What you can learn about sticking to your goals from someone who lost 312 pounds

Losing nearly two-thirds of your body weight through diet and exercise is no small feat. Here are the lessons learned from someone who did it.

What you can learn about sticking to your goals from someone who lost 312 pounds
[Photos: courtesy of Alexis Reed]

Alexis “Lexi” Reed’s life was a constant calculation. Would she fit in the restaurant booth? Could she ride the roller coaster? Was the distance too far to walk? Many of the everyday activities others take for granted are not accommodating to a 498 lb. body. At 25, Reed was unsure whether she could start a family with her husband and high school sweetheart, Daniel, or “Danny.” She wasn’t even sure she would make it to her 30th birthday if she didn’t lose weight.


But anyone who’s ever carried a few extra pounds or more knows that’s often easier said than done. A July 2018 brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics found that roughly 40% of adults in the U.S. were obese between 2015 and 2016. During the same time period, roughly half of U.S. adults had tried to lose weight in the past 12 months. Most people who lose weight regain at least some of it, according to a 2016 study from The Endocrine Society.

It would be a long road, but that didn’t stop the Reeds from making a New Year’s resolution, fueled by a challenge from a friend: For one month beginning January 1, 2016, they would adopt a healthy eating plan. There would be no eating out, no “cheat” meals, no alcohol or soda, and they would work out at least five times per week for at least 30 minutes.

Lexi launched an Instagram account called FatGirlFedUp to track her progress, “expecting maybe 10 followers that were my friends,” she says. But, as one month turned into more and the weight came off, her notoriety grew. Roughly three years later, Lexi has lost 312 lbs. through diet and exercise. She has 1.1 million Instagram followers. Danny, who has lost 95 lbs., also has a large social media following.

View this post on Instagram

#throwbackthursday to the 485lb girl that showed up and stopped listening to her own excuses. To the girl who was #fedup with being a prisoner in her own body, and feeling like she was just existing in her own life, not living. To the girl who set a New Years Resolution and for once in her life actually kept it. To the girl who made sacrifices, then gave blood, sweat, & tears to the gym. To the girl who wanted to save her life, be a mom, and change so badly – there was no other thing on her mind but reaching her goals. Throwback to the girl on the left because she made me who I am today & I'm so proud of her. My hope is you'll hear my story and decide not to give up. Start today! ——————————————————————————– Ready to transform in 2019? NEXT DIETBET STARTS 1/6/19!! I joined my first dietbet in January 2016 when I started my journey & it helped me change my life! Plus if you play 4 games in 2019 I'm giving away huge prizes to the best transformation! Time to change your life too & make those resolutions stick! Lose weight, share tips/recipes, giveaways including a week getaway to @hiltonheadhealth, @fedupfam tees, an airfryer, & MORE! Plus get paid to get lean in 2019!  Link in bio or #weightloss #weightlossjourney #fedupfam #fit #fitfam #fitspo #motivation #tummytuck #fattofit #obesetobeast #workout #dance #diet #dietbet #fatgirlfedupsdietbet #fitness #losingweight #fitnessmotivation #anytimefitness #fitfam #plussize #looseskin #excessskin #effyourbeautystandards #extremeweightloss

A post shared by Alexis Reed AKA Lexi ❤ (@fatgirlfedup) on

As the Reeds changed their bodies, their lives also changed. In May 2017, after losing more than 200 lbs., Lexi left her job at a Social Security disability law firm to tend to her social media presence and build it into a business. “Daily, I saw the effects that obesity could cause on health, and it scared me that if i didn’t take control of my health I might be the future client,” she says.

This remarkable accomplishment taught her important lessons about goal-setting, persistence, and achievement that apply to many big goals.


Just start

When they started out, Lexi and Danny didn’t really know where to begin–not even how to cook or work out at the gym. So, they dove into YouTube videos, learning what they didn’t know. Lexi focused on making one small change at a time–creating healthy versions of foods she loved and learning how to work out. Soon, exercise became a substitute for the emotional eating that had driven her weight gain.

Accountability can keep you going

Launching on such a big goal together with her husband made it easier than if he was eating pizza in front of her regularly, Lexi says. Being able to encourage each other helped them both along the way.

In addition, her social media following provided another form of accountability. Many watched her for inspiration. “They want me to show up. I have to show up, that way they know they can do it. So, it definitely kept me accountable,” she says.

For every bad habit, there’s a better one

After a particularly stressful day at work. Lexi found herself slipping into some old habits. She called Danny and said she wanted to go to Taco Bell. After some back-and-forth, he convinced her to come home and go to the gym instead.

“I did feel so much better. That feeling is what motivates me to show up because I always feel so much better compared to how I felt when I ate,” she says. The endorphin rush after a workout can last for hours, she says.

Mindset shifts make a difference

A big part of Lexi’s success was a result of changing her relationship with food, she says. She worked on mindset shifts, like letting go of irritations that had previously bothered her. Instead, she focuses on her wins, which she calls “non-scale victories,” such as the first time she got in her car without her stomach hitting the steering wheel or the first time she was able to fit in a booth. She says she cried when she fit in a roller coaster at Universal Studios.


Lexi’s high profile has also led to opportunities that ranged from an invitation to walk the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards–where Lexi was thrilled to meet Chrissy Metz, co-star of NBC’s This Is Us—to being featured on the covers of People and Women’s World magazines, among others.

Relationships change when you do

Making big changes in your life may also change your relationships. As Lexi prioritized self-care, and began saying “no” to requests that would jeopardize her success, she was surprised when she began losing some friendships, she says. She and Danny began building relationships with positive people who supported their goals, she says. Surrounding yourself with cheerleaders helps motivation, as well.

Even the social media following isn’t immune to negativity. The occasional troll can creep into the mix and say some hateful things. “I don’t fuel hate with hate. Honestly, my heart hurts for the people leaving the comments because I can only imagine the place they are in personally,” she says.

Challenges don’t stop when you reach your goal

Even after she lost the weight, the work wasn’t over. Lexi laughs when people say she can go back to eating the way she did. She’ll need to work at maintaining her weight loss for the rest of her life, she says. Toward that end, she plans on becoming a licensed fitness instructor.

She also recently had surgery to remove seven pounds of loose skin that was causing her pain. But recovery was “the worst pain of my life,” she says, and an emotional challenge because she couldn’t keep up her typical pace. Now that she’s recovered, she calls it the best decision she’s ever made.

But there will always be challenges and bumps in the road. Lexi focuses on all that she’s gained. “My life has gotten better and I just want people to know that it’s possible. I did it and they can too,” she says.


About the author

Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books