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Dropping Pounds: Christine Van Houten

Christine Van Houten, 31, of Floral Park, went

Christine Van Houten, 31, of Floral Park, went from 300 pounds to 185 pounds in 18 months after joining Better Body Bootcamp in Great Neck. Credit: Handout; Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

HER STORY Overweight her entire life, Christine Van Houten says she began to balloon as an adult.

"I'd diet here or there and even be successful, but would gain it all back," says Van Houten, who works part-time in patient care in addition to being a nursing student.

She says she was an emotional eater who also didn't exercise.

"I'd be motivated to eat better and exercise for a while and then get bored," Van Houten says.

It was a friend who finally persuaded her to join Better Body Bootcamp in Great Neck.

"I was scared that I wouldn't be able to do the workouts," Van Houten says of the intensive program of classes that doesn't use treadmills, exercise bikes or elliptical machines. "I signed up for a one-month trial. It was really, really hard, but I saw results in the first month."

Better Body Bootcamp teaches members to exercise using their own body weight and such simple equipment as medicine balls, kettlebells and dumbbells, along with new techniques and exercises to keep classes interesting.

Van Houten also became more serious about Weight Watchers. A repeat joiner of many years, she says she never fully committed to the program. This time around, she combined exercise with a renewed commitment to counting her points and eating more healthfully.

DIET Before starting the boot camp, she pretty much ate whatever she wanted, her eating often triggered by stress, boredom or unhappiness.

"You can't control your food until you control what triggers your eating," says Van Houten, who adds that she had sessions with a therapist to help get a handle on her stress eating.

Now, she breakfasts on four egg whites with an ounce of cheese and vegetables. Lunch and dinner are each a large salad with vegetables and four ounces of lean protein.

"I measure everything," says Van Houten, who snacks on whey protein shakes, nuts and fruit.

EXERCISE After being sedentary, she now works out two hours a day four to five days a week at boot camp. She ran her first half-marathon, The Diva Half Marathon, in October.

ADVICE "You really have to make small changes, and you can't strive for perfection," Van Houten says. "The small changes you make on the way eventually become your natural way of doing things."

Christine Van Houten

31, Floral Park

Occupation: Nursing student

Height: 5-foot-8

300 Weight before July 2012

185 Weight after December 2013