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

By As told to Rozalynn S. Frazier
Updated October 24, 2014

Erika 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.

After:135lb Dress size: 4/6 Sizes lost: 6
| Credit: Matt Godfrey

After: 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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