Summer L. Blackwell , 37, of Hampton, Ga. lost 95 pounds


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SUCCESS STORY / Summer L. Blackwell, 37: From 273 pounds to 178 pounds

Former weight: 273 pounds

Current weight: 178 pounds

Pounds lost: 95 pounds

Height: 5 feet, 3 ½ inches

Age: 37 years

How long she's kept it off: She started in March 2013 and by May of this year lost a total of 102 pounds. She's maintained it within seven pounds since May.

Personal life: "I'm 37 with four children 20 years to 7 years of age, [also I'm] an online college student studying leadership and administration and a performance improvement advisor for a major health care company in Georgia," said Blackwell. She lives in Hampton.

Turning point: "It started out as the Daniel Fast through my church. The only reason I did it was for prayer and guidance; the start of the weight loss occurred because of it. When I started it wasn't to lose weight — it was for guidance," she said (daniel-fast.com and www.ultimatedanielfast.com). "After that I said well, I'm going to start walking. I went to one of the local parks by my home and started walking and started losing a couple of pounds." Then she cut calories along with pastas, breads and refined sugars. By May, she had lost 30 pounds. "I decided at that time I was going to keep on going." She added a gym membership and four to five days per week of working out. "I did get a nutritionist from my job. She was able to tell me how to watch my calories and grams of fat — teaching me how to eat better."

Diet plan: "I snack all day – lots of fruit," she said. A typical day starts with Greek yogurt and fruit. Lunch is soup or a grilled chicken salad. Dinner is more hearty such as rosemary chicken. "I make sure I am full and not hungry, you cannot be hungry and diet, it will not work." For dessert, she has a 100-calorie pack of yogurt pretzels, but nothing after 8 p.m.

Exercise routine: "I still go to the gym three to four times per week," she says. "I switch between Zumba, spin classes and step. For me, it's definitely a stress reliever."

Biggest challenge: "I would say maintaining," she says. "It's harder to maintain for me … It's [very easy] for people who have lost weight for that weight to jump right back on you. … It's just really about knowing it's not about dieting anymore — it's about a lifestyle change."

How life has changed: "Since I've gone from a size 22 to a 10/12, shopping is more fun," she says. "What drives me is knowing I must continue. It's a life-changer."