Bonnie Wiles has never been more proud and confident.
The factory production worker from Fayetteville, Arkansas had tried to lose weight many times in her life, but when her first grandson was born in 2011, something clicked. “I knew I wanted to be able to play with our grandkids,” Wiles, 58, tells PEOPLE.
Her highest weight was around 310 lbs., “but it could have been higher — I didn’t like to weigh myself,” she says, adding that her weight caused her to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
After years of yo-yo dieteing, Wiles used her newfound motivation as a grandmother to discover tools that worked for her: TOPS, a weight loss support group that stands for Take Off the Pounds Sensibly, and the MyFitnessPal app.
“TOPS keeps you accountable because you have to get on a scale once a week,” says the mom of four, who is now also a grandmother of four. “You get a prescription from the doctor that says you need to make a certain goal weight, but everyone makes their own choices about diet and weight loss. When you go to a meeting and weigh yourself, everybody claps for you, no matter the outcome. If you gained weight, you say, ‘I’m glad I’m here.’ If you lost weight, you say, ‘I lost weight, good.’ ” The organization honored Wiles by crowning her “Queen” of Arkansas to recognize her achievement — she lost the most weight among members in her state last year.
Along with the support from the group, the MyFitnessPal app provided the structure she needed to succeed. “I’ve never missed a day in five years!” she says. “I feel entering my food in there, showing me where I overate or what I overate has been a big issue helping me get down. Now it’s helping me maintain my weight.”
Wiles now weighs 148 lbs. “I’ve kept off over 100 lbs. for 3.5 years,” she says. Also, she no longer needs blood pressure or cholesterol medication. “I’m proud of myself,” she says.
Without any gimmicks — just through healthy eating and exercise — our 2018 Half Their Size stars shed hundreds of pounds. For more on their stories and weight loss tips, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Wiles says she was heavy growing up, hitting 200 lbs. by the age of 18. But after her fourth child was born, she found herself gaining more weight. At one point she worked at two fast-food restaurants and would nibble on their high-calorie offerings during her breaks. And she says she often used food as comfort. “I used to hide candy and chocolate and eat it. I would hide it from my kids in my underwear drawer.”
Now, Wiles rarely eats sweets. Her go-to desserts? “Lots of fruit, and frozen yogurt every once in a while.”
She also drinks 12 to 15 glasses of water a day. Breakfast is Greek yogurt with fruit, and her mid-morning snack is a mandarin orange. For lunch, she may have oatmeal with powdered peanut butter for extra protein or a salad with fat-free dressing. Wiles will have an afternoon snack to keep her energy going, typically a protein bar. For dinner, she loves a small piece of steak with grilled vegetables. She also rarely drinks alcohol. “Maybe a glass on special occasions,” she says.
Wiles also walks an average of 50 miles a week. She uses an in-home treadmill and takes laps around the tortilla factory where she works.
Her job also helps her tone her arms. “I don’t do weights. I shuffle and stack tortillas six days a week — that helped tone them up!”
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