Before: 310 pounds
After: 160 pounds
Charita Smith, 33, is a Colorado mother to three boys and works two part-time jobs, which leaves very little time to prep food. "We hardly ate meals at home," says Charita. "It wasn't because of laziness all the time—it was really [because of how busy we were]. We ate out on the road—anywhere that was fast, easy, cheap, and convenient." Charita has known for years that she needed to lose weight. Her back and feet would hurt from standing for too long, and she had to wear flats instead of higher-heeled shoes.
In 2010, she auditioned for the NBC's The Biggest Loser but didn't make the cut—they were looking for overweight family members, and Charita was the only person in her family who could qualify. She struggled to stick to a weight-loss program, and her weight continued to yo-yo for years. By April 2013, Charita stood at 5'7" and weighed 310 pounds.
Something snapped on Charita's eighth wedding anniversary. She was tearing through her closet trying to find something to wear, but there wasn't a single outfit she felt comfortable in. "I had a little mental breakdown," she says. "It was my anniversary, and I wanted to feel and look pretty. I never imagined that this is where my body would be [in my life.]"
She had no idea what to do. Charita started eating more salads because "healthy people eat salad" and squeezed in small bouts of exercise with a friend at the gym. While she lost a few pounds, this weight-loss plan wasn't sustainable. "I thought to myself, 'What can I do now? I know that I need help, and I can't do this on my own," says Charita. Eventually, she auditioned for ABC's Extreme Weight Loss—and her weight-loss journey was kicked into overdrive.
Every day, Charita would exercise for four hours (minimum). "We did everything: CrossFit, 5Ks, circuit training, interval training, hikes, and swimming." When she was introduced to Zumba, Charita was so in love with the group-dance class that she became a certified instructor. "It made my body feel sexy, strong, fun, and flirty," says Charita. "It felt like I was moving parts of my body that I hadn't moved in a long time. I found muscles that I hadn't been using before."
She also took nutrition classes to teach her how to dissect nutrition labels. "It really helped to teach me how to choose what I was going to eat," says Charita. "Once you learn about proportions and the sizes you should be eating, it's mind-blowing. I was probably eating three times what I was supposed to be eating in real life."
After almost an entire year of weight-loss boot camp, Charita clocked in at 160 pounds at the show's final weigh in, which aired on TV in May 2014.
Charita is ecstatic that she can move more with her three boys now. "My kids are really active, and I've never been able to be active with them," she says. Now that it's summer, she and the boys have been hitting the trails so that Charita can teach them how to enjoy running—another one of Charita's favorite exercises. "I've always wanted to be the mom to teach my kids healthy habits," says Charita.
Eat fewer carbs at night. "I'm a big snacker. By not eating carbs [around dinnertime]—and sticking to proteins, veggies, and healthy fats—it helps me resist cravings later in the evening."
Split up your workouts. "Obviously, I was working out [on the show] for extreme weight-loss results. Now that I'm done with filming, I work out maybe an hour and a half to two hours a day. Working out in the morning gives me the energy I need to get me through the day—and then I usually do a nice little jog with my mom at night to help me relax."
Set a clear-cut goal. "The weight-loss journey sucks at time, but it's important to remember why you're doing this. Your why should be strong enough to [motivate you]. It can't be frivolous or small. Why is it dire for you to make this happen? It has to be that important because it has to be able to sustain you on those days when you mentally and physically need to be strong."