Ginger Markert-Brusa of Marietta lost 40 pounds

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 Patty Murphy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Atlanta, GA, 30346-1301; or e-mail Michelle C. Brooks,

Success story

Ginger Markert-Brusa, 45: From 176 pounds to 136 pounds

Former weight: 176 pounds

Current weight: 136 pounds

Pounds lost: 40 pounds

Height: 5 feet, 3¾ inches

Age: 45 years

How long she's kept it off: "Seriously started in December 2014," Markert-Brusa said. She reached her current weight in March.

Personal life: "I was one of the first 100 babies born at Northside Hospital. … I met my husband, Peter, my final semester [at Kennesaw State University]. We've been married 18 years. We have a daughter, Avery, 12. … I'm a sales analyst at Wells Fargo Insurance Services."

Turning point: "On Dec. 21, 2012, Peter and I lost a dear friend to a heart attack while he was on vacation with his wife. It was devastating to lose someone you love so unexpectedly. Peter and I decided it was time to change our lives. We started walking together. But, giving up beer and wings were difficult. So I just exercised while he counted his calories. He lost 30 pounds in 2013, I lost 12. It was in December 2014 that I committed to lose indefinitely. I tried counting and exercising on my own and lost 12 pounds again. I always seemed to lose 12 pounds every time I tried a diet plan. I saw how well my friend was doing and reached out to wellness coach Jacynta Harb at Sparkle a New You ("

Diet plan: Breakfast is Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, coffee and fat-free half and half. Lunch is mixed greens with chicken or lunch meat, veggies and balsamic vinegar. She snacks on raw veggies and hummus or an apple with goat cheese. Dinner is chicken or fish with veggies.

Exercise routine: "I walk 2 to 3 miles at 4:30 a.m. I feel if I don't get up and do it early, I will get distracted and won't do it later. Also, walking at that hour gives me peace. … I use 2-pound weights and do a (PopSugar Fitness) 21-day arm workout every month."

Biggest challenge: "Alcohol — I like cocktails and going out. … Extra exercising is the only way I can drink a beer. I have to earn it."

How has life changed: "I make better food and drink choices. I have a club soda in lieu of a cocktail every other drink. I hear this voice in my head say: 'Stay away from the O's: Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, Combos.' … This losing weight journey has become an obsession. I think about tracking and physically moving at all times. … Join a group, start your own group, get another friend or two to journey with you — support is key."