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"I Broke My Sugar Habit and Dropped 70 Pounds"

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"I Did It!": Sweet Revenge

Name: Janet Shelton
Age: 35
Height: 5'7"
Her Weight Before: 220
Her Weight After: 150
Pounds Lost: 70
At Current Weight: 18 months

During her 20s, Janet Shelton experienced love, marriage...and sugar binges. "It got so bad that I'd wake up in the middle of the night craving a Little Debbie snack cake," says the waitress from Altavista, Virginia. Daylong, out-of-control snacking pushed her weight to 220 pounds.

Hungry for Love

That zippy teenage metabolism is a fleeting thing. Growing up, Janet ate stick-to-your-ribs (and thighs) food like pot roast, corn bread, and mashed potatoes. But even though she was inactive, her weight stayed at around 150 pounds through high school and college. She began gaining after she met her husband-to-be. "We ate out every night," she says. "A typical date was Chinese food, followed by popcorn at the movies, and then dessert on the way home." The junk-food habit stuck — long after her wedding and the birth of her two children. By 31, Janet tipped the scale at 220 pounds. "I was so unhappy," she remembers. "But I wasn't ready to give up my favorite foods."

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Then one day the Twix bar didn't taste so sweet. Out of the blue, Janet's 6-year-old daughter looked at her and asked, "Mommy, how long are you going to live?" "It blew me away," Janet says. "I realized I had been putting my short-term pleasure ahead of my health." Right then, she started replacing fried foods and sugary desserts with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Instead of walking to the kitchen, she walked outside for 30 minutes three times a week. The result? Off came 20 pounds in two months. Janet bumped up the walking to running, added weight training, and shed 50 more pounds over the next eight months.

Today Janet has several triathlons and marathons under her much smaller belt. "Now that my life no longer revolves around food, I can handle any challenge." Take that, Little Debbie!

Janet's Weight-Loss Plan

The Diet: Breakfast is oatmeal, whole wheat toast, and a banana. At lunch, Janet has turkey on whole wheat, baked chips, and an apple. Dinner is grilled chicken or fish, steamed broccoli, and carrots. She snacks on yogurt and homemade granola.

The Workout: Sixty to 90 minutes of running four or five days a week and 45 minutes of weight training twice a week. She also swims and bikes.

Biggest Temptation: Buttered popcorn. "I often go to the movies with my kids, so I make a decision beforehand — if I'm going to eat popcorn, I run more that day."

What She Couldn't Wait to Wear: Tucked-in shirts. "I used to wear peasant blouses that covered my rear. Now, I love snug-fitting tops."

Originally published in Fitness magazine, June 2006.