Before: 234 pounds
After: 122 pounds
Lose up to 15 pounds in 32 days when you try the Flat Belly Diet!
At 7 years old, Bree Boyce, 22, decided that she didn’t want to compete in beauty pageants anymore. While her older siblings could eat whatever they wanted and still stay skinny, Bree was the chubby child of the family. “I started to see that I didn’t look like the other little girls [in the pageants], so I immediately pulled myself away from that,” she says. But even though Bree took herself out of the competition, she continued to tag along at her older sister’s events. “I think that I secretly wanted the crown,” she says.
As Bree got older, the weight kept piling on. She would order pizza and takeout when her family was away and then lie about it. And once she got her driver’s license, she hit the fast food joints after school. “It just got to a point where I was eating all the time without even thinking about it. If it was there, I’d eat it. If wasn’t there, I’d go out and find it,” says Bree, whose weight crept up to 234 pounds. (Video: Big Mac vs. the Whopper. Which is better?)
Now, 112 pounds lighter, Bree is making headlines as the newly crowned Miss South Carolina, and has her sights set on the Miss America title.
The Turning Point
At age 17, Bree went to see a doctor about her knee issues. “He just grabbed my thigh and said, ‘You know, Bree, the weight has got to come off. If you don’t take care of your body now, it’s not going to take care of you in the future.’” Bree sat in the doctor’s office processing it all—she was embarrassed, but also determined to prove she could do it.
At first, Bree tried a diet that cut carbs completely. She lost 64 pounds rather quickly in high school, but when she started commuting between home and college, the diet proved unsustainable and the pounds started creeping back on. Refusing to return to her previous weight, the then 19-year-old decided to educate herself about healthy eating and exercise. With the help of her mother and grandmother, Bree learned how to cook and focused on portion control, especially on her meats and whole grains. She loaded up on fruits and veggies instead of filling up on bread, and tried to get more in tune with her body’s hunger cues.
Bree started exercising by walking around the neighborhood for 15 minutes with her mom. Then she signed up for the gym and joined fun classes such as Zumba and kickboxing. These days, Bree has picked up running and is hoping to complete her first marathon this year. (Search: How to train for a marathon)
“I wanted to be able to travel the world. I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to be a runner. I wanted to go to college and get married and have a family. And I wanted to be Miss America,” says Bree. “I had to have a healthy lifestyle to do all of these things.”
Bree is spreading the word about how to eat right and stay healthy by using her own story. Her platform is a personal one—Eat Healthy and Fight Obesity—and she’s been talking with First Lady Michelle Obama about ways to partner with the Let’s Move campaign. The goal: Bring an awareness of nutrition and exercise to the schools. “I think it’s just as important to learn about health as math or science. You’re going to have your health your entire life, just as you are your education,” she says. (Improve your nutrition smarts by signing up for a Fitbie newsletter!)
In July 2011, Bree was crowned Miss South Carolina. She even won the preliminary swimsuit competition! “There really are no words,” says Bree in reaction to being named Miss South Carolina. “It’s not just the weight loss part or making sure that my body was in tip-top shape, but I also worked in every single phase of competition. To be able to say, ‘Look at how hard I worked, and that hard work paid off’—that’s what I’m really preaching. If you put your mind to it anything is possible.”
Don’t worry about the scale. “It’s not about being the perfect size 0. It’s about being happy and healthy.”
Never give up. “There are going to be days that are hard and tough and I still face those. People think that I’m completely fixed, but there are days that I want to give in and eat all the foods I love in one lump sum.”
Don’t beat yourself up. “In the past, if I ate a potato chip, I thought I might as well eat the entire bag. Instead, leave the past in the past. And look forward to the future.”
Next up: Amazing Body Makeovers