This SHAPE reader had to unlearn bad habits in order to turn her life around.

By Bahar Takhtehchian
December 02, 2011

Kristen's challengeGrowing up in an Italian family, where bread and pasta were daily staples, made it easy for Kristen Foley to overeat and pack on the pounds. "Our world revolved around food, and portion control was nonexistent," she says. Though Kristen played sports in school, her weight remained a steady 200 pounds. It wasn't until she lost her dream job in New York City in 2001 and witnessed 9/11 that she hit rock bottom, tipping the scale at 252. "I was so sad, I'd sit in my apartment eating Mexican food and ice cream." Diet tip: My turning pointA job opportunity in Ohio a year later prompted Kristen to start a new chapter in her life. By joining Weight Watchers and walking daily, she shed 17 pounds in three months. But on Christmas Eve of 2003, Kristen suffered a gall bladder attack that required surgery. The recovery prevented her from exercising, and all the weight she had lost piled back on. Bursting at the seams of her size 18 jeans-and unwilling to go up to a 20-Kristen decided it was time to make a lasting change. Diet tip: My slim-down planAfter-work sweat sessions didn't fit into Kristen's busy schedule, so she started waking up at 5:30 a.m. to hit the gym five days a week. She also rejoined Weight Watchers and lost 80 pounds over the next four years. "The last 20 pounds," she says, "were the result of eating low-carb meals and running." Diet tip: My life now"After my transformation, I definitely became more social," says Kristen. "Today I'm the most confident I've ever been!"

There are five things Kristen did to add structure to her life that helped her achieve lasting weight loss success. See what worked for Kristen-her diet tips may work for you too!