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A few years ago, Brittany Horton needed to buy health insurance. But as she approached the agent, the woman immediately shut her down.
“I can just look at you and tell you are too big to qualify,” she told Horton. “You shouldn’t even apply.”
When asked about her weight, Horton didn’t even know it because she hadn’t weighed herself in months.
“It was heartbreaking,” Horton, 30 of Nashville, Tennessee told TODAY.
Horton returned to her car and cried, but she knew she had to lose weight. That candid comment sparked a weight-loss journey that led Horton to lose 208 pounds in three years, which she’s kept off for the past two years.
“I’m very determined, I am very strong minded,” she said. “I work (hard) to maintain it.”
Throughout her life, Horton struggled with her weight. She remembers being on a diet in first grade. She steadily gained through high school, but lost some weight in college. Then she gained it back.
In 2012, she had hernia surgery and discovered her weighed had ballooned to 346 pounds on her 5-foot-11-inch frame. After being rejected for health insurance, Horton bought fruits, veggies and a scale. She hadn’t weighed herself since surgery and felt shocked.
“That was the turning point for me,” she said. “When I got on that scale and saw 386: I put on 40 pounds in a matter of months.”
She changed her diet, replacing three daily meals of fast food with fruits, veggies and lean meats. She kept a food journal and ate 1,500 calories a day. In the first nine months, Horton lost 80 pounds.
“It fell off,” she said. “But, when you are 386 and you lose 80 pounds, you are still in the 300s.”
As her weight loss stalled, she started going to the gym. While adding five to six days of exercise a week helped her shed pounds, she still hit plateaus. Each time her weight loss slowed, she examined her diet and exercise routine.
“I had to do a lot of different things,” she said. “I was always trying to incorporate new stuff in the mix.”
Since losing 208 pounds, Horton has maintained the loss. She’s even used what she learned to help her brother, Quinton, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last year. Thanks to a 15-page meal plan with three pages of instructions that Horton designed, Quinton lost 80 pounds and reversed his diabetes within in six months.
“I was super proud of him and that I helped him do that,” she said.
While she hopes others learn from her example that hard work leads to weight loss, she provided some tips that helped her go from 386 to 178 pounds:
1. Don't let a cheat day derail you.
In the past, when Horton ate poorly or skipped a workout, she just gave up. Now, if she has a cheat day, she returns to her healthy habits the next day.
“When you mess up, don’t be hard on yourself. All you have to do is get back right on it,” she said.
2. This is a lifestyle, not a diet.
Horton realized that being healthy was more than simply cutting calories or exercising more. It was an entire change of perspective.
“I accepted that this is how I was going to be living my life,” she said. "I have committed my life to doing this.”
3. Be selfish.
Losing and maintaining weight loss takes a lot of time and sacrifices, Horton shared. That means you must chose the gym over a friend’s birthday party or you have to research restaurants before going out to eat. By putting yourself first, though, you lose weight and keep it off.
For more inspiration, check out our My Weight-Loss Journey page!