Former weight: 184 pounds
Current weight: 134 pounds
Pounds lost: 50
Height: 5 feet 9 inches
How long she’s kept it off: Six months. Started in April 2009, met her goal in May 2010 and then reached her current weight in July.
Personal life: “I live in Roswell with my husband, Brad, and 2-year-old daughter, Zella,” says Merritt. “I live the life of a stay-at-home-mom during the week, and work as a hair and makeup stylist at Pixelette Studios on the weekend. ... I have a lot of fun giving makeovers to other women and making them feel gorgeous."
Turning point: “I was diagnosed with mitral [valve] prolapse failure and needed immediate heart surgery,” she says. “After going through that experience, I was determined to be in the best shape of my life in my thirties. I would remember that promise to myself whenever I had weak moments.” She decided to join Weight Watchers.
Diet plan: Her day starts with a bagel thin with low-fat cream cheese and yogurt or oatmeal. For lunch she has a black bean burger. Dinner is a healthy recipe. “I may not eat as much as I used to, but the quality and taste of what I do eat has gone up.”
Exercise routine: “I try to keep active with my very [busy] toddler by running, jumping and playing along with her. ... There are tons of opportunities to stay active while connecting with your child through play.”
Biggest challenge: “Not stress eating. Eating truly can be an addiction, and it’s very hard to distinguish stress cravings from real ones."
How life has changed: “Less back pain, knee pain, hip pain -- pretty much my whole skeleton has been given a break finally from pain,” she says. She also feels a greater sense of confidence in herself.
Merritt was one of 100 first-prize winners to be named Weight Watchers’ 2010 Role Models of the Year. To celebrate, the company donated 50 pounds of food, equal to her weight loss, to North Fulton Community Charities as part of its third annual Lose for Good campaign (www.loseforgood.com).
Be an inspiration: If you've made positive changes in your diet and/or fitness routine and are happy with the results, please share your success with us. Include your email address, a daytime phone number and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). Write: Success Stories, c/o Holly Steel, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Atlanta, Ga., 30346-1301; or e-mail email@example.com.
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