North Wales, Penn.
Before: 236 lb., size 18
After: 140 lb., size 2
Total pounds lost: 96 lb.
Sizes lost: 8
Growing up Puerto Rican, I ate meals that were mainly rice-based and filled with fried plantains and pernil (roast pork). My saving grace: I was active—a cheerleader and a gymnast. But once I graduated from high school, the number on the scale shot up. Two pregnancies later, I weighed 236 pounds. The worst part: I couldn't walk for long without my ankles and knees throbbing. Still, it wasn't until I saw the few photos I was unable to dodge from a trip to Puerto Rico in December 2011 that I was forced to confront my size; it was staring me right in the face. Though I had tried and failed to lose weight before, I decided to give a healthy lifestyle a go one last time.
No more drive-throughs
Starting in March 2012, I cut back on carbs, eliminating my daily helpings of rice, bread and pasta. Then I added more fruit and vegetables to my diet. I also traded in fast-food stops for home-cooked meals, feasting on spring-mix salads topped with chicken breast, salmon or tilapia every day. Within three months, I knocked off 10 pounds. Next I got a handle on my portions, serving my meals on my son's mini plates.
North Whales, Penn.
Thirty pounds lighter, I was ready to sweat. The problem: I was too embarrassed to go to a gym. So I built a home one, where I exercised an hour a day six days a week. I dropped another 25 pounds by September. Just as exciting, I was able to fit into size 6 jeans! This motivated me to kick up my training intensity. I started using ankle weights while on the treadmill and when doing leg exercises. That really helped me firm up. One year after committing to getting fit, I reached my goal. Even better, I no longer want to hide when a camera comes out.
Secrets of a 96-pound loser
A doable diet and exercise plan were the keys to Suheily's makeover. Try her tactics, and find even more at health.com/weight-loss-stories.
Flat-belly trick: Eat yogurt
When I have more Greek yogurt (I like Yoplait's tropical flavors), even for just a week, my tummy is instantly flatter.
Fitspiration: Massiel arias
I stumbled across her on Instagram (@mankofit). She posts great workouts and fitness challenges.
Workout must: Electronic dance
I listen to Tiesto's podcasts; the fast pace makes me push harder.
Go-to meal: Kimchi jjigae
It's a Korean stew made of kimchi, tofu, chili pepper, pork belly, red pepper paste, sesame oil and scallions, and it's pretty low-cal, too.