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: Kassandra Barnes
Before Weight: 240 pounds
How I Gained It: I don't ever remember a time in my life where I thought I was thin. I was always active as a child playing softball, basketball and even a short stint as a cheerleader, but I never felt comfortable with my body. When I went away to college weight piled on thanks to "Fried Fridays" in the cafeteria and late night fast-food runs with friends. After undergrad, I moved to the east coast, and the stress of living in a new city and not knowing anyone only exacerbated the problem. In 2006, my best friend asked me to be the maid of honor in her wedding, and I knew I couldn't be the "fat" bridesmaid in the pictures, so I signed up for Weight Watchers and lost 70 pounds before the wedding. After the wedding I stopped going to meetings and slowly started gaining back the weight. In 2009 after five years of living on the east coast, I was laid off and forced to move back home with my parents. In addition to being laid-off, I had learned that my father was diagnosed with cancer. All of these factors turned into an emotional rollercoaster that I satiated with food. Fortunately, I was offered a job opportunity in Chicago shortly after my father was pronounced cancer-free, but once again I found myself in a foreign city with no connections. By 2011 I had gained back 40 of those 70 pounds I initially lost.
Breaking Point: In the fall of 2011 my brother called me to tell me I was going to be an aunt. Immediately my perspective changed. How could I be a good example to my nephew if I was overweight and unhealthy? I was determined to be the fun and healthy aunt.
How I Lost It: Thankfully around the same time I started a new job and discovered that they offered an at-work Weight Watchers meeting and they even reimbursed my membership through our company’s wellness benefits. Over the course of a year and a half I have dropped those 40 pounds I had gained back and an additional 20 for good measure. Throughout my journey -- and it is a journey by the way because it never truly ends -- I discovered a love for all things fitness. I tried bootcamps with a fellow co-worker, boxing and even Bikram Yoga -– yes, the yoga where they make you practice in over 100 degree heat! In the last six months I surprised myself and started running. A fellow Weight Watchers member and co-worker convinced me to participate in a half-marathon with her in May 2013. I never cry, but I cried when I crossed that finish line. I was always the overweight child who was the last to finish the mile fitness test in school, and now I was running a half-marathon. I felt like I left behind my former self when I crossed that line.
Now, I love discovering new ways to challenge myself and see what my mind and body are capable of doing. A few months ago I began a blog documenting my 2013 challenge to run 1000 miles called K-B Fit. I've always been transparent about the ups and downs of my weight loss, and I love sharing my experiences through humor and observation. My favorite part of this journey though is receiving emails and messages from people I haven't heard from in years saying that I inspired them to eat healthier or start running. I love the fact that my journey goes beyond myself and has had a residual effect on others.
After Weight: I now weigh 143 pounds. Still not at my goal weight, but I’m getting there.
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.