SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)
Last fall, Antoinette George strutted down the runway of a local fashion show wearing a pencil-slim skirt. "I fit into every outfit they handed me—it felt great," says the 24-year-old student and aspiring model from Brooklyn, New York. Nearly three years ago she weighed 250 pounds and could barely squeeze into anything.
Antoinette grew up in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Food was scarce. At breakfast, 20 children from her village would share one communal bowl of rice.
When Antoinette was 14, she came to the United States to live with her father. She was 5'4" and weighed 85 pounds. The abundance of food amazed her. Soon, she was eating supersized fast-food meals and Chinese takeout almost every day. "I knew what it was like to go hungry, so I never wasted food. I'd even eat other people's leftovers," she says. She gained weight, but because she was so thin to begin with, she wasn't concerned.
Within three years, however, Antoinette had more than doubled her size. Now at age 17 and 5'6", she tipped the scales at 200 pounds. Her boyfriend's size 40 pants were tight on her, but she was in denial about her shape. Over the next five years, unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise brought her weight up to 250 pounds.
Reality caught up with Antoinette in 1998. The dress she'd planned to wear to church on Christmas Day was so tight she had to borrow one from her boyfriend's grandmother. "I looked pregnant. It was shocking," she says. "I told myself, You are too young to look like this."
Antoinette's first step was getting herself to a gym three times a week. "After a few months, I had more energy, but I didn't lose weight," she says. A friend encouraged her to join Weight Watchers, where, for the first time, she learned about portion control, counting calories and reading food labels. "I used to eat a whole pint of Häagen-Dazs before I realized that it's supposed to serve four people," she says. She lost 25 pounds in three months.
Antoinette reached her goal weight -- 150 pounds -- in July 2000. Though she's thrilled about her new body, her transformation has been much more than just physical. "I feel more energetic, outgoing and confident -- and ready to conquer anything."
Pounds lost: 100
Months at current weight:12
The Workout: Antoinette spends an hour at the gym four or five times a week either doing a cardio workout (on the elliptical trainer or the treadmill) or lifting weights, targeting a different muscle group each session. She does 200 sit-ups nearly every day.
The Diet: For breakfast, she has oat-bran cereal with skim milk and a piece of fruit or orange juice. Lunch is grilled chicken and either brown rice or a small portion of pasta. Dinner is four to five ounces of baked chicken and a small salad.
Stick-With-It Tips: Pay careful attention to serving size. "If you have small portions you can eat almost anything. That way, you won't feel deprived."
Another Strategy: Power through the plateau. "When my weight loss slowed three months into my new diet and exercise plan, I increased the time and effort I put into my workouts, and I lost an additional 30 pounds in five months."
Biggest Temptation: Ice cream. "I went cold turkey. If it's not in my freezer, I don't crave it."
What She Couldn't Wait to Wear: A slim-fitting, belly-baring tank top. "The first time I wore one to the gym, I got so many compliments."
Originally published in Fitness magazine.