Jennifer Knecht

39, North Babylon

Stay-at-home mom

Height 5-foot-3

257 Weight before November 2010

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143 Weight by March 2012

HER STORY

Being overweight sort of just crept up on Jennifer Knecht, a stay-at-home mother of four. But the realization that she finally had to lose weight hit her out of the blue. "I was on a mommy trip to Aruba," Knecht remembers. "I couldn't fit into one seat. Let's just say I was very close to my neighbor on that flight. And I had to use a seat belt extension."

Knecht, who never had flown, said she had begun staying at home to avoid the perceived stares of others. "I had very low self-esteem," she says, adding that she wasn't a big overeater. "I just never moved. I hated exercise."

With four children, she also spent a lot of time going through fast-food drive-through lines. She had been diagnosed with hypertension and high cholesterol. "There also is a history of diabetes in my family," says Knecht, who adds that sweets were her downfall. "I liked anything sugary and bready things."

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Once she had her epiphany, she started the South Beach Diet and joined a gym.

"No one else in my family struggles with their weight," Knecht says, saying that she makes sure her husband and children are conscious of what they eat. "Now, I realize that in order to take care of others, I have to take care of myself."

DIET

Even now, she follows the principles of the South Beach Diet -- eating lots of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins but not much fat. "I usually have an egg-white omelet with spinach and low-fat cheese for breakfast," she says. "Lunch is usually either a turkey sandwich or a salad with beans or tuna. Dinner is usually the same or a protein with steamed vegetables, a sweet potato or brown rice."

EXERCISE

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She's a member of the Lucille Roberts gym in Bay Shore, where she takes a morning cardio class and an afternoon toning class seven days a week. "I have one of those bodies where dieting alone wouldn't do it," she says. "I like the toning because I didn't want to lose weight and have all that excess skin. People see how toned I am and can't believe how much I used to weigh."

ADVICE

"Don't give up," Knecht says. "It can be done. No matter how long it takes, it can be done." She says a quote from the late actress Audrey Hepburn is her inspiration: "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible!' "