HER STORY

Sa’adia Taylor says she weighed 135 pounds before becoming pregnant with her daughter and 220 pounds after. She stayed that way for a long time and eventually took on the mindset of “owning” her weight. “I was about 240 pounds and just said, this is going to be me. This is what I am.”

But her fiance, “a health fanatic and really buff” according to Taylor, encouraged her to exercise and eat healthily. After failed attempts at those and adding additional weight, Taylor saw a bariatric surgeon who explained three options and their respective risks and rewards. She opted for gastric sleeve surgery. During the weeks before the procedure when she twice got turned away from amusement park rides with her daughter because of her weight, Taylor said she felt more sure than ever about her decision. “I never wanted to embarrass my daughter like that again,” she said.

She had the procedure and lost a pound a day the first month. She has since become an avid gym-goer and attends Zumba parties and workout parties. Her fiance set her up with exercise routines to which she’s now devoted. “I really feel like I’ve accomplished something,” says Taylor about embracing exercise. “I’m starting to feel really good about myself. I feel prettier. It’s such a satisfying feeling.” Taylor adds she wants to lose another 20 to 30 pounds and recently started practicing yoga.

HER DIET

Breakfast can be yogurt with Special K on top or a protein shake or egg whites and turkey bacon. She snacks midmorning on carrots and cucumbers with low-fat ranch dressing and some Land O Lakes Cheddar cheese cubes. Lunch can be quinoa with grilled chicken and a vegetable, usually broccoli or string beans. Her afternoon snack is either yogurt or fruit. Dinner can be baked chicken or salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts. She sometimes has a protein cookie for dessert (her doctor told her she needs to eat 60 grams of protein daily).

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HER EXERCISE

Taylor goes to the gym four days a week. Her workouts include a 1-mile jog on the treadmill, 1 mile on the elliptical, 120 steps on the Stairmaster, and weight machine routines that focus on arms and core. She attends a weekly Zumba class.

HER ADVICE

“Don’t give up, even when it’s the hardest. If you can’t do it on your own, have the surgery. The benefits are worth it. I have no regrets at all.”