Weight loss is a common new year resolution.
If making the pledge has proven easier than achieving it, a Collin County woman’s weight loss journey might serve up some inspiration.
For Penny Leaver, looking back at photos of some of the more memorable moments of her life makes her cringe.
“I hate the way I look and it makes me remember how horrible I felt also,” Leaver said.
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The 43-year-old says she began gaining weight in college then started working nights.
“I just started picking up some really unhealthy habits I would eat right before I went to bed, we would eat whatever food because it was fast, it was whatever was open at that time,” Leaver recalled.
At her heaviest, she says she weighed 350 pounds.
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It took a serious health scare for her to get serious about getting healthy.
“When I ended up in the ER January 4, 2019, and the cardiologist told me I was headed for a massive heart attack or not going to live ‘til my next birthday. That was a real eye-opener for me,” Leaver said.
She started working out with a coach, started a diet then started seeing results.
In 15 months, she lost 160 pounds – half her body weight from when she started.
“Now when I see the old pictures, I just realize how far I've come and it makes me very proud,” Leaver said.
Proud and accomplished.
Last year, she became a firefighter in Farmersville, fulfilling a dream she says she's had since childhood.
“To be able to do it now is amazing, to be able to accomplish that goal,” Leaver said.
She says she isn't done setting goals, and hopes sharing her weight loss journey inspires others on their own.
Leaver's tip for people looking to lose weight: Find a partner, coach or a community of people that will hold you accountable.
"When you don’t want to go to the gym, you want somebody to tell you you're going, and somebody almost running around you smacking the donut out of your hand," she said.