Weight Loss Success: Natalie Blanton, 24, of Decatur lost 102 pounds


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

SUCCESS STORY / Natalie Blanton, 24: From 335 pounds to 233 pounds

Former weight: 335 pounds

Current weight: 233 pounds

Pounds lost: 102 pounds

Height: 5 feet 6 inches

Age: 24 years

How long she's kept it off: "I started my weight-loss journey in April of 2013. I lost 100 pounds as of May of 2014. I am still working on losing weight," says Blanton.

Personal life: "I am currently finishing up my master's degree at Georgia State University in public health with a concentration in environmental health and I reside in the Decatur area."

Turning point: "When I was a young child, I was put on steroids to combat asthma and it caused me to blow up like a balloon causing me to have weight issues my whole life," she says. "When I started graduate school in January 2013, I wanted to lose some weight. I was at my heaviest weight … I could barely walk around campus without sweating, huffing and puffing. I went to see my [doctor] … to see if I had diabetes. When the results came back negative, I was at first very thankful but then I had a moment of shock realizing, 'If I have nothing wrong with me medically, the food I am putting in my body and my lifestyle are causing me to be so overweight.'"

Diet plan: "I started out my weight-loss journey with eliminating fast-food and working on portion control." A typical day starts with a breakfast casserole and coffee with coconut milk. For a snack, she has cucumbers and guacamole. Lunch is a salad with chicken. She snacks on turkey and for dinner has spaghetti sauce with spaghetti squash.

Exercise routine: "My exercise routine has evolved throughout the last year. I joined Atlanta Kick (www.atlantakick.com) and was solely taking a kettlebell class," she says. "More recently, I ventured into CrossFit … I try to do CrossFit four times per week and a kickboxing or kettlebell class one time per week."

Biggest challenge: "It takes some time to see results, so I felt like I was doing all of this hard work for nothing. My body was in a constant state of sore and it took about two months before I really noticed a difference … I am going to be honest and say the first months sucked, but once I saw results, it became much easier."

How life has changed: "I have also noticed that I have a lot more confidence now that I have lost so much weight," she says. "Changing your mindset to believe you can overcome any challenge you are faced with will lead to success."