Paula Bechtler, 44, of Hiram lost 93 pounds

Paula Bechtler, 44, of Hiram lost 93 pounds

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Paula Bechtler weighed 155 pounds when this photo was taken this past May.

SUCCESS STORY / Paula Bechtler, 44: From 248 pounds to 155 pounds

Former weight: 248 pounds

Current weight: 155 pounds

Pounds lost: 93 pounds

Height: 5 feet 6 inches

Age: 44 years

How long she’s kept it off: She started in June 2016 and reached her goal weight in May.

Personal life: “I’ve been married to Bill for 15 years, and we have a 14-year-old daughter, CJ, a 12-year-old son, Ben, and a 7-year-old beagle, Dottie. I’m a project manager at Kennesaw State University, where I’ve worked for eight years,” Bechtler said. She lives in Hiram and blogs at

Turning point: “A friend urged me to give Weight Watchers a try, and I reluctantly joined. I had been overweight or obese most of my adult life. I was terrified to try it and fail. I felt extremely self-conscious at my first meeting, making up some excuse not to stay afterward for the newbie orientation session. I gave it half a try the first week, and I was surprised to see that I lost 1.8 pounds. That motivated me to give it a real chance, and the weight continued to come off, week after week. Once I saw that it was working, I was all in and had to be convinced by my leader … to loosen my white-knuckle grip a little bit.”

Diet plan: Breakfast is toast with peanut butter, steel-cut oatmeal or an egg white omelet. Lunch is a turkey sandwich or a frozen low-calorie meal. Dinner is a home-cooked meal in a smaller portion. “If I had to be perfect in my choices, I would never have been successful long-term.”

Exercise routine: “I started walking and gradually increased the number of steps I walked every day. My goal is to get about 10,000 steps per day. Having a Fitbit helps me track my steps and motivates me to be more active.”

Biggest challenge: “Finding the confidence to walk in the door for that first meeting.” She felt that if she failed again, “it would signal a life sentence to being overweight. … As I began to lose the weight, I struggled with viewing the food choices that I made being good or bad. … The guilt that ensues after I make a bad choice can snowball into more bad choices. I think I will have that internal struggle for the rest of my life.”

How life has changed: “I used to look at people who were not overweight and wonder what that felt like. Now I know what it feels like and it’s amazing. Walking around in this healthy body is much more thrilling than eating fast food every day. … I have a lot more energy, I sleep better and I no longer need to use a CPAP machine at night. I no longer need to take medication for cholesterol or acid reflux. … I’m doing the Peachtree Road Race this year for the first time.”

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 email Michelle C. Brooks,

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