Dropping lbs: Stacy Schmidt-Shaver

Stacy Schmidt-Shaver, 37, of Levittown, lost nearly 125 Stacy Schmidt-Shaver, 37, of Levittown, lost nearly 125 pounds, going from 280 in July 2012 to 155 in February 2014, with diet and daily exercise. Photo Credit: Handout; J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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Stacy Schmidt-Shaver

37, Levittown

Occupation: Special education teacher for Nassau BOCES

Height: 5-foot-8

BEFORE:

July 15, 2012 280

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AFTER:

Feb. 18, 2014 155

HER STORY Raised on cheap, fast and packaged food, Stacy Schmidt-Shaver says she didn't eat green vegetables until she was in her 20s.

"We didn't have a lot of money growing up," Schmidt-Shaver says. "The packaged food and junk food tasted good, and that's how we ate. My mother wasn't big on vegetables either, so she didn't push the issue."

After her fourth daughter was born, Schmidt-Shaver decided to make some changes and become healthier for herself, her husband and their daughters, ages 9, 6, 4 and 18 months.

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Schmidt-Shaver says she had high cholesterol, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks, heart palpitations and suffered from depression. Her doctor advised that she could go on a long list of medications or change her diet and start moving.

"I had to learn to use food as nutrition and fuel, not as entertainment," says Schmidt-Shaver, who lost the first 40 pounds on a Weight Watchers plan. "The idea that good, healthful food could be medicine was foreign to me."

She started by walking for 4 minutes and running for 30 seconds. Each day, she would increase her running by 30 seconds. She finished her first 5k in 30 minutes and is working on a personal trainer certification.

"Now that we know better, we have to do better," says Schmidt-Shaver of the choices she and her husband make for their family's health.

DIET Schmidt-Shaver says she stays away from processed foods. She shops local and in season whenever possible, and also buys organic when it makes sense to do so.

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"If I can't read the ingredients, I don't buy it," says Schmidt-Shaver, who adds that she has learned to love vegetables. Unfortunately, her girls are picky eaters and aren't yet fully embracing the new way of eating.

Schmidt-Shaver's breakfast is either egg whites with vegetables, steel-cut oats with fruit or a protein shake. She lunches on a skinless chicken breast with roasted vegetables or homemade soup. Dinner is pork or chicken with vegetables and a salad. She has two 150-calorie snacks per day.

EXERCISE She exercises six days a week for 90 minutes. This includes running, lifting weights and using exercise tapes.

ADVICE "As a mom, you're putting everyone before yourself," Schmidt-Shaver says. "You need to put yourself first. If Mommy isn't well, the family isn't well."

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