Laura Micetich thought she couldn’t get slim without surgery—until a new routine totally transformed her body. 

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Credit: Matt Andrews

Laura Micetich, 25, 6’0”, from Jackson, Tenn.
Before: 304 lb., size 26
After: 190 lb., size 10

Total pounds lost: 114 lb.
Total sizes lost: 8

I was a healthy eater growing up. My father was a doctor, and he made us nutritious meals, like baked chicken and salad. But when I got to college and started feeding myself, that all disappeared. Chinese takeout quickly replaced Dad’s leafy greens; my portion sizes also left much to be desired. By December 2013, I was tipping the scales at 300-plus pounds. When my doctor warned me about the risk of developing diabetes, I finally felt motivated to do something about my weight.

Exercise, found!

I started researching gastric bypass surgery, but my super-high BMI—41.5—would have made surgery very risky. To try to whittle my weight down to a safer range, I downloaded Jillian Michaels’ weight-tracking app and sweated to her YouTube videos, as well as to some Zumba ones I had discovered online. At first, I could barely get through half a video, but as I became stronger, I could go for longer. I also noticed I had fewer aches and pains. In the spring of 2014, while completing a second degree, I began taking advantage of the campus gym. By May, not only had I stopped dreading those workouts, but I was down more than 20 pounds. I decided to nix the surgery and continue pushing hard toward my goal.

Bye-bye bingeing

I also went back to my healthy-eating roots. Rather than restricting myself to tiny meals, I started noshing on smart fare that I could eat a lot of, like sashimi-grade tuna and broccolini. The result: I loved my new routine and how it made my body feel. Now I’m at a weight that’s right for me—190 pounds. Best of all, I keep finding new activities, like boxing, to help me stay happy and healthy.

My top 4 lessons for losing big

Instagram it! After I lost my first 40 pounds, I created an Instagram account to track my fitness. As my number of followers grew, so did my motivation. Being part of a community kept me accountable.

Score free fitness. There are a lot of weight-loss programs that cost big bucks, but there are also plenty of reputable online resources that give you the same benefits for free. One of my faves: Blogilates by Cassey Ho.

Buy a band. When I’m unable to get to the gym, I turn to my resistance band; it’s an easy and portable way to add in strength training on the go.

Mind the menu. I love eating out, but restaurants offer too many temptations. To keep from consuming calorie bombs in the moment, I choose a healthy option from the menu ahead of time.

Laura's wearing: Ryka Mya Bra (Kohl's stores) and Ryka Advantage Capri Leggings ($55,

As told to Lindsey Murray