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Name: Samantha Szabo
Her Weight Before: 280
Her Weight After: 135
Pounds Lost: 145
At Current Weight: 1 year
Even at 280 pounds, Samantha Szabo considered herself athletic. "My weight didn't stop me from playing sports; I told myself I carried it well," says the Brooklyn physical-therapy assistant. But her career choice alerted her to the health hazards of being overweight, and she made changes that led to a 145-pound loss. "My energy level is higher, I move more gracefully -- even my skin glows."Active, But Big
Samantha grew up on a "meat and potatoes" diet, but softball, track, basketball, and soccer kept her weight around 150 as a teenager. After her mother's death, her diet deteriorated. "I'd skip breakfast but chow down on chicken wings and beer at 10 p.m.," she says. By 26, she weighed 250; a few years later she was up to 280. Around then, she was studying to be a physical therapist. "I started to wonder if patients would take advice from someone my size," she says. "I decided to try to slim down."Dieting Smart
Samantha began with a sensible low-carb eating plan. "I cut portions and replaced fried foods, white bread, and pasta with fish, vegetables, and whole grains." She also started eating breakfast. Within four months, she had dropped almost 50 pounds. Then she started walking two miles a day; later she joined a gym and added cardio and strength training. Ten months later, Samantha was down to 135 pounds.
"Everything is better since I got healthy," says Samantha. "I'm in better shape now than I was in high school."
The Diet: For breakfast, Samantha has two egg whites and two ounces of broiled salmon. Lunch is grilled chicken salad. Dinner is chicken or fish with salsa and steamed cauliflower. She snacks on raw veggies, whole wheat cereal, and hard-boiled egg whites.
The Workout: Samantha does 90 minutes of cardio (elliptical, cycle, treadmill) and 30 minutes of strength training five times a week.
Biggest Temptation: Buffalo wings. "When I crave them, I make grilled chicken with hot sauce."
What She Couldn't Wait to Wear: Trendy underwear. "I actually cried the first time I went shopping at Victoria's Secret and was able to fit into the colorful, sexy bras and undies."
Originally published in Fitness magazine, April 2006.