HEALTHY LIVING
01/23/2013 08:40 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2013

I Lost Weight: Katie Regan Discovered A Love Of Group Fitness And Lost 80 Pounds

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Name: Katie Regan
Age: 29
Height: 5'3"
Before Weight: 213 pounds

How I Gained It: I was always a big girl growing up. I participated in every sport under the sun, but remained much larger than my fellow classmates. I never let it bother me and continued to enjoy my high school and college years while being very active in athletics and social clubs. I have been a picky eater my entire life (still am!) and was never open to experimenting with new foods. I was a chicken fingers and French fries girl. I never wavered when dining out. When I went to college, our dining halls were buffet style. I attempted to branch out at this point, but only chose other high carb options like pastas, pizzas, breads, waffles, etc. Although my activity level was pretty average, the types of foods I was taking in were sabotaging my efforts.

Breaking Point: I had finished grad school and found myself working at Disney World. I loved my job, my co-workers and the day-to-day interactions with guests from around the world. I was able to be a part of their vacation experiences and spread the magic. It was hard to remember that this was my job and that I, myself, wasn't on vacation. On days off, I found myself in the parks eating like a tourist at the quick-service food locations. I always blamed the heat for feeling uncomfortable in dress clothes and the size of the park on why all of my joints hurt. After six months on the job, I was given the opportunity to preview a coming attraction that I would be managing. I was excited by the experience until I sat down in the attraction seat and felt squeezed. I turned red and apologized to my co-worker for "spilling" into his seat.

How I Lost It: Mortified, I went back to my office and saw a Weight Watchers at Work sign. I attended my first meeting the following week and was hooked. Our leader, Rita "The Cheetah," was the most motivating, supportive and compassionate person. Each week she taught me the tools I needed to succeed and believed in me. When I had great weeks, she was my biggest cheerleader. When I struggled or hit a block, she was there to pick me up and encourage me to continue.

I spent the first four months meticulously watching what I ate. I heard Rita's mantra in my head: "Write it before you bite it!" and stuck with it. I was making conscious decisions of what my best food options would be to maximize each meal. After four months, I lost 33 pounds and was feeling good. Next, I was determined to become a member of a gym. I had always been an "athlete" in my mind, but I had never stepped foot in a group fitness class. I always feared I'd be the biggest person there and all eyes would be on me. I put my big girl pants on and went to my first class and never looked back. I found gym friends, a steady schedule of classes, got to know the instructors and stuck with it. I considered it an extension of my work day. The fellow members and instructors became part of my family. They were motivating, held me accountable and helped me grow.

I made the decision to move closer to home and to a new job. I was afraid the transition would derail me, but I went to the two places I knew I could find support: the local Weight Watchers meeting room and the gym. I continued on my journey and ultimately lost 84.4 pounds. I have been maintaining my weight loss and new lifestyle since March 2010. I am proud of my journey. When I find opportunities to tell my story at work or with new friends, I do. I recently brought two friends from work to a Weight Watchers meeting to learn the program. After seeing my success, they knew it was possible. All it takes is the first step; the hardest part is opening the door to that meeting room. Since my move, my former roommate and I have stayed in touch. She watched me through this transformation and decided in October to take her own. She currently is down 20 pounds and checks in weekly with her successes and/or questions on how to keep it going.

These days, I find myself experimenting more with food. I don't just see it as food, but as a source of nutrition and a building block to maintaining my weight loss. I find restaurant meals and try to recreate them at home the healthy way. Since moving, I have added Zumba to my exercise routine and use it as a "Girls Night Out" with friends. I have also, for the first time, purchased -- and used -- a fitness DVD. When I can't get to the gym, I have no excuse not to dedicate 30 minutes to getting up and moving.

After a year of maintaining my success, I decided to get a tattoo to commemorate my achivements. I picked a tree of life. The roots wrap into an infinity symbol with the words "As you Believe, So you Become." I truly believe that if you put your mind to getting healthy and believe in it whole-heartedly, you will become who you want to be.

Current Weight: I fluctuate between 130 and 136 pounds
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