Got a success story of your own? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured on the site!
Name: Teresa Kidd
Before Weight: 312 pounds
How I Gained It: I grew up on a farm in Kentucky. Fried foods rich with grease and butter were the norm. In a region rich with poverty, cleaning your plate was almost mandatory. As a child, I worked long hours in the field and quickly learned to eat a lot, as it would give me energy for those long hours. My family didn’t know that the unhealthy eating habits being taught to me were going to haunt me for a very long time.
When I was 8 years old, my dad was killed by a drunken driver. I think that's when I discovered food as comfort. My world was so drastically changed and food became the one sure thing I could count on. I have two older sisters and a twin sister, all of whom are a normal weight. They were always told they were the pretty ones, while I was the "hard worker". I hid in the background. I grew my hair very long to shield me. I wore my brothers' hand me down clothing as I was too large for any of my sisters’ things. By the time I was in the 8th grade I weighed over 200 pounds.
I was married when I was 18 to my childhood sweetheart, and by this time had eaten my way to a very unhealthy 250 pounds. At 20 I became pregnant. My pregnancy became high risk. I delivered prematurely and learned I would not be able to have more children. My husband and I both love children, so this news was heartbreaking. The following sadness and depression were overwhelming. I turned to food even more than before, until I was at my heaviest weight of 330 pounds. Working 12-hour shifts as a nurse most days, I would have to ask myself, "Can I do this one more day?" I could barely walk the hallways, let alone take the stairs. I felt very defeated and believed this is how it is always going to be. I had resigned myself to the fact I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 60.
The only bright spots in my life were my husband who was always very loving and supportive and a grandson whom I adored. Our grandson came into our home at birth due to a very precarious situation involving drugs and physical abuse. We obtained full legal custody when he was 2 years old. He brought happiness and warmth back into my heart that I had not known for a very long time, and he did not notice that his Grandma was over 300 pounds. He gave me the reason each and every day to push on.
I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 29 years old. Three years ago in December, due to years of hard labor and heavy lifting at such a young age, and my morbid obesity, I had to have a dissection and fusion of my cervical vertebrae. I now have donor bone in my neck as well as titanium rods and screws.
Breaking Point: In January 2012 I had a very serious asthma attack, which led to status asthmaticus. No amount of steroids or treatments could seem to reverse it. Being a nurse, I knew how close I was to having to be mechanically ventilated, placed on life support as my lungs were not working to oxygenate my body. I was dangerously close to steroid-induced diabetes. It felt as if a ton of bricks had slammed into my chest. I knew that should I ever become physically unable to care for our grandson the family court system could take him. And I recalled painfully what those first few months of life were like for him being in a severely abused and neglectful situation. I had vowed I would never allow him to become one of the sad statistics. And so I prayed for the strength to get control of my eating habits and to get healthy for this little boy whom I love. My love for him is stronger than any food.
How I Lost It: I got well enough to leave the hospital but still was battling my asthma. I cleaned out my refrigerator and cupboards of all those unhealthy treats I had turned to. I restocked with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy snack alternatives. I sat down with a journal and wrote up a plan I knew I could stick with and that would fit my lifestyle. My goal was to lose 150 pounds, but I broke it down into 20-pound increments. After I would attain each 20-pound goal, I would think about what had worked and what had not. I like to think of that 150 pounds as a mountain I had to climb. But if I chipped away at it in small pieces it was actually only stepping stones I put behind me.
I bought a push mower and decided to no longer use a riding mower for our six acres of land. I always enjoyed gardening and horticulture and decided to incorporate these activities in my exercise plan. I even began weeding by hand. I am now getting into running and am able to jog two miles. I have a final 20 pounds to lose by my 50th birthday at the end of May. I plan to run my first 5K at the end of 2013. I also cut my hair "shield" and donated 28 inches to Locks of Love.
I did this for me, but the benefits have been far-reaching. My husband has lost 45 pounds and now we both are setting good examples for our grandson. I am able to run and chase our grandson down our driveway now. He and I ride bikes together. We even climb our apple trees. We are able to go to the movies now, and I am able to fit in the seats and resist the popcorn! We rode our first roller coaster together. And I have a whole lot of lap now for him to cuddle on. Family and friends tell me that sometimes it is difficult to tell which one of us is the 6 year old. This small child I thought I had rescued has rescued me.
After Weight: 180 pounds. Twenty to go to reach a healthy 160 and my goal of 150 pounds lost.
The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.
Check out more of our inspiring weight loss stories below:
For more on weight loss, click here.