Before: 199 lbs
After: 130 lbs
Thanks to a childhood filled with drive-through breakfasts and take-out dinners, Amy Banfield, now 22, was always one of the chubbiest kids in school. By fourth grade, she recalls, "I was heavier than my friends and felt self-conscious changing for gym class." Her eating habits worsened when she enrolled at Miami University in Ohio in 2007. "My dorm was next to a 24-7 mini-mart, so I could snack all day or night," she says. During freshman year, she packed 25 pounds onto her 5'7" frame. With summer looming, she vowed to bring her scale back from the brink of 200 pounds.
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To avoid facing the music about her weight, Amy lived in oversize tees and sweats. But in January 2008, when she was turned away from a fraternity party with a harsh "No fat girls allowed," she decided she needed to act. "I was humiliated," she says. She committed to fixing her weight problem for good.
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Amy meticulously measured portions and replaced cheese-laden snacks with oatmeal or hummus and carrots. Fast food became a rare indulgence, and she found low-cal options online before heading out to eat. She also started working out on the elliptical for 30 minutes five days a week. By the time she began her sophomore year at a new school, the University of Kentucky, she was down 25 pounds. There, Amy took up swimming, cycling, and running and lost 44 more pounds by her junior year. She proudly wore a size-4 swimsuit on a trip to Mexico that May.
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As Amy shed weight, her self-confidence grew. She became president of her sorority and had the guts to go for a postgrad internship at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in New Mexico, which she nabbed. "I never would have applied before," she says. "Now anything is within my grasp, as long as I'm willing to work for it."
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Plan to sweat. "I write out a week's worth of workouts in my planner so I don't have to think about it—or back out—during the day."
Fake your favorite desserts. "I sprinkle cinnamon on sliced apples and pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds. It tastes like apple pie!"
Embrace intervals. "To get into running, I walked one song and ran the next to keep going longer."