Looking at Megan McGee today, it's hard to believe there was ever a time when she lacked confidence and felt bad about herself. But several years ago, McGee was in a bad place in her life and wound up gaining 75 pounds.
"I was 19 and I started dating someone — it was an unhealthy relationship," McGee, now 26, explained. "I stopped seeing my friends, stopped going to the gym, and started gaining weight."
The Ashford, Surrey, United Kingdom, resident felt like she lost herself. She couldn't look in the mirror without hating how she looked. One night, she was getting ready to go out and something snapped.
"I couldn't find anything to wear. I was dreading going out because I didn't want to be the fat friend. I broke down and cried," McGee recounted. She didn't end up going out that night; instead, she decided she had to make a change.
"I looked at myself (in the mirror) and I said, 'The amount of energy you're spending hating yourself, you could use that time and energy for changing yourself into who you want to be.'"
This was three years ago and McGee hasn't looked back since. She joined the weight-loss program Slimming World and took control of her life.
"I was really excited to start. Joining the plan felt like a glimmer of hope, and like I would gain control of my life again," she said.
Here are the five steps McGee took to start living a healthier lifestyle:
1. Plan your meals ahead of time.
"Back when I was heavier, I was eating less. I would skip breakfast, eat a sandwich for lunch, and then end up binge eating in the evening," McGee remembered. Now, she prepares for her day the night before.
"I learned how to portion my plate, to include veggies, carbs and proteins."
2. Find an activity you enjoy doing.
McGee started by walking more with her dog, then she got a bike and started cycling a lot. But what really worked was finding a fitness class she loved.
"I started taking Zumba classes, and I really enjoyed it!" McGee said. "When you enjoy something, you want to do it more."
3. Realize you're not alone.
"I've had weeks where I cried, but the support network provided by Slimming World gave me a safe place where I could cry, but they would still help me focus on the positives," she said. "They helped me celebrate, even on the weeks that I had gained (weight)."
4. Have hope.
"There are millions of people who struggle to lose weight, if we're all in it together, it makes it less scary," McGee explained. "You should never feel ashamed of where you're at."
5. Continue to live your life.
McGee isn't a slave to the number on the scale.
"I've gone on holidays where I expect to gain weight, and when I return and get back in my routine, it's off again," she explained. "I'm living life in the healthiest way possible — physically and mentally."
To read more inspirational weight-loss stories, check out TODAY's My Weight-Loss Journey page.