Health & Wellness

Las Vegas mom loses almost 80 pounds without surgery or joining a gym

Shannon Fleming transformed her body without setting foot in a gym.

The Las Vegas mom has lost almost 80 pounds in one year after deciding to skip weight-loss surgery and slim down on her own. She gets plenty of exercise, but in places you might not expect.

Fleming, who is 5 feet 6 inches tall, maintained a weight of about 145 pounds when she was younger. But after getting married and giving birth to a daughter, she became much heavier without realizing it.

“We would go out to eat and I would eat whatever and not exercise at all. It just gradually came on over time,” Fleming, 33, told TODAY.

RELATED: Read more inspirational stories in TODAY's My Weight-Loss Journey page

Courtesy Shannon Fleming
Shannon Fleming, before her weight loss.

At her heaviest, she weighed 248 pounds, wore size 18 jeans and 2-3X size clothes. Fed up, she was ready to undergo gastric sleeve surgery to make her stomach smaller in 2013. But fearing she wouldn’t be able to control her weight loss, she backed out a week before the procedure.

“I called them and said, I’m going to try and do it on my own,” Fleming recalled.

One of her biggest motivations was her bad back, which she injured years ago. After two back surgeries, she figured slimming down would help her feel better.

She finally began her journey, in earnest, on Jan. 2, 2016. Here’s how she lost 77 pounds in one year:

1. Meal plan changes

Fleming’s initial goal was to lose 20 pounds. She replaced two of her meals with protein shakes, and then ate a light dinner: typically, a grilled chicken breast with vegetables like peas and carrots, corn or green beans.

“I lost 20 pounds in two months,” she said. “I stuck with it and I haven’t looked back.”

RELATED: 8 steps that helped this bride lose 110 pounds before her wedding

Courtesy Shannon Fleming
Fleming credits watching what she eats and doing lots of walking for her weight loss.

Fleming calculated how much she should be eating with the help of the My Fitness Pal app, which recommended consuming 1,550 calories a day. She’s kept that limit in place since she started, though she sometimes eats 200 or 300 calories less than that goal.

She sticks to a low-sodium, low-carb, low-saturated fat diet and doesn’t eat many sweets. To change things up, she’ll sometimes have oatmeal, or snack on small pre-packaged chips, granola bars or pudding.

“I don’t really have cravings and I’ve noticed since I’ve started my journey that I can’t eat as much as I used to,” she said.

RELATED: Could the timing of meals help you lose weight?

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2. Walking

Because of her back problems and surgeries, Fleming is not allowed to do any kind of exercise other than walking. She also can’t lift anything over 4 pounds.

So she’s become a walking connoisseur, often taking more than 100,000 steps a week. She has a treadmill at home, but her favorite way to get the step count up is to walk around malls and stores while she shops. If she goes to Target, for example, she might walk the perimeter of the big retailer while grabbing the items she needs to buy.

Courtesy Shannon Fleming
Fleming before and after her weight loss.

She and her husband also like to walk along the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street. The pace is usually brisk because Fleming tries to get her heart rate above 150 when she walks. She calls the S Health app on her Samsung phone a “huge motivator.” At one point, Fleming walked so much that she became one of the top 2 percent of all users tracking their steps on the app, she said.

RELATED: Walking is the superfood of fitness, experts say

3. Staying motivated

Fleming’s biggest motivation was knowing that she was unhealthy and needed to change for the sake of her 13-year-old daughter and her husband, she said. She weighs herself twice a day — when she wakes up and before she goes to bed — to make sure she stays on track. She now wears size 6 jeans and small or medium size clothes.

“Once I started seeing results, not only on the scale but physical changes as well, it just kept me motivated and I haven’t stopped since I started,” Fleming noted. “I feel a lot better.”

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