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"I Lost 208 Pounds"

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A scary moment at the movies pushed this woman to get healthy.

Hiding Her Shame

Annemarie Kautz, 52, a lifelong emotional eater, had a dirty little secret. "I never wanted anyone to know how much I ate," she says. She would starve herself all day, then sneak into the kitchen once everyone was asleep. "I'd often polish off a half-gallon of ice cream," she recalls. The 5-foot-10-inch mother of four hit 376 pounds in 2003, after a bad fall resulted in a knee injury that put her in a wheelchair for months.

Turning Point

In November 2010, Annemarie was at the movies with her 16-year-old daughter when a sharp chest pain took her breath away. Dizzy and sweaty, she was terrified that she was having a heart attack. At the ER, where she was diagnosed with a panic attack, Annemarie felt as if she had been given a second chance. "I remember the fear in my daughter's eyes when she saw me in the hospital bed," she says. "Something had to change."

Smart Steps

Annemarie decided against bariatric surgery when she saw a contestant on The Biggest Loser tackle a tough workout. "She was nearly as big as I was, which inspired me to do it on my own," Annemarie says. She started attending Weight Watchers meetings and instituted a new rule: No TV except during exercise. She began by pedaling for five minutes at a time on her stationary bike or walking on the treadmill while she watched. Gradually, she built up to 90 minutes and soon was taking long walks outside on most days.

Annemarie conquered nighttime eating by declaring her kitchen closed at 7:00 p.m. She also stopped skipping breakfast, waking up to an omelet and toast with reduced-fat peanut butter. In July 2012, she joined a gym, where she discovered TRX training.

Sweet Success

On Christmas Eve in 2012, she reached her goal weight of 168 pounds. "It was the best gift ever," says Annemarie, who no longer sneaks ice cream. Now she savors her own guilt-free version made by blending frozen bananas -- and inspires others as a Weight Watchers leader. "I love helping people, and they keep me on track, too," she says.

What Worked for Me

Top tool: "I use a pedometer to track my steps every single day."

Produce pick: "Roasted spaghetti or acorn squash with cinnamon is a yummy dinner side or dessert."

Stay-fit secret: "I always have a fully stocked gym bag in my car, so I can work out anywhere."

Just reward: "I considered celebrating my success with a tattoo, but my kids said they would kill me. I got custom-made purple, pink, and black New Balance sneakers instead."

 

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