At 22 years old, Courtney Prathaftakis is the youngest of all the brides who participated in the "Dateline Bridal Diet Challenge."
When we met her at a bridal expo, she stepped onto our scale and got a big surprise: She weighed 228 lbs., a lot more than she thought she did.
At 5 feet 5 inches, Prathaftakis will have to make some drastic lifestyle changes. For starters, this store manager will have to exercise.
“Right now the only exercise I get is walking to and from the front of the register from the back of our store,” she says. “It’s a long walk, but not that far.”
Prathaftakis has been overweight most of her life. “I feel not the happiest with myself,” she says. “I know I could be better and I’ve tried but not succeeded.”
For her wedding, she wants to get fit and keep the pounds off.
She selects Weight Watchers and commits herself to losing the most weight of all five brides —an ambitious 50 lbs.— by her wedding.
Like other grooms, Courtney’s fiance loves her just the way she is. “If I didn’t like the way that Courtney looks now, there’s no way I’d propose,” says Nate.
On the Weight Watchers Program, Prathaftakis has to attend weekly group meetings. Using the Weight Watchers point system, she has to keep track of everything she eats.
But after only three weeks of exercise, the walks and workouts fall by the wayside. Other pressures are taking over: “We sat down and made our guest list one night. That has a lot of stress. It's just everything all combined to one, and I think was just a little bit too much,” she says.
More from TODAY.com
After years of silence, Monica Lewinsky speaks about cyber bullying
- Watch Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder honor doctor onstage at concert
- Former 'American Idol' contestant Joanne Borgella dies at 32
- 'American Idol's' Scott MacIntyre hoping for new kidney in 6 months
- ‘Marcel the Shell’ returns, remains adorable in so-cute-it-hurts video
- After years of silence, Monica Lewinsky speaks about cyber bullying
The reality of having to lose 50 lbs. by her wedding is setting in. So Prathaftakis hits the gym, joining a high-intensity cardio-kickboxing class.
But after only a single class, a setback throws her off course, and she quits. Her fiance is rushed to the emergency room with symptoms of a possible heart attack.
“For the week that we were waiting on test results I didn’t even go to the gym because I just didn’t have the motivation,” she says. “I wanted to come home, I wanted to make sure he was okay.”
Her fiance turns out to be fine but it won’t be the last time her diet suffers under stress.
Prathaftakis continues with Weight Watchers. During the first weigh-in, she loses 7 lbs.
Two months before her wedding, Prathaftakis seems furthest from her goal.
“I probably haven’t really been eating good. I haven’t exercised at all,” she admits.
Prathaftakis has quit every exercise program she’s chosen since joining the “Dateline Bridal Diet Challenge.” She’s also missed a third of her Weight Watchers meetings.
To her confession cam, she says, “I just got to a point where I almost had a breakdown and I just can’t do this anymore.”
She decides to quit Weigh Watchers altogether. Her counselor is disappointed, but not surprised.
“Ultimately, I think it came down to the commitment level,” her former counselor says. “It wasn’t there.”
Courtney admits that the stress of dieting while planning a wedding overwhelmed her. “Besides the weight thing, I was just trying to get along with everybody.”
But with only weeks to go, Prathaftakis decides to give dieting one last shot — especially after she tries on her wedding dress. When she ordered it months ago, it fit perfectly. About 5 months later, she’s has trouble fitting into it.
So “Dateline” put Prathaftakis in touch with David Kirsch, a personal trainer who helped supermodel Heidi Klum get into shape. Under “The Ultimate New York Body Plan.” Prathaftakis has to relearn how to eat and how to exercise. But only a few days into the new diet, Prathaftakis phones her trainer and calls it quits again.
Courtney, the youngest bride, had the toughest time handling the double pressure of dieting and planning a wedding. She quit two diets and three exercise plans, and was never able to stick with a program — any program.
At her final weigh-in, she gets some bad news: Prathaftakis started at 228 lbs., and although she did lose weight during the challenge, she gained it back, and more.
She ended up two lbs. heavier at 230 lbs. She says however, that she learned a lot about nutrition — and that as a married woman, she’ll try again to lose weight. No matter what, she says she feels beautiful on her wedding day.
© 2013 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints