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"I Gave Up Fast Food and Got a New Body"

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Mary Newman's fast food habit caused her weight to balloon during college. But weaning herself off unhealthy food and adding exercise to her routine has finally given her the body of her dreams.

"I Did It!"

A year ago, Mary Newman jumped out of an airplane. "It was exhilarating," she says. Just a few years earlier free-falling through the air was the last thing on earth she was likely to do. Back then she carried 144 pounds on her 5'1" frame and spent a lot of her spare time eating at restaurants that served fatty, high-calorie food. Now 34 pounds lighter, she spends her weekends biking, running and boating.

Mary was an average-size child growing up in upstate New York. By the time she entered high school, her family had moved to a Chicago suburb. Mary weighed 115 pounds and wore a size 6. Though she loved eating junk food with friends, she competed on her school's gymnastics team and ran track and cross-country, which she says kept her weight down.

But her fast-food habit soon caught up with her. When Mary started her freshman year of college in 1992, she stopped playing sports and quickly gained weight. "I partied on weekends, ate tons of junk food and got practically no exercise."

After graduating in 1997 from the University of Steubenville in Ohio with a marketing degree, Mary weighed 144 and wore a size 12. She moved back to Illinois, took a job selling real estate and continued to indulge in high-fat foods. "My habits didn't change at all," she says. Then, on vacation in Laguna Beach, California, during the summer of 1997, Mary had a moment of truth. "I put on a fluorescent-pink bathing suit and looked awful. There were all these great-looking women on the beach playing volleyball. I was so envious."

As soon as she got home, Mary shifted to a healthier lifestyle. "I started walking a mile every day after work," she says. She also decided to eliminate red meat and cheese and to cut back on portions. To quell hunger pangs, she snacked on fruit.

She lost 10 pounds right away. Soon she upped her walks to about three miles, five times a week, and added some jogging and light weight training. Her efforts paid off. Mary reached her goal weight of 110 pounds in the spring of 1998. "I can actually wear form-fitting clothes now," she declares. "My new body's worth a million bucks!"

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