02/06/2012 08:20 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Weight Loss Success: Linda Goff Ditched Fad Diets And Lost 150 Pounds

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Name: Linda Goff
Age: 44
Height: 5'8"
Before Weight: 303 pounds (possibly more -- I stopped getting on the scale)

How I Gained It: "How in the world did this happen?" I distinctly remember asking myself that question as I sat on the dressing-room floor. I was in one of the few stores in my small town that carried plus-sized jeans. In order to get this pair zipped, I knew that I had to suck in my gut, lay as flat as possible on the floor and tug the zipper with both hands. It was the largest pair of jeans on the shelf. If I couldn't get them to fasten, I was going to be out of luck.

How did this former cheerleader become morbidly obese? To someone who has never been overweight, the idea that 150 extra pounds can "sneak-up" on a person probably seems ridiculous, but that is how it felt to me. I don't ever remember waking up one day and realizing that I was the size of two adult women. It was such a gradual process. If something looked good, I ate it (without a single thought about calories or portion size). My weight problem was the result of tiny, minute-by-minute decisions made over the course of 20 years.

For almost two decades, I tried to buy my way out of obesity, spending thousands of dollars on fad diets, weight-loss shakes and pills. I learned from experience that all those drugs could do was turn a 300-pound woman into a 300-pound woman with the jitters. After my insurance company said no to gastric bypass surgery, I gave up the idea of ever losing weight through "old-fashioned" dieting. I thought it was God's will for me to obese.

Breaking Point: I realized that I couldn't afford to pay for gastric bypass surgery on my own and secretly hoped that if I were heavier, I'd be approved for the surgery by my insurance company -- maybe I would get the green light if I weighed 350 pounds or even 400? My weight-gain plan was nearly flawless: I ignored food labels, avoided exercise and hid from cameras. I even stopped going to the doctor to eliminate that awkward "hop on the scale" moment.

Everything with this scheme fell apart in 2007. It was painful, but I saw how my obesity was damaging my marriage. I was daring my husband to find me attractive at 200 pounds, 250 pounds, okay, how about 300 pounds? He never told me that I was fat, but I was afraid that one day we would simply live together "as friends" because my body seemed so unattractive to me. That thought broke my heart.

I always believed that my body was my problem and my problem alone. I wasn't hurting anyone else, right? One day in March of 2007 I woke up and understood that my unhealthy choices had a lot of victims -- including my husband and my two sons. I prayed for the strength to do the right thing for my family. I had to confess that my eating was out of control and that "paying my way out" wasn't the answer.

How I Lost It: My first step was to realize that I didn't need to spend money on another get-thin-quick scheme. I wanted a plan that allowed me to be a good steward of my money and my body. I created a "Skinny Budget Diet" where I read labels for nutrition and calorie information and made smarter food choices. I started shopping for more items along the outside walls of the grocery store (where the fresh stuff is found), used inexpensive sandwich bags and containers to divide my food into the proper portions (to keep from overeating) and walked my dog for exercise (because she was chubby, too).

I also did research before dining out, because restaurant food was always my weakness. By looking up the nutritional information online, I knew which foods could fit within my daily calorie goals. When a server offered to show me a menu, I could say "No, thanks." I didn't need to see pictures of onion rings and chocolate lava cakes. I had a plan, and 2,000 calories a day became a lot of food when I made smart choices.

My weight loss was slow. On a good week, I would lose two pounds. It was a journey that required patience; sometimes the scale wouldn't move for two or three weeks at a time! Instead of quitting (like I'd done so many times before), I was determined. I refused to go back to my old ways of eating even when my weight loss seemed stuck. I know that the support I received from my husband and my church is what kept me from quitting.

After nearly 18 months on my "skinny budget" plan, I had dropped from a size 26 to a 145-pound size six. I've stayed at this healthy size for more than two years. I believe that my blog is a big reason that the string finally broke on my yo-yo dieting habit. Every week, I gently nag other people to "get stubborn" about fighting obesity at blog.thywillpower.com. It keeps me honest. I can't talk the talk in other people's homes without walking the walk in my own.

After Weight: 145 pounds

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