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Name: Pamela Arias
Before Weight: Over 300 pounds. I was too afraid to step on the scale at my heaviest. When I finally did, after the first month of my weight-loss journey, I was 295 pounds.
How I Gained It: I've been obese my entire life, even as a small child. In the sixth grade, I weighed 125 pounds. I continued to gain weight and ballooned to over 300 pounds by the age of 35, after giving birth to four beautiful children.
I wouldn't feel hungry all day until about 5 p.m., when I would go out to eat and order a huge burger with all the toppings, plus an appetizer and dessert. I always had the mindset that dessert was just part of the meal. I'm half-Cuban and half-Italian, so both sides of my family celebrate everything with food.
My ankles were so swollen it was hard to stand on my own two feet some days. I had major lower back pain and restless legs syndrome. I also had horrible insomnia.
Breaking Point: I had taken my children on an outing to a race in our city. I had to walk at an incline and over a small overpass to get into the racetrack from the parking lot. After walking just a few feet, I couldn't catch my breath. I was trying as hard as I could and there was just something blocking me from being able to breathe normally. I stopped, took a break and started walking again. We went inside to watch the races. The same incident repeated on the way out after the race was over. At this point, I thought I would have to go to the hospital. I had to stop and try to catch my breath while my husband and children went to get the car to pick me up. I was fine, but it definitely set off a huge light bulb in my head.
How I Lost It: I lost the weight through lots of hard work and eating right. When I first started my weight-loss journey, I had tried to eat less food but still treat myself so that I didn't feel deprived. I started out by doing whatever I was capable of when it came to exercise. At first, I would exercise in front of the TV to a walking DVD. I then moved on to walking outside with my husband and children. I figured there was no better time to start setting a good example for everyone else, as my husband had a lot of weight to lose as well, and my children had never been raised to make healthful choices.
Eventually, I moved on to running/walking intervals in my neighborhood. I joined a gym and started weight training. I had lost about 60 pounds at this point and was feeling great.
I researched, researched, researched to educate myself as much as I possibly could with regard to losing fat and healthful nutrition. Now, I eat clean foods 95 percent of the time. If it doesn't grow from the ground, I don't eat it. I still love ice cream, but I substitute with protein shakes, and I make frozen bananas into ice cream, too. I keep my weight training to three days per week and the other days I either do a metabolic conditioning workout with lots of compound moves or kickboxing.
For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am completely fulfilled and happy. There is no other feeling like this. I can run around and play with my children and my grandchildren (yes, I am a 40-year-old grandmother!). I have not only lost a huge amount of weight, but all the misery and hurt that went with it. I've never been so motivated in my entire life.
I've remained so motivated by this weight loss that I've moved on to get my personal trainer certification, as well as my health coach certification. I also decided I would start my own business to pay it forward. I'm a lifestyle modification coach, and I help other women transform their lives just as I have. I am so fulfilled knowing I'm helping others each and every day.
After Weight: 150 pounds
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Check out more of our inspiring weight loss stories below:
As told to Sarah Klein