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Name: Meghan Sheen
Before Weight: 250+ pounds
How I Gained It: I've been a "bigger" girl since puberty. I guess it does weird things to some people. For me, my hair changed color from straight and blond to wavy and brown, and instead of growing boobs like everyone else, I got fat. Even though I hated how I looked, I was fairly unmotivated to change my lifestyle. I stayed the same way through college. I was a good student and did extracurricular activities, but I never exercised. I blame laziness. I'm not afraid to admit that anymore. I was a really lazy kid, and I ate like crap.
At my job as an Emergency Medical Technician, I sit for 12 hours a day, four days a week, in an ambulance. There is a lot of fast food, soda, Starbucks, donuts, eating on the run and not getting a full eight hours of sleep. Sometimes we go days without sleeping, and the hours of sitting are broken up only by moments of intense stress. I developed what we in the field commonly refer to as "ambulance ass." Despite the escalation of calories, I still never worked out. Laziness is a factor here yet again.
Then, while working in August 2009, I was taken out of commission by a knee injury that required surgery and a long recovery. I rapidly gained weight being immobilized -- again, eating crap, and now not moving at all. I sat on my couch all day, every day for nine months. Before I knew it I was up to 250 pounds. I refused to look at a scale for a long time, so that number may actually be much higher, but 250 is the highest weight I recorded. It hurt to look at myself. I avoided pictures like the plague. I stopped going out in public. I distanced myself from friends. I stopped riding my horses, which until then had been my only outlet for stress. I hid in my house. I was very unhappy.
Breaking Point: I was cleared to work and exercise in July 2010, after I had surgery in January and did rehabilitation for a few months. The doctor recommended I lose weight so I could avoid re-injuring my knee. I knew I was fat, but I didn't think I was that bad. I went back to work and to my dismay, my uniforms no longer fit. I couldn't zip up my boots all the way and my belt was too small. I had to borrow a larger jacket. I actually broke a belt trying to get it to fit. I realized at that point I maybe needed to make a change, but I again chose laziness and didn't do anything about it. Then a friend of mine showed me a picture she had taken of me over the summer, with my new horse. I was appalled. That picture made me face the facts. Not only was I unhealthy, I was beyond morbidly obese -- I looked like I weighed a quarter of what the horse with me in the photo weighed. I couldn't hide it anymore. The time to do something about it was now. I was almost 26 years old, and I knew that I wouldn't make it to 36 if I kept going down the path I was going down. All these dreams I wanted to accomplish would be impossible without making a change.
How I Lost It: I started exercising daily, riding my bike home from work, hiking, riding my horses more often and watching what I ate. I saw less of the people who weren't supportive of my weight loss, or who were negative influences. I started hanging out with more positive people. I joined sparkpeople.com, a great weight loss support forum, and became active in its community. I joined a gym that I have friends and coworkers at so I would be more inclined to go. I tried to get out and do things more often. The more I did, the more I wanted to do, and the more weight that came off. The more success I had, the more I wanted to get out and do things. I wanted to eat right. Finally, I was not afraid of the scale anymore. I wanted to work out, ride the horses, go hiking and camping, get out and see the world!
I cut my calories ruthlessly. No soda, sweets, fast food, butter or mayonaise. I eat mainly fruits, veggies and protein. My favorite healthy foods are oatmeal, grilled chicken and spinach salads with low-cal dressing. I pack carrots sticks, celery and apple slices for snacks. You can look like you're eating healthy, but if you pour a heap of sugar into your oatmeal or ranch dressing all over your salad or fry your chicken, it's counter-productive. I had no idea at first how many calories I wasted on dips, sauces and dressings!
My best advice to people just starting out is to have a lot of very supportive people around you. Try to ignore the negative influences, or people that doubt your success. Eat less, and move more. It will work. It's not always fast, but it will happen, I promise you. Stick to your guns and show the world what you can do. With a lot of work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears, you can be the person in the "after" picture too!
I'm not going to sugar-coat it: Losing 115 pounds was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It broke me down, both physically and emotionally, but I built myself back up. No one said it'd be easy, they just said it would be worth it. My life, in all senses, began again at 27. I started everything over. And I wouldn't trade a minute. My new motto is: It's never too late to be what you might have been!
After Weight: 135 pounds. My goal is to be 120 pounds -- I am nearly there.
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