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I Did It! Ready For My Selfie

8/16 17:32:16
Last updated: Feb 04, 2014 ididit-march-before Michele Auguste
32, 5'9"
West New York, N.J.

280 lb.
Dress size: 18/20

I was taught to eat everything on my plate. So from a very young age, that's what I did—even if I was full. My weight mushroomed to more than 200 pounds, but I became a pro at projecting fake body confidence. That was until I saw a photo of myself from a girls' trip in November 2011. Not only did I look huge, but I saw sadness in my eyes. It was an "Oh my gosh!" moment. I knew it was time for a change.

Diet overhaul
In December 2011, I signed up for Weight Watchers. I had tried several other plans; the few pounds I lost always returned. Weight Watchers made eating healthy seem doable because I didn't have to give up sweets or stop eating out. All I had to do was count my points. I quickly learned, though, that it was wiser to spend those points on grilled chicken and vegetables than on cartons of Chinese takeout. My new eating habits helped me ditch 20 pounds in eight weeks. And I could finally climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded.

Hello, elliptical
With my eating under control, I took to the elliptical twice a week for eight minutes, followed by a few crunches. I stuck to this regimen for almost seven months, building up to 50 minutes five days a week. And it worked. By August I was down another 70 pounds. My thinner, fitter frame gave me the courage to take on group fitness (Zumba and barre-based workouts). Each class left me aching, but the soreness was worth it because it led to an additional 30-pound loss. Then I hit a plateau. I tweaked my routine, but those last 11 pounds wouldn't budge. Despite my frustration, I stayed the course. Six months later, I finally hit my goal and found out what it means to be confident in your own skin.

ididit-march After
163 lb.
Dress size: 6/8

Total lost
117 lb.
Sizes lost: 6

Laura Barisonzi
Small everyday strategies transformed Michele's body. Steal the ones below, and find more tested tips on Pinterest (pinterest.com/goodhealth).

Every Wednesday, I take a Zumba class with the friends I met at Weight Watchers. It's our weekly girls' night. We catch up, bond and even enjoy a fun workout that burns a bunch of calories!

People tell you to use a deck of cards, but I don't eyeball anything. I'm loyal to my food scale because if you're really hungry, your perception may be skewed. This way I know exactly how much I'm eating.

I will always love Chinese food. Every other week, I have pork fried rice. I don't eat the entire container, though. I measure out a cup. I just need a taste to curb my craving.

They're like whole-wheat crackers dipped in honey. It's a healthy snack masked as a sweet treat.

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.

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