HEALTHY LIVING
06/06/2012 07:36 am ET

Weight Loss Success: Stephanie Cupo Wanted To Get Healthy For Her Daughter And Lost Nearly 70 Pounds

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Name: Stephanie Cupo
Age: 31
Height: 5'6"
Before Weight: 252 pounds

How I Gained It: I have always been a "big girl." I considered myself to be "fat" in 5th grade, and all the skinny girls started making fun of me. I realized at that point what my ballet teacher meant when she said I had feet like an elephant, and that I should probably give up ballet for something where I could make more noise, like tap. I remember praying at night to wake up and be skinny. I was a very athletic child, so while I was never skinny through high school, I was able to maintain a normal weight of between 140 and 150 pounds.

It wasn't until after high school that I really began packing on the pounds. I dropped out of college at 19, and then dated a guy who liked "big girls" and made it his mission to ensure I was only attractive to him. I didn't break the 200-pound mark until my early 20s, and I decided to start trying crash diet after crash diet. I grew up in a family of naturally skinny people, so I never really learned how to eat properly or diet effectively.

Throughout my 20s, my weight fluctuated between 170 and 220 pounds, depending on what was going on in my life. I met my current husband when I was 24 and 190 pounds, and over the course of four years, my weight ballooned up 250 pounds. I couldn't believe the scale when I went to the doctor's office. At that time, we decided we wanted to try to have a child, and I was having some difficulty getting pregnant and also having health issues with blood pressure and cholesterol -- at 27 years old. So I once again started dieting and exercising the best I knew how and lost 20 pounds.

At 230 pounds, I became pregnant with my beautiful baby girl, Harper. I had such awful morning sickness, I actually ended up losing another 20 pounds in the first four months of my pregnancy and only gaining about 10 back up to her delivery. I had an emergency C-section with Harper on September 1, 2009, and walked out of the hospital five days later at 206 pounds.

Since I had a C-section, I was unable to exercise for several weeks, and once again, I started eating garbage food -- fast food because it was easiest with a husband working full time, a 15-year-old stepson and a newborn. I also had the strangest cravings for Red Bull and Double Stuf Oreo cookies for months after Harper's birth! I thought that was supposed to be over after I was no longer pregnant! I continued to wear my maternity clothes, and I felt myself get bigger and bigger and bigger. Finally, at a doctors' appointment, I weighed in at 252 pounds, my heaviest weight ever. I stopped weighing myself at that point because the number was so depressing, but I believe I probably was up to 260 pounds at my heaviest.

Breaking Point: I had blood work done and found that my weight had caused my triglycerides to spike to over 400. I ended up in the hospital a couple of months later in excruciating pain, only to have my gall bladder removed from gallstones. I learned that the gallstones were most likely in direct relation to my weight and extremely high triglycerides, and that if I didn't start losing weight and lower my cholesterol, I could end up in the hospital again with a much more serious issue -- or dead. At 29! Also, I was diagnosed with a herniated disc in my back with sciatica and was losing feeling in my toes, and I was told I could be crippled by the time I was 40 if I didn't lose some weight. My family, particularly my baby girl, made me realize that my weight no longer just affected me. If I was gone, it would destroy my family -- I couldn't do that to them. And I knew it was all in my control! I knew why I was fat! I wasn't fooling myself by saying "Oh, I've always been fat and I'll always be fat." I ate like crap and didn't exercise! Also, as materialistic as it sounds, I was fitting into plus size 18 to 20, and those clothes were getting tight. I couldn't bear the thought of having to buy a 22/24 size. I was disgusted with myself and allowing myself to get to this point. So instead of getting depressed and eating (like I used to do!), I decided it was time for a change!

How I Lost It: After considering gastric bypass and Lap Band surgery, I decided I was going to try this the old-fashioned way -- diet and exercise! I'm a very goal-oriented person, however I also get bored and disappointed very easily, so I knew I had to start setting some realistic, short-term goals to keep myself motivated. My first goal was a simple one: get down to the weight I was before I was pregnant. That weight came off pretty easily, so I kept setting weight goals. When I was bored with the weight-related goals, I started giving myself more materialistic goals, like shopping at non-plus-size stores.

At 209 pounds, I hit a wall. I just couldn't get any more weight or inches to come off. And like some kind of sign, my work decided to start a Weight Watchers at Work program, and I think I was one of the first people to sign up! I love the Weight Watchers program: realistic goals, no food plans to follow, earning points for exercise. I constantly feel like I'm being rewarded, and not being told there is something that I simply can't eat, I just have to eat less of it! Also, weighing in every Friday in front of my co-workers keeps me very honest. I even come to the meetings on Friday mornings on my days off to keep me on track. My coworkers and I call each other out if we see each other eating something in the café we shouldn't be!

I'm now the lightest I have been in years and wearing a size 10/12! My next goal is to get into single-digit sizes, and I have 39 more pounds to go before I hit my final goal weight of 145 pounds. That number doesn't seem so unreachable anymore! I can't believe how amazing I feel; I can run and play with my daughter and my back doesn't hurt and I'm never out of breath! Mentally, I still see myself as that "big girl" and still am really embarrassed when people look at me or compliment me on how good I look. As an overweight person, you get very used to being invisible, and it's been difficult for me to deal with that, but I think that's a pretty positive thing to have to get used to!

After Weight: 184 pounds (with 39 more to go!)
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