When Suheily Rodriguez reined in her portions and made exercise a must-do, she dropped major pounds—96 of them!

As told to Rozalynn S. Frazier
August 28, 2015

Suheily Rodriguezcourtesy of Suheily Rodriguez (left), Matt Godfrey (right)Suheily Rodriguez
27, 5'7"
North Wales, Penn.
Before: 236 lb., size 18
After: 140 lb., size 2

Total pounds lost: 96 lb.
Sizes lost: 8

Growing up Puerto Rican, I ate meals that were mainly rice-based and filled with fried plantains and pernil (roast pork). My saving grace: I was active—a cheerleader and a gymnast. But once I graduated from high school, the number on the scale shot up. Two pregnancies later, I weighed 236 pounds. The worst part: I couldn't walk for long without my ankles and knees throbbing. Still, it wasn't until I saw the few photos I was unable to dodge from a trip to Puerto Rico in December 2011 that I was forced to confront my size; it was staring me right in the face. Though I had tried and failed to lose weight before, I decided to give a healthy lifestyle a go one last time.

No more drive-throughs
Starting in March 2012, I cut back on carbs, eliminating my daily helpings of rice, bread and pasta. Then I added more fruit and vegetables to my diet. I also traded in fast-food stops for home-cooked meals, feasting on spring-mix salads topped with chicken breast, salmon or tilapia every day. Within three months, I knocked off 10 pounds. Next I got a handle on my portions, serving my meals on my son's mini plates.

healthy-comeback-before-suheily-rodriguezSuheily Rodriguez
North Whales, Penn.
Age: 27
Home-gym slim
Thirty pounds lighter, I was ready to sweat. The problem: I was too embarrassed to go to a gym. So I built a home one, where I exercised an hour a day six days a week. I dropped another 25 pounds by September. Just as exciting, I was able to fit into size 6 jeans! This motivated me to kick up my training intensity. I started using ankle weights while on the treadmill and when doing leg exercises. That really helped me firm up. One year after committing to getting fit, I reached my goal. Even better, I no longer want to hide when a camera comes out.

Secrets of a 96-pound loser
A doable diet and exercise plan were the keys to Suheily's makeover. Try her tactics, and find even more at health.com/weight-loss-stories.

Flat-belly trick: Eat yogurt
When I have more Greek yogurt (I like Yoplait's tropical flavors), even for just a week, my tummy is instantly flatter.

Fitspiration: Massiel arias
I stumbled across her on Instagram (@mankofit). She posts great workouts and fitness challenges.

Workout must: Electronic dance
I listen to Tiesto's podcasts; the fast pace makes me push harder.

Go-to meal: Kimchi jjigae
It's a Korean stew made of kimchi, tofu, chili pepper, pork belly, red pepper paste, sesame oil and scallions, and it's pretty low-cal, too.

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