Name: Amanda B.
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LIVESTRONG.COM Username: abirdsong02 (member since: June 2008)
Age: 33 years old Height: 5'4"
Before Weight: 230 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 18/20
After Weight: 145 pounds Dress/Pant Size: 6
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Amanda: Basically I lived to eat. My world revolved around food. It showed too. I couldn't walk up a hill without being winded. I couldn't fit into regular women's clothes. I worried if I would break a chair or if I could fit in the kiddie rides with my small children. I lacked energy to run and play with my kids. I was also teaching them poor habits.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Amanda: I looked at a picture of myself and really saw myself. Not the person I thought I was, but the person I really was. I didn't like what I saw. I was fat. I never thought of myself as a fat person -- just a tad [having] overweight. The fact of the matter was that I [had obesity]. I had all the excuses. I had bad genes on my mother's side. I was an asthmatic who took (and still takes) daily doses of inhaled steroids and sometimes courses of steroid pills. So it wasn't my fault I [had] overweight. And I couldn't really change -- until I saw that picture and I decided I was going to change. I was going to find "fit."
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Amanda: The MyPlate Calorie Tracker helped me immensely. Through the site I had the ability to track my food and keep a food journal. That is the first thing a doctor would suggest to a person who wants to lose. Write down everything you put in your mouth. You become aware of just what and how much of it you are eating. It really prevents overeating. I also love the support and advice from the LIVESTRONG.COM community message boards.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Amanda: When I began my journey, I had this friend who also wanted to lose weight. She only weighed 180 pounds at the time, but we decided to race to 150 pounds (my original goal). She ended up beating me to 150, but I've kept mine off for more than five years.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you've faced?
Amanda: My asthma is my roadblock. For as long as I could remember it's held me back physically. I couldn't run like the other kids because I couldn't breathe. Through encouragement of the people in the community, I have taken on challenges. I began doing Tabatas. I love them! Until eight months ago I would exercise for a couple of weeks and have to stop because of my asthma. Through a gradual buildup exercise I have been able to achieve great things. I also began the Couch to 5k program, a feat I never imagined possible. I have also not experienced an asthma attack since November of 2013. My doctor is astounded! I used to go in at least every other month for a shot and a round of steroids and antibiotics for asthma. While I still have asthma, it's actually controlled now.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Amanda: People always ask me how I did it? I respond with, "Count your calories and burn more than you eat." No one believes it is that easy. It is easy in theory, but actually doing it proves harder. It is a change of your lifestyle -- not a temporary diet -- a commitment to healthy eating forever. Does that mean I don't enjoy junk? No, I love junk as much as the next person, and I eat it too. I am known to my friends as a lover of doughnuts. But I also balance that with healthy eating most of the time and plenty of exercise.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
Amanda: My life has changed so much since my weight loss. Now I like the person I see in pictures! I can walk a hill and not feel winded. I can do all the fun things with my kids that I once feared I could not do. Before my weight loss I was on heart medicine for a fast heart rate. After weight loss I am no longer on that medication. And now I'm setting a good example for my children to follow, so that they, too, may live long, healthy lives.
Ann Rusnak is LIVESTRONG's Sr. Community Manager. Her quest to lose the baby weight before the baby finished elementary school sparked an interest in health and fitness that continues to be a passion to this day. She loves hiking and yoga, and thinks the best exercise is one you can do with a good friend. Over the years, Ann's desire to fit into a certain size has evolved into what she feels is the more important goal of feeling good and having energy to live life to its fullest.