Mom of 5 loses 159 pounds: ‘I was not going to die because I ate myself to death’

Andie Mitchell

Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Misti Hernandez is 5’ 8” and currently weighs 166 pounds. In 2016, after experiencing a number of health issues after having her fifth child, she wanted to live a healthier lifestyle for herself and her family. This is her weight-loss story, as told to Yahoo Lifestyle.

The Turning Point

My weight really started becoming an issue when I started having kids. I had my first child when I was 16 years old. I gained 60 pounds during that pregnancy. After that, it just seemed like I yo-yoed up and down, and with every kid, I just gained more weight.

When I found out I was pregnant with my fifth child, I weighed 325 pounds and was already pre-diabetic. That whole pregnancy was difficult for me; I was hospitalized so many times during it, and both the baby and I barely survived the delivery.

Afterward, I spent nine days in the cardiac unit, and I really thought I was going to die. In fact, I came close to it several times. Seeing the scared look in my husband’s eyes when I was in the hospital, I told myself I can’t leave him alone with these five kids. That’s when I was finally like, “I have to do something. I have to make a change.” My mom died from complications due to morbid obesity, and I told myself I was not going to die because I ate myself to death.

I had been just surviving for so many years. I didn’t really care what happened to me. Once I decided to live, that’s when I said I was going to do something about my weight. I did this for myself, but I also did it for my kids and my family.

Misty Hernandez while she was pregnant and before she started her postpartum weight-loss journey. (Photo: Misty Hernandez)
Misty Hernandez while she was pregnant and before she started her postpartum weight-loss journey. (Photo: Misty Hernandez)

The Changes

I had already made up my mind in the hospital that I needed to make a change. So, as soon as I got home, I just started to walk around my neighborhood and did that every day. Every time I felt like just sitting down, having a snack or watching TV, I would go for a walk. I haven’t watched TV in three years.

In that year, I lost about 50 pounds. Then I had some other health problems — a serious knee injury and being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I found the keto diet could help with PCOS. So, with my weight at 275 pounds, I jumped right in and started eating very clean — only meats, vegetables and healthy fats.

Right away, the weight melted off. Three months into the keto diet, I was off all of my medications. Quickly, I realized this was something I could keep up with and do for the rest of my life. It was no longer a diet for me.

I also felt like I had to commit to my physical fitness as well. That was tough for me because I never truly felt comfortable going to a gym and always found it so intimidating.

When I went to Anytime Fitness, though, it was such a different experience. Right away, the employees made me feel welcome and that they truly cared about me and my goals. Their genuineness made it less intimidating.

I started taking group classes with a trainer, Tracy O'Callaghan, and it was hard. But I quickly realized that having a coach and a group of people working toward a goal just like mine was going to keep me accountable and motivated, even if I felt sore or tired. I also started working out with a personal trainer, Calvin Stahl, who pushes me every time I see him.

In the beginning, it was horrible because everything hurt. However, as soon as I started eating better, I felt so much better. I had more energy. My blood pressure went back to normal. I didn’t get headaches anymore. My A1C [a blood test for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes] and blood sugar went back to normal. At one point, I was taking 14 pills a day. Now, I take nothing.

Hernandez before and after her weight-loss journey. She followed the keto diet and worked out with a trainer. (Photo: Misty Hernandez)
Hernandez before and after her weight-loss journey. She followed the keto diet and worked out with a trainer. (Photo: Misty Hernandez)

The After

I’m like a new person. Before this change, I sat out on life. I sat in the house and watched TV. I wasn’t outside running around with my kids. I wasn’t doing anything — I was just big and miserable, and everything hurt. Now, I’m running with my kids in the park and going on rides at amusement parks. I absolutely took my life back.

Then, Anytime Fitness chose me — literally one of only four people out of its 4 million members — as a National Success Story winner because of my transformation. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be someone they chose for this. I think that was a life-changing moment for me because it’s a reminder of how much I’ve overcome and what I’ve accomplished to get here.

Hernandez, who lost 159 pounds, exercising at the gym (left) and with her kids (right). (Photo: Misty Hernandez)
Hernandez, who lost 159 pounds, exercising at the gym (left) and with her kids (right). (Photo: Misty Hernandez)

The Maintenance

I still consider myself a “lazy” keto, low-carb eater — I hate the word “diet” because this is just the way I eat — because I don’t track anything. Once I saw keto’s positive effects on my body, there was no turning back.

I also go to the gym up to six days a week where I do a combination of classes, working out on my own, and, once a week, meeting with my trainer.

It’s still not easy for me. I’m a mother of five, and I work 24-hour shifts, so I’m very busy. I just have to remind myself every day that I’m worth it. I give myself pep talks and remind myself why I started and why I’m still doing this. That’s what keeps me going.

Now, I feel like I can inspire other women, too, and have plans to become a personal trainer.

The Struggles

I still struggle with my body image. I’ve made all these changes and look like a completely different person — and everyone tells me how great I look — but when I look at myself in the mirror, I struggle with what I see. I have all this extra loose skin and that’s my biggest struggle. I look at it and think, “Oh my gosh, I’ve come so far, but I still have all these reminders.”

Advice

My best piece of advice is to believe in yourself. I want other people to know they can do it, but you have to really want it. Once you decide that, anything is possible. I remember being 325 pounds, and I just thought that was the way it was always going to be. Maybe I’m supposed to be miserable. Maybe I’m supposed to hate myself.

But I want other people out there struggling to know it doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t take a miracle; it just takes you deciding that you truly want this, and then putting that idea to work.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!

Wellness Wins is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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