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Adrian Crouch, student, Port Vue, Pennsylvania
A self-conscious kid who was too shy to stick up for herself, Adrian was often the victim of bullies. In fifth grade, she started turning to junk food for comfort. "It wasn't unusual for me to eat a big bag of Doritos in my room. I ate when I was alone, so no one could judge me," she says. By the time Adrian was 21, the emotional eater was 230 pounds.
After years of being called a lazy slob by classmates, enough was enough. "I was watching The Biggest Loser when I realized, If they can do it, I can do it," she says. Adrian joined a gym and swapped chicken tenders with fries for grilled chicken with brown rice. The pounds started coming off, but she went overboard. "I got on the scale several times a day -- I was so afraid of going back to 230 pounds," she says. Her calorie intake dropped too low, as did her weight. In October 2010 a concerned aunt said, "You've lost even more weight since I last saw you. Stop it!" Her aunt had reason to worry. Adrian weighed just 106 pounds, not enough for her five-foot-four frame.
Adrian recognized that she had a problem. She started a journal to express her feelings, which helped her realize that her dieting wasn't really about food. Even though she no longer looked like the chubby kid who gobbled chips, she still felt like her. "I had to conquer the voice inside telling me that I wasn't worth it," Adrian explains. With the help of family and friends, she stopped counting calories and gradually began to increase the size of her meals. Once she established healthier eating habits, Adrian decided to take up a new hobby. "Running showed me that food isn't the enemy. It's fuel," she says. To perform her best, she started eating things like peanut butter and whole wheat French toast.
Adrian has since found her "happy weight" -- a healthy 120 pounds -- and has many races, from 5Ks to half-marathons, under her belt. As she ramps up for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May, she realizes she has come a long way. "Now I live by a new mantra, 'Fear less; do more,'" she says.
What Worked for Me
My long-term goal: "I hope to someday become a runner who qualifies in the 70-plus age group in races."
Fueling food: "Oatmeal with peanut butter and banana keeps me energized."
Motivating music: "The Rocky theme song always gives me a boost."
Smart swap: "Trading white for whole wheat products was one of my first healthy changes."
Go-to snack: "I keep a Clif Bar in my purse for emergencies."