SUCCESS STORY / Monique Payton, 34: From 243 pounds to 209 pounds

In the photo on the left, taken in January, Monique Payton weighed 243 pounds. In the photo on the right, taken this month, she weighed 209 pounds. (Photos contributed by Monique Payton)
In the photo on the left, taken in January, Monique Payton weighed 243 pounds. In the photo on the right, taken this month, she weighed 209 pounds. (Photos contributed by Monique Payton)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Monique Payton, 34, of Lithonia lost 34 pounds

Former weight: 243 pounds

Current weight: 209 pounds

Total pounds lost: 34 pounds

Height: 5 feet 8 ½ inches

Age: 34 years

How long she’s kept it off: She started in June and reached her current weight this month.

Personal life: “I live in Lithonia," Payton said. "I work the front desk at a dentist’s office. I live with my mom; my dad passed away. I’m single.”

Turning point: “One day I was sitting down and watching the TLC show ‘My 600-LB Life,’ ” Payton said. “I saw people who were obviously over 600 and 700 pounds. On the show, there’s a doctor who makes them lose some weight before surgery. ... If all these people who weigh 600-700 pounds can lose 50 pounds, it should be easy for me. ... That was my No. 1 motivating factor, and (there were) other things that made me want to do it as well. ... I Googled personal trainers, and Carla Fields with Carla Fields Fitness had a nice little picture. ... She is there for you to really work and work hard; she wants you to look good. ... She really enjoys changing people’s lives.”

Diet plan: Her day starts with oatmeal, snacks are lunchmeat roll-ups, and dinner is a chicken breast with veggies. “You can still have dessert on a diet," Payton said. "... I had a cookie, small cookie, I had one of those every day for four days, and I had a couple of tablespoons of ice cream with it — I still lost 2 pounds that week.”

Exercise routine: “I work out three days a week with Carla for an hour,” Payton said.

Biggest challenge: “I knew I was always going to get started," Payton said. "I used to say, ‘I want to be greedy for a little while longer and then one day I will snap out of it.’ My biggest challenge is the desserts. Every day two months ago I used to feel like I had to have a dessert after every meal. If I didn’t, I would feel depressed. I know I have to leave the dessert alone — that is my biggest struggle.”

How life has changed: “I do get people who say you have lost so much weight, but I don’t feel like it," Payton said. "You aren’t going to feel it yourself. People who haven’t seen me in while, they say you lost weight in your face. It’s so true, if someone else can do it, you can, too. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. My mom is an inspiration. She’s 70 now. She’s my biggest inspiration. (She tells me), ‘You’re my daughter. If she can do that, you can do it, too. ... It may take hard work and discipline, but you can do it, too, for sure, or at least try.”

Share Your Success: Each week, Success Stories focuses on an individual’s unique weight-loss journey. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not endorse any specific weight-loss program but includes names and links for the benefit of readers who want further information. Have you lost weight successfully with a healthy lifestyle change? If you would like to share your story with our readers, please include your email address, phone number, and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG), and contact us at: Success Stories, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Atlanta, GA, 30346-1301; or email reporter Michelle C. Brooks at: ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.

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