HEALTHY LIVING
11/12/2012 07:27 am ET

I Lost Weight: Rebekah Courtney Set Small, Achievable Goals And Lost 125 Pounds

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Name: Rebekah S. Courtney
Age: 30
Height: 5'3"
Before Weight: 274 pounds

How I Gained It: I have never been skinny except for a few brief months in high school when I tried some extreme and unhealthy habits to get thin. It was in that time that I met my husband. Once I got comfortable with him, I think I was just happy, and went to college and gained, gained, gained -- way past the freshman 15. There was nothing to do in my town but go out to eat. I would always go to fast food restaurants. Looking back, I believe I was addicted to fast food. I was heavy all the way until I got pregnant with my first child at age 23. I really didn't gain any weight during the pregnancy due to being sick. You would think having my daughter would be a wake up call to lose weight, but instead I made up for not eating during my pregnancy and gained another 30 pounds to get to my all time high of 274 pounds.

Breaking Point: I couldn't do a thing on the floor with my baby. I started to wonder if I would fit in chairs or airplane seats, and if chairs I did not fit in would crack. My New Year's resolution would be to lose weight every year, and I would quit by February. I remember joining Weight Watchers for what felt like the millionth time after I had my daughter, and when I found out my weight I left the meeting and drove to McDonald's. I couldn't deal.

Several months after that, I tried one bite of a Nutrisystem meal I had just ordered and knew it was just another diet I would not stick to. I sat on the floor of my living room and cried in front of my husband and daughter and prayed to God that he would give me one month of not cheating, to be focused, to eat healthy and work out and to not eat one bite of fast food. I rejoined a website that I was very involved in in the past called SparkPeople.com and started to do it the old fashioned way.

How I Lost It: I lost it with the support of awesome friends, family and other Sparkers on SparkPeople.com. I tracked my food intake everyday -- I stuck to 1,200 calories -- and as I lost weight I would work out more. I trained for and ran a 5K after never running a day in my life. I set workout goals everyday and met them.

I also made some rules. I would take a picture of myself for every 10 pounds I lost (that is how I took my weight loss, in 10-pound increments), only weigh in on Friday mornings and eat whatever I wanted on Saturdays. Cheating on the weekends may have slowed my progress, but it kept me from quitting or going insane. I took all my old fattening recipes and slowly turned them around by substituting other ingredients for things like vegetables, whole grains or extra-lean meat. I put all my time and energy and focus into that Friday morning weigh in (and checking in with all my weight loss friends) and knew that the only person I would be disappointing was me. I turned into my worst critic -- which kept me going. My opinion was starting to matter! As I started to lose weight and everyone started to notice, it just became addicting. I took it one month and 10 pounds at a time.

Since then, I was able to get pregnant with my second child after four years of trying while obese and failing. I had a normal and healthy pregnancy at a healthy weight. I am able to do so much more. I am never sitting on the couch anymore. I have so much energy. I can shop at the mall and fit into the "normal" sizes. I like being seen whereas before I would hide in a corner. I feel like I am a real person now -- not just someone who is watching life from the sidelines while everyone else lives it. I have hope and happiness. I would be walking or working out and just have this feeling of joy I had never felt in life before. It was so foreign to me. I would ask myself, "Is this what life is about? Happiness and joy?" Yes, it is!

I will never go back. I gained 54 pounds with my second pregnancy and am working to get the last 14 off (and then 10 more I decided). Now I am "paying it forward" and helping others that seek my advice and encouraging them to take their lives back like I did! This time I know i will do it. I started out doing this for my daughter and had no idea what it would do for me. I look back and am still shocked I did it. Next to my two children it has been the best and biggest accomplishment of my life! Looking back now, it's all a blur -- that one month of hell and crying every night turned into years of continuous weight loss!

After Weight: 149 pounds
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