Mindy Badgley, 33, 5'9"
Before: 248 lbs. (size 20) By the time I turned 25, I weighed 248 pounds and needed high-blood-pressure medication. Day after day, I'd come home, sit on my couch and eat. The worst part: Every time I looked at my in-shape husband, I felt even more ashamed of my size. In fact, it was seeing a picture of us—him fit and me fat—from Christmas 2011 that made me finally say, "I'm done being the fat girl!"
NEW YEAR, NEW APPTITE
Over the years, I had lost weight on diet plans, but once I stopped, the pounds came right back. This time I decided to go it alone. My first step was to get rid of all the junk. On Jan. 1, 2012, I tossed chips, pizza—everything tempting. I began reading package labels and realized that I had been eating three servings at a time. Watching my portions helped me erase 15 pounds in a month. What's more, I began craving healthier foods. I ate turkey breast, low-fat cottage cheese, fruit and celery for lunch every day for two weeks. Eating like that made a real difference in my weight.
EASING INTO EXERCISE
With my appetite under control, I braved step aerobics. During my first class, I was so out of breath that I thought I was going to have a heart attack! But I stuck with it, and by April I had dropped 50 pounds—just in time for my 10th wedding anniversary vacation. It was the first moment in 14 years that I felt comfortable getting into a swimsuit. Over the next eight months, I added in twice-weekly walks, which I eventually traded for runs two to three times a week. I hit my goal of 164 pounds (and got off one of my heart meds) by Christmas. It was definitely the best gift I've ever given to myself and my family.
mindy-badgley-after for more real-world-tested tips on staying lean.
MY SERVING SAVER: Portion Plates
To track my servings, I looked to portion-control plates. They really helped me understand portion sizes by equating them with common items, such as a computer mouse.
MY GO-TO SNACK: Nature Valley Granola Bars
I keep a box of the dark chocolate and peanut butter ones at work. They stop me from going into the office candy jar for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which I can eat by the bagful.
MY FAVE APP: MyFitnessPal
All you have to do is input your weight, height and goals and it computes your daily calorie allotment. Genius!
MY SECRET MOTIVATOR: A Swim Star
I have a picture of a swimmer on my fridge with the quote "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments." I put it up around week three of my weight-loss journey and haven't taken it down yet.
SHARE YOUR SUCCESS STORY
Have an amazing body makeover of your own? Tell us about it at health.com/i-did-it and let us know what diet and fitness strategies worked for you.