Dena Shahani, 29, from San Diego, California, grew up being allowed to eat whatever snacks she wanted and ate unhealthily when finances were tight.
She said she has been conscious about her weight for as long as she can remember and developed an unhealthy relationship with diet and weight loss.
The optometrist gained most of her weight whist living a sedentary lifestyle at university – but she has now gone from 18.5stone to a trim 10.5stone. Student Christopher Feenan also piled on the pounds at university – and shared his incredible transformation recently.
Dena said: “I have been on my health and wellness journey for as long as I can remember, I recall being eight years old, getting on the scales and weighing 77lbs and wishing I weighed 70 instead.
“That is when my unhealthy relationship with diet, weight loss and the scales started, at my heaviest I was over 260lbs, as of today I have lost over 110lbs.
“I gained most of my weight in college due to the sedentary lifestyle of sitting all day and eating junk food to get by.
“I am proud of my accomplishments and know that I have done amazing things but I am also aware that I am an ever-changing work in progress.”
Dena said that while she was overweight she felt happy inside, but realised deep down she wanted to look different on the outside.
So she began monitoring her calorie count and doing cardio whenever she could, even getting a machine to use at home.
She said: “When I would see pictures of myself I knew that’s not how I wanted to look, in my head I was a beautiful soul and a kind spirit but others didn’t see that, they saw a slob, judged me, and treated me differently.
“I restricted my calories and made sure to do cardio as often as I could, I got a little portable elliptical and used it whilst watching TV at home.
“I was too embarrassed to go to the gym and I didn’t focus on nutrition or fitness as much in the beginning but now I pay attention to where my calories come from.”
Dena has now shifted her focus to nutrition, and has started lifting weights to tone up.
She said: “As of the last year, I’ve shifted my focus from weight loss to fitness, I’ve stopped obsessing over the calories burned on the treadmill and starting focussing on the weights on the squat bar.
“The scale had always been my saviour yet it was also my tormentor, if it said I gained half a pound it ruined my day.
“However, now, the number on the scale doesn’t define me, my progress or my goals.”
Despite her impressive weight loss – which saw her go from a size 20 (UK 24) to size four (UK eight), Dena says her life hasn’t changed much except for the fact she now wears smaller clothes.
She said: “When I see my before and after pictures it’s an out of body experience, as if I’m looking at someone else’s journey.
“I’m still the same person and I think people have a hard time understanding that because people who transform looks so different, but my mind is still the same.
“I still have the same dark sense of humour, I still love arts and crafts and I still love having pretty nails, I just wear smaller clothes.”
Revealing the most difficult thing about losing weight, Dena said: “Staying motivated is so hard, people ask me all the time, “how do you stay motivated?” the answer is, I don’t, I have bad days, I lose motivation all the time but at the end of the day I keep trying.
“Even while losing weight I would have weeks and even months where I gave up and would gain weight back but I would always re-group and start over.
“Perseverance is more important than motivation. The most important thing is being able to hit the restart button, wake up the next day and give it another shot.
“You don’t have to turn your life upside down every Monday and succumb to defeat every Tuesday. Start by making small changes and before you know it it’s a habit and lifestyle.”
Weight loss transformation of girl who lost EIGHT stone after she tried THIS simple trick | Diets | Life & Style