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Name: Lauren Richmond
Before Weight: 389 pounds
How I Gained It: I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not considered overweight. I was always the bigger girl in grade school, and then the really overweight teen. When I graduated high school in 2000, I weighed 306 pounds. On the outside, everyone saw a girl with confidence and spunk or the girl who cracked the fat jokes about herself before anyone else could. After high school, I tried every diet imaginable: cabbage soup, Atkins, Weight Watchers, pills, shakes. I met with a doctor about surgery more than once. I would throw in short bouts of working out. I would pray to God to remove this curse, because at the time there was nothing I could think of that was worse than being fat.
I was 20 when I got married to my husband. Shortly after, we had our first daughter, and during that pregnancy I gained 60 pounds. At my checkup six weeks post-baby, the doctor announced in the waiting room filled with expectant mothers that I needed to see a nutritionist and should never have another baby until I lost the weight. I was mortified. If he thought that shaming me into losing weight was going to work, he was dead wrong. It didn't, and I kept on gaining. I was proud of myself for only gaining eight pounds during my second pregnancy, but I still had not lost the previous baby weight.
After my second daughter was born, I had severe complications healing from the C-section. It took me more than 10 months to heal, and I packed on an additional 20 pounds. I was in the worst depression. Due to finances, I was forced to pick up a second work shift to help our family. That's when it really got bad: Nothing was off limits, and I truly was just functioning. I didn't care about my body or my health. At 27 years old, I weighed 389 pounds and was slowly killing myself. I was sick all the time, missing work, exhausted and miserable, all while trying to portray the same happy person who just accepted who she was. It was a constant mental battle that weighed me down more than the weight I physically carried. I knew that I needed to lose weight. My brain was filled with self-hate, telling me I wasn't good enough if I didn't.
Breaking Point: I was able to quit my second-shift job as my daughters became of school age. I landed a pretty decent job working first shift, with good hours and good pay, and I started to feel better about myself. I was able to spend more time with my family. I was making new friends, and I was starting to gain some self love. A friend of mine mentioned starting the South Beach Diet. We were on a weekend vacation together celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and decided that when we got home we would start. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try and just maybe I was ready for it. That was March 20, 2012.
How I Lost It: I dedicated myself to two weeks of phase one of the plan. If I could get through the two weeks, I knew I could do it. The first days were terrible; I had the worst carb cravings ever, and I wanted to cave so bad, but I didn't. When the two weeks were up, I was down 20 pounds, and I knew I wanted to keep this feeling going for life.
As I slowly reintroduced certain grains back into my diet, I noticed the same stomach issues I was having before, along with dreaded carb cravings. I decided to change to clean eating while staying low carb. I released the tight grip of processed foods and made my way to losing 90 pounds in my first year.
Then I was stuck. I couldn't seem to lose any more weight, and I knew what I needed to do, but all I could think was that I'd never be able to work out. I was still winded walking up the stairs and felt gross. So I made some goals. It was March 2013, and I saw an ad for The Color Run 5K. I had never run a minute in my entire life. I took on the challenge, determined to prove everyone who doubted me wrong. It was scheduled for my 31st birthday, September 7, in beautiful NYC. Now I needed to learn how to run -- or even walk -- at a faster pace. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app and headed to the dreaded gym.
The first day I could barely run the 60 seconds in the program. It was terrible. I had this running commentary in my mind of what I imagined the people on the machines behind me were thinking. But I was not going to let any of their negative thoughts be proven right. The 30 minutes went by, and I felt so accomplished. Slowly but surely, I kept going, keeping on track and moving forward. I started falling in love with feeling better, being sore (I actually love the feeling) and wanting to move more. The pounds were starting to come off and with a push from 30 days of strict clean eating, I hit 100 pounds lost!
This was when I started thinking about really stepping things up, and during a hair salon visit, I found my answer: I met my now-personal trainer. I knew she would be able to help me. I took her number, and a few days later we met and my life changed completely. I was doing exercises I never knew I could do. I was more motivated for a better life to be fit and strong. I wanted a life of fitness, and I was getting there.
I spent the summer training for and completing a 5K Warrior Dash and The Color Run -- not your typical lying on the beach, eating ice cream and relaxing kind of summer. I was losing inches like crazy, but my weight was still stagnant. I knew I was building muscle, but I knew I was going to need something more to keep me going.
I signed up for a BeachBody Challenge through a Facebook page I had been following. Ten weeks later, I had lost an additional 25 pounds. I cried like I had won a marathon the day I finished that program. I knew this was the beginning of a whole new life.
I wanted everyone I knew to feel this good about themselves, so I signed up to be a coach. I wanted anyone and everyone who would listen to know that they are worth so much more than what their inner thoughts were telling them. I want to inspire people to desire more for themselves. Two things I always battled with -- healthy eating and working out -- have become two of the things that I am the best at. I am working toward becoming a health coach and a weight-loss specialist. I wake up to daily messages of people changing their lives and wanting my help on my Facebook page. Knowing that my path has helped pave the way for others makes me feel that this work in progress is a success.
I am, however, still pushing my way to get to my own goals. Currently, I have about 60 more stubborn pounds to lose to be in a healthy weight range for my body shape and height. I know this journey does not have a deadline because when I signed on, it was for a lifestyle change. This is now my journey for the rest of my life. One of my clients talks about how her journey has made her feel alive and that's exactly how I feel. Alive!
Current Weight: 250 pounds
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As told to Sarah Klein