HEALTHY LIVING
05/10/2013 08:13 am ET Updated May 13, 2013

I Lost Weight: Kristina Davis Tracked Her Progress And Lost 115 Pounds

Kristina Davis

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Name: Kristina Davis
Age: 36
Height: 5'7"
Before Weight: 260 pounds

How I Gained It: A lifelong yo-yo dieter, I went on my first diet at the age of eight when my concerned mom signed me up for Weight Watchers. At the time, I only had about 20 pounds to lose but it was the beginning of a weight loss roller coaster ride that would last nearly 20 years. Since then, I've lost and regained hundreds of pounds. Each time I set out to lose weight, I'd reach my goal pretty quickly, then always gain it back just as quickly. With each successive attempt, my regains increased until I found myself at a whopping 260 pounds in my mid-20s. Poor food choices, a desk job and a largely sedentary lifestyle had caused my weight to balloon, and I couldn't believe just how far I had let things go. I finally set out to take control in early 2002 and managed to successfully lose 115 pounds, reaching my goal in September 2003.

Sadly, I undid nearly all of my efforts from that massive weight loss in a few short years. I gained back about 25 pounds pretty quickly, but seemed to be holding fairly steady until I had a big life change. In 2007, I moved to Italy, went back to school, changed careers, started a new job and got married. Everything was new for me -- a new country, a new job, a new marriage, a new language -- and as exciting as it all was, it was also a bit overwhelming. In the first three years of my new life in Italy, I packed on the pounds by indulging in all of the wonderful food and drinks that surrounded me. By early 2010, I was back up to 240 pounds and was so disappointed in myself. I had worked so hard to lose those 115 pounds and was nearly back to square one. Even though I was only 33 years old at the time, I felt much older. I had aches and pains all over my body and everyday situations were often embarassing. It was getting increasingly difficult to fit into chairs and seatbelts were becoming a challenge to fasten.

Breaking Point: One day, I went to Coney Island with my husband and literally had to be stuffed into The Cyclone. I'd see myself in pictures (when I wasn't hiding from the camera) and barely recognize myself. Even walking around was starting to become a challenge due to my size, and this was definitely not how I wanted to be spending the best years of my life!

How I Lost It: From the start, my main goal was to never have to go through the process of having to lose so much weight ever again. Previously a very quick loser, I set out to take things much more slowly and to focus on sustainability. That meant indulging in treats from time to time and learning how to balance a healthier lifestyle with an active social life. In March 2010, on advice from one of my sisters, I joined SparkPeople and started tracking my food and exercise. Having done Weight Watchers in the past, I was familiar with weighing, measuring and tracking, but had never done them consistently. I loved all of the graphs and charts that were available on SparkPeople and being able to compare my stats over time. As time went by, I also started to become more active in the community there. I joined a few teams, participated in some challenges and even took on a leadership position on one of the teams I had joined. I really believe that my activity there was the missing link in my new-found success.

Those connections proved to be even more valuable when I reached my goal in March 2012 after losing more than 90 pounds. Still armed with a relentless determination not to regain the weight, I set out to learn everything I could about successful maintenance. Shockingly, for all the information that's out there about weight loss, there's very little about weight maintenance. Fortunately, I found a team on SparkPeople called At Goal & Maintaining whose members, like me, were dedicated to making their losses permanent. I lurked on this team for a while and, finally, after getting riled up about an article that was supposed to be focused on maintenance, I was invited to become one of the team's co-leaders by an existing leader. I've since made it my mission to help others fight to keep their weight off and to do what I can to draw attention to the unique challenges maintainers face.

These days, I'm so much happier with myself and feel like I've turned back the clock by years. At 36, I'm easily in the best shape of my life and have kissed all of my aches and pains goodbye. I no longer worry about feeling embarassed by my size or like I stand out because of it. Even after more than a year at my goal weight, I'm still sometimes shocked when I see current pictures of myself. I just don't think of myself as being that thin!

Shopping for clothes has become fun again, and I'm much more experimental with fashion than when I was heavy. Best of all, I've regained my good health. Knowing that I've whittled all of my preventable risk factors down to nearly zero means that I'll have a lot of life left in my remaining years and that I'll be able to take full advantage of whatever fun opportunities come my way. I'm finally fully living the life I've always dreamed of along with a body that's fit and healthy enough to keep up with all of my plans. This is who I was meant to be.

After Weight: 145 to 150 pounds
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