TODAY   |  August 05, 2013

She lost 137 pounds, completed 5K

TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer introduces Kathie Lee and Hoda to Gail Michaelsen, who lost more than 130 pounds after she broke the habit of being a compulsive eater. Now she is healthy and active, skydiving and running 5Ks.

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

>>> we're back with "look at me

now: the joy fit club ." she went from being a couch potato to running 5ks.

>> gail michaelson decided to get her eeth under control. she lost 137 pounds and was even featured in "fitness" magazine. we'll meet her in just a moment. first let's listen to gail 's story.

>> my name is gail , and i used to be a compulsive eater. i didn't always struggle with my weight, but, like many college students, i put on the classic freshman 15 and then some. after college, i lived alone and worked a desk job which made me even more sedentary. my eating activities consisted of watching tv and overeating while lounging on the couch. i even made a permanent dent in my sofa. eventually i became tired. i was tired of getting winded walking up one flight of stairs. i was tired of buying the same shirt in five different colors so i wouldn't have to go shopping, and i was tired of avoiding all my friends. my turning point came from a photo taken in 2010 at an easter party. seeing a 272-pound picture of myself was my wake-up call. i came across an online advertisement for jenny craig and decided to give it a try. i met with a consultant who taught me what a true portion size looked like and how to be more active. after 18 months i slimmed down to a size 6. and three years later, i am now the fittest and most confident that i have been in my entire life. and it's true. i always feel better after a workout. i feel honored that i can share my story and hopefully i motivate others to get off the couch, too.

>> good for her. and joy bauer is here. she's today's nutritionist and the leader of the joy fit club .

>> this is a remarkable story of determination and self-discipline. i think like so many people struggling with their weight, gail 's achilles heel was eating gigantic portions. she hates cooking. two, she lives alone. so she'd make the effort to prepare a recipe. it would yield four to six servings and then she'd eat the whole entire thing. thousands of calories. so she has mastered it now that she's down 137 pounds. this is what she does. she finds a low cal slimming delicious recipe. this is from hungry girl called their funk adelic chili mack. she portions it into the appropriate size. puts them in single serving containers and stockpiles it in the freezer. there are a lot of things that freeze great. a healthy meal. the right amount. but stockpiles future meals for busy nights.

>> let's meet her. let's take one last look at gail before.

>> all right, gail . come join the joy fit club .

>> oh, my god! wow.

>> i am sorry. oh, yeah. she knows it. wow.

>> of course she does.

>> that's amazing. good for her.

>> jenny craig worked. was that the key for you?

>> yes, definitely. they helped with portion control , which was my biggest issue.

>> and how did the running start ?

>> very slow.

>> one step at a time.

>> you didn't like exercise in the beginning.

>> i didn't exercise at all in the beginning. i started with walking and just building up to it. and a couple of friends talked me into a 5k. the first time my goal was just to complete it.