Sally Thompson, 59, of Kennesaw lost 45 pounds

In the photo on the left, taken in June 2015, Sally Thompson weighed 224 pounds. (Photo contributed by Sally Thompson) In the photo on the right, taken in February, she weighed 179 pounds. (Photo contributed by Caitlin Tabilog Photography)
In the photo on the left, taken in June 2015, Sally Thompson weighed 224 pounds. (Photo contributed by Sally Thompson) In the photo on the right, taken in February, she weighed 179 pounds. (Photo contributed by Caitlin Tabilog Photography)

SUCCESS STORY / Sally Thompson, 59: From 224 pounds to 179 pounds

Former weight: 224 pounds

Current weight: 179 pounds

Pounds lost: 45 pounds

Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Age: 59 years

How long she's kept it off: She started in August 2017 and reached her current weight in March 2018.

Personal life: "I have two great children, they have been very supportive of my journey," Thompson said. "I am an elementary school teacher at a wonderful school, and I live in Kennesaw."

Turning point: "In August 2017, I joined Sparkle A New You. I contacted wellness coach Jacynta Harb after reading about one of her success stories in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I left there and I pictured myself thin. That had never happened before. After our conversation, I joined immediately and I've never looked back," Thompson said. "… Earlier that year, my dad had died. I was at a very low point in my life. He had about 1,000 people who attended the viewing. His impact in the community was very evident; he left behind a strong legacy."

Diet plan: Breakfast is an egg, avocado, ancient grain toast and greens such as kale, spinach or dandelion. She douses the breakfast greens with balsamic vinaigrette. Lunch is usually homemade soup or salad. For dinner, she has fish or chicken with vegetables and almost never eats red meat. "Tracking your food daily is so important," Thompson said. She uses MyFitnessPal.com to track her daily calories.

Exercise routine: "I do monthly 5Ks with my Sparkle support group, and I do my own personal 5K each month. We have monthly group exercise challenges as well," Thompson said. "I run several times per week. In my 20s, I was a runner, but at age 59, I do mostly run/walk intervals."

Biggest challenge: "I don't call it a challenge," she said after being taught not to focus primarily on dieting in the short term, but rather to change her lifestyle for the long term. "I feel that I am a living example that you can maintain weight loss. … I allow myself to have planned indulgences; 90 percent of the time it is planned. It could be a dessert or an occasion that is important. … I am changing my lifestyle — to me it has never been about a diet."

How life has changed: "In every way possible. I'm happier, I have more energy, I try new challenges that I didn't think I could do before," Thompson said. "I have become more self-confident. … I believe that our maintenance classes, our guest speakers and community partners have all contributed to my success and realizing that the journey is lifelong." Her tips for others include: "If you are having a bad day, don't beat yourself up. Just start over the next day and just realize … you can succeed, really."

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 Michelle C. Brooks, ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.