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    Posted April 7, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

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    Dancing Toward My Dream Weight


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Read ronitarver's story on CNN.com.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    This is my journey to my 100 lb. weight loss. It was way easier than I ever thought it could be.

    I had an L4-S1 spinal fusion in 2006 my junior year of college, and was told that I needed to live my life in the awareness that I had an "80 year old back." I dealt with chronic pain which affected my ability to function at work and then to sleep at night when I got home. As an agriculture teacher, I was constantly on my feet working with kids, animals, and equipment. For three years I taught a welding class that required I be hunched over work stations which added to the pain. As a new teacher, I was constantly exhausted, so my meals consisted of take-out, every single day.

    I have never been a skinny girl. At my thinnest, most athletic form in high school I weight 155-160 lbs. I just assumed this was my body type and that there wasn't anything I could do about it. I remember trying to cut meals and work out in attempts to be perfect at prom and other formals, and thinking this was okay. I gained some weight in college due to unhealthy eating and drinking habits like most college kids, and I also picked up smoking cigarettes to keep myself awake on the 7 hour drive home from school when I would visit my family. My dad passed away from cancer my sophomore year of college and that just multiplied the alcohol calories and the number of cigarettes I was smoking. I was also in what could have been a fatal car accident a month before I was supposed to graduate college, so that didn't help my weight either. When I started my first job, my eating habits spiraled out of control, and I was smoking almost a pack a day. Despite my weight, I started dating a boy I had been in love with for three years, and he genuinely loved me for my heart and who I was, and not for the number on the scale. We got married in December of 2011, and like most people, I gained more weight because I was "in love." It's silly, really. You would think you would want to take better care of yourself for the person you love, but that is easier said than done. I reached a weight of 235 pounds, which was very heavy for my 5'6" stature. I was taking at least 10 ibuprofen a day to combat back pain, and that was taking a toll on my stomach. I quit smoking at the beginning of that school year, but felt like that wasn't enough of a lifestyle change. I found myself crying in bed one night over my weight, and my husband told me that he thought I was beautiful, but if I was so unhappy, I should do something about it. This triggered something in me, and that next day I began eating healthier and walking or riding the stationary bike 6 days a week. After two months of this, I became brave enough to get a gym membership and tried my first Zumba class. My instructors were amazing, and made me feel like they loved having me there. I couldn't believe how fast the weight came off. I was having a blast exercising for the first time in my life. Ten months later, my instructors started encouraging me to get my certification, so I did! I have been teaching now for 4 months, and I absolutely love it.

    When I started my weight loss journey in November of 2011, I was 235 lbs. wearing a size 22 and carrying around 42% body fat. Today, I am 135 lbs. in a size 6 with a 21% body fat. I have almost NO BACK PAIN, and am the happiest I have ever been. Any time I make comments about myself being fat before, my husband tells me that he fell in love with that girl, and not to make fun of her. He loves me the same way he did 2 years ago, and for that I am extremely blessed. He has encouraged me every single step of this journey. I have my dream body, and as crazy as it sounds, it has been an absolute blast getting here. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone struggling with their weight it would be to find something active that you love doing, and don't give up. Consistency is key to making any lifestyle changes. Find a support system and tell people what you are trying to do for yourself. When you say it out loud, you become accountable.
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