WHO: Singer Emma Cloney
By The Numbers: 310 at my heaviest, and currently 220, total weight loss of 90 pounds
The Weight Gain: Just as my body hit puberty at age 12, I grew into a stunning young lady, tall and thin and about 110 pounds. However, a series of unfortunate life events lead me into a vicious cycle of eating my feelings. Soon I began binge eating when my emotional pain overcame me, swallowing everything from whole boxes of Pop Tarts to entire cakes in a single sitting.
As my teen years stretched on, I steadily gained approximately 20 pounds per year until I found myself graduating high school at an astonishing 300 pounds. Being heavy, large and obese in high school kept me from doing sports, dance, and simply having those little moments I dreamed of, like wearing a bikini at the beach or donning the latest fashion trends.
The Final Straw: My moment happened in 2011. I was 27, married with two kids, owned a horse ranch, was in full-time nursing school and had a blooming music career in Winnipeg. I was so busy, and stressed that I ate feelings as a lifestyle. My life was bulging and so was my waistline.
In 2011 we lost it all. The house, the horses, the cars, the loans, and the life we had made as a family. Bankrupt and homeless, I had never been so low or so broken. Still in nursing school and now living with family members, we slowly started to put our lives back together. My body had become a complete reflection of the life I was living: stressed, packed, and overwhelmed. So I decided that I had cleaned up every other aspect of my life and now it was time face my biggest demon ... my weight.
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The Plan Of Attack: I wanted to live like an athlete and find a way to enjoy activity in every season. So I bought a bike and began riding it only a few minutes at a time and moving up (within a month or so) to long distance riding, 30 to 40 kms for two to three hours per day. I took up swimming and used my YMCA membership to join classes like Zumba and Aquafit. Instead of asking my friends out for lunch or coffee, I’d ask them out to go bike riding, swimming, snowshoeing or skiing. Fitness became a daily part of my life and the weight loss was its reward.
The Food Element: I started eating foods in their most natural form. If I wanted peas, I ate them whole from the garden or farmers' market. I avoided anyone messing with my food, which included not eating canned or frozen food.
I stopped eating anything from a box, and processed foods. I gave up on all things low-fat, no-fat, or with fake sugars like aspartame or Splenda. I threw out all the margarine and bought real butter. I stopped drinking pop and every time I thought I might eat something I would ask myself, 'Can you find that in a garden somewhere?'
The hardest adjustment was to stop focusing on calories from fat. Eating whole raw nuts has TONS of calories, for example, and avocados are also high in calories and fat. At times I would struggle with the idea that eating these items might make me fatter again. I did a lot of research on the way our bodies process healthy fats and decided that eating low-fat was nonsense.
The Exercise Factor: My first weight loss attempt with Herbal Magic made me drop 100 pounds with no exercise. WOW, right? Wrong. Being fit has allowed me to eat more and burn more.
I gained everything back after that first dramatic weight loss experience because I simply deprived myself of food and lost weight that way. It was not sustainable and I certainly would never want to eat that way my whole life. This time I joined the YMCA and other gyms and have now found myself a trainer who is the ideal fit for my lifestyle and fitness level.
Currently I work out with my trainer one to three days per week, depending on my nursing schedule. Every day I make little choices to be fit — take the stairs, park far away from an entrance, walk faster whenever possible, dance, etc.
The Current Day-To-Day: I have managed to maintain my current weight for 11 months. I have experienced a plateau that has lasted for almost a year. It has been tough sometimes to keep motivated and positive as I really want to meet my goals.
However, my plateau has taught me valuable lessons. First, it taught me that weight loss does not cross a magical goal line and then you’re all done. I will always need to remain active and eat well in order to be healthy. Secondly, the plateau has taught me that I can maintain this weight loss and that by losing weight sensibly and slowly, I will be more likely to have long-lasting success..
I am most proud of my daily victories. I can run. I can dance. I went zip lining. And I wore a bikini recently and loved the way I looked. I am not at my thinnest, but I am so healthy and happy. I love the body I live in, because it is capable of amazing things.
However, I do regret not loving myself sooner. I could have been so much happier in my early days if I had showed myself the love and kindness I have always deserved.
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