April 15, 2013 at 10:35 AM ET
As a new mother, Kristen McCamy slowly began to gain weight and failed to stick to a diet. The excess pounds kept her from being the kind of active mother she wanted to be, and she hid from the world as her weight reached 287 pounds.
“If anybody has that extra weight, they know exactly what I’m talking about,” McCamy said in a TODAY report Monday. “It’s a struggle.”
A wake-up call came when her friend, Stephanie Sample, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. McCamy, 32, of St. Joseph, Mo., decided to lose weight to raise money for charities in the name of her friend last year and has now dropped a body-transforming 125 pounds.
Appearing on TODAY Monday, McCamy bore little resemblance to the woman shown in old photographs.
“I just couldn’t believe that was my past, that was me,” McCamy told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “That was the outside of what I looked like but it didn’t represent the inside of the way I feel.”
McCamy created a public Facebook page called Loss for Cause and asked friends to donate an amount for each pound she lost to a fund for Sample or another charity. McCamy began on Jan. 1, 2012, and posted monthly updates and photos detailing her progress.
“When I pushed that button I was like, ‘OK, here we go,’” she told Lauer. “I knew every month that I had to lose weight because if I did not, I was not raising any money for these charities.”
Now others have joined her on the Loss for Cause page, pledging to lose pounds – and donate money. The public aspect to her weight-loss and fund-raising efforts kept her going. “I was accountable for myself and for the causes,” she said.
But putting herself out there was difficult.
“It was extremely hard, especially for somebody who’s kind of hidden,” she said. “Ever since I graduated high school, the weight has slowly come on, and the more that it’s come on, the more I’ve kind of hidden away.”
Though McCamy did not set a weight-loss goal, she pledged to raise money from the start of last year until her birthday on Aug. 1. She lost 70 pounds in seven months and kept on going, for a total loss of 125. Her friend Stephanie, happily, is in remission. And McCamy has become a new person.
“I can do all these wonderful things I wanted to do as a mom,” she said. “It feels absolutely amazing. I couldn’t have dreamed it better.”
Her 9-year-old son, Gary, is thrilled as well. “I can actually wrap my arms around her,” he said.
It’s a stark contrast to the McCamy who couldn’t fit in a roller-coaster car, leaving her little boy to ride alone. “It was heart-breaking for me,” she said.
The first few months of losing weight were challenging, as McCamy made changes to her diet. The hardest thing, she said, was giving up foods she loved like tea and chocolate.
“I had to kind of wean myself off of all that,” she said. “Once I was able to change that lifestyle, I knew it was for the best.”
She told Lauer she’s not worried about regaining the weight.
“I know this is the person I want to be,” she said.
“I don’t want to go back to that old, lazy hidden person,” she added. “That’s not me. That’s not my personality. I’m much more out in front than that.”