Weight loss always seemed impossible to Melanie Shafranek, 21, who had been overweight all her life. A combination of little activity and careless eating added up to 234 pounds. “I tried diet after diet for years and never saw results,” she says. “I looked at all of my friends in high school and desperately wanted to share clothes with them or be able to play sports or have a normal life, but my weight always stood in my way of doing that.”
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The Turning Point
“Last summer I saw a picture of myself and something happened,” Melanie remembers. “It just hit me.” Melanie’s parents had both seen success with Jenny Craig, so with their encouragement, she decided to pay a visit to her local center in Allen, TX. (Search: Find a Jenny Craig center near you) “Talking to this total stranger about my weight problems made me realize that if I’m going to have everything I want in life, I needed to get healthy,” Melanie says.
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Melanie moved forward with Jenny Craig, and made arrangements to have the program’s food shipped to her at Indiana University, and spoke to a consultant on the phone every week.
She found out that the foods she was eating weren’t that bad—her portion sizes were the real problem. “I tended to overeat everything,” she says. “That was the biggest part of Jenny Craig for me; I learned how much I should be eating.” To prevent mindlessly snacking on chips and other junk food, she kept vegetables and fruit around instead.
Melanie also began taking longer walks around campus, covering about 6 miles a day. “I didn’t do anything super strenuous at first,” she says. “Once I got healthier and lost more weight I did more exercise.” In addition to her walks, she now does structured workouts two to three times a week—usually 30 minutes of jogging on the treadmill and some strength training. She’s also a fan of Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred, and occasionally goes swimming or attends Zumba classes.
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Melanie’s friends and family members have become her personal cheering section. “The craziest motivation was going home for the first time [after losing 30 pounds while away at college], Melanie remembers. “The reaction from my family was unreal. Everyone was freaking out and telling me how proud they were. I had support from everyone around me.”
She also started posting pictures of herself on her Tumblr. “I had no idea I’d get such a reaction,” she says. “I get hundreds of messages from strangers asking questions and telling me I’m an inspiration. After that I thought, I have to keep doing this. It’s kept me going.”
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Melanie’s remarkable physical transformation has been one of the most worthwhile outcomes of her diet. “I’m able to be myself and not worry or be held back about what I look like,” Additionally she appreciates being able to hike, shop, and do other physical activities without tiring.
Be open about your weight loss. “With other diets I was embarrassed. I didn’t like to talk about it, and I think it held me back,” Melanie says. “This time around I was excited about it, and everyone around me wanted to support me and were excited for me.”
Know that your hard work will pay off. “This has been the most incredible year of my life; I’m so happy,” Melanie says. “Even if it’s hard, just keep going. It’s so worth it.”