“I Went from Size 24 to Size 6”
Tired of being tired, Melissa Benavides took a long, hard look at her diet and lost 110 pounds
Weight Then: 250 pounds
Weight Now: 140 pounds
Pounds Lost: 110 pounds
Growing up inSan Antonio, I savored the Mexican dishes my family ate—enchiladas smothered in cheese, tacos stuffed with meat—not to mention lots of cookies and cake. But it wasn’t until I got married and had two children that my weight spiraled out of control. I gained 60 pounds with each pregnancy, and although I tried several diets, I always gained it all back.
Between work and kids, I didn’t have time to cook, so I picked up burgers, pizza, and, of course, Mexican for lunch and dinner. Whenever I felt sluggish, I opened a soda. At one point, I was drinking a six-pack a day! By age 37, I weighed 250 pounds. I had asthma, my knees ached, and I suffered constant headaches. Even worse, I couldn’t play with my children. When I offered to walk my older son to school, he’d decline. It broke my heart that he was ashamed to be seen with me.
Small Steps, Big Impact
When my father was diagnosed with colon cancer, it finally hit me: If I continued on this path, I might not see my kids grow up. It terrified me. That’s when I happened to read a magazine article about a woman who slimmed down at a local LA Weight Loss Center. The program sounded simple: Meet with a counselor weekly and learn about portion control and smart substitutions. Best of all, the plan didn’t have its own brand of required food—I loved that.
I worried that I’d hate my new lifestyle, but I discovered I didn’t mind trading soda for water or cutting back on sweets. I began eating more salads, fish, and baked chicken—and I even learned to cook leaner and lighter versions of my beloved Mexican fare that were surprisingly satisfying.
Today I’m 110 pounds lighter—and my weight loss success has brought my family closer. When my kids want to play soccer in the park, I race them there. And now my son asks me to walk him to school. My doctor says I’ve added 10 years to my life. Knowing that my hard work has given me extra time with my family is what thrills me the most.
My Top Tips
Modify your favorites. I didn’t want to give up Mexican food, so I lightened it with low-fat cheese, whole wheat tortillas, and sauteed vegetables.
Practice self-reflection. Keep a food journal and analyze it every night. If you’ve gotten off course, you can make an adjustment the next day.
Carry backup snacks. I used to grab fast food when the hunger pangs hit. Now I have healthy, portion-controlled snacks in plastic bags on hand at all times so I don’t blow my diet.
Don’t arrive hungry. To avoid over-indulging at events, I fill up on fruits and veggies before I head out. Then I have just a taste of dessert later on.
Appreciate feeling energized. When I lost the weight, all of my health problems—the headaches, sore knees, and asthma—disappeared, too. In their place: immense self-confidence!
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