04/28/2014 08:29 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Afraid She Wouldn't See Her Children Graduate High School, Shelly Matthias Lost 127 Pounds

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Name: Michelle (Shelly) Matthias
Age: 29
Height: 5'8"
Before Weight: 310 pounds

How I Gained It: I've always been heavy. I work in a factory, and I was working the second shift. I was getting done with work at 10 p.m. and eating a large supper when I got home. I ate whatever I wanted: a lot of fast food, chocolate, candy, cookies. I made up excuses so I didn't have to exercise, like that I would be too tired to make it through my shift.

Breaking Point: In October 2011, I felt like my life was going to end. I really believed I was going to die if I didn't change my ways. I was at a point where I felt my children were suffering from my weight. I didn't have any energy to play with them, and I knew I had to go all in. I knew if I didn't do something I would be gone before they were out of high school. My hours changed to first shift, and I had just enrolled in a technical college -- I was ready for a new beginning.

How I Lost It: I decided I wanted to lose 130 pounds. Every Friday, I sent a picture of myself on my scale to my best friend as a way to keep myself on track.

I started changing my lifestyle slowly. First, I started eating smaller portions. Then, I started eating healthier foods, like fruit and yogurt. On the weekends I would walk, and eventually I bought a treadmill so I was able to walk every day.

Walking was hard at first, but when I would get back home it was an amazing feeling, knowing I did it instead of just sitting on the couch. As time went on, it became easier, and I would go farther to push myself.

In October 2012 I did my first 5K! I started at my usual walking pace, but throughout the race I found myself jogging for a while and then walking again. In 2013, I started really working hard. I finished lots of 5Ks, and I joined a gym. This fall, I did the same 5K race as my first time and jogged more than I walked, which cut my time by nearly 11 minutes.

I now work out every day after work. I use an elliptical for 30 to 45 minutes, and then I do crunches and weights. I try to change things up sometimes and use the rowing machine or bike. The feeling I get from working out is more satisfying than food has ever been for me.

I am finally able to keep up with my two children, who are ages 5 and 3. I look at life in a more positive way than I have in my whole life. I've found that now that I feel more at ease with my body I have a confidence that I haven't ever had. I am at a weight I haven't seen since I was 15 years old, something I never thought possible. I have decided that my original goal of losing 130 pounds isn't where I'm stopping. I will keep working out for myself and to ensure I won't ever fall back to old habits.

After Weight: 183 pounds
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As told to Sarah Klein