HER STORY Kimberly Sikes, who was heavy all her life, packed on 130 pounds during four years of college.
"I had poor eating habits," Sikes recalls. "And I ate if I was happy, sad, angry, you name it."
She would eat multiple portions, then raid a food stash in her bedroom closet. Being overweight was robbing her of the life she thought most 20-somethings enjoy.
"I would lie and say I was scared of roller coasters because I couldn't fit in the seat," Sikes says. "To avoid asking for a seat belt extender on a plane, I'd just hide the seat belt in my lap. I avoided chairs with arms because I couldn't fit in them."
Her doctor's chilling words finally made a difference. She suffered from Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea, and 90 percent of her gall bladder was destroyed and had to be removed. "I was 21 years old, and he told me I wouldn't live much past 30," Sikes says.
She had tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Hollywood-type diets, gaining back more than she'd lost. She dismissed bariatric surgery as the easy way out for years until the conversation with her doctor. "Aug. 3, 2011, was the day my life changed forever," she says of the surgery. She is no longer diabetic and doesn't have sleep apnea.
DIET She eats a high-protein, low carb diet broken into three small meals and two snacks a day. Breakfast is usually a protein shake. She snacks on egg whites or pistachios. Lunch is a salad with chicken, followed by Greek yogurt in the afternoon. For dinner, she has a lean protein, a whole-grain carbohydrate such as brown rice and a vegetable.
EXERCISE After not working out at all, Sikes now works out at military-inspired Team Extreme Health & Fitness Book Camp in Ronkonkoma five days a week for group training and one day with a personal trainer. She takes high-intensity workouts classes that incorporate cardio, strength training and obstacle courses. "I also now run 5k's, 10k's and even half marathons," Sikes says.
ADVICE "No matter what you do, realize you have the opportunity to get your life back," she says. "Value your life and realize how important being healthy is."
Occupation Manager at Maryhaven Center of Hope in Medford
389 Weight before August 2011
199 Weight after Feb. 12, 2013