Five real women share how they got fit, fabulous and beach-ready – and lost more than 550 lbs. all together! Subscribe now for their inspiring stories and easy diet tips, only in PEOPLE!
Beach season is in full swing, and no one is more excited than Karyl Mullins and Rebecca Grafton.
Karyl Mullins lost 100 lbs. over the course of five years and is still losing weight. “I wasn’t always overweight,” the part-time dog groomer, 38, tells PEOPLE. “I was probably around a 6 or an 8.” But when she moved from her home in North Carolina back to Kentucky, she gained nearly 100 lbs. “Every gathering revolves around food,” she says. “And I was a young mother.”
But her bad habits didn’t affect her two kids. “I could eat probably a whole box of Fruity Pebbles throughout the day,” she says. “I didn’t want to bother with cooking for myself, but I cooked for my kids normally. I made sure they ate nutritious foods.”
“I remember sitting at my desk in the office one day and feeling a button pop right off my pants. It literally just flew across the room,” she says. “And I looked at the size of the pants and it was a 22.” But her desire to change wasn’t only about aesthetics. At 34, she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. “My biggest motivation was leaving my kids and husband behind,” she says. “My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and I want to live my entire life with him. And my kids, I want to see them grow up and have kids of their own.”
Mullins was 247 lbs. when she joined Weight Watchers in the fall of 2011 and followed it “strictly.” “I’m not dieting, I just watch my portions,” she says. “That’s what I love about Weight Watchers: You can eat your own food. It’s all about portion control.”
She also discovered that she loves exercise. “Running is my passion,” she says. “I run at least four or five times a week. My life has changed for the better, and I have other goals now. I’ve run a full marathon, and when I turn 40, I plan on doing an Iron Man.”
For more inspiring weight-loss stories and what they eat now to maintain their healthy lifestyles, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Insurance saleswoman Rebecca Grafton struggled with her weight throughout her teenage years. “I was the kid who always had friends but never had dates,” the 25-year-old tells PEOPLE. Grafton lived abroad during college in pastry-filled France and also loved to make her own indulgent treats. “It was the age of Pinterest, and I’d look for recipes that looked like they tasted good,” she says. “Obviously, the stuff that tastes good is often chock full of cream cheese and heavy cream, so I started making these meals that weren’t healthy at all and eating everything all myself.”
Her weight climbed to 246 lbs. and she could no longer fit into her size 18 pants. Her turning point came in January 2013, when she booked a trip to Jamaica for that May. “I didn’t want to look back at pictures from that trip and think only about how fat I looked,” she says. “The next day I hit the ground running both working out and eating right,” she says. Grafton exercised daily and used the My Fitness Pal app to keep track of calories. To stay motivated, she started posting selfies of her progress on an Instagram account, @MyGirlishWhims, which now has more than 65,000 followers. “They give me so much support,” she says. “It’s such a nice community.”
And she had to re-learn how to cook. “I started reading Cooking Light,” she says. “I had to learn how to make food taste good without smothering it in cheese. I learned to use seasonings and fresh ingredients, and I taught myself how to do that.”
After losing 95 lbs., she tried the ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ plan online, and by counting her protein, carbs and fats rather than calories, she lost the last 5 lbs. “I hit 100 lbs. lost exactly two years after I started,” she says.
“Every girl has tried dieting at some point. I’d been there countless times. I did diets to try to fit into a dress for some event, and I always ended up screwing up and throwing in the towel,” she reveals. “This time, the biggest thing was that no matter how many times I screwed up along the way, giving up wasn’t an option.”
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