Melanie Zeller lost 45 pounds

Melanie Zeller at 200 pounds in July 2015. (Melanie Zeller)
Melanie Zeller at 200 pounds in July 2015. (Melanie Zeller)

Success story

Melanie Zeller, 52: From 201 pounds to 156 pounds

Former weight: 201 pounds

Current weight: 156 pounds

Pounds lost: 45 pounds

Height: 5 feet, 2 inches

Age: 52 years

How long she's kept it off: She reached her current weight in September. She plans to lose 5 more pounds. "Still losing and moving toward my next goal — 50 plus pounds by year-end," Zeller said.

Personal life: "I live in Roswell with my husband of 25 years and two busy teenagers. … I'm an at-home mom."

Turning point: "I did a Whole 30 with a friend last fall. By the end — eliminating grains, dairy, all processed foods, then focusing on quality proteins, fats, vegetables and fruits — I felt great. My asthma symptoms nearly went away, aches and pains in my joints lessened, and I slept so soundly. As those foods gradually came back into my diet, I went back to feeling old and dowdy. I didn't want to feel that way anymore. … I have also worked on an emotional and mental shift, that this time it's not a diet. It's a way of eating — and thinking about food as fuel — that will improve my health and set me up for aging gracefully." She took classes with wellness coach Jacynta Harb at Sparkle a New You. "Accountability through the Sparkle group, plus class discussions and coaching, have really helped me think about and address all of the emotional stuff."

Diet plan: "In January, I went back to eating clean. For me, this means a diet free of most processed foods, grain, dairy, soy and sugar. A typical breakfast is a couple of eggs fried in ghee over greens. Lunch is usually a bowl of spinach and chopped veggies topped with last night's leftover protein, half of an avocado and balsamic vinegar. Dinner can be any protein … sautéed or grilled with butter and seasonings, roasted veggies and a sweet potato."

Exercise routine: "I began to get active this year with physical therapy following a total knee replacement in June. I'm now going to the gym on my own four to five days per week. I use the recumbent bike and walk hills on the treadmill. I have also started strength training (squats, planks, light weights for arm work).

Biggest challenge: "This time, I'm getting my head around the mental and emotional changes that I know will keep me successful for the long haul."

How life has changed: "I don't feel old anymore. I'm happy to stand in front of a camera." Her advice: "Always keep your goal in mind. TFAR: Thoughts create your feelings, which create your actions, which lead to results. … I am looking for ways to be more social and more active, more fit. Who knows, maybe I'll dust off my tennis racket and find an ALTA team to join in the spring!"

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, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Atlanta, GA, 30346-1301; or e-mail Michelle C. Brooks, ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.