Erika Cataldi became a mascot (yes, she did), got her family to join the fitness fun and knocked off 70 pounds. Rah, rah!

erika-cataldi-beforeErika Cataldi
Reading, Penn.
Age: 32
Heights: 5'9"
Before: 205 lb.
Dress size: 16 My weight issue began when I got pregnant with my third child; my appetite was insatiable. Couple that with my sedentary lifestyle—starting in my second trimester, I had severe back and leg pain and couldn't move like I wanted—and the weight piled on. By the time I gave birth in December 2012, I had reached my all-time high of 205 pounds. A few months later, still in maternity gear, I saw my neighbor throwing out all her pre-pregnancy clothes. She told me she would never fit into them again. That struck me as so sad. I didn't want to follow her path, so I decided to change.

Workout joy, found!
I needed exercise that was fun, so I tapped into my mascot past—I had worked as one for Chuck E. Cheese's—and applied for the spot of Screwball on our town's minor-league baseball team. And I got it! My first day, I thought I was going to die—90 minutes of jumping, dancing and climbing stadium steps left me drenched. But I stuck with it, cheering three or four times a week. Two months later, I was down 15 pounds! When I wasn't on the field, I was doing exercise circuits with my family.

Serving sizes, slashed!
Since I regularly ate balanced meals, I knew it was my portions that had to be fixed. I began using toddler plates; I could load them up and still feel like I was getting a lot. Eating less—and not after 6 p.m.—helped me shed another 8 pounds in about a month. In October, I reached my goal, having dropped six sizes. Eventually, I did give away those pre-pregnancy clothes, to a local shelter—because they were too big! Now that's something to cheer about.

ididit-erika-cataldiAfter: 135lb
Dress size: 4/6
Sizes lost: 6Matt Godfrey Keep pounds away
These strategies help Erika maintain her slim shape; find more at

Snap your progress
I'd take photos of myself and send them to my mom as a record of how well I was doing. I still send her selfies occasionally!

Eat sweets early
I like to have dessert (cookies, cake) at breakfast. This way, I have the entire day to burn it off.

Say yes to seltzer
Swapping soda for sparkling water made a big difference. I especially like Clear American in key lime flavor ( It's like lemon-lime soda—without all the calories.

Cook with coconut oil
A good coconut oil ($7, is a must in my kitchen because it's a healthier alternative to some other fats. When I lightly fry food, like my homemade chicken fingers, it gives a slightly sweeter flavor.

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