Before: 225 lbs
After: 140 lbs
Although Deana Custer was on the volleyball and golf teams in high school, she carried 150 pounds on her 5'4" frame. Her weight began creeping up when she started cosmetology school in August 2005 while working two part-time jobs—she couldn't find time to exercise or cook. Fast food took its toll, and she was 200 pounds at her December 2006 graduation. She got a job as a hairstylist in Washington, Iowa, but the irregular hours had her scarfing takeout between clients or skipping lunch and overeating at dinner. (Search: How to stop binge eating) She put on 25 pounds in three months. "I was ashamed of letting myself go that far," she says.
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Because Deana stood all day at work, the extra weight made her feet and back ache. But worse was the blow to her self-esteem. "In the beauty business, you have to look the part," she says. "And I didn't." When her scale hit 225, she'd had enough. "I knew I was the only one who could change my body."
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Deana cooked chicken or fish with veggies for dinner and ate the leftovers for lunch. But three years later and only 30 pounds lighter, she realized she had to conquer her fear of the "punishing" gym. When her boss agreed to join with her in January 2010, she took the chance. One mixed-step class later, Deana was hooked: "I didn't know exercise at the gym could be fun." In the next 10 months she nearly doubled her weight loss and began running a few days a week. By December, she had run eight 5-Ks and a half-marathon—and she weighed 140 pounds.
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Deana can now power through even the longest days. "I'm free of back pain, and my energy has shot through the roof," she says. She's so proud of her new size-6 figure, she tries on clothes just for fun. "I feel good in anything I wear," she says. "I have more confidence than I used to."
Find a 5-K. "Most are walk-run, and crossing the finish line is the biggest high. It's what encouraged me to continue running." (Video: The foods you need for race day)
Slim your slice. "When I crave pizza, I make my own whole-wheat crust and load it with veggies."
Set mini-goals. "I aimed to lose 10 pounds at a time. That way, my overall goal seemed less daunting."
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