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Name: Kim Freshwater
Before Weight: 404 pounds
How I Gained It: My problems began in elementary school and got worse when I reached my teens and my dad passed away. He had always been my best friend, so I suppose I used food to fill the hole he left. As I got older, people would always say how pretty I'd be if I lost weight -- and I did try, but the diets I did were only quick fixes. I'd regain all of the weight I lost as soon as I stopped.
Once I reached 400 pounds, I had to walk with a cane and couldn't fit into the seats at the movies or on amusement park rides anymore. I once broke a chair at my friend's house, which was mortifying, and even slept on the floor when we went away because I was so scared the bed wouldn't be able to take my weight. I missed so many wonderful moments with my husband and three children.
Breaking Point: Even though I'd always skipped things like playing in the park or going to the movies with my family, I was proud that my weight had never prevented me from attending any of my kids' school functions. But then my son's school swapped its solid chairs for flimsy ones, and for the first time I had to skip his awards ceremony. Soon afterward, I was unable to attend a relative's funeral because I knew I couldn't handle the long walk between the church and the graveside.
I felt I'd let my family down because I wasn't there to support them on either occasion. I was so upset about it one night that I couldn't sleep, so I turned on the TV. There was a show on about funerals, detailing how severely overweight people need special coffins and how difficult it is to cremate their bodies. It was as if someone was trying to tell me something. I didn't ever want to put my family through that.
How I Lost It: My doctor suggested I try Slimming World, which originated in the U.K. and is now available online across America. When I first joined I waited to find out what I couldn't have on the eating plan, but there wasn't anything. I can have everything in moderation. We all still eat together as a family, and we have lots of our old favorites, just adjusted so they're cooked in a healthier way. I've transformed my eating habits, swapping one big, high-fat meal a day for three healthy homemade meals.
After 12 weeks, I'd lost 44 pounds, and the support I felt was tremendous. I was cheered on with every pound I lost. As my health improved, I started playing tennis, bicycling again, walking more -- without a cane -– and enjoying my photography hobby. I can do so much more since losing weight, but for me the biggest achievements are the small things that people probably take for granted. I love that I don't need seatbelt extensions on planes anymore. I can sit in chairs with arms. I can shop on streets with hills -- the list is endless!
I've now lost a total of 243 pounds. Before, I wasn't living; I was existing. I walked with my head down and tried to blend into the background. I don't think I realized how unhappy I was until I became as happy as I am now. My daughter recently told me that I used to be a chunky caterpillar and now I'm a beautiful butterfly. That's exactly how I feel.
After Weight: 161 pounds
The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.
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