HEALTHY LIVING
07/26/2013 08:22 am ET

I Lost Weight: Laura Miller Lost 166 Pounds -- And Is Still Losing

Laura Miller

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Name: Laura Miller
Age: 23
Height: 5'10"
Before Weight: 403 pounds

How I Gained It: I gained weight by having poor eating habits and not exercising. I was always on the heavy side when I was growing up, and continued to gain weight during my teenage years. Throughout high school, I attempted more extreme diets, and became the queen of yo-yo dieting. I would be on a diet for a few weeks, then crave fast food and give in to the cravings. About a week later, I would realize I needed to diet again and have one final large meal and start a new diet the following morning. I loved high school and was involved in many activities, however I was experiencing some personal issues that caused me to turn to food as comfort. I knew I was heavy and that I needed to do something about it, but had no interest in doing so at that time.

I ate fast food at least once a day. I loved pop, potato chips, pizzas, cookies, candy bars, ice cream and buffets. I could eat a large pizza by myself. My ideal afternoon was eating three fast food burgers and two large fries in between lunch and dinner. I considered an entire bag to be “one portion” of potato chips. I reached my heaviest weight, 403 pounds, when I was 19.

One summer night in 2009 I decided I was so ashamed of how I looked that I wanted to change. I found and committed to a triathlon training plan that would begin the next morning. I had 100 days to train for a 300-yard swim, six-mile bike ride and a 5K run. Within those 100 days of training, I lost 60 pounds and completed the triathlon. Once it was over, I thought I was “cured” of my weight problems. I eventually gained 40 of those 60 pounds back because I went back to eating what I did before. I thought it was okay; I used the excuse that I'm a triathlete.

I tried to lose weight for good many more times. I tried every fad diet, shake and pill. There were many days during my senior year of college where I would take up to six different diet pills daily, eat nothing and only drink water. I wanted to do anything to miraculously wake up one day and be thin.

Breaking Point: I was fed up with feeling sorry for myself. I pretended I was the most confident person in the world, but on the inside I was frustrated, embarrassed and ashamed. I had these pains in my stomach. I tried to ignore them, but I knew I was destroying my liver from the diet pills. I threw them all away, without even finishing them. I told myself I needed to focus more on getting healthy instead of solely my weight.

How I Lost It: I began eating healthier, adding more fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and fish to my diet, as well as drinking a lot of water, limiting my red meat intake, drinking unsweetened ice tea instead of pop and limiting sugar. I also learned all about portion control.

I also started training for my first 5K race. I followed a program called Couch to 5K. The first few times I ran, I was so proud -- yet still exhausted. The more I ran, the more excited, focused and determined I became. My first 5K race was July 4, 2012. Since then I have run almost 30.

After every race, I take a photo of myself and my sister, who has become my running buddy. The pictures remind me how far I have come. I don't care how fast I run, I just focus on running every single step until I cross the finish line. A few months ago, I decided it was time to increase my running distance. I wanted to push myself, so I signed up for my first 10K race. I love that I have become so interested in running. I feel so accomplished after every run I do, if it's one mile or seven. I feel so powerful and strong after every race. I stay motivated to keep running by purchasing a gift for myself after races like new athletic socks, sports bras, running pants or even a new MP3 player. Beside running, I bike, attend Zumba classes, swim, play tennis, do step aerobics and walk with my family. I love setting goals for myself and achieving them. Just recently, I've decided that I want to push myself again, so I have committed myself to running my first half-marathon this October.

I have an ideal weight in mind, but no longer consider my weight as the only proof of accomplishment. Losing weight is just one of many small accomplishments that keep me going. Recently I purchased new blue jeans, which are half the size I wore at my heaviest. I also find that I cross my legs whenever I sit, which I never used to be able to do. My T-shirts are four sizes smaller.

I never thought I would like foods like quinoa, spaghetti squash or rice cakes, but I do. I measure out my portions. I'm very conscious of portion sizes and write down everything I eat. I also write down my daily exercises and add them up at the end of each month. Eventually, I won't need to be as strict, but I know I can derail easily. Late night snacking is a bad habit of mine that I'm still working on. If I want a snack or something at night I tell myself I can have it in the morning. Usually I don't want it by then!

I am so lucky that I have had so much family support and encouragement throughout this process. I keep inspirational quotes around my house for when I'm having a difficult day. I never really understood before when people would ask me, "Are you ready to change your life?" I always wondered what that had to do with eating more fruits and veggies. I now know that it has everything to do with it.

I don't get upset anymore if I'm up a pound or two. I know it's all a part of the process. That has been a huge change for me. Before, if I weighed more, I would think my workouts weren't working and quit. But I need to keep going. I want to keep going. I have people supporting and encouraging me, no matter what my weight is.

I have such a passion for life now. I strive to be the best possible version of me. In addition, I have also become so interested in helping others lose weight. I want to inspire others to keep going or even begin their weight loss journey. I started a blog to share my story and encourage others along their journey.

I have come so far to get where I am today. I have faced my fair share of ups and downs, but I am so grateful because it made me the women I am today. I am much stronger both physically and mentally. I know I can achieve any and all goals I set for myself. I want to, I need to and, most importantly, I will.

Current Weight: 237 pounds
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The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.

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