When you read one of our weight-loss success stories, there's always a before-and-after photoÃ¢â‚¬”but a lot happens in between that you don't see in those two snapshots. So we asked 44-year-old Pamela Jackson to take us back in timeÃ¢â‚¬”from her childhood through her twenties and thirties, all the way to the presentÃ¢â‚¬”and show us (and you!) how her weight fluctuated through the years. It's incredibly moving to see how Pamela transformed her bodyÃ¢â‚¬”and life.
"This was during elementary school when I was thin. I was outgoing and activeÃ¢â‚¬”I would play jump rope, hopscotch, hula-hoop, and tetherball. My parents always made me healthy meals to eat."
"I was always trying out new snacks in our kitchenÃ¢â‚¬”like cheesy toast and cookies. They were fattening foods, and I ate them too often. I'll say it: I was pudgy. Whenever I got my allowanceÃ¢â‚¬”maybe a few dollars each weekÃ¢â‚¬”I'd use it at the corner store and buy bags of chips and candy bars...maybe cupcakes sometimes."
"I was still snacking on bad food. In junior high, I was a chubby, shy girl because everyone made fun of me. I was teased for my weight. I tried something called the herbal life dietÃ¢â‚¬”which I didn't stick with very longÃ¢â‚¬”but I did slim down a bit. That's probably why you see a slight difference in my weight here, as compared to my previous picture."
"That's me in my prom dress. I was thin but curvy. I still maintained my unhealthy eating habitsÃ¢â‚¬”like eating chili-cheese chips at local sandwich shops. I wouldn't go for the well-balanced meals in the school cafeteria. Sometimes I'd miss meals altogether. If I did miss a meal, I'd just grab a burger somewhere. I ate whatever, whenever."
"In my mid-twenties, I was working at this job I had for four years. I made my own money, and I picked up a lot of fast foodÃ¢â‚¬”you could say I became a drive-thru junkie. I was also a big dessert person; I had to eat something sweet every day. For the next few years, my weight changed, but never anything drastic. I've been on more diets than I can count, especially whenever I was going through a bad relationship or had low self-esteem. They never lasted."
"Here, I'm 200-plus pounds. I was still doing what I was doing at 25. I used to drink a lot of sodaÃ¢â‚¬”at least four to five sodas a day. I'd have one in the morning, with lunch, with dinner, and then I usually had one later on, too. It was like I was replacing water with soda. I got a lot of calories from soft drinks."
"Nothing much has changed. I'm picking up more weight because I increased my calorie intake. In restaurants, I'd order appetizers, entrÃƒÂ©es, and dessert. I wasn't exercising, either. There was no way in the world I thought I could lose 100 pounds. I used to skip doctor's appointments so that I wouldn't have to hear them tell me how healthy I was. I also wanted to avoid having them weigh me."
"At 41, people started encouraging me to lose weightÃ¢â‚¬”my friends, my doctorsÃ¢â‚¬”and I wanted to do it for myself. But I started small with a 10-pound weight-loss goal. In this photo, I had lost about 75 pounds by eating healthierÃ¢â‚¬”choosing whole grains over lean meats and walking more."
"My cousin has an autistic son. She would invite me to this walk year after year, but I could never do it before. This time, I'd lost enough weight; I was able to join my family for this 5-K."
"When I stood on the scale and realized I'd lost 100 pounds, I started crying. It was something that I wanted to do for so long that I never thought I'd actually accomplish. I'm still shocked. You don't need a personal chef or trainer: Losing weight is a lifestyle change, not a temporary thing. But any change is the step in the right direction. I'm proud of myself for my journey and for keeping the weight off."