When Tonnia Phelps weighed herself in October of 2012, she watched the numbers on the scale climb to 300 pounds. She saw a gym on her way home from work and pulled into the parking lot.

It was the turning point in her life.

Over the last 18 months, Phelps has dropped more than 120 pounds and continues to work toward her goal of losing another 30 pounds to reach her goal weight. In addition to doing cardio exercise, she added body weights and changed her nutrition. She weighs herself on the scale only once a week.

“It’s not always about what’s on the scale. I also measure success in how much I am (weight) lifting,” Phelps said. “It’s a journey because you see a difference and it's longer before someone else can see a difference.”

Phelps works a part-time job and also teaches classes at the gym. Including the three classes she teaches, practicing, and her seven personal exercise regiments, she works out 12 times a week.

“I regret getting heavy. There are things that cannot be undone. You damage your body and there’s no going back,” Phelps said. “I live and have a regular life. But I watch what I eat. It’s mostly diet but also exercising.”

Phelps now teaches a spinning class, where she rides 15 miles and burns 700 calories a few times a week. She said group exercise is amazing and can help people who may not have the motivation to exercise on their own.

Phelps advises others who think they can't lose weight to engage and put themselves with other people who also trying to lose weight.

“We’re all in this together. There’s a social aspect. People in the class hold each other accountable,” Phelps said. “You have to find what works for you. Find balance. But you never stop trying.”

Getting healthy has been costly for Phelps, she said. Although she saves what she used to spend eating at fast food places, she spends that money and more on healthy food choices. 

“You have to be selfish for yourself. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. I am a better wife and mother because I am more fit. I have more energy,” Phelps said. “People used to say, 'She’d be prettier if she wasn’t so fat.' Before, I would not have tried to help others because I did not have anything to offer. I feel more attractive and that makes a big difference. It transcends through everything in your life.'"

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Contact Wendy Sledd at wsledd@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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