The key to Tabatha James's 87-pound loss? Morning workouts and a surprising new approach to eating.


Tabatha James, 43, 5'8", from Alpharetta, Georgia
Before: 230 lb., size 14
After: 143 lb., size 8
Total lost: 87 lb., 6 sizes

Confession: I’ve had digestion issues forever. Even when I was active in college, I had stomachaches and felt bloated all the time. Then I gained 70 pounds while pregnant in 2011, which didn’t help. I was eating for two (and then some) and craving foods I’d never even liked before, like fried chicken strips and mashed potatoes. Two months after giving birth—and still in a fast-food frenzy—I blacked out in a parking lot. The doctor told me I’d collapsed from dehydration, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation. It was clear to me that my weight wasn’t helping either. I needed a lifestyle change, and fast.

But first, exercise

After my incident, it was six weeks before I could begin to exercise. When I got the OK in June of 2012, I went full throttle. Five days a week, at 5:30 a.m., I did at-home workouts I created with help from my husband. It took time, but the cardio, weights, and bodyweight moves helped me drop pounds. Replacing fried food with grilled options and tracking my calories were also key. By the next February, I was down to about 150 pounds, from a high of 230.

Hooked on veggies

While I was thrilled with my new frame, I still didn’t feel 100 percent. My stomach bothered me, and I would break out in rashes. Then one night I watched the documentary Vegucated, which highlights animal treatment. Stunned by the cruelty, I ditched animal products. I didn’t make the change for my health, but going vegan did transform my body: My digestion and rashes improved, I shed five more pounds, my clothes fit better, and I felt more energized, too. It’s been almost two years since I went vegan, and I know I’ll never look back. Those fried chicken strips have nothing on the new me!

Get toned like Tabatha

This veggie lover got strong thanks to these healthy strategies.

1. Repeat your eats: I try to eat the same meals almost every day: green smoothies and veggie burrito bowls. This way, I’m never scrambling to come up with something to eat—or resorting to fast food.

2. Get app happy: I’m obsessed with the quick and effective routines on the 7-Minute Workout app. Plus, it sends you reminders to wake up and work out, so you never have an excuse to miss a sweat session.

3. Re-create classics: My blog, The Sensible Vegan, is my passion project. It allows me to "vegucate" others and share my recipes, like tuna-less salad, peanut butter-chocolate energy bars, and "buttermilk" biscuits.

4. Snack smart: Eating every three hours helped keep me satisfied when I was trying to lose weight. And since I never felt deprived, I was less likely to overeat.