TODAY | April 15, 2013
>>> struggling to lose weight . nbc's tamron hall has details on that. good morning to you.
>> hey there, matt. after years of battling the bulge this woman found the secret to success, losing, get this, 125 pounds in little over a year. how and why she did it may surprise you.
>> i think look at how far i have come. oh, my goodness. because everybody struggles with weight loss . if anybody has that extra weight, this he know exactly what i'm talking about, it's a struggle.
>> reporter: a struggle kristen was determined to overcome. last year as a divorced single mom from st. joseph, missouri, doing some soul searching , her weight had hit a high of 287 pounds, limiting the kind of mom she wanted to be.
>> going to amusement park and trying to ride a roller coast we are my son going, i can't do this or not even be able to fit in the seat at all so my son has to ride the roller coaster by himself and it was heartbreaking for me.
>> reporter: but like many, she couldn't stick to her diet.
>> i would totally, you know, fall off the wagon.
>> reporter: at the same time kristen 's friend, stephanie , was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma she said hwas a wake-up call to lose weight .
>> i said i think i'm going to lose weight and make money for you.
>> reporter: the idea was simple, every pound she shed she asked her facebook friends to donate 50 cents to the fund or their favorite charity.
>> i pushed that button, she's like okay, here we go.
>> she says going public on facebook made her accountable.
>> i knew every month that i had to lose weight because if i didn't lose weight i was not making any money for these charities.
>> reporter: stephanie is in remission and xwratfgrateful for kristen 's support.
>> i hadn't really thanked you in person. it was all that, so.
>> you're welcome. it was my pleasure.
>> reporter: kristen lost 70 pounds over seven months and she kept going, losing a total of 125 pounds. her son, gary, embraced the change.
>> well, i can actually wrap my arms around her. usually it would be like this and now i can be like this.
>> i can do all these wonderful things that i wanted to do as a mom. it feels absolutely amazing. i couldn't -- i couldn't have dreamed it better.
>> wow. kristen never set a specific weight loss goal saying she did not want to focus on the scale but the overall goal of rewarding herself and other people. quite a feel-good story this morning.
>> it is tamron, thanks very much. kristen is with us this morning. nice to see you. good morning.
>> good morning.
>> my fun was watching you watch that story, and looking at the images of yourself before and after, and i can see on the expression of your face it's almost hard for to you believe.
>> it's absolutely hard. i was looking at that screen and i just couldn't believe, you know, that was my past. that was me. that was the outside of what i looked like but it didn't represent the inside of the way i feel and so when i look at some of those pictures and some of those memories of my past i think you know, that was me.
>> the reason you started doing this in the first place we don't wish on anyone. you had a friend who was sick and you decided to help raise money for stephanie and we are thrilled to say that stephanie is in remission, we hope she's doing well but this other thing you decided to do as a part of this, to go on facebook and all of the sudden as you say, i pushed that button and you're out there. that's a very difficult decision.
>> it was extremely hard, especially for somebody who is kind of hidden behind the scenes , 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 from friends, family, the people that would see me or the people that i worked with.
>> but this idea of being accountable to others, not only for the money you raised for charity but the fact they're going to watch you and see if you do or don't make progress.
>> yes. the people that would be seeing this page is anybody and everybody that would be accessible to facebook . it is a public page, and anybody can see it and anybody can watch and see how the progress goes for me so me putting my pictures on there was, you know, put me accountable. i was accountable for myself and for the causes.
>> you talked about the fact in the piece that you had on occasion quite a few occasions over the past, fallen off the wagon. did you fall off the wagon at all during this process while you were on facebook and raising money for stephanie ?
>> during the first few months it was really hard to try to adapt to the new lifestyle that i wanted to live in order to lose weight .
>> what was the hardest part?
>> i think the hardest was part getting rid of all the caffeine. i was such a caffeine person. i liked to eat chocolate and i liked to drink tea and do a lot of things that most people enjoy doing and so i had to kind of wean myself off of all of that, but once i was able to change that lifestyle i knew it was for the best.
>> do you ever worry now about going back? when you look at the before and after picture? you brought something with us as a little bit of a visual prop you can hold those up if you want. these are a pair --
>> you want me to stand up?
>> sure. these are a pair of pants you used to wear. when you look at those, kristen , do you ever worry about falling back?
>> you know what? i don't because i know this is the person i want to be. i know this is the person that i want to die this way. i want to be a healthy person. i want to continue to inspire others. i want to be healthy and you know, live this way. i don't want to go back to that old lazy, you know, hidden person. that's not me. that's not my personality. i'm much more out in front than that.
>> i can see that and congratulations. it's nice to have you here. what a pleasure and our best to stephanie