The start of 2018 brought in a new revelation for this woman who decided, in order to lose weight, she'd have to cut back on added sugar and carbs drastically.
On New Year's Day, bringing in 2018, Maggie Wells woke with a start and what she calls a “bone-chilling” thought. Finding herself weighing more than 300 pounds (136 kgs), she was starting to worry, but not for the reason you'd think. What she was scared of will surprise you.
"I wasn't afraid I was going to die because of my weight, but I was afraid that just if something happened, my kids would have no pictures to remember me," Wells told Good Morning America. "My son was 6 at the time and I think we had two pictures together."
Being in family photos was not something she wanted to take part in because she was embarrassed. But it was exactly for that reason that she made a decision that would change her life - she knew it was time for a major lifestyle alteration.
In January 2018, her first step to her change involved cutting out all added sugars from her diet and bringing down her carbohydrate intake. All it took was one month and she was already down 24 pounds (10 kgs). After that, taking her weight-loss journey one day at a time became her motto.
She had her own style of losing weight. Rather than focusing on losing "200 pounds or even 20 pounds, I would just focus on 24 hours," she told GMA. "I would tell myself, 'I only have to get through the next 24 hours. If I want [a specific food or drink] at this time tomorrow, I'll allow myself to have it.'"
Soon enough, she built up her discipline around food before switching to a ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carb diet which has been hailed as the reason for many weight-loss transformations. Though she didn't have the resources to purchase the expensive and hard-to-find cooking ingredients and substitutes, she got creative.
She began using meat, vegetables, and eggs as the main ingredients in her meals. "I found that this diet can be done by anybody on any budget," she said. And it worked wonders for her.
A year later, she has shed 185 pounds (84 kgs). She credits that loss to the fact that she's more careful about what she puts in her body. Finally comfortable with the weight she's currently at, she's decided to take the next step to keep herself healthy. And it involves adding exercise to her daily routine.
"I feel like I'm 15 years younger," she said. "I don't know how to describe it other than I feel like a brand-new person. I have mental clarity and literally a whole new lease on life."
As for joining the family during photo sessions, she's far more confident. She's even created a Facebook page called "Get It, Girl" to document and share her journey. She's also proud of the fact that she shares real and raw photos of herself, in an attempt to show people that while losing extreme weight is not as glamorous as one would think, it certainly is empowering.
But there's another factor that she's open about - not getting skin removal surgery. "Surgery is not an option for me, financially, so my body isn't altered," she said. "People are seeing [the] real deal of your body when you lose a lot of weight."
And she seems to have achieved her true goal with her weight loss - being more involved and present for her family and more so, her kids. "I could have lived the rest of my life being a bystander," she said. "Now I get to be a participant in my life and my children's lives."