When Brittany Blankenship met her boyfriend, Gabe, in high school in Attica, Indiana, they were both overweight--and they gained more together. "We'd make frozen foods like egg rolls and pizza rolls," says Brittany, now 23 and a corporate chef. After quitting sports because she felt self-conscious at practice, her only exercise consisted of "walking to the car to go get fast food." By 2011, as a senior in college, the 5'3" student wore size-20 jeans.
In September 2011, Brittany was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding. When she saw the photos, she was horrified. She weighed herself for the first time in almost two years--and the number (248) stunned her. "There is no way I am going to hit 250," she promised herself.
That October, she and Gabe started taking walks and doing daily workouts they found on Pinterest. In nine months, Brittany dropped 30 pounds. That summer, they were wowed by an ad for a cardio-yoga DVD program that featured a disabled spokesman who had shed half his weight and regained the ability to walk. In July 2012, though neither had tried yoga before, they jumped into a video-a-day streak. (Brittany's favorite move, the "wrap and burn," is a deep lunge with one arm threaded through your legs and another around your back, with your hands clasped together. Yow.) At the same time, the pair swore off fast food and switched their drinks from soda and juices to water and unsweetened tea. "My new snacks are apples, carrots, and celery," says Brittany, who reached her initial goal of 180 pounds in February 2013. Now, she and Gabe run together too--they jog three or more miles three days a week, do the yoga video three other days, and "walk the mall" on Saturdays. She is now down to 155 and says her next goal is to fit into a size-small top. "I'm almost there!"
The couple's success (Gabe lost 140 pounds) has nudged their friends and family onto the healthy bandwagon, which thrills Brittany. Her career as a chef is taking off, since her repertoire now includes good-for-you gourmet. "I love finding healthy ways to make old favorites," she says.
"At first, just walk. Find a starting point."
Plan a treat.
"Once a month Gabe and I go out for frozen yogurt."
Be true to yourself.
"I tried to count calories, but it didn't work for me. Don't force yourself to do something that doesn't fit you."