Former Fat Girl:
Michele Federle, 41
Ames, Iowa

When it was time for them to head off for school, Michele Federles three kids used to have to wake her up for a kiss goodbye. “Id go to bed at 10 p.m. and wouldnt get up until they left,” she says.

Now, two years later and 85 pounds lighter, Federles the early bird, out of bed at 6 a.m. for her daily walk. “Ive lost the weight of a third-grader; Ive gained a third-graders energy,” she says.

While growing up, Federle always carried an extra 10 or 15 pounds, but her weight began to creep up steadily when she got married. And then, with each pregnancy, she gained more. “I was 192 when I had my second baby,” Federle says. “After my third, I weighed 235.”

With a husband who spends 160 days a year on the road, Federle had come to rely on fast food to feed herself and her kids. But a series of health problems, chiefly a knee injury that landed her in the hospital, changed everything.

At her doctors suggestion, she hired a personal trainer to do physical therapy for her knee twice a week. The rehab only took half the allotted hour, so Federle began using the rest for weight-training.

She also started walking every day, sometimes more than once. “I got hooked. If someone wanted to talk, Id say, ‘Lets go for a walk. I figured if I was moving, it was better than if I was sitting.”

At the same time, Federle set about weaning herself and her family off fast food. “First, it was a Whopper with no cheese. Then, it was no cheese and no mayonnaise. Then, it was a Whopper Junior.” Now, she makes picnics to take to her boys ball games instead of hitting the drive-through.

Holding steady at 148 pounds, Federle is experiencing something of a rebirth. “I went back to work and found that I loved it. I never would have had the energy if I had not lost the weight,” she says. “I dont second-guess myself like I did before. And I like sex again!”

Federles committed to her new life—for life. Each birthday, Federle gets the perfect gift: more personal training. “My trainer used to have to stand between me and the mirror. Now, I can look in the mirror and be OK.”