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Weight-Loss Success Story: Im Comfortable In My Skin

Before: 296 pounds
After: 165 pounds

The Lifestyle
Working as a traveling life coach in Florida forced 36-year-old Shanna Fried to spend hours commuting to her clients' homes. For seven years, she worked with former foster kids between the ages of 18 and 25. Sometimes she'd work up to 12 hours a day and at least four of which were spent driving. "Fast food was my go-to," says Shanna. Exercise was also a struggle for Shanna because she never felt motivated to work out—being overweight made her feel awful while exercising. "I felt like I would fail at everything in the gym," she says. "I think my weight held me back from what I wanted to do." And by the spring of 2010, Shanna was 5'4" and weighed 296 pounds.

The Change
"I never found anything in the gym that I liked doing," says Shanna. "Yeah, I had trainers before, but I never found my niche." That is, until a friend introduced her to a boxing coach. After one 45-minute training session, she was hooked. Since Shanna's job is extremely stressful, she appreciated having an outlet to release all of that tension. "Boxing was a mental relief as well as a physical exercise," says Shanna. "I knew if I could hit something, I could get some feelings out." And it wasn't just Shanna's job that was making her feel anxoius. She also needed a way to fight back against the social stigma surrounded around obesity. "When you're obese, people look and make fun of you—like if you take up two seats," says Shanna. "Once I boxed in that first session, for the first time in a long time, I felt like those emotions weren’t there."

Shanna moved to New York City in 2011 and increased her workout regimen. Boxing is still her favorite exercise—she's now a personal trainer and life coach—but Shanna's also a huge fan of SoulCycle and boot camp classes.

And once her exercise became more habitual than mandatory, she worked on her diet. When she cut out fast food, Shanna noticed almost instant improvements in her weight. She's tried Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, but those structured plans never worked. "For me, I can't have a set meal plan because I'll mess it up," she says. "I researched nutrition tips and asked nutritionists for their advice." With that knowledge, she removed carbs from her diet and increased her protein intake. Shanna also tries to stick to 2,000 calories a day. "I wouldn't deprive myself of foods," she says. "If I'm craving a cupcake, I don't have to have the whole thing. I'm able to have a bite and put it down. If I don't satisfy that craving in some way, I'll end up eating three eventually."

And her hard work has paid off—Shanna weighs about 165 pounds now and is proud of how far she's come. "I'm never going to be a 120-pound woman," she says. "I'm fit and toned. But most of all, I'm comfortable in my skin."

The Reward
One of Shanna’s proudest accomplishments is a little unexpected: "I know this sounds stupid, but I can actually cross my legs," she says. "When I was really heavy, I couldn't really do it. And when I did, I finally realized I had lost a lot of weight." Shanna also went from a size 16 to a size 10—a jean size she never believed she could fit into. "I used to have to shop in Lane Bryant's plus-size section," she says. "I've always wanted to shop at Forever 21, and now I go there all the time."

Shanna's Tips
Never say, "I cant." "Before my weight-loss journey, I always gave up because I was terrified of failing. A lot of my clients say they can't do something, but they really can—it's all mental."
Find someone to motivate you. "Sometimes you can't find motivation within yourself. Motivation is very important, and sometimes you need someone else to get you going. I want to be that person for my clients"
Remember this motto. "'Wish it. Imagine it. Dream it. Create it. Do it.' I saw this on a piece of paper, and it inspired me. Now I'm putting it on a T-shirt."

More from Women’s Health:
6 Ways to Get a Flat Belly for Pool Day
7 Foods That Can Help You Lose Weight
6 Ways to Lose Weight That Don't Involve Counting Calories


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