Just two years after leaving the Army, Morgan Root found herself weighing 255 lbs., far from the fit, 145-lb. body she had in the military.
“I felt ashamed of how I had changed from a veteran Army soldier into someone who I wasn’t proud to be,” Root, 35, tells PEOPLE for the 2018 Half Their Size issue.
But those two quick post-military years had been tough on her body — Root had her first child, a son, just after transitioning back to a civilian, and then became pregnant with her second, a daughter, 7 months later. That, combined with a lack of structure, meant that the former college athlete was no longer working out, and was relying on fast food options for her meals.
“When I transitioned out of the military, I was pregnant with my son, and that loss of structure meant I was eating what I wanted to with no regard, and being pregnant I just found myself eating a lot more than usual,” Root says.
The graduate student and stay-at-home mom knew she needed to make a change, especially when she started to struggle to care for her kids.
“I had trouble with things I should’ve been able to do, like getting down on the floor and playing with the baby,” Root says. I couldn’t catch my breath, I had hip issues, a lot of body aches. I couldn’t walk like I should be able to walk.”
In Nov. 2013, one month after having her daughter, Root signed up for Nutrisystem.
“I knew for certain that Nutrisystem was going to work because it was structured, and that’s what I was used to in the military,” she says. “It was something I didn’t have to think about. The food just showed up and I ate it. In the first week I lost 7 lbs. and so I was motivated by that.”
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.
Root lost 20 lbs. in the first month, and hit 100 lbs. down in April 2015 by sticking to her Nutrisystem meals and hitting the gym for cardio workouts. She felt ten times better, but she continued setting more fitness goals for herself, and decided to kick up her workouts in July 2017.
“I had lost the weight but I wanted to be stronger, so I recommitted to Nutrisystem and I started with a personal trainer,” Root says. “I had lost the weight and I felt good about myself, but I still have bigger fitness goals to reach, like seeing a stronger version of myself, more like how I was in the military.”
She got down to her pre-baby weight of 145 lbs., and then her wedding weight of 135. Now Root is at 128 lbs. and “feeling great.”
“I definitely just want to build muscle at this point, and get stronger,” she says. “I’ve met the weight loss goals and now I’m building muscles.”
Now Root feels like she’s a stronger person, and a better mom.
“My kids used to be my excuse. It used to be that I’m a new mom, I don’t have time, I can’t make myself a priority nor should I,” she says. “But I changed that excuse and now my kids are my motivation for anything that I do. They see my dedication to living healthy, and that’s a good example for them.”
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