Megan Rachow remembers the exact day she decided it was time for a change.
“I had been living a life of obesity for a few years and was exhausted both physically and mentally,” the 30-year-old physical therapist tells PEOPLE. “I felt like I had gained so much weight that I would never get it back off. I still remember the day that the switch flipped for me — July 19, 2014 — and I decided I was done living like this.”
The Medina, Ohio, resident says until that point she was drinking five or more cans of soda a day, eating large quantities of food and stopping at the drive-thru daily.
“Exercise was out of the question as I could barely walk up the stairs to my apartment,” she says.
Spurred into action, Rachow says she started small, first cutting out soda and only eating food she cooked at home.
“The weight starting coming off,” she says. “I remember I lost 9 lbs. my first week. After I had lost 100 lbs., I started trying more adventurous exercise. I became fascinated by fitness and seeing what new things I could accomplish with my body. I do things that I never dreamed were possible like running races, lifting heavy weights, and completing a sprint triathlon.”
Rachow, who shared her weight loss journey on both Instagram and Facebook, says she now eats clean foods like salad, quinoa and lots of veggies. She also packs her diet with a lot of high-protein foods like chicken and turkey.
After losing a total of 170 lbs., Rachow says she hit her goal weight of 155 lbs. but was left with excess skin. In December 2016, she underwent a circumferential body lift and brachioplasty to remove the excess skin from her abdomen and arms. She is now in the process of having excess skin removed from her thighs.
“I am now living a life that I love and feel as though I am a completely different person,” she says. “The most important thing I have gained is being comfortable in my own skin.”