Last updated: Sep 10, 2014
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Erica Stepteau
Fairburn, Ga.
Age: 30
Heights: 5'3"
Before 174 lb.
Dress size: 14
My body transformation started with a freak accident: In January 2009, I slipped on a sheet of black ice and broke almost every bone in my left ankle. The injury, which required five screws and one plate to fix, incapacitated me for five months. Already unhappy with my size, I ate like crazy. And because I couldn't burn off the extra calories, I gained 25 pounds, putting me at 174. My self-esteem sank as I shopped for stretchy clothes to fit my ever-expanding body. But a visit with my orthopedic surgeon pushed me to reassess. He said, "You'll never do any strenuous activity again." I decided to get fit and prove my doctor wrong.


Short walks, major strides
My first step: walking with my husband for 10 to 15 minutes five or six evenings a week. I soon added in six weekly Insanity DVD workouts. The extra cardio helped me progress from walking to full-on running in just six months. But while I celebrated this milestone and the start of a firmer frame, the number on the scale just wasn't budging. After a year, I had dropped only 14 pounds. I had to admit that my poor eating choices were holding me back.

Food fixes
In June 2011, I got a job at Jenny Craig. The by-product of working as a weight-loss consultant was learning about correct portion sizes and which foods could help with fat burning. I overhauled my diet, avoiding pizza parlors and cooking more. Water became nonnegotiable, as did fruits and vegetables. I also stopped having bread with every meal and cut way back on my alcohol intake. My diet-and-exercise combo helped the weight fall right off. By the following May, I had reached my 114-pound goal. When I went in for my two-year checkup, I shocked my orthopedist with my weight loss and activity level. I'm proof that anything is possible.

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After: 114lb
Dress size: 0/2
Sizes lost: 6
Patrick Molnar
Erica's pounds-off playbook
These strategies help Erica live lean. Try a few, and pick up even more tested tips at pinterest.com/goodhealth.

Cheat must: Chocolate
Cheat times are an everyday necessity for me. I like to treat myself to little bit of chocolate at each meal so that I never feel deprived.

My no-fail prep plan
Every Sunday, I precook my meals, storing four to five days' worth of salads in Tupperware. This simplifies my life.

Snack like the greeks
My go-to is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, fresh garlic and a little lemon juice. Yum!

Fave workout moves
I love leg day. I'm all about reverse lunges, weighted lunges and squats. I can front-squat 210 pounds! Since I feel like my legs are one of the weakest parts of my body, I put a lot of energy into them.

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