Michelle Nichols lost 82 pounds

Success story

Michelle Nichols, 44: From 369 pounds to 287 pounds

Former weight: 369 pounds

Current weight: 287 pounds

Pounds lost: 82 pounds

Height: 5 feet 11 inches

Age: 44 years

How long she's kept it off: "I actually started really making an effort … in September of 2015," says Nichols, who reached her current weight in December.

Personal life: Nichols lives in Douglasville. "I have three sons, who are 22, 20 and 18. I am going to be a Mimi in March — I have a granddaughter coming … I work with a nonprofit organization, the Chanan Foundation, as a house manager in a group home with adults with developmental delays."

Turning point: "I lost my stepmom in June 2015. I was actually blessed with two moms. I lost my mom in 2007, my dad in 2012 and then I lost my stepmom. I went through a deep depression, it was really bad, and my weight was the one thing I knew I had some type of control over. When you are overweight your whole life, you get picked on, bullied, made fun of. … When you go through the death of someone, you start thinking, 'Oh my gosh.' I needed to do this for my kids — I wanted my obsession with food to stop killing me. … I found for me I needed to make small, simple changes."

Diet plan: Breakfast is eggs, bacon and sometimes oatmeal. Lunch is a whole-wheat tortilla wrap with lean protein and vegetables; dinner is meat and vegetables.

Exercise routine: She started with walking. "I recently joined a gym about four months ago. I go to Planet Fitness in Hiram." She does their 30-minute circuit three days a week, and on other days of the week, she does weights and cardio equipment.

Biggest challenge: "My biggest challenge was not falling back into old habits too much. I had to recognize what my triggers were. I am an emotional eater, so when things are not going great, I tend to turn toward food for comfort. Fortunately, I am resolving a lot of emotional issues. … I have learned that (being happy) is not how I look on the outside, it is how I feel on the inside about me."

How life has changed: "My whole life I was overweight. … I have been morbidly obese for so long, if I reach my goal weight, I am going to need some type of cosmetic surgery. That has become an issue for me. … I like to look ahead. I have a good support system. I am really blessed. I recently got into a new relationship with a wonderful new man. He says you are beautiful regardless and he accepts me as who I am. He is just very supportive. … I think sometimes when people are trying to change, they don't tell other people. I think they are thinking, 'If I fail, no one will know I didn't succeed.' … My hashtag I use a lot on Instagram is: #ifIcandoityoucantoo."

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