Ashley O’Reilly’s Extreme Weight Loss StoryArticle posted in: Success Stories - Women
To look at Ashley O’Reilly, you would never know that this energetic 22-year-old was once more than twice her size.
But for this Michigan resident, the memory of stepping on the scale as a college student and realizing she’d topped out at more than 200 pounds, is still very real.
“I come from a town with three traffic lights. I was never heavy, but when I turned 16 and got a car, there were all these restaurants I had never seen before,” Ashley said in a recent interview with People Magazine. “Within two years I had really packed on the pounds.”
Fast-forward a few years and Ashley’s weight struggles had followed her to college. “Along with being a college student comes the ‘freshman 15.’ For me, though, it was more like the ‘freshman 50.’”
While her friends were fretting over exams and projects, Ashley spent much of her time searching for the root of her weight issues. “I discovered I had hypothyroidism, I blamed it on birth control…” she explains. It wasn’t until she stepped on the scale and realized that she had reached 250 pounds that she knew it was time to seek help.
After hearing about Nutrisystem from a friend who’d had success with the program, Ashley decided to give it a try.
“I made three goals to myself when starting Nutrisystem,” said Ashley. “The first goal was to be in a bikini by next summer. The second goal was to be in a Nutrisystem photo shoot and the third goal was to inspire anyone who needs the motivation to lose weight.”
And, thanks to the help of Nutrisystem and a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, Ashley achieved all three of here goals. “My goal was 120 pounds at first. But then I got down to 115,” Ashley told People Magazine. “I feel comfortable and confident at this weight.”
“I even booked a trip during spring break this year to Hawaii with my boyfriend,” she recounts. “I’ve already bought three bikinis. I can’t wait to show off my 135 pound weight loss body!”
Ashley’s incredible story was so touching, it secured her a spot as a 2016 $40,000 NutriStar Giveaway winner. As such, she received $10,000 and, much to her delight, a trip to a photo shoot in sunny Tampa, Fla.
Anyone who meets Ashley will tell you: Her positive outlook on life is completely contagious and her story is unbelievably inspiring for those who struggle with their weight.
“I used to be this person who would walk around the hallways with my head down. And now I’m always looking around. I have a better outlook on life,” she told People Magazine.
And, because spreading her positive message continues to be a personal passion for this slimmed down superstar, Ashley was generous enough to share her top tips for losing weight and staying positive with all of you!
Here are Ashley’s tips to successful weight loss:
1. Monitor your progress by taking pictures of the scale.
Ashley used the scale as a huge source of motivation during her weight loss journey. It is so important to be aware of your progress or any changes that result from your efforts, she explains. And this definitely does not mean you should obsess! Taking pictures of your weight creates an ongoing log of what may be working in your favor versus what is hindering you from reaching your goal. You’ll be excited to see numbers drop over time. “The very first picture of the scale that I took was 219 pounds. I couldn’t believe I made it to the 200-teens,” Ashley exclaims. As the numbers go down, you’ll see your drive pick up.
2. Watch weight loss success stories on YouTube.
“The only plateau I really had was when I hit 200 pounds. Believe it or not, what kept me motivated was watching weight loss success stories on YouTube. I knew every video I watched, these girls were going through the same thing I was going through at that very moment.” Ashley’s advice here is definitely a weight loss trick to put to use. With all of the technology and online resources at your disposal, there is no reason they cannot be put to use. YouTube provides instant access to people who know exactly how you feel, and serve as proof that success, even in the form of extreme weight loss, is attainable.
3. Remind yourself you aren’t alone.
Wherever she can, Ashley reinforces the notion that anyone finding themselves in an uphill battle is not alone, ever. Her continuous efforts to motivate others is a testament to that fact. She knows, understands and appreciates the everyday challenges accompanied with this lifestyle change, and reminds us that it’s easier with a buddy. Try reaching out to a friend or family member who is also pursuing a healthier lifestyle, or a success story who posts frequently online. Pick up the phone and call a Nutrisystem weight loss counselor for extra support and motivation whenever you feel you need it. Join a fitness class or recruit a walking buddy at work. Weight loss is easier and more fun when you don’t go it alone.
4. Get active doing something you love.
Obviously, as time goes on, you’ll become more comfortable with more and more movement. The endeavors that once seemed impossible will come to you easily and you’ll likely feel much more energetic as time goes on. Even if you start by only walking up the street with your dog today, think about how this adds up in the following weeks. Say you burn three calories today and tomorrow and the next day, eventually this adds up to more significant number. Your muscle might grow by 1/16 inch this week, but what if that is ¼ down the line, or even something more much later?
Being active is not as daunting when you ease into it and incorporate your personal interests. “I teach Learn to Skate at a local rink in Saginaw. Then I rediscovered a passion for running. At my heaviest (250 pounds), I couldn’t even walk up one flight of steps.”
5. Have a date at the gym.
O’Reilly and her boyfriend, Patrick, are both now fully invested in making their health a priority. This means eating right and working out when they aren’t in class. While she admits it sounds funny, gym dates are always in the schedule. Making a point of getting to the gym together, as a couple, is a creative way to spend time together, bond and catch up.
6. Pay attention to portion size!
Of all of the weight loss tricks Ashley O’Brien has to offer, this was the one she stresses most. “What Nutrisystem has taught me is that I can still eat some of my favorite foods and not gain weight. Portion control is key!” This statement couldn’t ring more true. Just because you’re aiming for better health does not mean going cold turkey… literally or figuratively. Allow yourself to eat some of the foods that leave you feeling happy and satiated, just maybe not as much or as often. Finding healthier takes on your favorite recipes is a great way to answer your cravings in the least damaging way possible. The recipes posted and updated regularly here on The Leaf are a wonderful example. Take the time to scroll through them sometime for a bit of kitchen inspiration.
If you feel defeated or weak when you think about how much weight you need to lose, don’t give up. So many people struggle with their weight and wonder if they can actually make their goals a long-term reality. We are here to tell you that you can drop the extra pounds once and for all, no matter how ambitious your goal seems.
Ashley O’Reilly is living proof of the magic behind dedication and patience.
“I tell people all the time if I can do it, they can do it!”
*Real Success Story. Weight lost on prior program. Expect to lose an avg 1-2 lbs per week on program.