Last updated: Aug 05, 2014
cindykernbefore
Cindy Kern
Gray, Tenn.
Age: 34
Height: 5'6
Before: 256lb.
Dress size: 22/24
In 2000, after two years of marriage, my then husband and I moved from Florida to Virginia. It was the first time I was separated from my family, and I felt really lonely—so lonely that I turned to food for comfort. I started each morning with a 44-ounce Dr. Pepper and went to fast-food restaurants like KFC and Taco Bell daily. My bad habits continued, and three years later, after giving birth to my son, I weighed 256 pounds. Still, it wasn't until I saw a photo of myself in February 2007 that it hit me: If I wanted to watch my son grow up, I needed to get my act together right away.


Finding my fit
The first thing I did was ask my mom to give me her treadmill. I set it up in my kitchen and walked for 30 minutes a day. Before I knew it, I was jogging the entire time.

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways to Lose Weight

I also made sure to stay active throughout the day, even just by doing leg lifts while I watched TV. Within three months, I lost 40 pounds. My fingers even got slimmer! What's more, I could finally mow our lawn without having to stop to catch my breath.

A doable diet
Next, I tackled my eating. I cut out sugar and unhealthy fats and added more lean protein and complex carbs. Veggies (broccoli, carrots and zucchini) became my snacks of choice. After two months of clean eating, I had dropped another 18 pounds. I remember going to the grocery store and hopping on the scale—I didn't have one at home—and seeing the number: 198. I knew then that I was succeeding! By February 2008, I was at my 150-pound goal. I realized, though, that I also wanted to tone up. So I joined a gym, and for the next nine months I worked on strength training, whittling down my weight to 138 pounds.

RELATED: 13 Women Who've Lost 100+ Pounds

cindy-kern
After: 138 lb.
Dress size: 4/6
Total lost: 118 lb.
Sizes lost: 9
Stacey Van Berkel
Before getting in shape, I didn't really set goals. This journey not only taught me to set them but showed that I could reach them, too.

Secrets of a 118-Pound Loser
For Cindy, healthy living means staying on top of the little things.

Great gadget: Food scale
My Biggest Loser scale reminds me of the people on the show and helps me track portions.

Go-to tune: Titanium
This David Guetta song has a fast, steady beat, which I love, and super motivating lyrics: "You shoot me down but I won't fall / I am titanium." It totally gets me through a workout.

Sweet indulgence: Vanilla ice cream
I don't deprive myself, so when I get a craving, I go to McDonald's and buy a vanilla ice cream cone. It costs $1 and is only 170 calories.

Smart swap: Greek yogurt
I use it in place of sour cream and mayo and as a substitute for fats when I bake. I also pair it with fruit, cinnamon and stevia.