(NEW YORK) — “I almost explain it as me going to sleep and waking up, and there it was, 408 pounds” — that is how Janette Colantonio of Summerville, S.C., describes her life two years ago at the age of 30.
Colantonio’s lack of control, she says, came to a head in March 2011, when she was pulled over by a police officer for not wearing a seat belt.
“I can’t wear it because I’m too fat,” she recalled of the moment. “I laughed it off but when I got home I was like, ‘I can’t buckle my seatbelt. I’m 30 years old. It has to stop. I have to take control of my life.’”
Colantonio did just that. She immediately changed her diet and lifestyle, and lost more than 200 pounds. She went from weighing 408 pounds to 165 pounds through a combination of discipline and her own strict diet, she told Chris Powell, fitness trainer and host of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss.
Gone were the days of eating more than five meals per day — a routine that sometimes included two dinners. In their place were healthy meals Colantonio made with her husband, Matthew, and no carbs after 2 p.m.
A typical day of eating for Colantonio looked something like this: a half cup of oatmeal with a boiled egg and fruit for breakfast; a tomato with cucumbers for a mid-morning snack; a grilled chicken salad for lunch; a Gala apple and cheese stick in the afternoon; and a dinner of tilapia and mixed steamed veggies to end the day.
For exercise, Colantonio walked 30 minutes per day on a treadmill. She also added strength exercises, like a seated row for her back.
Powell encouraged Colantonio to ramp up her exercises even more by adding squats and pushups to her routine.
He also shared with her a recipe for a low-calorie “pumpkin” pie — consisting of not pumpkins but sweet potato, Greek yogurt, a splash of unsweetened almond milk and spices — that is one of his own favorites.
In the end, Colantonio says the discipline needed to lose the weight was well worth the effort.
“They don’t just say, ‘You have a beautiful face anymore,’” she told Powell. “[Now] they’ll just say, ‘You’re beautiful,’ without the add-on. You know, that means a lot.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Ralph Ellis, CNN
Jessica Ivins, CNN