BEFORE: 186 lbs
AFTER: 130 lbs
Jaclyn Helling, a 29-year-old fund-raiser from Lenexa, Kansas, was heavy for as long as she could remember. Her childhood pastime of vegging in front of the TV with takeout grew into a grown-up habit. As a twenty-something, she dined out all week long, guzzled soda, and heeded her sweet tooth rather than food labels—practices that pushed Jaclyn, 5'7", to 186 pounds in November 2012.
Just walking or cruising on her bike left Jaclyn winded, but it took a doctor's visit to shake her into action. In addition to spying the number on the scale, she learned that she was scarily close to having high blood pressure. The doc suggested she drop 20 pounds—but that wasn't enough for Jaclyn. "I wanted to go all in," she says.
January 1, 2013, was Jaclyn's big day: She eliminated sugar, alcohol, and processed foods, popped in her first workout DVD, and started tracking her habits with Noom, a smartphone app. That winter, she learned to cook at home using veggies like parsnips and green beans. ("I didn't even know what a parsnip was before," she says.) A daily nutrition e-mail she signed up for helped her stay motivated. By Super Bowl Sunday, she'd shed 12 pounds. Jaclyn kept up the clean noshing—and the daily sweatfests, doing 30-or 60-minute videos before work—and by summer, she was down 30 more pounds. "My thighs used to rub together when I walked, especially in the heat," she says. "No more!" She added treadmill runs, first building up to a mile at a time, then to a few outdoor miles two or three times a week. By Halloween 2013, Jaclyn reached her goal of 130 pounds.
When Jaclyn's now-fiance got down on one knee in November 2013, she was instantly pumped to try on dresses and plan photo sessions. (The pair also love running races together now.) Before, she would've been self-conscious. And during a December 2013 move from Washington, D.C., where she'd been living, back to her Kansas hometown, Jaclyn found herself easily hoisting box after heavy box. "I wouldn't have been able to do that a year ago," she says. "I'm so much stronger."
Schedule fitness. "I put my workouts in my calendar like a date I can't break."
Bag it. "I bring a few cookies or crackers in a small bag to work, so I'm not tempted to eat the whole package."
Know your stuff. "Really reading ingredient lists was quite the eye-opener for me."