In high school, Bridget Rauschenberg's closest friends were her cheerleading, track, and soccer teammates, so it took no effort to keep her 5'11" figure trim. But she hung with a less active crowd at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and her social circle wasn't the only thing that expanded. "I was more into having fun than exercising," says the 27-year-old Raleigh financial consultant. Living off of pizza and mayo-saturated subs, Bridget packed on more than 80 pounds by graduation. She recalls, "I was disgusted with how I looked, but I kept saying I'd lose weight later."
Related: Take off 8 pounds in 4 weeks with Look Better Naked, the 6 week fat-melting breakthrough!
Valentine's Day weekend of 2010, Bridget ran into her ex and struggled to fake a smile. "One reason we split was because I needed to get my life on track," she says. "I realized I hadn't made any progress in the four months we'd been apart." She took a sick day from work that Monday, sulking in bed. "I was depressed, and I'd lost friends because I pushed them away due to my insecurity," she says. "I chose then to take control."
The next day, she hit the gym and grabbed some dumbbells. (Search for dumbbell exercises in the Exercise and Workout Finder.) After six weeks of near-daily 40-minute strength workouts using increasingly heavier weights, Bridget dropped a pants size and added 30-to 45-minute intervals on the elliptical. (Video: 5 Moves for a Bikini-Ready Body)
She started having breakfast and carrying veggies, trail mix, and string cheese, so she always had healthy snacks on hand, and upgraded from sugary drinks to water. "I stopped craving junk food and didn't like how it made me feel if I ate it," she says. When the scale stuck at 190 in November, she found support and workouts online to bring her to 168 by June 2011. She began running outside, working up from three to six miles, and completed a half-marathon in April 2012--at 158 pounds. "When I saw that number, I did a happy dance," she says. "I've been on a high ever since."
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Bridget starts most days with a workout, which gives her pep to last until nighttime--a huge benefit for her renewed social life. "I can keep going and going," she says. As for that ex she ran into in 2010? Next month he'll become her husband.
Easy, Speedy Breakfasts
Network it, baby.
"Social media is a great place to talk to others when you're struggling."
Sweeten the deal.
"I satisfy a dessert craving by adding vanilla or cinnamon to Greek yogurt." (Search: Greek yogurt recipe ideas)
Be a stair master.
"If I couldn't get to the gym, I'd run the stairs of my apartment building."