Name: Tammy L. Lopez
Height: 5 feet, 5 inches
Before Weight: 285.5 pounds
How I Gained It: I’ve struggled with my weight all my life. School was torture, to put it lightly. I would go on crash diets and lose lots of weight, only to gain it back in a few months. Then I married at the age of 24 and had a baby shortly thereafter. I was 165 pounds before my pregnancy, and I gained 85 pounds with my son. I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth — I would sit in the rocking chair crying for hours. Combined with the stress of work and a new baby, it was a recipe for weight gain.
When my son was 4 years old, I brought my weight back to 165 pounds. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, my marriage started falling apart, which left me in a depressed state and feeling like I had nothing to live for. Facing life as a single mother with a young son, working full-time and feeling trapped inside my own body, I was literally crying out for help.
I love to read so I threw myself into my books and decided that this is the way that my life was supposed to turn out. But when my son was going into seventh grade, I got a job near my hometown ofCoxsackie,N.Y., and my son and I moved back to my parents’ house to start over.
Breaking Point: In 2006, I was turning 40, I was headed for a big job promotion, I had found a nice house near my parents, and my son and I were headed toFloridafor our first real vacation. At that point I was 235 pounds, but I was feeling good about my life.
It didn’t last — six weeks later, tragedy hit our family. My father died of a massive heart attack at the age of 57. He was and still is my best friend. Deep depression returned with a vengeance, but I somehow picked myself up and kept going. It was during this time that I ballooned by 50 pounds, reaching my highest weight of 285 pounds. Later that year, I became very ill and was bedridden for 10 days with nothing but my thoughts and my mom, who was also struggling with the loss of her husband as well as helping me take care of my son.
How I Lost It: After I recovered from my illness, I woke up and said to myself, “I need to be here to take care of my son.” We have a family history of heart ailments and with the sudden loss of my dad, I knew had to make a change. It was time.
My entire office decided to go on Weight Watchers. We would weigh in at the office every Friday morning, and we had contests to see who lost the most weight. I never went to a meeting, but my co-workers helped keep me on track. I ended up winning the contest at work, which netted me gift cards to purchase new clothes. I went from a size 24W to a size 8.
At the same time, I started working out at home for three months, then joined a gym. I have been hooked every since. In May 2008, on the first anniversary of my father’s passing, I ran my first 5K. I came in 1,800 of 3,600 women. I cannot explain the feeling I had when I was crossing that finish line. I knew that my dad would help me finish, but I did not think I would enjoy it so much.
I am very disciplined with my eating. I follow a low-carb, high-protein diet. When I started at the gym, I worked out seven days a week for an hour and a half a day. I started by walking on the treadmill and then graduated to running, and on alternate days I would do strength training. I find that a good pair of sneakers and proper breathing techniques are key to a great run. I have also recently taken up spinning classes — it really helps kick up my weight loss. Don’t get me wrong — I do go out and enjoy myself sometimes, I just know that it’s back to the workout the next day. I find that if I am physically fit, I am mentally fit, too.
If there’s one person I have to thank, it’s my dad — he helped me see the light and begin living my life. Live your life to the fullest — it’s the only one you have.
After Weight: 145.5 pounds
As of this January, Tammy has kept the weight off for four incredible years.