Meghan Gilbert, 20, 5’4″, from Dallas
Before: 200 lb., size 16
After: 128 lb., size 0
Total pounds lost: 72 lb.
Total sizes lost: 8
Growing up, I never knew the importance of exercise (the most activity I would get was at band practice). That, combined with my love of sweet tea and fast food, was a recipe for weight gain. In fact, by my senior year of high school, my petite five-four frame was weighing in at 190 pounds. I thought the only way to lose was to severely restrict my calories, so I started limiting my meals to just a few crackers here and there. Sure, I shed a few pounds, but I was constantly famished and exhausted. It was clear that if I wanted to drop weight, I needed to fuel my body the right way.
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Falling for fit
I revamped my eating habits, adding protein-packed meals, like chicken or eggs with a side of good carbs and veggies, to my diet. I also started jogging-slash-walking for an hour and a half three times a week. Within two weeks I had more endurance, and my energy levels were up, too. The real change came, though, when I began dating a personal trainer. With his help, I started hitting the gym twice a day, five times a week, doing cardio in the morning and strength training at night. I loved the feeling I got after putting my all into a workout—and the soreness the next day was confirmation that I was steadily working toward my goal. My can-do attitude paid off: Four months later, I was down about 65 pounds.
Sharing the health
Today I no longer pay attention to the scale. I’m also more lenient with my diet—I eat healthy most of the time but treat myself when I want. I love that I found a balance that keeps me happy, healthy, and loving my body. I try to project this message on my Instagram account, @megsmotivationn, to inspire others to reach their goals, too.
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Steal Megan’s moves
Follow your inspiration: My Instagram feed is filled with accounts that encourage me to love and take care of myself. One favorite is @tk_line09; every day, she posts a motivational quote or an empowering gym selfie. These help keep me on track.
Amp up exercise: On days I’m feeling sluggish, I’ll have a cup of coffee 30 minutes before I go to the gym. The caffeine keeps me working hard. Plus, research shows it can help you burn more calories post-exercise.
Indulge with friends: I typically have one or two meals each week where I eat whatever I want. To make them more rewarding, I use them as a time to socialize with pals.
Counter cardio: The treadmill is great, but I believe my weight loss came more from strength training. Exercises like deadlifts and squats helped me shed pounds fast.
Meghan is wearing: Reebok OSR Compression Bra ($55; reebok.com for similar); Reebok C Spike tights ($65; reebok.com); and Zoku Runner ULTK sneakers ($125; reebok.com).
As told to Lindsey Murray