"How I Lost 41 Pounds, and Feel Amazing Inside and Out!"

BEFORE 179 lbs
AFTER 138 lbs

Playing softball helped keep Lincoln, Nebraska, native Shannon Moore, 31, a slim size 6 throughout high school, but her weight started to creep up after she landed an office job. Tethered to her desk, she never exercised--and she started ordering pizza or a giant burrito for lunch. "I ate whatever was most convenient," she says. "I never thought about nutrition." In 2006, Shannon wore a size 14 dress to her wedding, then tacked 25 more pounds of "love chub" onto her 5'8" frame during her first year of marriage.

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In January 2008, Shannon's company instituted a system that used health tests to determine employees' insurance deductibles. Shannon, who was 179 pounds at that point, was looking at a steep increase in payments. "Finally," she says, "I had a reason to get fit."

THE LIFESTYLE For a week, Shannon wrote down everything she ate. "Turned out that if it wasn't takeout or fast food, my meals came from a box," she says. "And I was drinking five cans of soda a day!" She began trading processed foods for fresh fruits and veggies, learned to cook healthy versions of the greasy dishes she used to order in, and joined a gym to walk on the treadmill or use an elliptical for 30 minutes five days a week.

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Six months later, she was 10 pounds lighter. To accelerate her weight loss, she stopped chasing workouts with a big bowl of cereal, upped her cardio sessions to one hour, and added strength training three times a week. By December 2010, she dropped 31 more pounds and was a size 4. "I had a fit body again, and I loved it!" she says.

THE REWARD Shannon is now at a healthy weight and up for any fitness challenge. "It's very liberating when you're not restricted by your body," she says. "My confidence is high, and I feel that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to."

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Shannon, before the weight lossShannon, before the weight lossSHANNON'S TIPS
Keep your thighs on the prize. "I set new goals and give myself nonfood rewards when I reach them, such as a bottle of nail polish or a good book."

Have night sweats. "I'm a night owl, and sometimes I head to the gym at 9 p.m. and stay as late as midnight. I don't feel as rushed when it's less crowded, and I have more time to focus on my workout."

Go au naturel. "Running is my time to decompress, so I try to find scenic routes where all I can hear is the birds chirping. There's nothing more relaxing, and it makes my run go by faster."

TELL US: What's your motivation for losing weight?

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