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Name: Jennifer Andersen
Before Weight: 324 pounds
How I Gained It: I was not a heavy child or teen, but when I had my first child at the age of 20, it all went downhill from there. I gained 100 pounds while pregnant, and, at the time, losing that kind of weight seemed impossible. I just assumed I would be heavy for the rest of my life. I ate whatever I wanted and did no exercise. I was eating probably close to 4,000 or 5,000 calories a day. When I got married, on November 19, 2009, I was at my heaviest, weighing 324 pounds.
Breaking Point: After being terribly embarrassed over the wedding photos, and realizing how obese I really was, a change was in order.
How I Lost It: I was -- and still am -- a stay at home mother, with a fixed income and not a lot of extra spending money for a gym membership, pre-packaged diet foods or diet programs. With the support of my family, I came up with a diet and exercise plan that actually works.
I started out by eating 1,000 calories a day. I had a journal where I wrote down everything I ate and drank. I now use the Myfitnesspal app on my phone. I did aerobics and took up tennis. My whole family plays, and my father got me out on that court and working hard. I became an avid tennis player, working out two to three hours a day, five days a week.
I lost 100 pounds before I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I took up walking and yoga and changed my calorie intake to 1,500. After I had the baby I decided to try running. I have never been a runner, so I started out small, running for 40 seconds and walking for 20 seconds until I could jog a mile within two weeks' time. Now, I can easily finish a 10K without even breaking for water.
Now that I am a runner, my diet consists of foods high in protein, low in sugar and still low in calories. I currently eat 1,200 calories a day and run six days a week. I don't eat out much. All of my food is homemade, for the most part. And I try not to eat after 5 p.m. I have lost an additional almost-60 pounds since giving birth in December 2011.
I absolutely love who I am today. Thirty is the new 20! I will be 31 years old later this summer, and I feel better then I ever did in my 20s. It is still strange to have pictures taken of me because I used to shy away from them, thinking I would look heavy and be embarrassed, but now when I see them I realize how much my hard work has paid off, and it is actually enjoyable. I actually love looking in the mirror and shopping for clothes now, where as before it was embarrassing and more of a chore. My family members tell me that my personality has come back, they love how happy I am and are all so proud. It's a wonderful feeling to have accomplished something so huge. To lose more than 150 pounds was something I did not think was ever going to happen. I thought I would be heavy for the rest of my life.
Current Weight: 165 pounds. My goal weight is 145 pounds, and I would like to reach that by the end of October. The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.
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