Paige Jackson, 30, 5’7”, from New Orleans
Before: 220 lb., size 18
After: 155 lb., size 4
Total pounds lost: 65 lb.
Total sizes lost: 7

I was a three-sport athlete in high school, so active that I never gave a second thought to the fried chicken and cornbread I was scarfing down. Going off to college in 2004 put an end to my intense training schedule—but not my crazy eating habits. After a semester of soda and chicken cheesesteaks, I was 50 pounds heavier. I blamed my tight waistband on factors like the dorm dryer, shutting out comments from concerned friends who noticed how much weight I’d gained. It wasn’t until I had to grab a size 18 dress for my mother’s summer wedding that I finally realized I needed to make my health a priority.

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Sophomore reset

The following year, I moved off campus, which kept me away from that all-you-can-eat dining hall and empowered me to fill my own fridge with healthy foods

I also revved up my walking routine—which I had begun over the summer—and in no time, I was running for a full 30 minutes. On non-jogging days, I alternated between a Turbo Jam exercise DVD and strength-training regimens I found in magazines. At the end of the semester, I was down 30 pounds. 

Insta encouragement

By the time I graduated in 2008, I had become a little too lax with my portion sizes. To get back on track, I toted clean lunches, like salads, to work. I also began exercising with a trainer. These moves helped me ditch another 40 pounds. When my Facebook friends started commenting on my weight loss and asking for advice, I created a “Fit Tip of the Day” series on my page, which in 2012 turned into @spandex_and_sportsbras, a joint Instagram account with a friend. The best part about my 2,500-member fit family: They keep me accountable. And I love being able to help motivate others to reach their health goals.

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My slimdown essentials

Focusing on fitness has been critical to Paige’s success. Here, she picks the three strategies that helped the most.

Keep inspiration everywhere: I always have my phone background set to a motivational quote. Words of wisdom like “If you want it, work for it” offer a little pick-me-up every time I look at the screen. 

Don’t fixate on pounds: Throughout my journey, I have always relied on active goals, like running a 5K or building muscle, to measure my progress. Working toward real-life results is way more rewarding than obsessing over a number on the scale. 

Find delicious swaps: Instead of giving up my favorite comfort foods completely, I make them healthier. For example, for my good-for-you hash browns, I cook one shredded sweet potato in a tablespoon of coconut oil until it’s soft and crispy, then I top it with cinnamon and sea salt. Talk about yummy!

Paige is wearing: Crane & Lion Keyhole Sports Bra ($60, craneandlion.com), Crane & Lion Racerback Tank ($60, craneandlion.com), and Crane & Lion Original Tight ($95, craneandlion.com).

 

As told to Lindsey Murray