Fed up with feeling sad, Leigh Mount detoxed her diet, shed 171 pounds and discovered the joy of living light.

Leigh Mount
Friendswood, Texas
Age: 30
Height: 5'5
Before: 318 lb.
Dress size: 28
When I moved into my first apartment on my own in 2008, I was in a terrible place emotionally. Unhappy with my body and my life, I turned to food, numbing myself with frequent Taco Bell binges, the ever-present stockpile of cheesy snacks in my pantry and calorie-dense cocktails. By July 2011, my weight had ballooned to an unbelievable 318 pounds, and I had grown more miserable than ever. At one point, my stepmom was so concerned that she treated me to a salon day to try to snap me out of my funk. After being pampered for hours, I realized how much I missed taking care of myself. That's when I decided it was finally time to get serious about slimming down.

Bye-bye, fake food
Within a month, I joined my local weight-loss center. When I reviewed the first week's meal plan, I was pleasantly surprised: The three meals and two snacks a day offered me more real food for far fewer calories than I was used to. And because there were filling options, like spinach quiche and chicken stir-fry, I never felt hungry. I began to eat clean and almost immediately lost 18 pounds, and the heartburn that had plagued me since my teens disappeared.

Hello, happier me

After:147 lb. Dress size: 4Total lost: 171 lb.Sizes lost: 12
| Credit: Felix Sanchez

After: 147 lb.
Dress size: 4
Total lost: 171 lb.
Sizes lost: 12

Felix Sanchez I quickly found my way around the kitchen, and two months later I had knocked off another 32 pounds. My energy level soared: While I had once been a slave to the snooze button, I started waking up at 5:20 each morning, excited to start the day. And I was more active, taking two- to three-mile walks around my neighborhood. Slowly but steadily, the pounds melted away.

By June 2013, almost two years after starting my transformation, I had dropped more than half my weight; I was down to 150 pounds. In the year since, my daily walks have transitioned into runs, and I even completed my first half marathon. There was a time when the notion of running was laughable to me, but after coming so far, I finally feel like my life has no limits.

Her Stay-Slim Tool Kit
For Leigh, healthy living is about the details. Find out what keeps her going forward, and score more tested tips on Pinterest.

Sweet Escape:
When I crave something a little indulgent, I have a South Beach Diet whipped peanut butter bar—it tastes almost exactly like fudge. At 100 calories, it's a perfect midmorning or afternoon treat.

Magic Kicks:
My boyfriend got me Brooks PureConnect 3 running shoes. They're so light, I feel like they give me wings!

Up Running Song:
I have "Happy" by Pharrell Williams on my workout playlist. When it comes on around mile six, I feel like I'm in total butt-kicking mode and can't help running down the street clapping, smiling and lip-synching.

Throwback Toner:
Hula-Hooping is a favorite. It's fun and never feels like exercise. I keep one in my yard for when I get the urge to move!