Jaclyn Sanderson, 28, of New Brunswick, N.J., has been very athletic since she was a child. She played soccer, basketball, baseball, softball and tennis. She went swimming and ice skating. "You name it, I've played it, going so far as being a Division I college softball player at George Washington University."
But for as long as she can remember, Sanderson also has been overweight.
The reality of her weight and its potential consequences on her health hit her last February when her mother was hospitalized for pneumonia.
"There is no better way to shake a person to their core than to see a loved one almost die in front of you. I vowed then and there to make a change," says Sanderson, who weighed 252 pounds last March.
So she started exercising even more intensely than she had as a college athlete. She also revamped her eating habits.
At 5-foot-10, Sanderson, a project coordinator for Johnson & Johnson, now weighs 201 pounds. Some keys to her success:
Weight-loss plan: She started using several apps, including ones that helped her track her calorie intake and fitness routine. "I stopped guessing and started knowing the calories in foods. It was a lifesaver because the apps gave me knowledge, and knowledge is power.
"I tracked my workouts and weight. My iPhone became my personal fitness and weight coach."
"I made the decision to go it alone on this journey. I didn't want to do a gimmicky diet but a lifestyle overhaul."
Sanderson used to eat out frequently but now cooks at home. "I'm really smart about food shopping, including reading food labels. I eat a lot of protein, including a lot of chicken and fish."
She stopped drinking a couple of glasses of sugary beverages daily and now drinks water. "That is a huge change because I hated water before."
Exercise routine: She goes to the company's gym daily and works out for 90 minutes or more, doing intense aerobic exercise, such as spinning classes.
She also uses the TRX Suspension Trainer for her strength-training workout. On weekends, she either jogs for an hour or works out at the gym in her apartment building. She takes one day a week off from exercise.
"I get bored easily, so I mix things up and try new things," Sanderson says.
Sometimes it's hard to motivate herself to go the gym. She can think of plenty of excuses, but she goes anyway because "I know if I stop, I'll fall out of the habit and might not go as frequently."
What keeps her motivated: "When you inspire other people, it motivates you to keep going. My hairdresser said to me, 'You did it, and I can do it.' She has lost about 18 pounds."
Goal: She'd like to weigh 175 pounds, which would put her at a healthy body mass index (BMI), a number that incorporates weight and height.
Since March 1, she has lost more than 50 pounds and numerous inches, dropping from a size 20 to a 12/14.
"I play softball in a women's slow-pitch league. This fall I played the best I ever have.
"At the end of the day, I know I made the changes I needed to make for my life so I can now live it to the fullest," Sanderson says.