Height: 5' 4"
Sara Barnard put on 127 pounds in her 20s, thanks to her full-time desk job, fast food habit, and a social life that revolved around going out for drinks and meals. "I just got into bad habits," Sara remembers. "I was too tired to work out when I got home." By 2011, Sara, whose weight used to hover around 180, reached 307 pounds.
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The Turning Point
Sara hit the brakes on her sedentary lifestyle in the dressing room of a plus-size store. "I was trying on a pair of pants I thought would fit—I think they were a size 26," Sara says. "When they didn't fit, I was like, 'What am I doing?'" The weight threatened more than her wardrobe. "Diabetes runs in my family, and I didn't want to go down that path," she says.
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Later that same day, Sara jumpstarted her new lifestyle. First, she tossed all the sugary foods and unhealthy snacks from her kitchen. Then, she called a friend who was a certified personal trainer.
Over time, Sara quit eating empty carbs and fast food, and planned healthy menus instead: oatmeal or Greek yogurt with fruit for breakfast, a turkey burger and salad for lunch, apples and nuts for a snack, and a chicken breast with salad for dinner. (Eat smart, get slim with this free two-week plan: Eat This, Not That!) She also credits an energy drink called Celsius for helping her stave off cravings. She kept a food journal to track what she ate, but focused on portion control rather than depriving herself completely. "If I wanted to have a naughty day, I could; I just had to stay within my calories," Sara says.
Sara started walking around her neighborhood four days a week, and progressed to visiting Powerhouse Gym in her hometown, Gainesville, FL, three days a week for an hour's worth of cardio and strength training. She even stayed active while socializing. She ran or played one-on-one basketball with her fiancé instead of filling up on snacks at the movies, met girlfriends at the gym instead of out for drinks, and went out for coffee or tea rather than a big brunch.
Sara got engaged in the midst of her weight loss journey—but achieving better health remained her ultimate goal. "I didn't want the wedding to be my sole desire, because after the wedding I didn't want to lose my motivation," Sara says. "I had to think of all of this as a lifestyle change."
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After her dramatic weight loss, Sara got fitted for her size 14 wedding dress and had to have it taken in. "When I first tried on dresses, I could only fit into the plus-size ones," Sara says. The best part: "Definitely feeling better in my own skin,” she says. Today, Sara is continuing her journey by maintaining a healthy diet, working out in the gym regularly, practicing yoga, and living a more active lifestyle overall.
Write everything down. "Journal things that you eat," Sara says. "My friend had a rule: 'If you bite it, you have to write it.'"
Reward yourself. "Even if it's a new tube of lipstick, or going to get highlights. Just something to make yourself feel good," Sara says.