Shannon Mateo, 34, 5' 1¾", from Reno, Nev.
Before: 198 lb., size 16
After: 115 lb., size 2
Total pounds lost: 83
Total sizes lost: 7
Shannon's wearing: Puma Yoghi Essential Layer Tank Top ($30, amazon.com) and Puma All Eyes On Me ¾ Tights ($50, puma.com)
When I moved away from home to go to college at 18, the freedom to eat whatever I wanted quickly spiraled out of control—I'm talking ice cream and chips with salsa and Nutella-topped toast for breakfast. Within a year, I put on 40 pounds. My family begged me to make a change and join the gym with them, but my self-confidence was shot. I thought that not only would it be impossible to drop the extra weight, but I wasn't worth the effort anyway. Five years and two pregnancies later, I had packed on another 23 pounds.
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Living in stretchy clothes, I had lost all motivation. Then, after years of excuses, I found myself accompanying a friend to the gym. When we got these, I couldn't even walk a mile on the treadmill without feeling sick. Despite that start, I bought a gym membership and began hitting the elliptical three times a week. After shedding only a few pounds, I was ready to give up. Instead, I turned to a trainer for strength sessions. We worked past the plateau, and I lost 42 pounds in a little over a year. I was still eating fast food after workouts, though; I knew that had to change.
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I switched to clean eating, and the rest of the weight fell off: I dropped 20 pounds and 7 percent of my body fat in just 45 days. For the first time, I could actually see my abs! Even better, I realized how amazing my body felt when properly nourished. I reached my goal of 115 pounds in November 2015. But my proudest moment? Completing a Tough Mudder with my husband five months earlier. When I crossed the finish line, I felt like I had finally proved that I was good enough for everyone, including myself.
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Smart eating and a fitness addiction got Shannon her bod back. Now she's sharing her secrets.
1. Rock your motivation. At the gym, I wear bright clothes with fun sayings like 'Drink coffee, put on some gangster rap, and handle it.' It sets my workout tone.
2. Try an apple. If I'm not hungry enough for an apple, then I'm not really hungry. Anytime a strong craving hits, I'll eat an apple first to help curb my appetite.
3. Judge your labels. I always peruse food labels. Whenever there's something listed that I can't grow or make myself, I put the item back. It makes weeding out unhealthy processed foods much easier.
4. Indulge wisely. A lot of people have weekend cheat days, but that adds up to 104 a year! Instead of depriving myself all week and bingeing on the weekend, I choose sweets that fuel my body, like Trader Joe's Coconut Cashews.
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