Trapped in an abusive relationship, Amanda Arteaga often turned to food to soothe her unhappiness. Over the course of eight years, her weight crept up to 327 pounds. Along with the excess baggage, Amanda faced the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
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The Turning Point
A doctor told Amanda that, with her many health issues, which included chronic headaches, high cholesterol and daily fatigue, she had the body of a 60-year-old woman. At the time Amanda was only 30. “That was an eye opener,” she says. “I didn’t want to be that heavy and unhappy.” (Search: Health Risks of Being Overweight)
First Amanda revamped her dietary habits. She ditched junk food and late-night munching and started making time for breakfast, while adhering to a 1,500-calorie diet. Instead of soda and sweet tea Amanda stuck to water. “It was hard at first because I had gotten so used to turning to food for comfort,” she says.
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Amanda added exercise to her routine gradually by taking a daily one-mile walk. “You may think that's not hard, but for a woman my size it was,” she says. Over time, she boosted the intensity and duration of her workouts, and eventually was walking 5 to 7 miles and incorporating two 30-minute sessions on the elliptical five days a week.
Amanda encountered her fair share of setbacks along the way—all of which she overcame. Early in her diet, her then-fiancé broke off their engagement because he’d been involved with another woman, which temporarily sent Amanda back to her old eating habits. Later, after she ramped up her weight loss efforts again, she hit another roadblock when she fractured her hip. Fortunately, she summoned the strength to persevere, and has dropped more than 114 pounds in the process. “I may get knocked down, but when I get up I just come back harder and stronger,” she says. “I'm very determined to get the weight off.”
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These days, Amanda surrounds herself with supportive friends and family members—as well as a new boyfriend. “My new love was there to get me back on track,” she says. “He motivated me and worked out with me and I believe he’s made me a better person.”
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In addition to being happier in general, Amanda loves being able to buy regular clothes instead of plus-size garments. “The way people look at me now—sometimes they do a double-take—it just feels good.”
It’s not easy, but it’s attainable. “I didn’t put on my 130 pounds overnight, so I didn’t expect to lose them overnight,” she says. “You just have to be willing and determined and start off slow.”
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