U.S., Alisha started thinking differently. "I remember watching the news anchor go on about the health risks of being overweight," she says. "And it suddenly dawned on me that he was talking about me." Alisha decided enough was enough and set a goal to lose 100 pounds.

Diet Tip: Never Looking Back

She nervously joined a gym the next day. "I hadn't been active for 14 years, but I didn't let my fear hold me back," she says. She started slow, doing a mile on the elliptical and lifting weights for 30 minutes, three times a week. "After so many years of feeling tired, I finally had energy," she says. To keep her workouts fresh, Alisha added new cardio machines, like the stair-climber, to her routine. At the same time, she made over her diet. In the past, she would skip real meals and graze on high-calorie snacks, like chips, throughout the day. So she started eating three meals packed with veggies and lean protein. "My go-to lunch was a salad topped with a bit of grilled steak," she says. "I love beef, and this dish kept me from feeling deprived." She also replaced her calorie-laden dinners, like fettuccine Alfredo, with grilled fish and munched on berries instead of cookies for treats. Alisha began losing about 8 pounds a month. "Each drop in weight was exciting and kept me going." Alisha reached her goal within a year.

Diet Tip: Getting Others Moving With Me

"Achieving that milestone was such a proud moment," Alisha says. "But I wanted to do more." So she got in touch with Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi, a program that encourages residents to get active. "Although I originally joined to inspire others, the stories I heard motivated me as well." Over the next few months, Alisha dropped 20 more pounds. "This journey has changed my life," she says, "and now I'm helping neighbors, friends-even complete strangers-do the same."

Alisha's Stick-With-It Secrets

1. Splurge on your health "My husband and I invested in a mini home gym. It makes it easy to sneak in exercise, plus we save money on health club memberships."

2. Combine rewards and romance "It was important to congratulate myself for every 10-pound loss, so I celebrated by going dancing with my husband. We got some exercise-and snuck in much-needed alone time!"

3. Mix up healthier sweets "My kids and I love to get in the kitchen and make lowfat versions of our favorite treats, like cheesecake. It's fun to bake together, and I get to indulge without undoing any of my hard work."

Related Stories