TODAY

TODAY   |  July 08, 2013

Joy Fit Club member reveals her ‘moment of clarity’

Ashley Kuda, 29, describes the exercise and dietary regimen that helped motivate her to lose 119 pounds.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it is time for look at me now, the joy fit club . a woman fed up with her weight and decided she was going to get healthy.

>> after changing her eeth habits, 29-year-old ashley lost 119 pounds. before we see what ashley looks like now, let's take a look at her story.

>> my name is ashley . and i used to be addicted to food. food was always a comfort for me. i ate regardless of my mood or hunger. i ate when i was happy, when i was sad and when i was bored. my weight gain began when i was only 10 years old. throughout the years, my weight crept up and by the time i was a junior in high school , i already weighed around 200 pounds. in my early to mid-20s, i was in a string of bad relationships that sent me into a downward spiral of heavy binge eating . by the time these relationships ended i was at 279 pounds. i finally got myself out of those bad relationships. i knew i needed to change, but i didn't know how. it wasn't until i went to my local plus size store and started trying on size 26 jeans that i had a real moment of clarity. this was a moment i told myself, no more, ashley . the next day my sister and i joined weight watchers . once i started eating much smaller portions and exercising the weight flew off. i opened myself back up to love and met the man of my dreams. he's encouraged me to keep going and has really helped me to get where i am today. i now work out five times a week and log all the food i am eating. i am doing things i never thought i could. i am running and even training for a 200-mile bike ride. if i can do this, anyone can.

>> she seems adorable. with us is the leader of the joy fit club , nutritionist joy bauer.

>> she has not stopped smiling since she arrived at 30 rock . she's unbelievable. i thought that instead of telling you what she did to lose the weight, i'm going to talk about how she maintains the weight because sometimes it's even harder to keep the weight off versus losing the weight. three smart strategies. one is she reminds herself where she's come from. so she keeps a heavy picture of herself on her desk at work. and she looks at it --

>> probably the opposite of what most people do which is to be reminded, but, yeah.

>> this picture empowers her 24/7. she also, you'll love this one, she allows herself a cheat meal once a week. so this is a fried chicken sandwich. but she skips the fries and has apple slices. but if she felt like the fries she could do that, too. it helps to stay her on course during the week.

>> not to deprive.

>> also stockpiles chicken breasts in her freezer. it's so versatile. you can do so many things. this is a balsamic chicken recipe. this is chicken just with a little barbecue sauce on it. this is a pound of chicken with a little bit of arugula salad and then poor light vinaigrette on top.

>> that looks good.

>> each of these are under 400 calories for dinner.

>> what was the third thing.

>> one, two, three.

>> the chicken was one, the perfect picture was one and the cheat meal once a week was one. three strategies.

>> perfect. we'll bring ashley out. let's take one last look at ashley before. all right, ashley . come join the joy fit club . wow! hey, girl. how are you?

>> hi.

>> you look fantastic.

>> good for you.

>> how are you?

>> good. how are you?

>> how long did it take you?

>> it took me about three years, but it was a hard road .

>> and how critical was your boyfriend to --

>> oh, my gosh, he was everything.

>> sometimes you just need the one person with you.

>> that's one of the secrets to weight watchers is that you do it with a buddy. you have other people and so you aren't alone.

>> a network. and also to share successes and setbacks.

>> you feel like a different person?

>> i feel wonderful. just the exercising alone, i can do so much. it's just amazing.

>> like what?

>> i'm bike riding , cycling. i've never done that in my life. i never thought i would get on a bike or be in a gym.

>> she takes a lot of classes.

>> i love zumba.

>> literally changed your whole life.

>> i feel wonderful.

>> congratulations. we're so happy for you.

>> you look great. high-five.

>> if you know someone who has dropped 100 pounds or more and has kept it